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Quantum computing: Super-fast speeds

ground breaking technologies

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.

  @DavidGoldmanCNN - Last updated April 01 2013 05:54 AM ET

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