Quantum computers could someday be millions of times more faster than the best supercomputers today because they can work on a huge number of calculations at the same time. An international team of researchers announced Thursday (subscription required) that they are closer to creating a practical quantum computer after creating bits of information that survived at room temperature for 39 minutes; The previous record was 2 seconds.

Generally, quantum computers need to operate at near to absolute zero (-459.67 degrees Fahrenheit) to preserve the special characteristics of the particles on which they rely. In this case, the researchers took around 10 billion phosphorus atoms and manipulated their nuclei until they entered a key quantum state: They could be a “0” or a “1” at the same time. Current computers store data as a string of “0s” and “1s”, which are registered in sequence. When an atom can be a “0”…

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