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QUANTUM: Giving New Face(cards) to Modern Physics

Growing up most of the playing cards in my house had pretty plain or standard designs. At best there might have been the odd deck from a casino gift-shop, or a pack of 32 Hungarian Talonmáriás cards from my grandparents - which I recall being especially useful for building houses of cards.

In recent years there have been a growing number of card decks designed with an additional use, education! It's true that in general playing cards can be great for helping kids develop early counting skills - as long as they don't think that Jack, Queen, and King are the numbers that come after 10 - but the QUANTUM deck is taking things to a new level.

Dr. Jason Veatch, an avid playing card collector in his own right, came up with the idea to create a deck of cards that pays homage to the greatest figures in modern physics. "I have always loved reading about the physicists of the past, so I decided to try to depict some of them". Together with his wife Yuko, an experienced project manager with a penchant for science and science art, they created QED Playing cards with the goals of boosting STEM education and outreach.

"I have always loved reading about the physicists of the past, so I decided to try to depict some of them" - Jason

Jason has been a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN since 2012, where he and his colleagues search for new fundamental particles produced by energetic collisions within the powerful Large Hadron Collider (LHC). His work, like that of many particle physicists, is focussed on the Standard Model of Particle Physics; specifically looking for evidence of Higgs boson pair production and any discovery that could "break" the Standard Model.

If you ever took a chemistry class in high school, you probably know that pretty much everything is made up of atoms, which in turn are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. The Standard Model, in a basic sense, describes the even smaller components of protons and neutrons - known as quarks - as well as the physical forces and bosons that hold them together.

Jason and Yuko spent nearly two years working together on the designs for the QUANTUM deck, reading in depth about each of the physicists and trying to find the best way to pictorially represent their lives and achievements. And in the same way that quantum physics is the study of the smallest intricacies in nature, so too did Jason and Yuko manage to include a great number of fine details in their cards.

The Richard Feynman King of Spades
Richard Feynman's King of Spades. Note the details!

QUANTUM, which is the first in a series that will cover a variety of areas of physics, is an incredibly unique medium to tell the stories of these physicists and share artwork inspired by science. For young people whose scientific curiosity is still budding, these cards are a great way to introduce some of the more complicated topics in modern physics in an accessible way; plus the deck even includes an experiment card for kids to try at home!

QED Playing Cards' Kickstarter went live at the start of this month and was fully funding within less than 48 hours, with people from around the world jumping on the opportunity to get their hands on a deck of QUANTUM cards. And who doesn't want a fun set of playing cards that can also be used as teaching tools or just as fun deck for magic and card games. Just beware: the jokers are both dead and alive!

If you're interested in learning more about this fascinating project, check out the project's page here.

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