A postdoc at University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing and a magician will try to "illustrate" some of the principles of quantum mechanics by invoking similarities between it and the world of Harry Potter. Then, supposedly, the magicians will use magic to "... explain the sometimes hard-to-fathom quantum world... "
So why Harry Potter?
“When I really think about what’s going on in the quantum world, to me it just seems like magic. Some of the stuff we’re doing is crazy,” Shalm said.
“I’m a fan of Harry Potter, and I thought ‘we’re actually doing some very similar things in the lab.’ It seemed like the perfect vehicle to explain some of the things we’re doing in quantum mechanics.”
First of all, I'm all for trying to convey to the public not only important concepts in physics, such as quantum physics, but also informing the public on what we do in our work. There's no argument there, and in fact, I highly support it. More of it should be done. Period!
However, is it really a good idea to interweave something that is hard-core since, with very stringent test and verification, with "magic" and the supernatural, pseudoscience world of wizardry? Just because there are some similarities doesn't make them compatible and agreeable with each other. It might give the impression that quantum mechanics is nothing but "magic" and hocus pocus.
I've criticized many sources before when they bastardized quantum mechanics and used the similarities between it and some mystical beliefs as the justification for the validity of that mystical beliefs. In quantum mechanics case, there are plenty of ways to engage the public to want to learn a bit about it. The subject matter itself is already interesting enough that it doesn't need to piggyback onto something like Harry Potter movies. And then to pair it off with some magic show?
I wrote earlier on why I think that quantum mechanics is so difficult to comprehend, especially to the general public. Because of the lack of connection with everyday world, many aspect of quantum mechanics will appear as if it came out of thin air, like magic! In reality, it is the mathematical formalism that grounds us, but this is something that the public cannot comprehend or has the skill to use. So paring quantum mechanics with magic can only reinforce the fallacy that it IS truly magic, and things can be invented, appear and disappear weely neely without any need for rules and physics constraints/descriptions. This is not the message that I want to convey to the audience.
This presentation will take place on July 14 and 15, presumably in Waterloo, Canada. If anyone attends this, I would appreciate if you could post a comment on what you think of it.