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Can you beat the winning captain from TV’s University Challenge in his quantum quiz?

07 May 2020 Matin Durrani

Caleb Rich, a PhD student in atom optics, captained a team from Imperial College London to victory in the 2020 final of long-running TV quiz series University Challenge. Test your knowledge of quantum trivia in this quiz that Rich has drawn up for Physics World. You can also listen to an interview with Rich in the latest Physics World Weekly podcast.

atomic physics

1 What did Max Planck, who first discovered energy quantization while working on the problem of black-body radiation, later call his discovery? An act of… A. God B. Genius C. Desperation D. Madness

2 Albert Einstein’s paper on the photo-electric effect, which hypothesized the quantum nature of light, was written while he was working as a patent clerk in which Swiss city? A. Bern B. Zurich C. Geneva D. Basel

3 Founding figure of quantum mechanics Niels Bohr was gifted a house by which brewing company? It was next door to the brewery and was connected to it by a pipeline providing free beer. A. Tuborg B. Carlsberg C. Becks D. Heineken

Photo of the 1927 Solvay conference in Brussels

4 How many of the 29 attendees of the now-legendary Solvay conference of 1927 (pictured) were or later became Nobel-prize winners? A. 7 B. 12 C. 17 D. 25

5 Which physicist was given the nickname “The Crocodile” by one of his students, who commissioned a secret carving of the animal on one of the buildings of the old Cavendish Laboratory? A. James Chadwick B. Ernest Rutherford C. Paul Dirac D. Arthur Compton

6 Who is reported to have said about the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics: “I don’t like it and I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it”? A. Erwin Schrödinger B. Wolfgang Pauli C. Albert Einstein D. Louis de Broglie

7 Which theoretical physicist was widely believed to cause experimental apparatus to break by his mere presence? A. Werner Heisenberg B. Richard Feynman C. Paul Dirac D. Wolfgang Pauli

8 In 2017 a group led by Jian-Wei Pan set the record for the longest distance over which quantum teleportation was performed. How far did they teleport a quantum state? A. 100 km B. 600 km C. 1400 km D. 2100 km

9 In 2019 Google claimed “quantum supremacy” by performing a calculation that it claimed would take 10,000 years on the most powerful classical computer, although IBM said this could be shortened to 2.5 days. How long did the calculation take on Google’s 54-qubit quantum computer? A. 10 seconds B. 200 seconds C. 20 minutes D. 1 hour

10 At the end of 2019, what name was suggested by 16 scientists in Nature as an alternative to “quantum supremacy”, due to perceived negative connotations? A. Quantum primacy B. Quantum ascendancy C. Quantum transcendence D. Quantum advantage

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Answers: 1 C 2 A 3 B 4 C 5 B 6 A 7 D 8 C 9 B 10 D

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