Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer
SHORTLISTED | Quantum Shorts 2020
Something strange is happening at home. Spanish director Javier García, a finalist from the 2014 Quantum Shorts film festival, returns with Everett Syndrome. This emotive tale turns the simple, familiar game of hide-and-seek on its head.
This film was inspired by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which goes back to Hugh Everett III. For more words about many worlds, here is one explainer: https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/the-many-worlds-theory/
Please tell us about yourself and the team that made the film.
I am a physicist, with a master's degree in particles and gravitation. I am currently a professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (Spain). I have also directed several short films and music videos for local rock bands.
Each project requires different teams. For this project, I worked with the producers Jesús Luis Jiménez and Ignacio Vargas.
How did you come up with the idea for your film? What is the quantum inspiration?
The short film was written by scriptwriter Àlex Bauzà. The initial idea was to try to describe the experience that the alienation syndrome entails for people. For medicine, it is a psychiatric pathology or an intellectual disorder, whether temporary, accidental or permanent. For psychology, it is a state of mind characterised by the loss of a sense of one's own identity, which implies that a person has become separated from himself, his reason or the world.
My contribution as a physicist was to try to imagine what the experience would be like if somehow the syndrome corresponded to some kind of interference between parallel worlds. Of course it's just speculation, but that's what cinema is all about, speculating about what would happen if...
What makes you interested in quantum physics?
It was not until I discovered physics in high school that I became deeply interested. I was fascinated by how a few rules (Newton’s laws) could describe physical systems of ordinary life as well as the trajectory of the planets in the solar system for instance.
I remember that entering university to study physics was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Years later I am still fascinated by the same thing: Why can nature be explained by mathematics? I do not think we will ever get an answer. Maybe that is what keeps me captivated.
Please share with us an interesting detail about you how made the movie.
One interesting thing is that I did not find a satisfactory way to explain to the actors what exactly was going on in the minds of the characters they were playing. In fact, it is not surprising that this happened because even I am not able to imagine what a person must feel when they have Everett syndrome. This might be because this syndrome does not exist in real world. At least I have not heard of it yet!
What reaction do you hope for from viewers?
I think the first thing they will ask themselves is: “Does this syndrome exist?” They will probably look for it on the Internet. Or maybe they will ask a friend who has studied physics.
What is your favourite science-inspired or sci-fi movie?
Coherence (2013) directed by James Ward Byrkit
What does being a Quantum Shorts finalist mean to you?
This is the second time I am a finalist. My short film The Scarf Solution was a finalist in the 2014 Quantum Shorts film festival. It makes me very happy. It is always nice to see that people like a work you have participated in, and it is especially so since this is a competition dedicated to the science that I like the most – physics!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you or your film?
No, except that you don't have to look for the syndrome on the internet because it doesn't exist (yet)!
Javier García a physics professor at IFAE.es (Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) and a filmmaker.