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Quantum on the Clock

School students: can you explain quantum science or technology in a three-minute video?

Please note: entries for the competition have now closed.


And your three minutes start... now!

Physicist Richard Feynman once said "I can safely say that nobody really understands quantum mechanics" - can you help us prove him wrong? We challenge you to create a three-minute video about any aspect of quantum science or technology, that a high school student can understand.

Watch Oxford PhD student Maria Violaris give a video summary of the competition below.

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Quantum? Is that the thing with the cat?

Yes! Schrödinger's cat is a popular quantum thought experiment. Some systems such as tiny particles show quantum behaviour, where they can be in two places at once, called a superposition of states. Erwin Schrödinger pointed out that if cats can also be quantum, then they can be dead and alive at the same time.

But there's lots more to quantum than cats and superpositions! The electronics in the phone or computer that you are reading this webpage on rely on quantum mechanics. People are racing to build quantum computers, which can perform many calculations at once. Quantum particles have been sent to space on satellites to enable ultra-secure quantum communication. There are experiments to show quantum teleportation, and debates about whether there are many quantum universes.

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The laws of Quantum on the Clock

How to enter

  1. Create a video on any aspect of quantum science or technology, that is no longer than three minutes.
  2. You can submit your video individually or in a team of up to four.
  3. The video must be accurate, and if the chosen topic is controversial or under debate, then this should be mentioned in the video.
  4. The video should not promote a particular company or organisation, though they can be mentioned as examples of who is implementing a quantum technology. 
  5. The video can be in any format! It could be a single person or a group of people talking to the camera; a drama; visuals and animation; song, poetry or dance; or something else... all creativity is welcome. 

Please see the terms and conditions for the competition (PDF, 105KB)

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Eligibility

The competition is open to students in the UK and Ireland, in their final two years of pre-university education. This includes A-level, International Baccalaureate, Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher (S5 and S6), Irish Senior Cycle, or equivalent courses.

We strongly encourage submissions from students with all backgrounds that are underrepresented in the physics community.

If you are not eligible for the competition, but think quantum sounds cool anyway, check out our collection of online quantum resources for some fun quantum reading.

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Submissions

Please note: entries for the competition have now closed.

Important note about completing your entry form

  • If all students involved in the entry are under 18, then a parent, guardian or teacher should complete the form with their contact details.  All under-18 consent forms should be sent to [email protected] by the adult doing the submission. 
  • If all students involved in the entry are 18 or over, then one of the students should complete the form with their contact details. All 18 and over consent forms should be sent to [email protected] by the student doing the submission. 
  • If the entry is a team with a mix of students under 18 and 18 and over, then the form can be completed by either a parent, guardian or teacher, or one of the students that is 18 and over, with their contact details. The appropriate under 18 and 18 and over consent forms for each student should be sent to [email protected] by the adult doing the submission.
  • A school staff member (such as a teacher or administrator) should email a confirmation of eligibility of all students involved in the submission. The email should be sent to [email protected], saying “I confirm that [full name(s) of all students involved in the submission] is/are a student at [name of school] in [year group]”. 

To get updates about the competition, follow the IOP QQQ group on Twitter.

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Prizes

The winners and runners-up of the competition will all receive cash prizes, with the team cash prizes being shared between the team members.

The winners of "Best individual" and "Best team" prizes will also receive a one-year subscription to Physics World and an expenses-paid invitation to a prize-giving event at the Photon 2022 conference dinner, with the opportunity to network with expert quantum researchers at a major UK conference. 

One representative from each winning entry for the sponsor prizes will also be invited to the prize-giving event (if the winning entry is a team, they can choose one representative). 

In 2022 the conference is taking place in Nottingham, 30 August to 2 September.

Category Prize
Best individual video £300
One-year Physics World subscription
Prize-giving event invitation
Best team video £300
One-year Physics World subscription
Prize-giving event invitation
National Physical Laboratory Prize
For most creative video
£150
National Quantum Computing Centre Prize
For best explained video
£150
IBM Quantum Prize
For most engaging video
£150
Oxford Quantum Circuits Prize
For most well-researched video
£150
Universal Quantum Prize
For the best video response to the question "What would you do with a 1-million qubit quantum computer?"
£150
Nine Runners-Up Prizes for highly commended entries £100

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Judging criteria

  • Creativity: How original is the presentation of the topic?
  • Clarity: How understandable is the video to a 16 year old with no knowledge of quantum?
  • Engagement: How good is the video at capturing our attention, keeping it, and leaving us with something to think about afterwards?
  • Accuracy: How well is quantum science and/or technology presented in a well-researched and non-misleading way?

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Judges

Merritt Moore, Quantum ballerina

Dr Merritt Moore has a PhD in quantum physics from the University of Oxford and also pursues a professional ballet career. She has had astronaut training and programs and dances with robots.

 

Jim Al-Khalili, Physics broadcaster

Professor Jim Al-Khalili CBE FRS is a science communicator renowned for his public engagement through writing and broadcasting, and a theoretical physicist at the University of Surrey.

Chiara Decaroli, Quantum scientist

Dr Chiara Decaroli is a quantum scientist with a PhD in ion-trap quantum computing. She is the Outreach and Engagement Officer at the National Quantum Computing Centre in Oxfordshire.

Spiros Michalakis, Hollywood advisor

Dr Spiros Michalakis is a mathematical physicist at Caltech and science advisor for Hollywood movies like Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Bill and Ted Face the Music.

Anne-Claire Blet, Quantum executive

Anne-Claire Blet is Chief Operating Officer at Oxford Quantum Circuits, building quantum computers to enable life-changing discoveries.

