Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Google reportedly achieved a milestone by using quantum computers to solve a calculation in mere minutes that current machines could not complete in thousands of years.

Why it matters: "Quantum supremacy," the achievement Google is touting, would represent a big but early step toward reliable quantum computers that could solve some currently intractable problems.

Google scientists said their quantum machine completed in less than 3.5 minutes a calculation that would take the most powerful present-day computers 10,000 years to finish.

How it works: Quantum machines use atomic particles to represent "qubits" — short for "quantum bit." One qubit can convey twice as much information as a single traditional computer bit, thus beefing up a system’s computing power. A system's computing power increases exponentially with each additional qubit.

Yes, but: IBM scientists, who are also developing quantum machines, recently argued that Google's team underestimated the power of current computers.

  • IBM scientists claim that a modern computer system could perform the calculation in Google’s report in 2.5 days, and it would make fewer mistakes than Google's quantum machine.

Of note: There's debate over the utility of quantum random number generation — the task Google's machine completed. However, Google says it's important for next-generation cryptography.

Go deeper: Heading off the quantum encryption apocalypse

Go deeper

Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 10,695,608 — Total deaths: 516,225 — Total recoveries — 5,481,526Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 2,686,582 — Total deaths: 128,062 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Federal government: Trump says he still thinks coronavirus will "just disappear" at some point, supports another round of direct payments to Americans.
  4. Public health: Thanks to coronavirus, your home is now your gymFormer FDA chief says 500,000 Americans may be contracting coronavirus a day.
  5. States: Georgia and Arizona report record new coronavirus cases — California shuts down bars and indoor dining for most residents.
  6. 1 ⚽️ thing: 6 players test positive for coronavirus before MLS comeback tournament.
Updated 34 mins ago - Health

U.S. daily coronavirus cases top 50,000 for first time

A medical technologist processes test samples for the coronavirus at a lab in Tampa, Florida, on June 25. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A record 50,655 tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the United States on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Driving the news: The pandemic is accelerating across the U.S., with the Sun Belt being hit particularly hard. Daily coronavirus case records were reported on Wednesday in Texas (8,076), Georgia (2,946), North Carolina (1,843) and Tennessee (1,806).

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden outraises Trump again with record $141 million June haul

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden at Philadelphia City Hall in Pennsylvania in June. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party raised $141 million in June, his campaign announced on Wednesday night.

Why it matters: It's the most the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has raised in a month. It's also more than the record $131 million President Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised last month.