Rules and Eligibility

Quantum Shorts 2023 Flash Fiction Contest (“Contest”)

Official Rules

Contest may be entered in or from any country worldwide.  This Contest is governed exclusively by the laws of Singapore. 

1. Eligibility. Participation in the Contest is open to individuals worldwide who are age 13 and over as of the date of entry.

Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. Members of the judging panel, employees, officers and directors of the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore (“Organizer”), Scientific American and  Nature, (“Media Partners”), the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems; the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies; the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo;  the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech in the United States; Qutech; and the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (“Scientific Partners”), and their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, advertising and promotion agencies, manufacturers or distributors of Contest materials and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouse) of such individuals/employees/officers/directors are not eligible to enter.

2. How to Enter.  To enter, go to (“Site”) during the Contest Period (as defined below), read the Official Rules, create an account on the website, and then submit your entry by typing or pasting your short story into the online form and completing the required fields. Only online submissions will be accepted.  All entry information and short stories shall be collectively referred to herein as the “Submissions” or each as a “Submission.”  Submissions must comply with the Guidelines and Restrictions defined below.  Organizer reserves the right to cancel or modify this Contest in the event an insufficient number of entries are received that meet the minimum judging criteria. 

By entering, each entrant warrants and represents the following with respect to their Submission: (a) entrant is the sole and exclusive owner and copyright holder of the Submission and has the full rights to grant the license herein; (b) the Submission is 100% original and does not contain any third party copyrighted material, brand names or trademarks or any content that otherwise infringes on the privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of a third party; (c) the Submission is suitable for general audiences (i.e., it may not be obscene or indecent or contain objectionable content, including but not limited to nudity, sexual content, pornography or violent, illegal or profane depictions); (d) the Submission does not contain material that is tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous or that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred, harm to any group or individual or discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; and (e) the Submission complies with all Guidelines and Restrictions (as defined at Section 4 below).

Each entrant further consents to give a royalty-free, sublicensable, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license for the Organizer, the Media Partners, the Scientific Partners and such other partners as may be determined from time to time to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works from, and display such Submission in whole or in part, on a worldwide basis, and to incorporate it into other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, including any and all Internet media, including the Organizer, the Media Partners, and the Scientific Partners’ web sites and properties and on social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, YouTube, X (formerly known as Twitter), etc.).

All entrants must have a valid email address. No automated entry devices and/or programs permitted.  Receipt of entries will not be acknowledged. Organizer is not responsible for lost, late, illegible, stolen, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, technically corrupted or garbled entries, which will be disqualified, or for problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic.  Only fully completed entry forms are eligible.  Proof of submission will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by Organizer. 

3. Start/End Dates. Contest begins at 01.00.01 AM GMT on October 24, 2023 and ends at 11:59:59 PM GMT on January 8, 2024 (“Contest Period”).

4. Submission Guidelines and Content Restrictions: By entering, each entrant confirms that his or her Submission conforms to the Submission Guidelines and Content Restrictions as defined below (collectively, the “Guidelines and Restrictions”) and agrees that Organizer, in its sole discretion, may remove any Submission and disqualify an entrant from the Contest if it believes, in its sole discretion, that the entrant’s Submission fails to conform to the Guidelines and Restrictions. 

            Submission Guidelines:

  • The Submission must not exceed 1000 words in length.
  • The Submission must be clearly inspired by some aspect of quantum physics.
  • The Submission must include the sentence “Nobody said this was going to be easy” (“Constraint”)
  • The Submission must be in English.
  • The Submission must be typed or copied and pasted into the entry form at the time of entry.
  • The Submission must by created by the entrant, and cannot be generated using artificial intelligence (in whole or part).


  • The Submission must be 100% original and entrant must be the sole and exclusive owner and copyright holder of the Submission;
  • The Submission is eligible after prior publication only if the first publication date was after 1 December 2021;
  • The Submission must not contain material that violates or infringes any rights of any other party, including but not limited to copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or any other intellectual property rights;
  • The Submission must be suitable for general audiences;
  • The Submission must not in any way disparage Organizer, Media Partners, Scientific Partners, or any other person or party;
  • The Submission must not contain material that is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous;
  • The Submission must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age;
  • The Submission must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations of the United States, Singapore or of any jurisdiction where Submission is created; and
  • The Submission cannot promote illegal drugs or firearms (or the use of any of the foregoing), or any activities that may appear unsafe or dangerous, or any particular political agenda or message.

