Are you ready to get entangled in the science of the very small? That's the thread running through a new anthology, Quantum Shorts: Collected Flash Fiction Inspired by Quantum Physics.
Available to download as a free e-book now, the anthology presents 37 stories shortlisted in three editions of the international Quantum Shorts competition.
Quantum physics is the counter-intuitive science of the particles of light and matter. For scientists, it's best described in the language of mathematics and can be usefully designed into devices for computing, communication and sensing.
In the hands of writers, quantum physics has inspired stories that are whimsical and thought-provoking, ranging from bold futuristic imaginings to contemplations about the everyday. There are stories of lovers beginning their lives together, families facing crises, superheroes fighting their nemeses, and - of course - cats.
Quantum concepts including entanglement and superposition, as well as technologies such as quantum computing, are woven into the stories - sometimes in hard sci-fi style, other times almost imperceptibly.
Each of the 37 "Quantum Shorts" in the collection total not more than 1000 words. They are the works of 32 writers from all over the world who participated in the 2013, 2015 and 2017 editions of the annual Quantum Shorts competitions.
"I have been wowed by the talent this competition has unearthed," says Michael Brooks, one of the book's editors. "The stories in this book are a testament to human creativity - both for the science it unpicks and the imaginative and compelling narratives that the science has inspired."
In the book's foreword, quantum physicist Artur Ekert encourages creative exploration. "There is no contradiction between imagination and rational thinking," he writes. "I think that without imagination and fantasy you will never live your life to the full; you will never expand your horizons, or come up with new ideas, inventions and discoveries."
Invention and imagination have made it an exciting time for quantum physics. Progress in quantum computing is claiming headlines and the plotting of Marvel's Avengers movies has put quantum physics in the public consciousness. For those who have always wanted to dip into the quantum world, Quantum Shorts is an invitation to dive in deeper.
Quantum Shorts is a project by the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore. The book was made possible by sponsorship from scientific partners of the project: the Australian Research Council Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems; the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in Canada; the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech in the United States; QuantIC, a stakeholder of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme; and QuTech, a collaboration between the Delft University of Applied Sciences and Dutch innovation centre TNO in the Netherlands.
Alternating between calls for short films and flash fiction inspired by quantum physics since 2012, the Quantum Shorts competition is now in its eighth year. A new call for flash fiction opened on 10 December with a deadline for entries of 29 February 2020. Scientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S., and Nature, the international weekly journal of science, are media partners. Joining as a new scientific partner for fiction is the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies in New Zealand. More details of all the competition's partners, guidelines to enter and a full set of rules are available at shorts.quantumlah.org.
The e-book is available for free download on the Google Play Store, Apple Books, Kobo stores, as well as on farisbooks.com and the Quantum Shorts website at shorts.quantumlah.org.