'We will be exposing children to a very different description of the world'

June 30, 2006

Bob Cywinski has won an £80,000 grant to take children down to the atomic level in a pilot TV show

Bob Cywinski is set to make child's play of quantum physics with a pilot TV show.

"As part of the European Spallation Source project I got together with local animation team Optic Verve to make a short movie on Yorkshire's bid to host the facility," said the professor of experimental physics at Leeds University. "We enjoyed doing this so much that we looked for other projects we could collaborate on and came up with the idea of trying to introduce complex concepts in physics, such as quantum mechanics and relativity, in a different way.

"Partly, this would be done with simple visual effects to show how exciting and counter-intuitive the universe really is. But also by breaking away from the rather overworked format of an earnest professor talking directly to camera, or providing a dry voice-over to otherwise good visuals."

Professor Cywinski and Optic Nerve sold the idea to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and won a public understanding of science award of £80,000 to develop a pilot programme.

It will take children down to the atomic level with a holographic professor - either Professor Cywinski or an actor - showing them the mysteries of the quantum universe and throwing in a few adventures.

"No doubt we will receive support and criticism from physicists - how can you visualise that which cannot be seen? But at least we will be exposing children to a very different description of the world around them. We want to introduce students to aspects of science that defy common sense."

If the pilot works, a series may follow.

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