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Of Schrödinger and cats: The whimsical worlds of quantum physics

24 December 2019 | General News
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A new anthology puts a different spin on quantum physics

“The wonders of the quantum world, reflected in equations, plots and diagrams, are as addictive as those imaginary worlds of seductive beauty that I used to visit in my dreams,” Professor Artur Ekert, Director of the NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) mused in the foreword to Quantum Shorts: Collected Flash Fiction Inspired by Quantum Physics. The new anthology celebrates these wonders in 37 short stories by 32 writers across the globe.

Quantum physics, this counter-intuitive science of light and matter particles often considered enigmatic and incomprehensible, has fascinated scientists from Einstein to Schrödinger, Bohr to Heisenberg.

The stories take a fresh, whimsical look. They explore quantum concepts and technologies such as entanglement, superposition and quantum computing, through a myriad of ways — in parallel universes, genies, time travel, in stories of lovers, families facing crises, superheroes fighting their nemeses, and cats.  

The self-improvement gurus stress willpower, grit self-control or discipline, and that’s alright, but I think that without imagination and fantasy you will never live your life to the full; you will never expand your horizons, or come up with new ideas, inventions and discoveries.

“I have been wowed by the talent this competition has unearthed,” said Mr Michael Brooks, one of the book’s editors. “The stories in this book are a testament to human creativity — both for the science it unpicks and the imaginative and compelling narratives that the science has inspired.”

Power of imagination

Prof Ekert said that there is no contradiction between imagination and rational thinking, and that fantasy and logic go hand in hand. He lamented that imagination is often less encouraged as we grow up, adding, “The self-improvement gurus stress willpower, grit self-control or discipline, and that’s alright, but I think that without imagination and fantasy you will never live your life to the full; you will never expand your horizons, or come up with new ideas, inventions and discoveries.”

Now in its eighth year, Quantum Shorts is a project by CQT and begun in 2012 as a yearly competition for short films or flash fiction inspired by quantum physics. Calls for flash fiction for the latest competition opened on 10 December with the deadline on 29 February next year.

This anthology, a selection of stories shortlisted from the 2013, 2015 and 2017 editions, is available for free download on the Google Play Store, Apple Books, Kobo, Faris Books and the Quantum Shorts website.   



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