The quantum enthusiast

A few weeks ago, we featured an anthropologist, Tais, and his research on the Quantum Moves’ user base. Tais worked with ScienceAtHome closely; with the aim of helping us get to know our players better. Apart from drawing general conclusions, he discovered some truly unique examples of committed players. One of them is Gerry Smith from the Camp Hill, Pennsylvania in the US, who has dedicated plenty of time to become a citizen scientist. He played long hours of Quantum Moves to achieve the best results in the game and helped in our research to build a quantum computer.

Could you tell a bit about yourself?
Gerry: “My background is investment management, a field I’ve worked in my whole life. I retired in 2015 and I was advising some early stage biotech startups because I enjoy working with scientists. I admire their creative way of thinking and wanted to support their research. Then, in the course of my readings, I came across Quantum Moves.”

Have you played other games before?
G: “No, actually this was my first computer game.”

Why did you choose Quantum Moves to start playing?
G: “The slowness I have observed in developing medical research was my initial motivator. The coming of quantum computers will significantly improve that. For the game itself, I liked that it does not rely on pure intellect to do well. Improvement is based more on cognition, open-mindedness and patient diligence which are traits I enjoy. The very high feedback within the game was fascinating. Small actions made such a huge impact on the result. The game also behaved in a manner that defied my normal experiences of the physical world. And finally, general computer games don’t interest me because they lack a connection with something real. This game simulates real problems in quantum physics and brings them to us in a way we can interact with them. This connection to real scientific research is much more meaningful than typical computer games. ”

What is your affiliation towards science and your motivation to play Quantum Moves?
G: “The seed of my interest in science was sown when my father died of brain cancer in 1996. He had been a very healthy man and had just begun his retirement. Later, I came across and began helping a scientist get his brain cancer research into clinical development. It’s now been 18 years. Development progress of medical research has been frustratingly slow.”

So, did you have any tactics or methodology to reach the most efficient solution?
G: “After playing Quantum Moves intensively for a while, I noticed I wanted to get the highest score on any level I could. I began to only play the levels that I had the lowest ranks on. That change gave me two advantages. First, it provided a lot of cross-level learning. I had to overcome whatever I was worst at and could then apply that to other levels. And second, it made it much easier to see my learning and progress. I took charts and graphs to get a visual sense of my advance in rankings. This kept me much more engaged.”

Gerry's ranking chart

One of Gerry’s charts, keeping track of his improvement in ranking

Why is it important for you to contribute to science as a non-professional scientist?
G: “We can only benefit from connecting our diverse points of views and experiences. Today we can connect and interact in so many ways. Advances in science and technology are raising the importance of involving us all together. Not to be fearful. But to thoughtfully ask what kind of world we want for our future and then move towards that.”

Gerry is just one of our truly dedicated and enthusiastic citizen scientists. We want to thank all our over 200,000 Quantum Moves players for their efforts and contribution to our project. Whether they are extraordinarily engaged with the game or just opened the game on a phone a couple of times on a bus. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your contribution!

Patricia from ScienceAtHome


The quantum enthusiast