A quantum computer can solve certain mathematical problems exponentially faster than a regular computer as it takes advantage of some of the strange and shocking rules of quantum physics. The power behind a quantum computer comes from the idea of quantum entanglement. Entangled particles, like atoms, electrons, or photons, share correlations that are stronger than anything we experience in our everyday lives. The connection is so strong that Einstein once called it “spooky action.”
Behind the Scenes
Entangled particles have always reminded me of dance partners that possesed the special ability to stay connected and in lock-step with one another over vast distances, so it was only natural that I used Lindy Hop to explain how a quantum computer works. Together with nine other dancers (Jasper Palfree, Shannon Refvik, Phil Bourassa, Dongshin Nam, Martha Monroe, Heather O’Shea, Turlough Myers, Mandi Gould, and James Everett) we put together a dance routine that portrays various aspects of quantum computing. Muscian Roberta Hunt offered to arrange a song for us and perform it live in the talk with her band. I also teamed up with magician Dan Trommater to develop a card trick to help illustrate the suprising nature of the quantum correlations entangled particles share.
To convey the exponential speedup of a quantum computer we needed lots of dancers. In late January of 2012 I started Project Q that asked Lindy Hoppers from around the world to film themselves dancing the final portion of the routine. The choreography is based on Frankie Manning’s Lindy Chorus, and the idea was inspired by the Frankie 95 Global Shim Sham. In just over a month 36 cities from around the world had submitted at total of 60 videos.
The videos were edited together, shown below, and synched with the live music and dancers (a tricky feat made possible by Roberta’s skilled playing). In the talk the first video appears (containing footage of Frankie Manning). This video then splits into two, then four, then eight, and so on until 64 videos were on screen. By the end of the song there are nearly 500 dancers, on stage and on-screen from around the world, entangled with one another and dancing together. The routine finishes with people holding up numbers symbolizing the answer the quantum computer calculated.
The Submitted Videos
The 60 videos, featuring nearly 500 Lindy Hoppers from 36 cities from around world, edited together for the final performance.
Photos used with permission – Darin White, makebright.com.
Below are the cities that have taken part in Project Q.
San Francisco: 1, 2
Philadelphia 1, 2, 3, 4
San Luis Obispo
Pottstown 1, 2
Rio de Janeiro bloopers (3 videos submitted)
São Paulo (submitted)