Organizer’s decisions are final and binding in all matters relating to this Contest, including, but not limited to, interpretation and application of these Official Rules.  By entering the Contest, entrants fully and unconditionally agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the judges, which will be final and binding in all matters relating to the Contest.  Organizer reserves the right to select fewer than the stated number of prizes if, in its sole discretion, it does not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified Submissions. 

5. Judging/Judging Criteria. The judging process will take place in stages as follows:

Shortlisting: Representatives of the Organizer and Partners that have the required knowledge and experience to apply the judging criteria will shortlist Submissions. All Submissions will be judged based on the following criteria (“Judging Criteria”): (a) storytelling, (b) creative use of Constraint and (c) connections to quantum physics. Subject to verification, eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules, up to ten (10) Submissions will be shortlisted (“Shortlisted Entrants”). Shortlisted Entrants will be notified by the end of February, 2024.

Selection of Prize winners: A panel of judges selected by the Organizer that have the required knowledge and experience to apply the Judging Criteria will select one (1) winner (“Winner”) and one (1) runner-up (“Runner-Up”) from the Shortlisted Entrants. Subject to verification, eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules, the Winner and Runner-Up will be selected by the judging panel on or about April 2024.  In the event that the judges declare a tie with respect to any Winner or Runner-Up position the cash portion of the applicable Prize will be divided equally between entrants who submitted the tied Submissions, and each of the tied entrants will receive a trophy.

Public Voting for People’s Choice Prize: Online public voting on the shortlist begins at 01.00.01 AM GMT on March 11, 2024 and ends at 11:59:59PM GMT on March 29, 2024 (the "Voting Period").  Members of the public can go to the Site during the Voting Period to vote for the Submission that best meets the Judging Criteria, as described in these Rules. Voting is limited to one (1) vote per person/authorized account holder during the Voting Period.

Organizer retains the right, at its sole discretion, and without prior notice to entrants, to change or delay the dates of the judging process.

Use by entrants and third parties of personal social media accounts, blogs and websites to direct participants to voting site is permissible.  Organizer has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Contest, including the right to void votes, including, but not limited to, for the following reasons:

1. Multiple votes from the same user from different IP addresses or from different email addresses; fraudulent entry votes (using a redirect link, a disguised link, a fraudulent link, etc.);

2. Technical malfunction of servers or internet connection;

3. User(s) recanting their own votes;

4. Technical or content upgrades that render votes incompatible or inconsistent;

5. Inappropriate conduct in promoting votes (spam, harassment, etc.);

6. The purchase or exchange of votes domestically or overseas;

7. Payment or other forms of compensation offered in exchange for votes; and

8.Use of third-party websites, online social networking tools, or similar devices primarily designed or intended to generate or trade votes.

The entry that attracts the largest number of public votes during the Voting Period will win an additional ‘People’s Choice’ prize (“People’s Choice Prize,” won by the “People’s Choice Winner”).  Odds of winning depend on the number and quality of Submissions received.  

6. Prizes. Up to thirteen (13) prizes (each, a “Prize”) will be awarded across the Contest.  

  1. Up to ten (10) stories will be shortlisted. A shortlist award of USD 100, a certificate and a one-year digital subscription to Scientific American will be awarded to each Shortlisted Entrant.
  2. First prize: USD 1500 and an engraved trophy
  3. Runner up: USD 1000 and an engraved trophy
  4. People’s Choice Prize: USD 500 and an engraved trophy

Certificates and trophies will be shipped on provision of a postal address. Organizer is not responsible for any customs or import fees.

Total approximate retail value of all prizes: USD $4,390.

Prize(s) is/are non-transferable.  No substitutions.  In the case of unavailability of any prize, Organizer reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value.  All expenses not specifically listed herein are the responsibility of winner(s).  If any winner is considered a minor in his/her jurisdiction of residence, such prize will be delivered to minor’s parent/legal guardian and awarded in the name of parent/legal guardian who must agree in writing to be bound by these Official Rules.

7. Notification. Shortlisted Entrants will be notified by email before the end of February, 2024.  Potential Shortlisted Entrants may be required to execute and return an affirmation of eligibility, release of liability, and, except where prohibited, any necessary publicity release(s) (collectively, “Supporting Documents”) by email with return receipt requested within five (5) business days of such notification. Noncompliance within this time period will result in disqualification and, at Organizer’s sole discretion, an alternate potential Shortlisted Entrant may be selected from the remaining eligible Submissions. If any potential Shortlisted Entrant cannot be reached, is found to be ineligible, cannot or does not comply with these Official Rules, or if any or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, potential Winner will be disqualified and time permitting, and at Organizer’s sole discretion, an alternate potential Winner may be selected from the remaining eligible Submissions. Upon prize forfeiture, no compensation will be given. 

