Last week, the world watched Ant-Man Paul Rudd take on eminent physicist Stephen Hawking in a game of Quantum Chess…and win. Aside from being a hilarious and star-studded comedy short created for a Caltech event honoring physicist Richard Feynman, the video showcased a very real and very mind-bending game. Now, the brilliant mind behind the game, USC graduate student Chris Cantwell, says that there is a working Quantum Chess prototype, but it needs a bit of funding to collapse the wave function and become an observable in-home reality.
As time-traveling Keanu Reeves states in the Hawking vs. Rudd video above, “Quantum Chess [is] a variant of regular chess in which every piece is endowed with quantum powers.” This means that the pieces on the board, which could only obey classical mechanics in regular chess, are now able to accomplish all kinds of “quantum moves” like quantum superpositioning and quantum entanglement. For example, “Schrödinger’s King” allows your king to be in two positions on the board at the same time until “collapsed” into a single position by an enemy attack. (Also, the game is won by killing the king, not checkmating it.)
In his pitch video (below), Cantwell says that the number one question he’s asked about the game is “Do I need to know quantum mechanics to play Quantum Chess?” The answer is a resounding no. In fact, Cantwell says that Quantum Chess is a great way to learn about quantum mechanics because it seamlessly integrates the rules of the seriously intimidating and complex area of physics into the game play, so the laws of the strange and counterintuitive subatomic world become second nature to players. In this way, Cantwell likens the game to billiards, in that you don’t need to know about all of the classical physics behind the game in order to have fun and play it skillfully.
Cantwell’s goal is to start the Quantum Chess revolution with an initial investment of $30,000, which needs to be pledged by investors in the next 28 days. Rewards include a bunch of nifty gifts like digital art packs and the “Quantum Chess soundtrack,” but the coolest bonus for donating is, of course, your own copy of the playable game. Not only does the game look like an insane amount of fun, but Quantum Chess will inevitably prepare you to brain battle Stephen Hawking for the future of humankind…
What do you think about Quantum Chess? Is your donation a certainty or is there still an infinite number of possible alternate games you could spend that money on? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image: IQIM Caltech