If you want to find the computer geniuses of tomorrow, you could do worse than to check out which kids are playing Minecraft. That's what Google's thinking, anyway, with a new Minecraft mod that adds quantum behaviours to the game.
In a new Google post, the Google Quantum A.I. Lab Team says that they've released a mod called qCraft to enable kids (and adults) to play around with blocks that exhibit behaviours like quantum entanglement, superposition and observer dependency.
We built the Quantum A.I. Lab to explore the potential of quantum computing, and figure out what questions we should be asking. One question is clear: Where will future quantum computer scientists come from?
Our best guess: Minecraft.
Millions of kids are spending a whole lot of hours in Minecraft, not just digging caves and fighting monsters, but building assembly lines, space shuttles, and programmable computers, all in the name of experimentation and discovery.
So how do we get these smart, creative kids excited about quantum physics?
We talked to our friends at MinecraftEdu and Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and came up with a fun idea: a Minecraft modpack called qCraft. It lets players experiment with quantum behaviours inside Minecraft's world, with new blocks that exhibit quantum entanglement, superposition, and observer dependency.
Of course, qCraft isn't a perfect scientific simulation, but it's a fun way for players to experience a few parts of quantum mechanics outside of thought experiments or dense textbook examples.
We don't even know the full potential of what you can make with qCraft, but we're excited to see what Minecraft's players can discover.
This isn't the first time Mojang's building game has been used to teach kids — heck, we toured a Minecraft-enhanced second grade class all the way back in 2011 — and it certainly won't be the last.
I asked my brother in-law, who is (literally) a rocket scientist, to explain some of these concepts to me. He used guitar strings and burritos to paint some pictures that I started to get my head around, but despite his best efforts, the whole thing is still pretty abstract to me. I'm just a caveman; I fell in some ice, and later got thawed out and given a saxophone and some video games. Then again, I have a feeling that actually doing some of this stuff in Minecraft would make it all much more grok-able.