We were delighted to award a New Designers associate prize to Patrick Stevenson-Keating from the Univerity of Dundee for his Quantum Parallelograph project. The device explores the possibility of alternate lives and encourages people of all ages to become involved in physics.
From the press release:
The inspiration for the Quantum Parallelograph has its roots in the pioneering work of Professor David Deutsch of Oxford University, whose research built upon earlier work of Professor Hugh Everett. They argue for infinite copies of ourselves existing within multiple universes. Stevenson-Keating’s Parallelograph seeks to reveal to the personal user how such ideas of alternative realities may be envisaged.
The device uses online sources to find the “parallel lives” of users, and prints out a short statement about their “simultaneous” life in a parallel world. By applying Young’s Double Slit Experiment to the product’s operation, Stevenson-Keating attempts to demonstrate one of the strange properties of quantum physics that hints at the existence of parallel universes. Despite the hypothetical nature of such interactions, the project serves to raise questions and provoke thoughts about the nature of our reality and our lives, as well as being a useful tool to communicate modern theories in physics.
Stevenson-Keating explains the idea behind the project: “ I have always loved physics for its capacity to alter how I view the world around me, and its ability to excite. Quantum Physics, and particularly Professor Deutsch’s work, are perfect examples of this. Some of the concepts are almost impossible to imagine, but through experimentation it becomes possible to see how they are true. Aside from the intrinsically fascinating nature of the science itself, I am very interested in how scientific principles like the Hugh Everett theory, translate into everyday life and impact our lives subliminally.”
The notion of parallel universes has been around for a long time, but until recently was confined to the realm of science fiction. Now, however, scientists from all disciplines are giving serious consideration to their existence, while paradoxically doubt is growing about the full extent of our ability to perceive (our own) reality.
Stevenson-Keating says, “Whether you accept the theories or not, to question our uniqueness is a startling thing. While it can only simulate reality, I hope the Quantum Parallelograph will nevertheless help to communicate some current ideas in physics, and show how exciting and relevant physics is in our daily lives.”
In the narrative of the project, the Quantum Parallelograph is designed to be specific for each user, returning results only about their parallel lives. However for public engagement events, such as it being exhibited for Stevenson-Keating’s Degree Show, anybody can search for their parallel lives on the day.
Here are some more of his projects
You can read about the BioSuperstitions project here
You can read about the Tea Machines project here
You can read about the Plastic Fantasia project here