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Vox Sentences: Quantum leap forward

Google says it’s achieved “quantum supremacy” with a prototype computer; Gantz takes a shot at building an Israeli government.

Ravi Bhat, a University of Toronto researcher, explains his work on quantum computing, in 2010.
Mike Slaughter/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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Google’s big milestone in quantum computing

  • Google claims their experimental quantum processor computed a problem that would have taken any other supercomputer thousands of years. [AP News / Rachel Lerman and Matt O’Brien]
  • A newly released paper revealed that Google’s 54-qubit computer was able to complete a task in 200 seconds that Google estimated would take over 10,000 years on non-quantum models. [Newsweek / Aristos Georgiou]
  • Ordinary computers rely on lots of small calculations, each processing “bits” of information that simply hold a 1 or a 0. In physical terms, a system of gates provides a path for electricity to flow and move data around. [New York Times / Cade Metz]
  • Quantum computers make use of “qubits,” with extremely cold materials that allow manipulation under the classical physics-bending rules of quantum mechanics. Qubits can essentially simultaneously hold a 1 and a 0, so a quantum computer can combine smaller calculations rather than generating them first. [NYT / Cade Metz]
  • This breakthrough of “quantum supremacy,” or the ability of a quantum computer to outstrip a regular computer in speed of computing, is the first of its kind to work in practice, according to Google. [Washington Post / Sarah Kaplan]
  • Quantum machine-building competitor IBM disputed Google’s “quantum supremacy” claims. The company argues its Summit supercomputer, the one Google’s experimental quantum computer compared itself to, could perform the task in two and a half days with adjustments. [The Verge / Jon Porter]
  • With quantum computing prototypes within reach, there are possibilities for medical advancements and concerns about the danger to encryption security. [NYT / David Yaffe-Bellany]

Israel’s third try at a government

  • Israel’s Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz accepted the task of forming a government in the Knesset Wednesday as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called for compromise. Gantz promised to form a more secular unity government with his right-wing rivals — but it’s not clear if that’s possible. [Jerusalem Post / Gil Hoffman]
  • Israeli parties win seats in the Knesset based on their vote share in the national elections and, if there is no outright 61-seat majority, the president grants the leader of the party with the best chance to form a coalition the first attempt to do so. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Rivlin granted Gantz 28 days to fashion a government following the failure of the Likud party’s embattled leader Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition. Likud won one less seat in the September election but has ruled on and off since 1977. [BBC]
  • Gantz has a tough task ahead convincing Likud and/or other parties to join him. But former Knesset member Einat Wilf was hopeful: “At every point he tended to be underestimated. ... Despite the numbers supposedly not adding up, Gantz has a better chance than people think he does because people tend to come together under his leadership.” [The Media Line / Tara Kavaler]


  • With a vaping-related health crisis unfolding, legalizing marijuana might help solve a lack of regulation. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • Some sexual assault survivors seek healing through self-defense training. [TIME / Gitit Ginat]
  • Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s new book tells us what has long been clear: Trump’s own advisers worry about the commander in chief’s decisions. [Politico / Bryan Bender]
  • How the language of politics has degraded under Trump: [Washington Post / Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker]
  • Joe Biden and Donald Trump have both used the term “lynching” to describe different instances of impeachment. Biden says he’s sorry and that Trump’s invocation of the term was worse. [Newsweek / James Walker]


“She has been both a visionary and a strategic leader in securing equality, fairness, and the rule of law not only in the realm of theory, but in social institutions and the lives of individuals.” [2019 Berggruen Prize committee chairman Kwame Anthony Appiah on why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg won the award]

Watch this: What happens when we die?

By looking into the dreams of terminal individuals, we might just find an answer to the age-old question. [YouTube / Alex Clark]

Help us with an upcoming episode of Glad You Asked about loneliness: Record an audio clip on your phone (1 minute or less) about a time you felt lonely, then email the clip to with your name and age. Your story might be featured in our video.

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