Winning Films


We are finally there - after weeks of deliberation by our panel of judges, we have a set of winners! 

We are excited to announce that the grand prize of Quantum Shorts 2014 goes to "20Hz". Its creators, UK-based duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, win SGD 2000 and a one-year subscription to Scientific American. Their film is also highlighted in a blog post by Scientific American's Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina, a competition judge, on

20Hz is a visualisation of data captured during a geomagnetic storm in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. By forming a visible reality from the act of observation - in this case by the CARISMA satellite operated by the University of Alberta and funded by the Canadian Space Agency - the filmmakers play on the quantum idea of bringing things into definite states by looking at them. The way the forms emerge in the data also provokes the idea of wave-particle duality. Our judges loved it. Charlotte Stoddart, head of Multimedia at Nature, said, "20Hz is a beautiful and mesmerising film." Ben Bowie, Emmy-nominated director and producer at Bigger Bang Productions, called it "spooky, evocative and revealing."

Second prize of SGD 1000 and a one-year subscription to Scientific American goes to "Breaking the bond". This film tells the story of a man addicted to teleportation and time travel achieved - in the filmmaker’s imagination, at least - through use of the new wonder-molecule graphene. The film is "funny, with imaginative twists and quantum leaps" said Ariane Koek, a member of the CERN Cultural Board that encourages art-science collaborations. Charlotte Stoddart described it as a stand-out film with an "impressive mix of live-action and graphics" and editing that is "clever and captivating." Other judges variously described "Breaking the bond" as "funny", "weird" and "very odd" Clearly, you all enjoyed it though, because "Breaking the bond" is also the winner of our People’s Choice Award, as decided by public voting in a poll on the Quantum Shorts website. 

We'd like to point out that the judges had praise for other shortlisted films too. For example, Scientific American's Mariette DiChristina liked "Verschränkung: Friend of Wigner's Friend" the best, while "The Scarf Solution" was among the favourites of quantum physicist Artur Ekert, Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Honor Harger, Executive Director of Singapore's ArtScience museum.

Although we could only give two prizes, you can still enjoy all the films that made the shortlist here.

In our student film category, first prize goes to "Cosmic Rays Explained in 30 Seconds", which judge Greg Dick, Director of Educational Outreach at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, described as "short and sweet" with a "professional feel". Runner-up is "Higher Dimension". Physicist Dagomir Kaszlikowksi called this film "an interesting attempt at a quantum thriller". Congratulations to our younger winners - we hope you are inspired to keep exploring science and putting your ideas onto film.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our illustrious judges for their hard work. And of course, to thank all of you for your interest and support, your votes and, if you were a competition entrant, for your creativity and perspiration - without you, we wouldn’t have a competition at all.

Finally, keep an eye out for our next Quantum Shorts competition, which will kick off later in the year. Next time, it could be you walking away with the Grand Prize!


Notes on the 2014 prize awards: (i) Judges watched and returned their verdicts on the films independently. In deciding the First Prize in the Open International category, we excluded the rankings of judge Honor Harger as she had a role in commissioning an earlier version of the film 20Hz. (ii) We have not awarded prizes in the Singapore student category this year because of lack of entries.

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A is for ... Alice and Bob

In quantum experiments, these are the names traditionally given to the people transmitting and receiving information. In quantum cryptography, an eavesdropper called Eve tries to intercept the information.

Q is for ... Qubit

One quantum bit of information is known as a qubit (pronounced Q-bit). The ability of quantum particles to exist in many different states at once means a single quantum object can represent multiple qubits at once, opening up the possibility of extremely fast information processing.

I is for ... Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

T is for ... Tunnelling

This happens when quantum objects “borrow” energy in order to bypass an obstacle such as a gap in an electrical circuit. It is possible thanks to the uncertainty principle, and enables quantum particles to do things other particles can’t.

L is for ... Light

We used to believe light was a wave, then we discovered it had the properties of a particle that we call a photon. Now we know it, like all elementary quantum objects, is both a wave and a particle!

K is for ... Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

P is for ... Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

U is for ... Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

G is for ... Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

Q is for ... Quantum biology

A new and growing field that explores whether many biological processes depend on uniquely quantum processes to work. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are photosynthesis, smell and the navigation of migratory birds.

M is for ... Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

B is for ... Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

At extremely low temperatures, quantum rules mean that atoms can come together and behave as if they are one giant super-atom.

I is for ... Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer: the device’s output is a pattern that can only be explained by the photon passing simultaneously through two widely-separated slits.

V is for ... Virtual particles

Quantum theory’s uncertainty principle says that since not even empty space can have zero energy, the universe is fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs that pop in and out of existence. These “virtual” particles are the source of Hawking radiation.

R is for ... Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

H is for ... Hawking Radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.

C is for ... Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

X is for ... X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

C is for ... Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

H is for ... Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

A is for ... Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

One of the most famous ideas in science, this declares that it is impossible to know all the physical attributes of a quantum particle or system simultaneously.

N is for ... Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

D is for ... Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

W is for ... Wavefunction

The mathematics of quantum theory associates each quantum object with a wavefunction that appears in the Schrödinger equation and gives the probability of finding it in any given state.

Z is for ... Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

F is for ... Free Will

Ideas at the heart of quantum theory, to do with randomness and the character of the molecules that make up the physical matter of our brains, lead some researchers to suggest humans can’t have free will.

D is for ... Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

T is for ... Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

At CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, this machine is smashing apart particles in order to discover their constituent parts and the quantum laws that govern their behaviour.

E is for ... Entanglement

When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.

G is for ... Gravity

Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.

S is for ... Superposition

Quantum objects can exist in two or more states at once: an electron in superposition, for example, can simultaneously move clockwise and anticlockwise around a ring-shaped conductor.

A is for ... Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

R is for ... Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

W is for ... Wave-particle duality

It is possible to describe an atom, an electron, or a photon as either a wave or a particle. In reality, they are both: a wave and a particle.

R is for ... Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

P is for ... Planck's Constant

This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.

B is for ... Bell's Theorem

In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!

O is for ... Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

J is for ... Josephson Junction

This is a narrow constriction in a ring of superconductor. Current can only move around the ring because of quantum laws; the apparatus provides a neat way to investigate the properties of quantum mechanics.

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