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QED

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SHORTLISTED | Quantum Shorts 2018

About the Film: 

Physics is personified in this short film from Professor Chetan V. Kotabage and his team in India. Depressed and anguished, E (Electron) approaches N (Nature). Though N arranged for E’s removal from a nucleus through beta decay, he was not aware of the drama she went through. N offers her a chance to prove her substance - with the catch that it requires huge personal sacrifice. E stands at a junction where she has to make a choice. Chetan previously won the Quantum Shorts People’s Choice and Runner Up in 2016 with The Guardian.

To understand the science that inspired this human drama, read up on beta decay: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_decay

INTERVIEW:

How did you come up with the idea for your film?

It started with a call for entries for a science film festival. I considered a flash fiction I had written for Quantum Shorts 2017 - ‘Diary of an electron’ - for that project. After many revisions, we prepared the final draft of the screenplay.

The film is inspired by Quantum Electrodynamics, Feynman diagrams, beta-decay and the Dirac equation. It is made as a tribute to three Nobel Laureates, Robindranath Tagore, Richard Feynman, and P.A. M. Dirac. The poems and songs of Robindranath are deeply rooted in our lives and QED stands predominately on the shoulders of the other two giants! While preparing for Quantum Shorts, I got to know that 2018 is the birth centenary of Richard Feynman.

Please tell us about yourself and the team that made the film

Mr. Mukund Sawant, who has been working in a media center of a prestigious institute in Mumbai, was instrumental in forming a technical team. All of them are professionals working in media in Mumbai. Nishigandha Kanurkar is a professional dancer, choreographer and artist.Sanjay Deshpande is a versatile sitar player and musician. Abhay Inamdar is a lyricist, script writer and director. The entire project was financed by Dr. V. V. Kotabage and Amita Naigaonkar. Dr. Chetan V. Kotabage is associate professor of physics at KLS Gogte Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India.

How did you make the movie?

We decided to shoot the film at my home town, as it was convenient in every aspect. The ghat, which is about 300 years old, was fixed as a location.

The two prizes I had won in Quantum Shorts 2016 made it easy to convince my father and wife to be producers. Thanks to Quantum Shorts!

We spent 1.5 days for the shoot. It was quite a task because the ghat is a public place. We had to keep people, dogs, and goats out of frame as the day passed by. After the shoot, while departing, one of our crew members said, “No matter how much you try, there is something always left out!” Later we noticed that the pair-annihilation diagram didn’t show up as expected in the footage due to bright light. So, I had to travel 500 km for a shot that was about 5 seconds long!

To qualify for Quantum Shorts, the challenge was to reduce the run time of our film from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. Thankfully, it worked.

What reaction do you hope for from viewers?

I hope that those who do not understand physics enjoy a story of an electron who chooses a different path. For those who understand physics, I hope that they enjoy physics and the story as well!

What is your favourite science-inspired or sci-fi movie?

Back to the future

What does being a Quantum Shorts finalist mean to you?

It means being on cloud nine.

About the filmmaker(s): 

Chetan V. Kotabage is associate professor of physics at KLS Gogte Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India.

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Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

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.

U is for ...
Universe

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

J is for ...
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Quantum biology

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Computing

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

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Key

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

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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.

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Cryptography

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

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.

I is for ...
Information

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

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.

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.

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.

G is for ...
Gluon

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

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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”.

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.

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.

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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