8. Conditions. Organizer shall not be liable or responsible in the event that any winning Submission is not used for any reason.  Submissions may be cut, edited, reformatted, rearranged, combined with other materials and/or otherwise modified, in Organizer’s sole and absolute discretion.  Any and all federal, state and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winners. Participation in Contest and/or acceptance of prize constitutes each winner’s permission for Organizer, the Media Partners, and the Scientific Partners, to use his/her name, address (city and state), likeness, photograph, picture, portrait, voice, biographical information, Submission and/or any statements made by each winner regarding the Contest or Organizer for advertising, promotional or editorial purposes without notice or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. By participating, entrants and winners agree to release, waive, discharge, absolve, indemnify, agree to hold harmless and covenant not to sue Organizer, the Media Partners, and the Scientific Partners, and their advertising and promotion agencies and their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors (collectively, “Released Entities”), from any and all liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever which the entrant, or their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns had, now have or hereafter may have, by reason of any matter connected in any way with the Contest, including without limitation, property damage, personal injury and/or death which may occur in connection with, preparation for or participation in Contest, or possession, acceptance and/or use or misuse of prize or participation in any Contest-related activity and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, trademark infringement or any other intellectual property-related cause of action.  Entrants who do not comply with these Official Rules, or attempt to interfere with this Contest in any way shall be disqualified. Organizer is not responsible if Contest cannot take place or if any prize cannot be awarded due to any cause beyond its reasonable control, including travel cancellations, delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters, disease or epidemic, weather or acts of terrorism.  

9. Additional Terms. Any attempted form of entry other than as set forth in Section 1 above is prohibited; no automatic, programmed; robotic or similar means of entry are permitted. Organizer, its affiliates, partners and promotion and advertising agencies are not responsible for technical, hardware, software, telephone or other communications malfunctions, errors or failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, web site, Internet, or ISP availability, unauthorized human intervention, traffic congestion, incomplete or inaccurate capture of entry information (regardless of cause) or failed, incomplete, garbled, jumbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit one’s ability to enter the Contest, including any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participating in this Contest or downloading any materials in this Contest.  Organizer reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, extend or suspend this Contest should (in its sole discretion) virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Contest. In such case, Organizer will select the winners from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Organizer. Organizer reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds, in its sole discretion, to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or web site.  Organizer may prohibit an entrant from participating in the Contest or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Organizer representatives.


In the event of a dispute as to any Submission, the authorized account holder of the email address used to register or submit content will be deemed to be the entrant and must comply with these Official Rules.  The "authorized account holder" is the natural person assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted address. Each entrant may be required to show proof of being an authorized account holder.


11. Use of Data.  By participating in the Contest, entrants hereby agree to Organizer’s collection and usage of their personal information for the purpose of the Contest.  The Organizer will collect and use entrants’ personal data for purposes including the administration of judging, prizes, monitoring of participation trends and marketing of the Contest and publicity of the winners at the Organizer’s websites/social media platforms etc. The Organization’s privacy policy is at

12. List of Winners. To obtain a list of winners, send an email by June 1, 2024 to:

13. Organizer. Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore, Block S15, 3 Science Drive 2, Singapore 117543.

ABBREVIATED RULES (for use in advertising)

No purchase necessary. Contest is void where prohibited.  Ends 1/8/2024. Subject to the official rules at


No purch. nec.  Ends 1/8/2024.  Official rules:

Quantum Theories: A to Z

U is for ...

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

T is for ...

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.

G is for ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

M is for ...

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

E is for ...

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. 

P is for ...

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.

I is for ...

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

M is for ...

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.

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.

A is for ...
Act of observation

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

X is for ...

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.

D is for ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

C is for ...

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.

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.

S is for ...

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

R is for ...

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!

I is for ...

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

W is for ...

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.

D is for ...

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

L is for ...

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!

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”.

Q is for ...

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.

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.

A is for ...

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

T is for ...

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.

S is for ...

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

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.

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.

R is for ...

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

K is for ...

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

G is for ...

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

E is for ...

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.

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.

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.

T is for ...

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.

T is for ...
Time travel

Is time travel really possible? This article looks at what relativity and quantum mechanics has to say.

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.

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.

C is for ...

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.

N is for ...

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.

C is for ...

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

K is for ...

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

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!

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.

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