Jena (Germany) / March 20 2023
Jena scientists honored in BMBF caricature competition
Jena (Germany) / March 20 2023
The IT security of the future can no longer ignore quantum technologies. Nevertheless, many people ask themselves: Quantum... what?! What is it and why do we need it? As part of the National Conference on IT Security Research, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research therefore called for a competition: Ideas were sought on how quantum technologies could be depicted in creative and humorous cartoons. Johannes Kretzschmar from Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and Dr. Falk Eilenberger and Dr. Thorsten Goebel from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF were awarded for their joint contribution.
The cartoons are intended to illustrate the technical background, social aspects, and technological solutions of IT security research in an understandable way and with a wink for the general public. The idea submitted by Kretzschmar, Eilenberger, and Goebel is specifically dedicated to the transmission of quantum information. This is fundamentally challenging, but especially on the so-called "last meter", i.e., the transmission of quantum information to the end user. The cartoon, based on an idea by the Jena scientists, is intended to illustrate in a humorous way this transmission of quantum states all the way to the recipient.
The winning cartoon. Title: "QHL: Quantum Secured Data Packet." Speech bubble of the postman: "I have a quantum secured datapack for Mr. Müller." Recipient's thought bubble: "Hopefully it's a living one this time!"
In the illustration, a package carrier can be seen delivering a package containing a quantum state to the user. Among physicists as well as in popular scientific representations, the famous allegory of "Schrödinger's cat" is often used for the transmission of this quantum state: This thought experiment, formulated by physicist Erwin Schrödinger (1887 - 1961), assumes that the state of an object - in this case a cat - can only be determined by opening a package. In science, this moment when the package is opened corresponds to a measurement in the quantum system. As long as the package is still unopened in this though game, there is a superposition of two states: The cat is dead and alive at the same time.
The cartoon is intended to illustrate this complex fact of the superimposed (quantum) state in a highly simplified, descriptive manner. Additionally, sending individual packets illustrates how cumbersome and challenging the connection to the end user can be.
Ideas for the cartoons could be sent in to the BMBF in the run-up to the National Conference on IT Security Research. From a total of 31 submissions, an interdisciplinary jury of experts, advised by professional cartoonist Erik Liebermann, made a preliminary selection. As a result, twelve ideas were re-illustrated by Liebermann and exhibited at the conference in Berlin from March 13 to 15. Visitors were then able to vote for their favorite - and chose the humorous idea of the researchers from Jena.