Mysterious quantum world inspires kids and teens: "Kitty Q" game app successfully launched
Würzburg and Dresden October 25, 2021. The journey into the completely crazy quantum world has begun! Teaming up with the cute, half-dead Kitty Q and Anna, the great-granddaughter of Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger, "Kitty Q - a quantum adventure" lets young players dive into the mysterious secrets of particles, donuts, coincidences and entanglements. The game for cell phones and tablets was developed by award-winning app designer Philipp Stollenmayer in collaboration with the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat - Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter at the Universities of Würzburg and Dresden. It was designed to get children and teenagers from the age of eleven excited about physics and has already been recommended by media experts as children's software. The mobile game has been available worldwide in the App & Play stores since October 13, 2021, free of charge, with no ads and no in-app purchases. After only one week, there have already been around 23,000 downloads.
"Kitty Q accomplishes something almost unthinkable: the app explains the complex world of quantum physics to children and teenagers in a clever, playful and understandable way. This is what educational apps should look like today," says media expert Thomas Feibel from the Berlin Office for Children's Media in his assessment of the game app "Kitty Q - a Quantum Adventure", which was also nominated by an expert jury in the categories "Education" and "App" for the German Children's Software Award TOMMI 2021.
Exploring quantum physics by playing
The game app revolves around more than 20 exciting brain-teasers based on scientific facts from quantum physics. Anyone who wants to find out what is behind the puzzles can access popularized background knowledge from "Kittypedia". The articles will be unlocked as soon as the respective puzzle is solved.
"The app nimbly brings our often difficult-to-understand field of research, quantum physics, into children's everyday lives. I find this particularly appealing because our reality is indeed full of phenomena from quantum physics. But they take place on such a small scale that we can't perceive them. In the game, however, they can be experienced," emphasizes Matthias Vojta, Chair of Theoretical Solid State Physics at Technische Universität (TU) Dresden and spokesperson of the Dresden branch of the ct.qmat research alliance.
"Our field of research is very international; the scientists in the Cluster of Excellence, for example, hail from 33 countries across four continents. That's why it was important for us to publish the app for children and teenagers worldwide and also in English. Perhaps tomorrow's physicists will be among the enthusiastic young players," adds the spokesperson of the Würzburg branch Ralph Claessen, Professor of Experimental Physics at Julius Maximilian University (JMU) Würzburg.
It’s all about the family: Schrödinger’s descendants take over patronage
The inspiration for Kitty Q is a popular thought experiment in quantum mechanics by Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger (1887 - 1961), which became known as Schrödinger's cat. With the animal in the box, which is alive and dead at the same time, he created a vivid example of a principle of quantum mechanics in 1935: Objects can be in different states simultaneously that are actually mutually exclusive - a phenomenon called "superposition". In the game, Anna, as the great-granddaughter of the world-famous physicist, joins the young players to free kitty Q from the crazy quantum world. Anna connects with the players via in-game messages on a cell phone integrated into the storyline.
The name "Anna" is no coincidence: Schrödinger's real great-granddaughter, Anna Braunizer, has been "lending" her first name to the game. In addition, she has taken over the patronage alongside her father Leonhard.
"When I played the app for the first time, I found it fascinating to get chat messages from myself," says namesake Anna Braunizer with a wink. "I think that when I was 13, I was very much like Anna in the game, even though she's a fictional character. Had I found a box with a 'Q' in the attic, I would have been super curious on the one hand, but very cautious on the other. Maybe I would have put it on the doorstep of a slightly braver girl or boy, watched what was happening, and sent a text to find out what was going on."
Her father Leonhard Braunizer, grandson of Erwin Schrödinger and also patron, adds: "We were enthusiastic about the idea and this app from the very beginning. In particular, because it implements a key concern of my grandfather Erwin Schrödinger: to teach people about his special field of quantum physics. After all, this was the idea behind his thought experiment. With Schrödinger's cat, he wanted to illustrate what quantum physics is all about. The Kitty Q app brings one of Schrödinger’s great wishes to life. I'm sure he would have loved it."
"A project of the heart"
The mobile game was created by award-winning app designer Philipp Stollenmayer. “Kitty Q” is his first commissioned work for the Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat. He normally develops his games on his own and has won all the major prizes in game design – most recently the Apple Design Award 2020.
"Kitty Q is a real project of the heart. That's the only reason I accepted the assignment in the first place – and this was a first for me. The collaboration was extremely exciting and amazing! That's why it doesn't even feel like the result of commissioned work, but like my own little kitten," explains Stollenmayer.
"We are proud and extremely happy that Philipp has developed our app. From its conception to its release, about a year has passed and we have grown very fond of each other through the many digital meetings. His interest in the crazy quantum world is reflected in the end result. Kudos to his thirst for knowledge and courage to explore physics and our science. The result is a very lively game world – a work of art," the two cluster spokespersons Prof. Vojta (Dresden) and Prof. Claessen (Würzburg) emphasize. "Philip would make a great physics student!"
Bonus app answers questions
Whoever solves a certain puzzle earns a bonus app, allowing them to submit a question to the researchers. "We will answer all your questions in YouTube videos," Claessen promises. In line with the Science Year 2022 under the motto "Inquired", this puts the players' questions in the focus. Once a month, early-career researchers – PhD students or postdocs – will answer incoming questions in a YouTube video. "There are no stupid questions, only weird answers. This motto counts in science just as much as in real life. We are very excited to see what questions will arise from our Kitty Q mobile game," says Vojta.
Date & Facts
25 Oct 2021
More information on the app is available from the companion website: https://kittyq.app
Social Media Student Assistant wanted!
The game app "Kitty Q" will be accompanied by a comprehensive social media campaign in 2022. We are looking for a student assistant to support this! Please send any questions or applications for this position to firstname.lastname@example.org
Katja Lesser, Public Relations Officer Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat ct.qmat, Tel: +49 351 463 33496, email@example.com
© Philipp Stollenmayer
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is funding the mobile game project with € 100,000 as part of the International Research Marketing Ideas Competition. The competition is part of the "Research in Germany" initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The initiative presents Germany as an attractive location for research and innovation worldwide and creates a forum for international exchange and cooperation. For more information on the award use this link.
Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat
The Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat – Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter has been jointly run by Julius-Maximilians-Universität of Würzburg and TU Dresden since 2019. More than 270 scientists from 33 countries and four continents are exploring topological quantum materials that reveal surprising phenomena under extreme conditions such as ultra-low temperatures, high pressure or strong magnetic fields. The Cluster of Excellence is funded as part of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.