October 21, 2013
Google Uses New Minecraft Mod To Teach Quantum Physics
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Google released a new mod for the popular building game Minecraft over the weekend which aims to teach players the most basic aspects of quantum physics. Called “qCraft,” the Google mod (modification) is less of a full-blown quantum physics simulator and more of a introductory course. While exploring in this new area of the video game, players can experiment with concepts like quantum entanglement, superposition and observer dependency.
Users can also build their own quantum computers in the mod which can then affect the gameplay elsewhere in the Minecraft world. Their goal with this mod pack is to get people, particularly young gamers, interested in quantum physics and to do this in a simple and fun way. The Google Quantum A.I Lab Team worked together with indie developer Daniel Rattcliffe as well as the California Institute of Technology, the Institute for Quantum Information, MinecraftEDU and others to bring the pack to life.
“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,” reads a Google+ post about qCraft.
“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.”
Minecraft is a large, multi-player game which allows players to interact with 3D blocks. Some blocks represent things such as dirt, grass, stone and trees. Other blocks can be moved and manipulated to build not only structures, but complicated machinery like rockets. The Minecraft world continues to grow as more people play and explore it’s farthest edges.
With qCraft, players can use blocks to create items which can only be viewed when they’re looked at from a certain angle. Other blocks may appear to be wood when in fact they are made of stone, while the composition of other blocks is completely dependent on how they are viewed. Each of these effects is meant to teach players about the basics of quantum physics, or the study of things on a microscopic level.
Players can even build quantum computers in the game which can then be used to move entire buildings and constructs to other parts of the Minecraft world. Houses built around one of these computers, for instance, can be sent to another quantum computer anywhere on the map. In a demonstration video for qCraft, the entrance to the mod is first seen as a solid brick wall, but as the player views it from different angles, it then turns to grass blocks before completely disappearing.
When the player walks into the first room, a sign inside warns them that they are trapped. The player turns around and the door which was once there is now completely filled in with stone and grass blocks.
To get qCraft, players must first “mod” their Minecraft game, which allows them to explore new user-created worlds and situations. Once this is done, qCraft can be downloaded at qCraft.org or the official Minecraft forum. It’s also been built directly into other mods such as Tekkit, Hexxit, or Feed the Beast Unleashed Modpacks.