The Principle of Uncertainty is an important concept. Your kids’ Xbox might run on it. Quantum Computing relies on this principle, and it goes something like this:
..Before you read this page, I put two dots at the beginning of the sentence, then I deleted them, then I put them back. The two dots were in a state of flux, existing, then not existing. Then I saved my document and “Sampled” the dots. That stuck them there for good. As the reader, the dots just Exist, but you can tell that they were deleted because I just told you.
The same thing happens when we measure an electron spinning around its nucleus. We can’t know where the electron is until we measure it. Once we measure it, that position is carved in stone, until we measure it again. In the wild world of Quantum Mechanics, the Electron both exists AND does not exist until we measure it.
That’s important. A photon in a Quantum Computer knows where it is (presumably) but we have no idea. We can chart what state the photon is in as a percentage, guessing where it’s going to land. (No tangent into roulette and my super secret sure fire system. 🙂 Instead of having two choices for a bit, 0 and 1, we now have this percentage value for the position of the photon. When we measure the position of the photon, we set the values for all those percentages stored in the computer. It’s called “Collapsing the Wave”. That photon is surfing some pretty heavy info while you type up that email. In the end, you get a computer with the potential to store information in a whole new way. Instead of describing a grey dot on the screen with 8 bits of data, we’ll be able to do it with one… Sounds small, and it is, but it will make a big difference in everything from super computers to your kids’ Xbox.