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Encryption Gets Really Small

Scientists at the University of Geneva are collaborating with the Swiss Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on an experiment that uses quantum computers to run an unbreakable encryption algorithm. Cryptography could, in fact, be the first commercial application for this technology.

Quantum computers are molecules, and being that tiny they can process data millions of times faster than the quickest supercomputer. But being so small, they also can take advantage of the peculiar rules of quantum physics.

Conventional computers create bits of information, and each bit is either a 0 or a 1. Quantum bits, or qubits, can be both 0 and 1 or any combination of the two numbers. What's more, qubits can't be cloned or copied, making it virtually impossible for someone to break code encrypted with a quantum computer.

Before quantum computing goes commercial, many hurdles must be cleared, not the least of which will be deciding if the miniscule machines will support open-source Linux or Microsoft Windows.

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