Danish scientists, lead by Physicist Jacob Sherson of Aarhus University in Denmark, have turned quantum mechanics into an online game.
Face to face with the enormous challenge of creating a quantum computer, the scientist heard of the concept of gamification back in 2012, which is known to producing the best solutions by letting the public play games. After that the team came up with the idea of an online game for collaborative volunteer research on quantum physics: Quantum Moves.
Scientists were struggling with the problem of moving atoms around without messing the information they contained. Atoms lose information real fast, even at the smallest disturbance. Moving them slowly doesn’t really work buy neither does moving them fast because they start to slosh and have motion when you pick them up.
Researchers needed to find the right speed to move and slosh atoms into a designated zone, avoiding to spill the material or running into obstacles. To track the way human brain makes decisions according to experience and intuition, they created Quantum Moves, a game that imitated a difficult quantum mechanical problem, and let it be played by over 10,000 persons who showed, trough simple strategies, an ability to break the quantum speed limit.
Sherson and his team consider humans are way ahead computer’s processing power because of their intuitive thinking and problem-solving approach. The results are proof that there’s still a big difference between the abilities of a man and a machine, said Shereson.
Sherson hired professional game designers since the game’s earliest version (Bring Home Water) to improve the experience, especially for players with scientific knowledge. They suspended the atoms in “light crystals” and provide optical tweezers so players can move the atoms around.
Even when computers couldn’t resolve the problem satisfactorily, some gamers had “solutions that were of higher quality and of shorter duration than any computer algorithm could find.”, claimed Sherson.
The team created another game for the website, they intent to extend the approach to other problems but, according to Sherson, it’s still too soon to affirm that this new method would be useful in the creation on quantum machines, because it’s just a piece of an extremely complex puzzle.
The scientist’s big project in a step into the future
Scientists have been working hard to develop quantum computers with the ability to advantage the way atoms behave to store and process data, this could be specially helpful for making operating self-driving cars and cracking encrypted codes.
Common computers have bits representing 0s and 1s, but a quantum computer stores data in qubits instead, which can be in 0 and 1 states at the same time,, which mans that is capable of a superposition of states. Quantum information is fragile and it must be protected from any kind of external noise in the surroundings. The smallest interference may cause the system to lose the superposition and cause errors in calculation.
With Quantum Moves, players help by trying to resolve the quantum speed limit or how fast data can be manipulated.
Source: Science and Technology