I came to Durham University to pursue a PhD in Quantum Physics and Computing. The purpose of this blog is to show that Quantum Physics (and computation!!) doesn’t really have to be as hard as what Scientist are publishing!
Let’s just have a look at a famous experiment called the Hong–Ou–Mandel optical effect and try to figure out what the mathematics behind it says it does. For example, Wikipedia gives me this explanation over the Hong–Ou–Mandel effect:
To even come close to understanding what this experiment actually does, first I need to know about atom-light interaction, how to represent annihilation and creation of particles, the Feynman rules, Bra-Ket notation, complex algebra and the list goes on…
And apparently, I can’t find a single quantum physics or computing paper that can be understood without the many years of study necessary to develop a rigorous understanding of the math and the physics behind Quantum Physics. Especially today, when Quantum is a huge buzz-word, associated with absolutely everything, from deodorants to quantum kites and yoga I think many more people, even outside my field of study want to understand how quantum phenomena actually work and why Quantum is the coolest thing ever. If Quantum is too counter-intuitive to explain verbally, this made me wonder: are many years in math and physics absolutely necessary to understand quantum phenomena?
Apparently, it is not. That math to explain the behaviour of just two indistinguishable photons simultaneously that enter a 50% beam splitter can be represented using visual cues. In fact, everything in the entire field of Universal gate model Quantum Computation can be represented like this.
Two photons, shown as blue balls entering in positions 01 and 10 as shown in Picture (1) and exit in positions 00 and 11 as shown in Picture (3), while the possibilities of them being in 01 and 10 state annihilate as in Picture (2) from bellow. We can see the effect of the beam splitter with our own eyes: when balls collide, 2 blue balls become a bigger blue, whilst a blue and a red annihilate. That was easy, wasn’t it? Why can’t we use visual information like this to convey knowledge about how Quantum Physics and Computing works?
This visualizer I made, has recently won the Innovate UK Citizen Science grant (BBSRC Reference: BB/T018666/1) and soon we will start testing it with kids, students, educators and even people from the industry. Because “quantum literacy” is very important, the more people we have in the world that understand how Quantum works the higher chances there are that we solve some (if not all!) of the world’s most difficult problems. Nature is Quantum; to truly understand nature we must all learn a bit of Quantum.
And that is the main reason why I started a company called Quarks Interactive in order to make the coolest and nerdiest videogame ever, called Quantum Odyssey. It will look something like this:
Through this video game, I want to make it super-easy for everyone to understand Quantum (correctly!) and realize what implications this knowledge can have in their daily lives.
Check out the Video Game Story Teaser I made with my development team below.
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To find out more about my mission, visit my website www.jqc.org.uk
You can also read an interview with me below.