Justin Trudeau got his nerd on today during a visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. Here he is doing some kind of physics experiment involving a bicycle tire and perfectly rolled-up sleeves.
Then Trudeau took questions from the press. One reporter jokingly began by saying, "I was going to ask you about quantum computing, but..." Then he asked a question about Canada's mission to help fight Islamic State.
WRONG. Trudeau proceeded to drop knowledge on quantum computing:
"Normal computers work -- either there's power going through a wire or not. It's one or a zero; they're binary systems. What quantum states allow for is much more complex information to be encoded into a single bit. A regular computer bit is either a one or a zero, on or off. A quantum state can be much more complex than that because, as we know, things can be both particle and wave at the same time, and the uncertainty around quantum states allows us to encode more information into a much smaller computer. So that's what's exciting about quantum computing, and that's where we're going."
Check out the applause that a room full of physicists gives when a prime minister attempts to describe quantum computing.
Some people were ready make Trudeau ruler of Earth.
This guy was so impressed he turned "unicorn" into a verb.
But let's ask the question that no Trudeau-thirsty person wants the answer to: Was Trudeau correct? Setting the bar somewhat low, the PM's description aligns with some of the basics in the Wikipedia entry for quantum computing:
Claude Crépeau, a computer science professor at McGill University, told BuzzFeed Canada that Trudeau's response was "a good effort but somewhat repetitive and a bit off the facts."
Amr Helmy, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, was impressed.
"His account of the distinction between a classical and quantum states is accurate," Helmy said. "This is impressive that Canada’s PM has given this some thought.... The rest of the world should be envious!"
Crépeau also said Trudeau's knowledge was "a lot more than expected from a prime minister."
Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.
Contact Craig Silverman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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