Quantum Diorama Challenge

Get out your pipe cleaners, post-its, pop sticks and pencils!  If you’re being visited by the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip, we invite you and your school to participate in our Quantum Diorama Challenge.

Your challenge is to create a shoe-box exhibit showcasing a concept or experiment related to quantum physics.  It could include moving parts, models of famous physicists, electronic components, text panels—let your imagination and creativity guide you!

To find out more check out https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/diorama/, or explore https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/resources/ for inspiration.



2 weeks to go!

It’s now only 2 weeks until the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip kicks off!

If you’ve already started checking out our website and socials, then you might have noticed our logo.  But what’s it all about?

The logo for the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip combines:

  • A map of Australia—where our road trip and world-class research take place
  • A conceptual drawing of an atom—representative of the physical sciences and the small length scales at which quantum mechanics becomes important
  • The cosmic microwave background—key evidence for the existence of dark matter.

To find out more about our logo, visit https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/about/.

Media release: Quantum & dark matter road trip to visit 40 locations across Australia

Scientists will travel 7,000 kilometres over 19 days and visit 40 cities and towns across Australia on the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip.

The road trip will begin in Brisbane on 8 August and visit metropolitan, regional and rural schools and communities before finishing in Perth on 26 August.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) are organising the event as part of National Science Week 2022.

The road trip aims to introduce quantum and particle physics to Australians, inspire the future generation of scientists and engineers, and highlight the potential of quantum technologies and dark matter discovery for the benefit of our society.

During the road trip, 25 scientists will present talks and demonstrations at 26 schools and hold public events including talks and pub trivia nights.

The cities and towns it will visit are:

Brisbane/Meanjin QLD, Oakey QLD, Gatton QLD, Murwillumbah NSW, Byron Bay NSW, Ulmarra NSW, South Grafton NSW, Coffs Harbour NSW, South Kempsey NSW, Port Macquarie/Guruk NSW, Kew NSW, Wingham NSW, Taree NSW, Newcastle/Malubimba NSW, Morisset NSW, Narara NSW, Sydney/Gadi NSW, Canberra/Ngambri ACT, Yass NSW, Corryong VIC, Mount Beauty VIC, Bendigo VIC, Stawell/Yirip VIC, Manangatang VIC, Red Cliffs VIC, Clare SA, Adelaide/Tarndanya SA, Ceduna SA, Border Village SA, Norseman WA, Kalgoorlie WA, Esperance WA, Ravensthorpe WA, Katanning WA, Lake Grace WA, Narembeen WA, Corrigin WA, Quairading WA, Cunderdin WA & Perth/Boorloo WA.

Road trip organiser and physicist Dr Ben McAllister, from CDM, EQUS, Swinburne Institute of Technology and the University of Western Australia, said the route had been carefully selected to visit rural and regional areas.

“We want to share the excitement of science, and physics in particular, with students and communities that might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet scientists face-to-face and learn about the cutting-edge science happening in Australia,” Dr McAllister said.

“We want to build a diverse scientific community and that means engaging with regional and rural people, along with those living in cities, to inspire them to consider a career in science and show them how fun physics can be.”

“We urge people to attend our public events, to celebrate science, meet our world-leading scientists and have a great time.”

More information about the road trip is available here on our website.

3 weeks to go!

The National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip is officially less than a month away from hitting the road!

We’re still busily planning demonstrations, presentations and activities.  But if you can’t wait to dive into the world of quantum and dark matter, we’ve provided a bunch of resources to get you started!

There’s a SciArt activity, a quantum podcast, videos, virtual labs tours and more!

Check out our resources

Could a quantum computer help future road trips?

—by Jacinta May

You may have heard of the problem of the Travelling Salesman.  A travelling salesperson is given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of cities.  They are then tasked with figuring out:

What is the shortest possible route that visits each city once (and only once) and then returns to the original city?

You can imagine that this dilemma chimes very closely with what our road-trippers were challenged with when mapping out our route.  However, our road-trippers have an approach at their disposal that our poor salesperson does not—quantum computation.

Could a quantum computer really help our road-trippers out?

The quandary may appear a simple statement, but do not be deceived.  The salesperson’s task is no mean feat; in fact, the problem is so complex that it has stumped even the most powerful classical supercomputers on the planet.

This is because the problem of the travelling salesman belongs to a particular class of problems in combinatorial optimisation—the NP-Hard problems.  The solution to an NP-Hard problem can only be verified in polynomial time (this means that for a problem with n cities, the solution may be verified with fewer than nk tries at it), as opposed to a so-called P-problem, which can actually be solved in polynomial time.  Naturally, P-problems are much less complicated and are easily handled by classical computers every day.

NP-problems are incredibly complex, but are also of vital importance in the field of computer science.  Finding an algorithm that can solve NP-problems in polynomial time represents a Holy Grail for computing research, as solving one NP-problem will open the door to solving the thousands of other complex problems within the NP-family.

Why are quantum computers being used to attack these problems?

Well, the very nature of quantum computing allows for a very different approach to finding solutions.  Using the strangeness of quantum mechanics, a quantum computer has ability to perform certain tasks at an exponentially faster rate than classical computers.

It is important to note that quantum computers may very well never be able to solve the Travelling Salesman Problem in polynomial time.  But the possibilities of their problem-solving capabilities will have much further reach than the current threshold of what classical computers can achieve.

So, our road-trippers may be unable to delegate the logistical tangle of scheduling to a quantum computer just yet.  Although, perhaps next year, they (paying due diligence to our quantum research) will be able to rely on the strangeness of quantum mechanics for enhanced precision GPS technology to ensure we don’t get lost as we implement our very own solution of the Travelling Salesman Problem!

Meet the road-trippers!

The road trip team are looking forward to hitting the road!

The road-trippers include scientists and science communicators from two national research centres, working to engineer the quantum future and unlock the secrets of dark matter.

They are excited to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for quantum and dark matter, and to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Find out more about our road-trippers by following the link below or in our #MeetTheRoadTrippers series on Twitter (@qdmroadtrip) and Instagram (@qdmroadtrip).

Meet the road-trippers