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In 1971, a physicist conceptualized the existence of a fourth fundamental element in the electronic circuit, besides the three that were already in use at the time.
His name was Leon Chua and he believed -- for reasons of symmetry -- that an extra component could one day be constructed to join the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor.
He called it "memristor", a portmanteau of the words memory and resistor.
It took 37 years for our engineering abilities to catch up with that idea: the first memristor was built by Hewlett Packard in 2008.
And today, many researchers believe it could spark a revolution in computing.
In a transistor, once the flow of electrons is interrupted by, say, cutting the power, all information is lost. But a memristor can remember the amount of charge that was flowing through it, and much like a memory stick it will retain the data even when the power is turned off.