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Scientists harness mobile gamers to build a supercomputer

Engadget Engadget 14/04/2016 Daniel Cooper
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If anyone tells you that playing computer games is a waste of time, you can now offer up a raised middle digit without any guilt. After all, mobile title Quantum Moves isn't just a way to kill an hour, but is actually helping a group of Danish scientists build a quantum computer. The team out of Aarhaus University studied how people played the game in order to crowdsource people's knowledge of fluid dynamics. It turns out that the human brain is far better at solving complicated fluid dynamics problems than a room full of supercomputers.

Quantum Moves asks you to move a quantity of volatile fluid that's balanced upon a bendable line, from one side of the screen to the other. You do this by manipulating the line up and down, cajoling the droplets to roll across towards the target. It may seem simple, but that's because humans have an innate ability to understand physics in a way that no existing computer can. In technical-speak, it's because our minds develop "low-dimensional heuristic strategies" that can out-think a number-crunching box.

Since launching the game, the team has been analyzing how people move the liquid around by manipulating the wire. The solutions that people have come up with are significantly more efficient than existing, software-driven methods. It's thought that this knowledge can be used to help push the volatile atoms around inside a quantum computer, since the dynamics are the same. All we can say that between Portal making us smarter and Quantum Moves cresting new fields of scientific research, we feel much more justified playing a few rounds of Fifa 15 this evening.


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