Ideas at the heart of quantum theory, to do with randomness and the character of the molecules that make up the physical matter of our brains, lead some researchers to suggest humans can’t have free will.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE PRIZE | Quantum Shorts 2018
Legio VIII Quantae is a settlement established in León in 2022, after the fall of the “Silicon Empire”. To stop the economic loss that the city was suffering after the end of the Moore’s Law, a group of physicists founded the Quantum Academy of Arts and Science. The resulting "Technological Quantum Empire" spreads nature’s quantumness through society, to people of all ages and professions, in this future envisioned by Andrea Rodriguez Blanco and her team in Spain.
For background reading, this report gives a wide ranging look at future quantum technologies (albeit constrained by fact): https://www.economist.com/news/essays/21717782-quantum-technology-beginning-come-its-own
Please tell us about yourself and the team that made the film
I did a BSc in Physics at University of La Laguna, in Tenerife, Spain. After a summer school in Austria, I got fascinated with the idea of using trapped ions as the new bits for quantum computing. Ever since, I have done experimental research with trapped ions. Recently, I started my PhD at Complutense University of Madrid working on more theoretical aspects of quantum computing and quantum information processing. I am still focused on trapped ions, which have already become part of my family!
The team that helped me to tell the story is mostly family members and friends. Having barely any knowledge about quantum physics, they still believed in the project and kindly contributed to giving shape to the new quantum-type society that constitutes Legio VIII Quantae.
How did you come up with the idea for your film?
I wanted to tell a story by taking quantum into people every-day’s life, just by adding a bit of quantumness to their daily activities. For the people in the film, even if they had not heard about quantum before, you could start noticing how they became intrigued and asked questions about the meaning of their roles. Whether or not they fully understood the concepts, I am sure in any case that the word quantum will not sound unfamiliar to them anymore and in that way I accomplished one of my goals.
What makes you interested in quantum physics?
My great interest in quantum physics started when I spent a year of my BSc at University College London. There I was working on quantum thermodynamics and also in close contact with the field of quantum biology, which I found really interesting. Over the years, I have also had the opportunity to work in quantum sensing projects and more recently in quantum information processing and error-correction protocols with trapped ions. I can clearly see how the quantum inspiration merged from all those research experiences knotted together.
Please tell us an interesting story about the making of your movie.
One of the most engaging moments during the filming was the scene with the elderly ladies playing the quantum-cards game. There was my grandmother, my great-aunts and their lifelong friends. I have grown up watching them playing Spanish cards every Thursday at that bar. It was really fun to see how they pretended playing the quantum game in a professional and natural manner. We all laughed a lot; it was a really emotive moment.
What reaction do you hope for from viewers?
In those not familiar with quantum physics, I would like to trigger curiosity about understanding nature from another point of view. At the same time, I hope it makes the quantum community think about the need to share our research with society with more outreach activities and educational materials.
Also, the film makes a call to Spanish society to appreciate that scientific and technological research leads to progress and, in particular, to not remain behind on the emerging field of quantum technologies.
What is your favourite science-inspired or sci-fi movie?
Ant-Man and the Wasp - I think it is the most satisfying superhero movie for a quantum physicist!
What does being a Quantum Shorts finalist mean to you?
It gives me the opportunity to show that your origin is not important. Even if you come from a small town where no-one knows about quantum physics, what matters is your motivation and drive to do what you love and enjoy. Being a finalist gives me a chance to show that quantum physics could spread to arts, science and technology beyond major cities.
Andrea Rodriguez Blanco is doing a PhD in theoretical quantum computing and quantum information at Complutense University of Madrid.