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.
SHORTLISTED | Quantum Shorts 2018
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
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.
Chetan V. Kotabage is associate professor of physics at KLS Gogte Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India.