April 15, 2016 12:17 pm
Updated: April 15, 2016 2:16 pm

PM Justin Trudeau gives reporter quick lesson on quantum computing during visit to Waterloo

WATCH ABOVE: During a visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to a reporter's sarcastic comment about his knowledge of quantum computing by giving the reporter a quick lesson on it.

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What is quantum computing? It seems Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has at least some knowledge of the burgeoning technological field.

Before going into politics, Trudeau taught at the elementary and high school level in Vancouver, studied engineering and started a master’s degree in environmental geography. On Friday morning in Waterloo, Ont., Trudeau reached into that background in dealing with a reporter’s question about quantum computing.

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“I was going to ask you to explain quantum computing but…” the reporter said before asking a serious question about Canada’s role in defeating ISIS.

But Trudeau answered the question anyway.

“OK, quite simply, normal computers work by…” Trudeau said before being drowned out by laughter and applause.

“No, no, don’t interrupt me, when you walk out of here you will know more, well no, some of you will know far less about quantum computing,” he continued.

“A regular computer bit is either a one or a zero, either 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,” he said as the crowd erupted into applause.

So was he right?

Global News spoke to a senior faculty member of Quantum Foundations at Perimeter to confirm how accurate the prime minister was.

“I was very impressed he made an attempt,” said Dr. Lucien Hardy. “He got it spot on.”

Trudeau’s explanation of quantum computing in relation to standard computers was accurate enough to impress the quantum theorist.

“I have never seen a prime minister attempt anything like that,” Hardy said. “He did a pretty good job of explaining it.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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