Paul Rudd and Stephen Hawking Face-Off in a Game of Quantum Chess, Narrated by Keanu Reeves

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 - 12:55PM
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 - 12:55PM
Paul Rudd and Stephen Hawking Face-Off in a Game of Quantum Chess, Narrated by Keanu Reeves
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Ant-Man just went up against one of the greatest minds on the planet in a game of quantum chess, in a hilarious and informative new video from Caltech and Bill of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure:

In this video from Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and directed by Alex Winter, Paul Rudd receives an email from Keanu Reeves 700 years in the future, telling him that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance unless he beats Stephen Hawking at a game of quantum chess. (Modern-day Keanu Reeves is sure to remind Rudd to ask his future self if he's still "jamming with his band," naturally.)

Stephen Hawking is busy watching the Monkey Cat, as one does, when Rudd challenges him to the game over the phone. He has no idea who's calling, but Rudd reminds him that he's "been to the quantum realm. What about you, big shot, what have you done?" Hawking's answer?

Opening quote
"I shall crush you like an ant, man."
Closing quote

After an in-depth research process that includes reading Hawking's own masterpiece The Theory of Everything, Quantum Physics for Babies, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rudd takes on the high-stakes game of quantum chess while the world watches them on Twitter. At various points, the Pope tweets at him to "Go with God, my son," Judd Apatow tells Rudd to "get it together," and Neil deGrasse Tyson call him a "NOOB!" (Chin-up, Ant-Man, at least he didn't write a rap about you.)

Quantum chess is a variant of normal chess, in which all of the pieces are imbued with the weird properties of quantum physics. Where in regular chess, each piece has powers set by predetermined and rigid rules, quantum pieces are a superimposition of "states," and as a result the player doesn't know the identity of a piece until it's selected for a move. Once it's chosen, it acts as one of the normal chess pieces (the equivalent of collapsing a wave function to a classical state), and then returns to being a superposition of two or more pieces. 

Quantum chess was created in order to give humans a leg-up against computers. Regular chess's rules result in a game that can be mastered through algorithms, so humans struggle to beat the raw computing power of machines. But just as quantum mechanics leaves room for some sort of randomness and unpredictability when it comes to the human brain and philosophical concepts of free will, quantum chess adds a slightly more "human" element into the mix, essentially by introducing arbitrariness that reflects human thought.

I won't give away who wins, but as a result of all the uncertainty and unpredictability, it's an unexpected nail-biter.

Via Gizmodo.
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