Judging Panel

Artur Ekert

Artur is the Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore. He is also a Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, UK. His main research interest is information processing in quantum systems. Artur is a co-inventor of quantum cryptography, which uses the fundamental laws of physics to guarantee perfectly secure communication. He has worked, communicated with and advised several companies and government agencies. He is a recipient of several awards, including the 1995 Maxwell Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics and the 2007 Royal Society Hughes Medal. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016. In his non-academic life he is an avid scuba diver.

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. Chad's books How to Teach Physics to Your Dog and How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog explain modern physics through imaginary conversations with his German Shepherd. His most recent books are Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist and Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects. He lives in Niskayuna, NY with his wife, Kate Nepveu, and their two kids. Photo credit: Ryan Lash

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. National Magazine Awards in 2002 and 2011.

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 Foundation’s Orlando Prize, and the Institute of Physics (UK)’s 2017 Flash Competition.  Her short collection Things I Dream About When I'm Not Sleeping was a runner up for BFFA’s first Novella-in-Flash competition.  Links to some of Ingrid’s work can be found at www.ingridj.com and she tweets @LunchOnTuesday

Lindy Orthia

Lindy is a senior lecturer in science communication at the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS), the Australian National University. She has published extensively on representations of science in fiction, including in Springer’s Encyclopedia of Science Education and international journals such as Sex RolesPublic Understanding of Science, and Journal of Popular Television. In 2013 she edited the book Doctor Who and Race (Intellect), which included a group of essays on links between race and science in Doctor Who, and with Marcus Harmes she is co-editor of the forthcoming volume Doctor Who and Science (McFarland, projected 2020/21). In 2010 she pioneered CPAS’s undergraduate and postgraduate course ‘Science in Popular Fiction’ and taught it from 2010-2017, being awarded the 2013 ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence partly on its basis. Find out more at her work and personal websites.

Mariia Mykhailova

Mariia is a 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. Mariia drives the education and outreach work in her team, figuring out new efficient ways to help people learn quantum computing and get started with Microsoft Quantum Development Kit. In her spare time Mariia organizes programming competitions, creates puzzles and writes fairy tales in Russian, and is an avid fiction reader.

Michael Brooks

Michael, who holds a PhD in quantum physics, is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He is a consultant at New Scientist and the author of numerous books including The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook, Hollywood Wants to Kill You and the bestselling non-fiction title 13 Things That Don't Make Sense. He co-hosts the award-winning podcast Science(ish), which delves into the science behind popular culture.

Yvonne Gao

Yvonne is an experimental physicist in Singapore developing state-of-the-art hardware for quantum information processing. She has been named in MIT Technology Review’s TR35 Innovators Under 35 Asia list for 2020 and awarded the Singapore National Research Foundation Fellowship (Class of 2020). Yvonne earned her doctorate at Yale University, where she worked on constructing the crucial building blocks of quantum computers using superconducting microwave circuits. She earlier graduated with First Class Honours in Physics from the University of Oxford. She returned to Singapore in 2018 to be part of the A*STAR Quantum Technologies for Engineering (QTE) programme, where she works on developing the key experimental capabilities needed to build robust quantum devices. Outside the lab, Yvonne plays an active role in the quantum ecosystem through public talks, popular science writing, and community-building events.

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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 ...
Gluon

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

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.

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.

I is for ...
Information

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

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.

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.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

U is for ...
Universe

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

I is for ...
Interferometer

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

R is for ...
Randomness

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ...
Key

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

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”.

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.

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 ...
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.

K is for ...
Kaon

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

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