Quantum Shorts

Calling all writers!

We have a new call for flash fiction! 

In the quantum world, objects really can exist in a superposition. Tease a story from the possibilities to enter the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition. Entries must be no longer than 1000 words and include the phrase “it’s a lot to think about”. Do not think for too long – enter by the deadline for a chance to win prizes!

Read the full rules here and submit your stories here.

News

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Latest Update

5 Oct 2021
Send us your quantum-inspired flash fiction
5 Mar 2021
Winners of the Quantum Shorts film festival
26 Jan 2021
Film festival shortlist announced

Organisers

Our Partners

Media Partners

  • Scientific American

Scientific Partners

  • Mariia Mykhailova

    Mariia is a Principal Software Engineer on the Microsoft Quantum Systems team. Microsoft Quantum is building a full-stack open cloud quantum ecosystem, bringing together experts and learners around the world.

  • Lindy Orthia

    Lindy is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University School of Sociology and a researcher at non-profit National Seniors Australia, having worked for over a decade as a science communication academic elsewhere. She has published extensively on representations of science in fiction, including in Springer’s 'Encyclopedia of Science Education' and international journals such as 'International Journal of Science Education Part B', 'Journal of Science Communication' and 'Sex Roles'.

  • George Musser

    George Musser is a contributing editor for Scientific American magazine and author of two books on fundamental physics, Spooky Action at a Distance and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory. He was a writer-in-residence at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in 2011. He has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics and, with his Scientific American colleagues, U.S.

  • Ingrid Jendrzejewski

    Ingrid Jendrzejewski serves as Co-director of National Flash Fiction Day (UK), Editor in Chief of FlashBack Fiction and Flash Flood, and a flash editor at JMWW.  She studied creative writing and English literature at the University of Evansville, then physics at the University of Cambridge.  Her work has been published in places like Best Small Fictions, Passages North, The Los Angeles Review, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine.  She has won various flash competitions such as the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the A Room Of Her Own Fo

  • Chad Orzel

    Chad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College, and he writes books about science for non-scientists. He has a BA in physics from Williams College and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Maryland, College Park (studying laser cooling at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the lab of Bill Phillips, who shared the 1997 Nobel in Physics). He was a post-doc at Yale, and has been at Union since 2001.

  • José Ignacio Latorre

    José Ignacio Latorre was appointed Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies in July 2020. He is also Professor and Provost’s Chair in the National University of Singapore's Department of Physics. A leading figure in particle physics and quantum information, José Ignacio joined CQT, NUS from the University of Barcelona. He has been heading a research group at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to build the first quantum processor in Spain. He is one of the founders of the NNPDF collaboration for research on high-energy physics.

  • Tania De Rozario

    Tania De Rozario is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of And The Walls Come Crumbling Down (Math Paper Press, 2016 / Gaudy Boy, 2020), Somewhere Else, Another You (Math Paper Press, 2018) and Tender Delirium (Math Paper Press, 2013).

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

E is for ...
Ethics

As the world makes more advances in quantum science and technologies, it is time to think about how it will impact lives and how society should respond. This mini-documentary by the Quantum Daily is a good starting point to think about these ethical issues. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qc7gpabEhQ&t=2s 

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.

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.

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!

G is for ...
Gluon

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

I is for ...
Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer

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 ...
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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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.

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.

Q is for ...
Quantum States

Quantum states, which represent the state of affairs of a quantum system, change by a different set of rules than classical states.

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.

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.

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.

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.

U is for ...
Universe

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

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. This column from Quanta Magazine ​delves into the fundamental physics behind quantum computing.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

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”.

S is for ...
Superposition

The feature of a quantum system whereby it exists in several separate quantum states at the same time.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ...
Key

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

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...
Information

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

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.

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.

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

T is for ...
Time

The arrow of time is “irreversible”—time goes forward. On microscopic quantum scales, this seems less certain. A recent experiment shows that the forward pointing of the arrow of time remains a fundamental rule for quantum measurements.

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.

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.

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.

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