SoN01R is a new media artwork by Frederik De Wilde in collaboration with Frederik Vanhoutte. The work uses dynamic artistic data visualisation and sonification to explore the quantum vacuum. It responds to the question “how can one visualise something as immaterial, short lived and universal as quantum fluctuations?”

In classical physics (applicable to macroscopic phenomena), empty space-time is called the vacuum. The classical vacuum is utterly featureless. However, in quantum mechanics (applicable to microscopic phenomena), the vacuum is a much more complex entity. It is far from featureless and far from empty. Quantum fluctuations are the temporary appearance of energetic particles out of nothing, as allowed by the Uncertainty Principle. For example, a particle pair can pop out of the vacuum during a very short time interval, and then annihilate one another in accordance with the Uncertainty Principle.

SoN01R uses a real-time data feed from the Australian National University’s Department of Quantum Science led by Dr. Thomas Seymul, which records quantum behaviour. By tapping into a physical quantum source the department can generate true random numbers in real-time; these in turn drive the audiovisual work. SoN01R demonstrates that something can be generated out of (almost) nothing in the quantum vacuum.

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