Quantum Is Calling

Hollywood celebrities are, in many important ways, different from the rest of us. But we are united by one crucial similarity: we are all fascinated by quantum mechanics.

This was demonstrated to great effect last year, when Paul Rudd and some of his friends starred with Stephen Hawking in the video Anyone Can Quantum, a very funny vignette put together by Spiros Michalakis and others at Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (and directed by Alex Winter, who was Bill in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure). You might remember Spiros from our adventures emerging space from quantum mechanics, but when he’s not working as a mathematical physicist he’s brought incredible energy to Caltech’s outreach programs.

Now the team is back again with a new video, this one titled Quantum is Calling. This one stars the amazing Zoe Saldana, with an appearance by John Cho and the voices of Simon Pegg and Keanu Reeves, and of course Stephen Hawking once again. (One thing about Caltech: we do not mess around with our celebrity cameos.)

If you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes story, Zoe and Spiros and others give it to you here:

If on the other hand you want all the quantum-mechanical jokes explained, that’s where I come in:

Jokes should never be explained, of course. But quantum mechanics always should be, so this time we made an exception.

This entry was posted in Entertainment, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Quantum Is Calling

  1. Kevin Henderson says:

    Fantastic videos. My son was riveted.

  2. KC Lee says:


    Thanks for augmenting the cosmic exuberance with your down to Earth talk, linking superposition, entanglement and wormholes together, in an easy to grasp whole story.

    Just one minor point about the role environmental decoherence plays in the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment. Keep Zeno of Elea away from the isotope in Schrodinger’s box. If environmental decoherence is described in terms of a measurement, that just ruins everything!

    Meanwhile, one might consider two other ways to enjoy the whole performance. One is via “Symmetry” and the other is via a “Broken Clock”.

    If we speculate that every item in the universe, from particles to black holes, are part of a fractal showing self-similarity symmetry, entanglement between two particles is but another manifestation of wormhole (entanglement) between two black holes.

    If we are serious about GR being emergent from QM, imagine a clock serving as a “border guard” between the two domains. As soon as anything emerges from QM to GR, the clock starts ticking. With this rule, the nature of each domain becomes crystal clear. For example, spacetime on the GR side. Nothing on the QM side (“Properties not measured need not exist”).

    Each item carries two different descriptions, one appropriate for each side of the border. (All “spookiness” vanish with a broken clock. Entanglement is the real “active” link between the domains. It is the quintessential “First Cause” in the universe.)


  3. KC Lee says:

    In the tradition of ER=EPR (if it holds), another pairing could be: Wheeler-DeWitt=Einstein-Schwartzschild. Time drops out on the left (from a QM perspective). Clocks stop on the right (from a GR perspective).

    More than just convenient, WD=ES points out one key to separating GR from QM: time from a ticking clock. This was addressed from various angles in the comments on Dec 16, Dec 18 and Dec 28, 2016.

    Applied to the idea of GR being emergent from QM, as information crosses over the domain border, a clock starts ticking. If one considers such information could recycle back into QM, at a black hole for instance, ES stop the clock (Dec 16 and Dec 18, 2016 comments).

    If we are serious about QM being nonphysical in the sense of “potentia” as espoused by Heisenberg in 1932:

    One might perhaps call it an objective tendency or possibility, a “potentia” in the sense of Aristotelian philosophy. In fact, the language actually used by physicists when they speak about atomic events produces in their minds similar notions as the concept “potentia”. Physicists have gradually become accustomed to considering the electronic orbits, etc., not as reality but rather as a kind of “potentia.”
    [from Edward Feser: Heisenberg on act and potency (pp. 154-5, 2007 Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition)],

    then we note nonphysical QM information, at measurement, becoming physical GR entities, turning the clock on in the process. Likewise, if a recycling scheme could be entertained, physical GR entities could return to being nonphysical QM information, stopping a clock in the process.

    The return information flow could be happening at black holes, utilizing WD=ES.


  4. Sean Carroll says:

    KC Lee– The comment section here isn’t a forum for anyone to carry on a conversation with themselves. Please keep comments on-topic and responsive.

  5. KC Lee says:


    Please accept my sincerest apologies.