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Easy Answers: Quantum computer gives results without running

12:18pm, February 22, 2006

Physicists have long known that quantum computers have the potential to race through calculations trillions of times as fast as ordinary computers do. Now, it seems that those machines may not have to calculate at all to deliver answers.

That seemingly absurd possibility, which was advanced as a theory several years ago, has now received experimental verification. What's more, although previous calculations indicated that such an approach would work only half the time at best, the new study suggests that it could become completely reliable.

Onur Hosten and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign present their findings in the Feb. 23 Nature.

"This is a beautiful experiment. It verifies ... one of the strangest aspects of the nature of physical reality that is presented to us by quantum theory," comments theorist Richard Jozsa of the University of Bristol in England, who dreamed up the scenario in 1998.

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