They underpin our economy, all mass communication, and at this point, even most of our government. But make no mistake, scientists are quickly learning that our traditional computers—from your laptop to our most advanced supercomputers—are intrinsically slow and wasteful. It's a fact: certain, everyday problems we have computers solve are becoming exponentially—almost absurdly—harder and more time-consuming as more data gets thrown into the mix. And it's an unavoidable problem because its based in how all our computers work.

For some computer scientists, the solution lies in building quantum computers—devices which take advantage of the inexplicable weirdness of atomic-level physics. The only downside? Quantum computers require cool, carefully tended environments that are beyond our current technological capabilities. But Massimiliano Di Ventra, a physicist and computer scientist at the University of California, San Diego, has an entirely different solution. He and a team of his colleagues have just designed and built the first brain-like computer prototype that bypasses certain structural limits of our modern electronics. Called the memcomputer, its the first computer to store and processes info simultaneously. It's announced today in the journal Science Advances.

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