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LEGIO VIII QUANTAE. "The quantum resurgence after the fall of Silicon Valley"

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PEOPLE'S CHOICE PRIZE | Quantum Shorts 2018

About the Film: 

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

INTERVIEW:

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.

About the filmmaker(s): 

Andrea Rodriguez Blanco is doing a PhD in theoretical quantum computing and quantum information at Complutense University of Madrid.

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Quantum Theories: A to Z

H is for ...
Hawking Radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.

Z is for ...
Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

P is for ...
Planck's Constant

This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.

M is for ...
Maths

Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.

X is for ...
X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

R is for ...
Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

B is for ...
Bell's Theorem

In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!

R is for ...
Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

V is for ...
Virtual particles

Quantum theory’s uncertainty principle says that since not even empty space can have zero energy, the universe is fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs that pop in and out of existence. These “virtual” particles are the source of Hawking radiation.

H is for ...
Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

Q is for ...
Qubit

One quantum bit of information is known as a qubit (pronounced Q-bit). The ability of quantum particles to exist in many different states at once means a single quantum object can represent multiple qubits at once, opening up the possibility of extremely fast information processing.

R is for ...
Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

N is for ...
Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

F is for ...
Free Will

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.

Y is for ...
Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

G is for ...
Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

L is for ...
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

At CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, this machine is smashing apart particles in order to discover their constituent parts and the quantum laws that govern their behaviour.

W is for ...
Wavefunction

The mathematics of quantum theory associates each quantum object with a wavefunction that appears in the Schrödinger equation and gives the probability of finding it in any given state.

C is for ...
Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

U is for ...
Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

M is for ...
Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

O is for ...
Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

J is for ...
Josephson Junction

This is a narrow constriction in a ring of superconductor. Current can only move around the ring because of quantum laws; the apparatus provides a neat way to investigate the properties of quantum mechanics and is a technology to build qubits for quantum computers.

S is for ...
Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

I is for ...
Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer: the device’s output is a pattern that can only be explained by the photon passing simultaneously through two widely-separated slits.

T is for ...
Tunnelling

This happens when quantum objects “borrow” energy in order to bypass an obstacle such as a gap in an electrical circuit. It is possible thanks to the uncertainty principle, and enables quantum particles to do things other particles can’t.

K is for ...
Key

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a way to create secure cryptographic keys, allowing for more secure communication.

P is for ...
Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

M is for ...
Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

L is for ...
Light

We used to believe light was a wave, then we discovered it had the properties of a particle that we call a photon. Now we know it, like all elementary quantum objects, is both a wave and a particle!

S is for ...
Sensors

Researchers are harnessing the intricacies of quantum mechanics to develop powerful quantum sensors. These sensors could open up a wide range of applications.

D is for ...
Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

U is for ...
Uncertainty Principle

One of the most famous ideas in science, this declares that it is impossible to know all the physical attributes of a quantum particle or system simultaneously.

W is for ...
Wave-particle duality

It is possible to describe an atom, an electron, or a photon as either a wave or a particle. In reality, they are both: a wave and a particle.

C is for ...
Clocks

The most precise clocks we have are atomic clocks which are powered by quantum mechanics. Besides keeping time, they can also let your smartphone know where you are.

I is for ...
Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

A is for ...
Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

S is for ...
Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

D is for ...
Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

K is for ...
Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

A is for ...
Alice and Bob

In quantum experiments, these are the names traditionally given to the people transmitting and receiving information. In quantum cryptography, an eavesdropper called Eve tries to intercept the information.

E is for ...
Entanglement

When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.

A is for ...
Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

Q is for ...
Quantum biology

A new and growing field that explores whether many biological processes depend on uniquely quantum processes to work. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are photosynthesis, smell and the navigation of migratory birds.

T is for ...
Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

C is for ...
Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

T is for ...
Time

The arrow of time is “irreversible”—time goes forward. This doesn’t seem to follow the laws of physics which work the same going forward or backward in time. Some physicists argue that there is a more fundamental quantum source for the arrow of time.

B is for ...
Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

At extremely low temperatures, quantum rules mean that atoms can come together and behave as if they are one giant super-atom.

S is for ...
Superposition

Quantum objects can exist in two or more states at once: an electron in superposition, for example, can simultaneously move clockwise and anticlockwise around a ring-shaped conductor.

G is for ...
Gravity

Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.

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