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Quantum ChillTo find out if Google's D-Wave is the real quantum deal, Hartmut Neven and his colleagues gave it a simple problem: an energy landscape of two valleys, one lower than the other. To find the right solution, the computer must reach the bottom of the lower valley, without getting trapped in the other, giving a false solution (see diagram).There are two ways the D-Wave could be solving this problem. A computer that employs quantum mechanics should be able to use quantum tunnelling to pass through the hill separating the two valleys, making it more likely to succeed. This works best at low temperatures, when quantum effects are strongest. By contrast, an ordinary machine has a better chance of reaching the right answer at higher temperatures, where it has enough energy to jump over the hill.Google's data shows the D-Wave had a 75 per cent chance of success operating at temperatures of 15 millikelvin, dropping gradually to around 65 per cent at 35 millikelvin. "The apparent trend between temperature and success probability revealed by these experiments is consistent only with quantum models," write the team.

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