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Supercomputers Part 6: The Next Level

The key to the brave new world lies in the strange and murky world of quantum physics, a strange place where parallel universes exist and it's possible to be in two places at the same time – you have to trust them on this one. It's the latter property – formally known as 'quantum superpositioning' – that allows for quantum bits, or qubits, which researchers pronounce 'quibit' because they think it's 'wacky'. Unlike the regular old bits which run our PS3s, mobile phones and Bluetooth-enabled toasters, qubits can be either 1, or 0, or both at the same time. A sequence of three bits can be any one of eight combinations, like 000, 001, 010, etc. Three qubits, on the other hand, can store 8 different numbers at once. And four qubits can store 16 different numbers at once. And so on and so on, until you get to 300 qubits, which is apparently enough to store every atom in the universe.

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