Google Quantum A.I. Lab hopes to get people thinking about quantum computing without needing a giant textbook.
Quantum mechanics is one of the weirdest sciences in the universe. The physicist Richard Feynman was famously quoted as saying: “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” To get anywhere near a level of comprehension, a university education is normally required. With an equation from Schrodinger, an uncertain Heisenberg and cat in a box for good measure, you get some way towards explaining this phenomenon. Now, Google is hoping to drop the need for textbooks and thought experiments by releasing a Minecraft mod that introduces quantum behaviors into the virtual world.
Google has been forging ahead with its research into quantum computing in partnership with NASA and quantum computer manufacturer, D-Wave Systems. They have made good progress in the field, but have now paused to reflect on who will carry on their work. “We built the Quantum A.I. Lab to explore the potential of quantum computing, and figure out what questions we should be asking. One question is clear: Where will future quantum computer scientists come from?” Says the team in a post on Google+. “Our best guess: Minecraft. Millions of kids are spending a whole lot of hours in Minecraft, not just digging caves and fighting monsters, but building assembly lines, space shuttles, and programmable computers, all in the name of experimentation and discovery.” Minecraft has been used by many as a blank canvas for a variety of interesting projects, Google now hopes to give people an insight into quantum mechanics and wants to see what they do with it.
The modpack contains new blocks that react in the same way subatomic particles do, expressing characteristics of quantum entanglement, superposition and observer dependency. “Of course, qCraft isn’t a perfect scientific simulation, but it’s a fun way for players to experience a few parts of quantum mechanics outside of thought experiments or dense textbook examples.” The team notes. “We don’t even know the full potential of what you can make with qCraft, but we’re excited to see what Minecraft’s players can discover.”
It seems that Google hopes to inspire the next generation of quantum computer scientists by giving them a quantum sandbox to play with. If you fancy dabbling in the quantum world, the mod is available to download from the qCraft website, also running in Tekkit, Hexxit and Feed The Beast. Now, off to find an ocelot, a chest and a splash potion of poison!
Source: Google Quantum A.I. Lab