Film-maker Karol Jalochowski has arrived at the Centre for Quantum Technologies to spend a year filming a documentary series. Tentatively titled "The Quantum Lightness of Being", the series will explore big questions about the nature of reality and the perspectives that quantum physics provides.
The project grows out of a short film called "The Mechanics", which Karol made after a previous visit to CQT while he was a science writer for the Polish newsweekly magazine Polityka. Having taken sabbatical leave, he returns to Singapore as CQT's first Outreach Fellow. This position was established for people working on creative projects to do with the communication of scientific research and the exploration of scientific culture.
"Karol has a strong artistic vision for how to engage a wide audience with some very important, but conceptually difficult, philosophical conundrums that are emerging from research in quantum physics. It is a privilege for the Centre for Quantum Technologies to host him," says CQT Outreach Manager Jenny Hogan.
Here in Karol's words is the popular science premise for his new documentary new series: "There is a quiet revolution going on in science. Fundamental notions — such as time, space, nature of reality — are being questioned by the (relatively) new, fancy science called quantum information. Time does not necessarily tick. Space does not necessarily exist. The essence of life and consciousness might be more elusive, more sophisticated than anyone has suspected. The universe might consist of infinitely numerous quantum slices. Do we have to reboot our knowledge about reality — and about ourselves, too?"
Karol will film CQT researchers and other leading scientists for the series. He intends to take an unconventional approach that shows the human side of research, as well as its outcomes.
"Science in the media "equals" talking heads, usually. But for the protagonists there is no clear distinction between science and so-called real life. Science is an intimate, personal affair. They investigate the very fabric of reality. Science is passion, if not obsession. The intention of the series is to show the passion as well as the science," says Karol.
Distribution modes for the completed series are yet to be settled, but at least some material will be made available online.
CQT started experimenting with hosting writers and artists through its Quantum Immersions programme in 2011. Most recently CQT hosted German artist Grit Ruhland through the NUS Art/Science Residency Programme.
The new Outreach Fellow position will support longer-term initiatives in line with the Centre's mission to take a leading role in outreach — inspiring young students' interest in science, encouraging appreciation of fundamental research and educating the public about quantum technologies. The creation of this position was approved by CQT's Governing Board.