“In the game, an atom is represented by what looks like a liquid sloshing around in a well, which reflects the wave-like nature of a quantum particle. In one level, players move a cursor to control a second well, which they use to collect the sloshing liquid and take it back to a base. The liquid behaves according to the laws of quantum mechanics rather than like an actual bucket of water — for example, to pick up the liquid, players can get it to ‘quantum tunnel’ from one well to another, something that players must learn to adapt to. Once they find ways to transfer the liquid, a computer can then convert their mouse movements to solutions to the real-world quantum egg box.
Sherson’s team got around 300 people to play this level a total of 12,000 times on a volunteer-research platform called ScienceAtHome. The researchers then fed the human solutions into a computer for further refinement. Not only were more than half of the human-inspired solutions more efficient than those produced by just computer algorithms, but the two best hybrid strategies were faster than what the quickest computers had been able to achieve working alone. “I was completely amazed when we saw the results,” says Sherson.” Read more at Nature.com.