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Google's qCraft brings quantum mechanics fun to Minecraft

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October 23, 2013

qCraft brings quantum mechanics to Minecraft

qCraft brings quantum mechanics to Minecraft

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“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it,” Niels Bohr famously wrote. However, Minecraft players can now be slightly closer to parsing the perplexities of quantum theory, thanks to qCraft, a collaboration between Google and Dr. Spyridon Michalakis, a scholar of quantum mechanics. What does this new mod bring to the game? Only quantum teleportation, observer dependencies, and Schrödinger’s Cat, for starters.

Minecraft famously already follows and recreates many natural laws of physics, and happens to be popular with tweens. So when Google contacted Michalakis about the collaboration, their main goal was demonstrating to kids the excitement of quantum computing and mechanics.

Distilling the essence of something as complicated as quantum mechanics into a Minecraft mod forced the designers to make a couple of key decisions. First, was it to be primarily educational or entertaining? Deciding on the latter priority, this lead to the second tradeoff. The mod is not a quantum simulator, but uses analogies that convey principles, portraying what entangled blocks of ore would look like in-game, for example.

In qCraft, entangled quantum blocks instantly resolve to the same appearance as each other

In qCraft, entangled quantum blocks instantly resolve to the same appearance as each other

So what does this look like to the player? Without giving too many spoilers for those who refuse to look at recipe lists, everything starts with mining quantum dust. From here, crafted items rely on the quantum principles of observational dependency, entanglement, superposition and quantization, resulting in new ways to create puzzles, teleport items, and create hidden or camouflaged effects. And be on the look out for an entangled quantum computer.

In qCraft, this door is made out of the same blocks in both pictures, but is rendered invi...

In qCraft, this door is made out of the same blocks in both pictures, but is rendered invisible by observational dependencies

Michalakis humorously remarks in his blog post about the mod, “As an authorized quantum mechanic, I allowed myself to bend quantum mechanics, but I could not bring myself to mess with Special Relativity.” Now Minecraft players can also get a taste for hacking quantum mechanics. The team plans to supplement players in their fun with resources to extend their learning. Instructions for installing the free mod are available on qCraft’s website.

Watch qCraft’s take on the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment in the video below.

Source: qCraft, Quantum Frontiers via MIT Technology Review

About the Author
Heidi Hoopes Heidi measures her life with the motley things she's done in the name of scientific exploration. While formally educated in biology and chemistry, informally she learns from adventures and hobbies with her family. Her simple pleasures in life are finding turtles while jogging and obsessively winnowing through her genetic data.   All articles by Heidi Hoopes
1 Comment

Yeah, I'll be installing that mod for sure. I would like to see a GameChap and Bertie review of it! I predict if they go to take a peek at a Schrodinger Cow, that the house they are in explodes.

Grunchy
23rd October, 2013 @ 12:07 pm PDT
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