Today's computing is painfully slow. That's because computers rely on long strings of 0's and 1's, each of which act as a yes or no. It's a never-ending game of Twenty Questions.
Computing of the future could very well rely on probabilities rather than clear yes or no answers. By employing quantum mechanics -- that bizarre subatomic lair where particles can assume multiple states at the same time -- computers could base answers on the most-likely possible states of those particles. In theory, that means answers could be delivered exponentially faster than today's fastest computers could handle.
It's a promising solution, but one that's been discussed for decades. Many companies are working on quantum computing technology, including Hewlett-Packard(HPQ), IBM(IBM), Microsoft(MSFT), and defense contractor Lockheed Martin(LMT). Meanwhile, BlackBerry(BBRY) co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin just created a $100 million venture capital fund to "incubate and commercialize quantum science tech."
But nobody has proven the technology can actually outpace traditional computers yet.