A researcher at MIT is promising to pay $100,000 to the individual or group of individuals who can prove that the creation of a functional and scalable quantum computer is impossible.
The award was prompted by an article describing the views of a quantum computing skeptic and a proponent. As part of the discussion Scott Aaaronson was challenged to support his opinion with real money, which he now did.
Aaronson himself believes that scalable quantum computers will be possible one day and he does not think that he will ever be forced to pay out the reward. To critics, who said that his challenge is similar to being asked to prove that there is no Bigfoot, he replied that there may be future discoveries in physics that could provide evidence against the quantum computer model, which would be enough for someone being entitled to collect the prize.
Aaronson said that he does not expect this evidence to ever surface, but he "would welcome [it] as the scientific thrill of [his] life." If he had to pay, he would consider it as an "honor" to do so: "For I’d then (presumably) simply be adding a little to the well-deserved Nobel Prize coffers of one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of physics."
In an update, Aaronson now challenged skeptics to put up a prize for "a demonstration that scalable quantum computing is possible." He added that he is "certainly not offering such a prize."