Quantum Chess Is Coming To The Real World

Fund it on Kickstarter

Planned Visuals For A Quantum Chess Board

Planned Visuals For A Quantum Chess Board

Gavin Rich and Ben Hosac, courtesy of Chris Cantwell

More than 1.5 million people have watched Paul Rudd challenge Stephen Hawking in the game of quantum chess. But although the "Anyone Can Quantum" video is fictional, the game is not. It's the brainchild of University of Southern California graduate student Chris Cantwell. And he's looking for funding to bring it to life.

Cantwell has been working on a fun, playable version of quantum chess since March 2014. His work eventually came to the attention of Caltech professor Spiros Michalakis, who helped Cantwell continue to develop the game until it was simple enough for an actor to master.

Caltech ended up using quantum chess as the showpiece of "Anyone Can Quantum," making it a form of publicity for the university's Quantum Summit. Now, with some financial help, Cantwell wants to create a commercial version that anyone can play. To that end, he planned to launch a Kickstarter campaign on February 15. Now, after the viral success of "Anyone Can Quantum," he's bumped up the Kickstarter start date to today.

Working with artists Gavin Rich and Ben Hosac, Cantwell is updating the look of his quantum chess board (above) and pieces (below) from the simple version shown in the video. He also told Gizmodo he'd like to add an A.I. player that could help teach and compete with humans, along with a ranking system. The game will first be available on Mac and PC, and may later expand to a mobile version.

If you're impatient to start playing, you can kill time by watching Paul Rudd and Stephen Hawking play the prototype version of quantum chess in the video below. Or distract yourself with another game that obeys quantum mechanics: quantum tic-tac-toe.