Re: sorry, not a geek but
> sorry, not a geek
Don't worry! Quantum physics in general has confused and upset our greatest physicists - though real quantum effects have been used in what is now everyday technology. The jury has been out on this D-Wave machine for a little while, because of the difficulty in proving, or devising tests to prove, that it is faster than the 'classical computers' we use everyday. What D-Wave have never claimed is that their machine can perform Shor's Algorithm.... And this is important. Let's pause here a moment.
Quantum systems can exist such that all their particles are both ON and OFF at the same time ( I'm grossly oversimplifying here), so if it has enough 'quantum bits' (qbits) it could calculate every possible answer to a question at the same time, instead of trying one answer at a time like a normal computer would. The implications for breaking encryption are huge.
Our encryption is based on the difficulty of factorising very big numbers, but an algorithm for doining so quickly using (theoretical) quantum computers to do so has existed for years, and it is called Shor's Algorithm.
What D-Wave claim, and what Google believe they have a use for, is that their machine can find optimisations in quadratic equations.
tl;dr A future quantum computer has the potential to massively upset our computer encryption, but not one based on this machine. There has been a lot of debate amongst academics as to what exactly this machine is doing, but Google - the customer- seem happy with it.