Shortlisting Panel

Agnese Abrusci

...An apple falling on Agnese's head from her parent’s apple tree was her first (albeit unhappy) encounter with physics. She learnt the rest through her master’s degree from the University of Bari, a sunny city of the Italian South East coast. Then she felt it was time to crank it up a notch, bid farewell to the outdoor sun and moved to Cambridge, UK, to learn about how to store it! She started a PhD at the historical Cavendish Laboratory working on a new generation of low-cost plastic solar cell, then came a post-doctoral assistant position at the University of Oxford. While in Oxford, she had her eureka moment and realized that making people excited about science was just as cool as doing science! In 2013, she joined the science communication division at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. After three years of learning filming skills, practicing science storytelling, and too much good food, she enrolled in the Multimedia Production MSc program at Imperial College London. She interned at BBC Radio World Service, curated her own photographic exhibition and made a short film about Time. Last April, she joined the Quantum Science and Technology Institute at University College London as Communication and Business Development Manager.

Andrew Hanson

Andrew is Outreach Manager at the UK's National Physical Laboratory. Andrew has a scientific background in optical metrology (his first group was called ‘Quantum Metrology’), and more recently manages explaining NPL’s science to the masses. This has included overseeing and judging many film, poster and essay competitions. He has also won awards for his own filmmaking work.

Ben Criger

Ben is a post-doctoral researcher at QuTech, currently focusing on implementations of fault-tolerant quantum computing in superconducting circuits. He obtained his PhD at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada in 2013, and has pursued post-doctoral research at the RWTH in Aachen, Germany, and currently at the TU Delft in the Netherlands. 

Dagomir Kaszlikowski

Dagomir is a theoretical physicist and a filmmaker. As a Principal Investigator and Associate Professor at the Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore, he does research on the foundations of quantum theory. Topics he's interested in include contextuality and the quantum-classical boundary. As a filmmaker and movie-buff, his tastes tend to noir. He won top prize in a 2014 physics video contest by the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) for a thriller with a physics theme. Short films he's made that are not about physics have been selected for international festivals including the LA Shorts Fest.

David Gozzard

David completed his PhD at the University of Western Australia where he worked on the design and development of the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s most powerful radio telescope, research that won him ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year at the 2017 Western Australia Premier’s Science Awards. He is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Australian National University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems where he works on laser communications, LIDAR, and quantum key distribution. David is a keen science communicator who shares his passion for science through public talks, school visits, articles, social media, and science festivals. He has performed at the Perth Science Festival, spoken at TEDx, taught physics in a Jumbo Jet flying 30,000 feet over Antarctica, and built exhibits for the Gingin Gravity Discovery Centre museum.

David Hutchinson

As director of the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies – a New Zealand national Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) - David is dedicated to educational outreach, while providing strong support for industry engagement and leadership of research activities across the Centre’s five member universities. He’s initiated and led a successful public engagement partnership with the Otago Museum - of which he has been a board member since 2008 – as well as with other museums, schools and agencies throughout New Zealand. David is also a professor in the University of Otago’s Department of Physics, doing research in theoretical quantum physics. He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and a member of the Institute of Directors of New Zealand.

Kathryn Fedy

Kathryn writes about quantum information science and technology in her role as Communications Officer at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo, where she has been sharing quantum research with a variety of audiences for five years. She manages both internal and external communications at IQC. She is a graduate from the School of Business at Wilfrid Laurier University and holds specializations in marketing and psychology.

Michael Brooks

Michael, who holds a PhD in quantum physics, is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He is an advisor on outreach to the Centre for Quantum Technologies and a consultant at New Scientist. He is the author of books including At The Edge of Uncertainty, The Secret Anarchy of Science and the bestselling non-fiction title 13 Things That Don't Make Sense. He co-hosts the podcast Scienceish that delves into the science behind popular culture.

Nina Ernst

Nina Ernst is the Associate Director, Programmes for ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Her work at the museum spans public engagement through tours, talks and workshops, performances, films and events, as well as schools programmes, interactive displays and outreach. Since joining ArtScience Museum, her focus has been on growing the attendance and deepening the engagement for public programmes and visitation from schools.

Peter Chua

Peter is the public engagement and communications officer for QuantIC, the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Quantum Enhanced Imaging based the University of Glasgow. He is a Chartered Marketer and has worked for the UK Government, BBC Worldwide, Singtel and Mediacorp. At QuantIC, he’s been busy getting scientists and the public to use quantum physics to survive a zombie apocalypse at science festivals and running Quantum Physics workshops for teachers.

Spiros Michalakis

Spiros grew up in Greece, solving math puzzles and playing video games with his brothers. After high school, he moved to Boston to study Math and Computer Science at MIT, before coming to sunny California for his PhD in Applied Mathematics at UC Davis. He is now at Caltech, where he splits his time between research on theoretical quantum physics and outreach for the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter. He was a scientific advisor for the film Ant Man and is one of the creators of qCraft for Minecraft, a mod that brings the principles of quantum physics to the Minecraft game. He was also the instigator of the short film Anyone Can Quantum (2016), a viral hit that featured a quantum chess match between Stephen Hawking and Paul Rudd.

Quantum Theories: A to Z

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.

G is for ...

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

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.

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.

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.

C is for ...

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

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.

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!

T is for ...

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.

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.

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.

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 ...
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.

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.

R is for ...

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 ...

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

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.

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.

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”.

I is for ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ...

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 ...
Act of observation

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

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.

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.

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.

R is for ...

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

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.

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.

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 ...
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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

S is for ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

K is for ...

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

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.

K is for ...

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

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!

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 ...

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

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.

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