Professor Catherine C. McGeoch of Amherst College fed a problem to an experimental computer by D-Wave Systems and it solved it 3,600 times faster than a conventional computer would have, reports the New York Times.
This is the highly experimental world of quantum computing, which “makes use of such unusual properties of quantum physics as a particle’s ability to move in one direction and its opposite at the same time.”
Confused yet? Don’t worry. It’s weird and complicated stuff, but the takeaway is this – scientists are re-imagining how computers work at their most basic level and it’s leading to faster and more powerful devices.
Don’t expect to have a quantum computer in your home any time soon – the applications here are far too specific and the hardware too costly for these machines to become household objects. But that’s only for now.