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Quantum Physics Explained Simply


The award-winning game app Kitty Q from the Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat is drawing wider circles: In January, a series of explainer videos will be launched.

Kitty Q in the Christmas Mood
Kitty Q in the Christmas Mood. (Image: Philipp Stollenmayer)

The Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat – Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter of the Universities of Würzburg and Dresden was awarded in December a 2nd place in the category "Best Serious Game 2021" – as part of the first Games Innovation Award Saxony – for its novel game app "Kitty Q – a Quantum Adventure".

The mobile game, which encourages children and young people to learn more about physics in a playful way, has been available in the App and Play stores since mid-October. To date, the app has been downloaded 65,000 times worldwide.

In January 2022, the follow-up project "QUANTube – Science Break" will be launched. In the video series, early career researchers from the Cluster of Excellence and its partner institutions will answer questions from "Kitty Q" players on quantum physics on a monthly basis. The concept has now been awarded the 20,000 Euro Community Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

"We are thrilled that our app 'Kitty Q' was honored as a 'Serious Game' at the Games Innovation Award Saxony. The references to quantum physics are always there, but our game can also be played completely without math or physics know-how. Detailed background knowledge is optionally available in the 'Kittypedia'. We invested a lot of work in compiling these generally understandable encyclopedia articles on quantum physics. We are immensely pleased that this award highlights the aspect of knowledge transfer in particular," explains Matthias Vojta, Professor of Theoretical Solid State Physics at Technische Universität (TU) Dresden and spokesperson of the Dresden branch of ct.qmat.

The next round of "Kitty Q" is now starting with the project "QUANTube – Science Break": "From January 2022 on, our young researchers will be answering questions about quantum physics sent to us by players from all over the world in entertaining explanatory videos. We are challenging ourselves in terms of easy comprehensibility and language suitable for children and young people," explains the spokesperson of the Würzburg branch of the Cluster Ralph Claessen, Professor of Experimental Physics at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg.

"The fact that the DFG has now awarded a Community Prize to 'QUANTube' is a special honor for us because it is awarded by marketing experts from the research community and not by a specialist jury. Perhaps there is even some curiosity about our implementation behind the vote."

The game app "Kitty Q" has so far been downloaded 65,000 times worldwide. "It's great to see how enthusiastically people are playing and how great the feedback and ratings are. That is anything but a matter of course for a game that imparts knowledge," says app designer Philipp Stollenmayer, who developed the game for the Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence.

So far, Stollenmayer has won all the major prizes in game design for the games he has developed on his own – most recently the Apple Design Award 2020.

Answering questions from the players using video

Whoever solves a certain puzzle in the mobile game " Kitty Q – a Quantum Adventure" earns a bonus app, which can be used to ask the researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat a question. So far, more than 45 questions on physics and quantum physics have been sent via the in-game bonus app.

All questions will be answered by the doctoral and postdoctoral researchers of the Cluster of Excellence on a topic-related basis in YouTube explanatory videos starting as of January 2022 – in school break length of about five minutes and in line with the Science Year 2022, which has the motto "Inquire into a matter". For recruiting next generation of scientists, the cluster also relies on its strong network with five non-university partner institutes: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf, Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids Dresden, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems Dresden and Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research.

"QUANTube – Science Break" #1 Schrödinger's Cat

The first QUANTube episode answers questions about "Schrödinger's cat". The video will be published on the YouTube channel of the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat at the end of January.

Community Prize

The Community Prize for International Research Marketing is a new competition format of "Research in Germany" - an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), implemented by the DFG.

This year, six project ideas from German universities and research institutions were each awarded 20,000 euros. Around 350 people from the "community", i.e. with content related to the topics of "internationalization" or "international research marketing", took part in the online voting. The aim of the competition is to increase the international visibility and networking of German universities and research institutions.

Games Innovation Award Saxony

The Games Innovation Award Saxony (GIAS) is an initiative of the association Games & XR Mitteldeutschland, sponsored by the Free State of Saxony.

The GIAS was awarded for the first time. There were a total of 56 submissions for six categories. The award ceremony took place online on December 2, 2021. The 2nd place in the category "Best Serious Game 2021" was honored with an award and non-monetary prizes.

By Katja Lesser