When the 2008 Bond film came out with the title Quantum of Solace, science fans may have been hoping for a plot that hinged on quantum physics. Bond didn’t deliver, but there are some pretty great quantum-inspired movies out there. And soon there’ll be a few more.
This online contest for films that take inspiration from quantum physics boasts prizes that include cash amounts of up to 2,000 Singapore dollars (around $1,500 U.S. dollars), digital subscriptions to Scientific American and engraved trophies. A team of eminent judges will select the winners in open and student categories. The judges include Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief of Scientific American, Artur Ekert, co-inventor of quantum cryptography and Charlotte Stoddart, Head of Multimedia at Nature. There will also be a “people’s choice” prize decided by public vote.
You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, 2015 to enter films. You can find details on how to enter, inspiring quantum facts and the contest rules on the competition website.
Perhaps you aren’t convinced that quantum physics has the raw materials for making a good movie? Let Mariette DiChristina persuade you. At the conclusion of last year’s Quantum Shorts competition for flash fiction, she wrote, “this stranger-than-fiction discipline has inspired some first-class narrative thrills.” Scientific American joined Quantum Shorts in 2013 as a media partner, and DiChristina was a judge then too.
Quantum physics, it turns out, is crammed with intriguing characters, crazy ideas and ready-made plot twists. Though the winning story in 2013 was all words, it had a cinematic scope. In The Knight of Infinity, by Brian Crawford, a wealthy, grieving widower called Rider Quinn plans to drive a train down a track that forks over a canyon in the California desert. One branch crosses a bridge, the other ends in thin air. A quantum measurement determines the path the train takes and hence Quinn’s fate. That put his future at the mercy of ongoing debates among researchers in the real world over how to interpret quantum measurements. As Crawford wrote:
“The ‘Copenhagens’ believed that while a quantum particle existed in all possible states at once, the instant it was measured it would be forced into one probability or another. Quinn would live or die, and that was that. But for the other camp, the ‘Many-Worlders,’ the quantum event triggered a divergence not just of trains but of universes: the train went all directions, Quinn lived and died, and infinite crowds were thrilled and dismayed by the outcomes.”
To find out what happened, read the full story here.
You should also take in this brilliant short film, Quantum Daughter, by GleNKTV, in which the daughter of Ernest Rutherford journeys through the multiverse using a Parallel Universe App while trying to renew her Quantum Computer Phone Contract. It’s a striking, scientifically rich animation:
Quantum Daughter won the Quantum Shorts 2012 short film competition. The other films that made the 2012 shortlist are available on the 2014 competition site for your inspiration.
The Quantum Shorts competitions are organized by the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore. The centre has some 200 scientists and students researching the quantum nature of reality and quantum possibilities in technology. Through these competitions, the centre invites others to explore the quantum world, too.
Everyone was blown away by the creativity of entries to Quantum Shorts in 2012 and 2013, so the judges can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store. “My first-hand experience of the thrills of the quantum world gives me every confidence that we can expect some thrilling films. I will have popcorn ready,” says Artur Ekert, Director of the Centre of Quantum Technologies and a professor of quantum physics at the University of Oxford in the U.K.
Scientific American and Nature are exited to serve as media partners in support of Quantum Shorts 2014.