A View from Tom Simonite
Google Entangles Minecraft with Quantum Physics
Thanks to Google, Minecraft players can now toy with quantum teleportation and Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.”
One reason for the popularity of the video game Minecraft is the way its blocky universe faithfully adheres to the physics of the real one. Google has now released a software package that introduces quantum physics to the game, an area of nature’s laws previously missed out by Minecraft creator Markus Persson (see “TR35: Markus Persson”).
Players of qCraft, as the new “mod” is called, can toy with quantum teleportation, entanglement, and objects that exist in a “superposition” of multiple states at once.
Google asked Caltech quantum mechanic Spyridon Michalakis to help design qCraft. In a blog post on the project, he expresses hope that the mod will help people from school age and up to understand the quantum world better. Google also partnered with MinecraftEdu, a project run by educators from the U.S. and Finland interested in using the game as a teaching aid.
Although qCraft was released just last week, some Minecraft enthusiasts are already showing off what they can do with quantum physics in the game. In this video, a Minecraft player recreates the famous Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. Google’s own interests in quantum physics extend beyond the theoretical. Earlier this year the company began a new research effort into quantum computing (see “Google and NASA Launch Quantum Computing AI Lab”).
For those looking for hints on how to get started, the qCraft project has produced a series of how-to videos about the mod. For an introduction to Minecraft read our recent article explaining its allure (see “Minecraft and the Secret to a Video-Game Phenomenon”).