Google Has Turned Minecraft Into A Quantum Physics Simulator

Minecraft is, at its core, a game about building; it's a game about stacking digital blocks on top of one another to create something new. Pretty simple concept, right? Anyone who ever played with lego will understand.

What's not at all simple is some of the stuff people have done with Minecraft. The level of creativity displayed by Minecraft's players - and the modding community that's popped up around the game - is positively staggering. We've seen faithful recreations of entire worlds, fully-functional assembly lines, even working computers. Now, Google's looking to add one more thing to that list: Quantum Physics. 

The team at Google's Quantum AI Lab recently developed a new mod known as qCraft. This mod adds a number of blocks which exhibit Quantum theories such as entanglement, superposition, and observer-dependency. Some of these blocks kick into gear when the user simply looks at them, while others might disappear (or appear) at random.

"We built the Quantum AI Lab to explore the potential of quantum computing, and figure out what questions we should be asking," explained the team in a Google + post. ne 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," the team continued, "and came up with a fun idea: a Minecraft modpack called qCraft. It lets players experiment with quantum behaviors 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."

qCraft is available as an addon to either Tekkit, Hexxit, or Feed The Beast - three of Minecraft's largest and most extensive mod-packs. 

Oct 22, 2013
by Anonymous

Interesting summary but I

Interesting summary but I think articles like this one miss the true importance. It might seem unattainable now, but quantum processors will eventually achieve some astonishing things, like run computer simulated universes that are indistinguishable from our own “real” universe, even complete with simulated minds. There is a new book that discusses the implications of quantum computers on the construction of "simulations" such as MineCraft (i.e., “On Computer Simulated Universes”). The author discusses that if quantum computers can someday run simulated universes, then there must also must be a series of computer simulated universes contained within computer simulated universes. With many active simulations, there would be a range of physical properties differing from universe to universe. Universes with more positive physical traits to support life would produce better environments for more advanced civilizations to evolve to the point where they themselves would create their own computer simulated universes. And this process would continue. So over time, universes would evolve with the physics more favorable for life. He conjectures that universes, over time, have been naturally selected for particular physical properties, with an end result of creating more and more habitable universes. In other words, this could explain how the laws of physics might actually evolve inside a Matryoshkaverse (like the Russian wooden dolls with one or more dolls each nested inside another). We are on the verge of a technological revolution.