Vlatko Vedral, Quantum theorist

Professor Vlatko Vedral FInstP leads quantum groups at the University of Oxford and CQT in Singapore. He did pioneering research in entanglement and is author of many books, including "Decoding Reality".

Campbell McLauchlan, Quantum researcher

Campbell McLauchlan is doing a PhD in quantum computing at the University of Cambridge and creates physics videos, podcasts and blogs.

Margaret Harris, Science journalist

Dr Margaret Harris is an online editor for Physics World magazine and leads the quantum student contributors network, with a PhD in atomic physics from Durham University.

Mithuna Yoganathan, Quantum YouTuber

Dr Mithuna Yoganathan has a PhD in quantum computing from the University of Cambridge and runs the "Looking Glass Universe" YouTube channel.

James Millen, Quantum lecturer

Dr James Millen is a lecturer in photonics at King's University London. He runs The Quantum Workshop mobile experiment and lectures to the public at the Royal Institution.

Nick Bronn, Quantum video host

Dr Nick Bronn researches quantum computing at IBM Quantum in New York and is a video host for the Qiskit YouTube channel.

Mete Atatüre, Quantum founder

Professor Mete Atatüre leads a quantum optics research group at the University of Cambridge and co-founded NuQuantum. His many public engagement activities include TEDx talks and TV appearances.

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Organisation and sponsorship

This competition is organised by the IOP QQQ group, and it would not be possible without generous support from our quantum sponsors! Here is a bit about who they are (who knows, one might inspire your quantum video).

Organisers

The Quantum Optics, Quantum Information and Quantum Control Group is a special interest group with the Institute of Physics. We are a community of Institute of Physics members focused on quantum science and technology.  

Gold Sponsors

National Physical Laboratory

Logo reads: NPL, National Physical Laboratory

The National Physics Laboratory (NPL) has over 700 scientists and engineers delivering high accuracy measurements to enable current and future prosperity, security, and scientific advancement for the UK. Their quantum programme is developing the capability to support industrial innovation across quantum technologies for precision timing, sensing, secure communications and computing applications.
Find out more about the National Physical Laboratory.

IBM Quantum

Logo reads: IBM Qiskit

IBM Quantum is a branch of IBM building quantum computers and software to program them, supporting businesses, developers, researchers and quantum education. Qiskit is an open-source quantum programming language developed by IBM Quantum.
Find out more about IBM Quantum.
Find out more about Qiskit.

National Quantum Computing Centre

Logo reads: UKRI National Quantum Computing Centre

The National Quantum Computing Centre seeks to enhance the UK's global leadership in quantum computing, to help translate UK research strengths into innovation, and enable the creation of the first generation of quantum computers. The NQCC is funded through UKRI, and is dedicated to accelerating the development of quantum computing by addressing the challenges of scaling, technology and user adoption.
Find out more about the National Quantum Computing Centre.

Oxford Quantum Circuits

Logo reads: OQC

Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) develops technology that harnesses the power of quantum to do things previously deemed impossible. From enabling life-changing drug discoveries, to unbreakable cryptography. From unleashing the full potential of AI, to unlocking nature's best-kept design secrets. OQC is at the forefront of the quantum revolution which will reshape our world.
Find out more about Oxford Quantum Circuits.

Universal Quantum 

Logo reads: UQ, Universal Quantum

Find out more about Universal Quantum.

Bronze Sponsors

Oxford Ionics

Logo reads: Oxford Ionics

Oxford Ionics are building quantum computers which harness the inherent perfection of atoms to solve the world's most important problems. 
Find out more about Oxford Ionics.

Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub

Logo reads: Quantum Computing & Simulation Hub

The Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub (QCS) is a research collaboration between 17 universities, supported by over 25 commercial and governmental organisations. The Hub covers a wide range of areas from hardware and software to core technologies and potential applications, reflecting the many different skills required to transform quantum computing.
Find out more about the Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub.

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If you need a hand getting started...

Ideas

Here are some ideas to get you thinking, and key words to kickstart your search engines:

  • Fundamental topics, like interpretations of quantum mechanics (Copenhagen, many-worlds, spontaneous collapse, Bohmian), quantum gravity
  • Specific quantum phenomenon, like quantum superposition, entanglement, wave-particle duality, tunnelling, non-locality
  • Quantum technologies, like quantum computers (software or hardware), quantum communication, quantum cryptography, quantum sensing, qubits (the Bloch sphere, or how qubits can be created physically)
  • Quantum techniques and thought experiments, like quantum teleportation, quantum computing algorithms, quantum bomb tester
  • Quantum experiments, like creating Bose-Einstein condensates or sending quantum particles to space on satellites
  • Quantum measurement, where quantum systems have been used to make the most accurate and precise measurements
  • Links between quantum and other areas: quantum thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, quantum biology
  • Quantum physics in everyday life: How does quantum physics underlie technology used in our phones? How does quantum physics explain how matter is solid?
  • History of quantum physics: How was quantum physics discovered? What experiments led to breakthroughs in quantum physics?
  • Philosophy of quantum physics: How can we interpret quantum effects like superposition and entanglement? What does it tell us about reality?
  • Lives of quantum physicists: You could focus on Nobel prize-winning historic figures like Schrödinger, Einstein, Heisenberg, Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie, or reveal the story and impact of a little-known or underappreciated scientist, or of figures working in quantum physics today.
  • Quantum in industry: How are companies becoming interested in quantum technologies?
  • The future of quantum: What are the biggest current mysteries in quantum research? What can be expected to come after quantum physics?

These are some ideas for getting started, but we encourage you to think outside the box! 

Resources

These are just a few online examples. There is lots more information about quantum science and technology, in books, videos, articles and more out there to explore!

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Want to stay updated?

Follow the IOP QQQ group on Twitter now!