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Can we build a quantum computer?

These machines would have huge benefits, but scientists are struggling to create one

By Philip Ball   December 2013

When people first hear about quantum computers, a common response is “where and when can I get one?” But that’s the wrong question, and not just because you’ll be disappointed with the answer. Quantum computers are often said to promise faster, bigger, more multi-layered computation—but they are not, and might never be, an upgrade of your laptop. They’re just not that sort of machine. So what are they, and why do we want them?

You could argue that your…

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