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Human intuition outperformed the most advanced computer algorithms in a quantum physics video game at the Aarhus University of Denmark.

According to a study published in Nature on April 13, a research team led by physicist Jacob Sherson designed the game Quantum Moves, which challenges the user to move and merge atoms to very specific configurations at high speeds.

The human players discovered strategies the computers missed, allowing the scientists to feed these more effective movement types back into the scientists’ computer algorithm, improving its performance.

The participants’ success was attributed to their willingness to use imperfect solutions to save time, while the computer spent more time searching for perfect solutions.

The mouse movements in the game simulate the laser beams used in the Aarhus University lab to move single atoms, an operation that allows the system to make quantum calculation. 

This lab then used the results of the game and the improved algorithm to work toward creating a quantum computer, a minuscule computer built of some of the smallest physical particles. As machines' capacity for computational power grows, smaller and more powerful physical units are needed to keep up with the technology, a problem that is solved by quantum computers. This innovation also would allow computers to utilize some of the nature-defying properties of quantum particles, with the potential of creating powerful “supercomputers”

Supercomputers aside, a very distinct picture emerged from the study of Quantum Moves – when humans and computers work together, they provide powerful answers that neither could alone.

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