'Evocative' data visualisation takes top spot in Quantum Shorts film contest

Prizes decided in competition organised by CQT with Scientific American and Nature as media partners
27 April 2015

The Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) is pleased to announce the winners in the Quantum Shorts 2014 film competition supported by media partners Scientific American and Nature.

First prize goes to "20Hz". Its creators, UK-based duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, win SGD 2000 and a one-year subscription to Scientific American. Their film is also highlighted on scientificamerican.com in a blog post by Scientific American's Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina, a competition judge.

20hz (edited version) from Semiconductor on Vimeo.

20Hz is a visualisation of data captured during a geomagnetic storm in the Earth's upper atmosphere. By forming a visible reality from the act of observation – in this case by the CARISMA satellite operated by the University of Alberta and funded by the Canadian Space Agency – the filmmakers play on the quantum idea of bringing things into definite states by looking at them. The way the forms emerge in the data also provokes the idea of wave-particle duality. Judge Charlotte Stoddart, head of Multimedia at Nature, said, "20Hz is a beautiful and mesmerising film." Ben Bowie, Emmy-nominated director and producer at Bigger Bang Productions, called it "spooky, evocative and revealing."

Second prize of SGD 1000 and a one-year subscription to Scientific American goes to "Breaking the Bond". This film tells the story of a man addicted to teleportation and time travel achieved – in the filmmaker's imagination, at least – through use of the new wonder-molecule graphene. The film is "funny, with imaginative twists and quantum leaps" said Ariane Koek, a member of the CERN Cultural Board that encourages art-science collaborations. Charlotte Stoddart described it as a stand-out film with an "impressive mix of live-action and graphics" and editing that is "clever and captivating." Other judges variously described "Breaking the Bond" as "funny", "weird" and "very odd". "Breaking the Bond" also wins the People's Choice Award, as decided by public voting in a poll on the Quantum Shorts website.

The judges had praise for other shortlisted films too. For example, Scientific American's Mariette DiChristina liked "Verschränkung: Friend of Wigner's Friend" the best, while "The Scarf Solution" was among the favourites of quantum physicist Artur Ekert, CQT's Director and Honor Harger, Executive Director of Singapore's ArtScience museum.

In our student film category, first prize goes to "Cosmic Rays Explained in 30s", which judge Greg Dick, Director of Educational Outreach at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, described as "short and sweet" with a "professional feel". Runner-up is "Higher Dimension". CQT physicist Dagomir Kaszlikowksi called this film "an interesting attempt at a quantum thriller".

Find more details about the competition and winners at shorts2014.quantumlah.org. This is the third annual competition in the Quantum Shorts series, launched by CQT in 2012. A new competition will launch soon: sign up for the Quantum Shorts newsletter or follow @quantumlah on Twitter for updates.