IBM researcher Edwin Pednault was doing the dishes one evening when he came to the realization that qubits are a lot like the bristles of a scrubbing brush. What he dubbed as a “seemingly inconsequential moment” became the basis of a fault-tolerance theory which makes the 50-qubit quantum computer possible. Early last month Google’s quantum computer research team announced it had made strides towards what it dubbed “quantum supremacy.” The big idea was that a 50-qubit quantum computer would surpass the computational capabilities of our most advanced supercomputers, making it superior. IBM, early this month, successfully built and measured an…

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