Stephen Hawking Takes on Paul Rudd at Quantum Chess... and Loses

Eminent, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking took on goofy comic actor Paul Rudd at a game of quantum chess—and lost.

In a short film called Anyone Can Quantum, Hawking and Rudd face off in an online battle designed to explain the principles of quantum mechanics, which dictates the movement of particles at a sub-atomic level.

Directed by Alex Winter, the film was released on Wednesday to coincide with the launch of a two-day event at Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM).

Quantum chess is described by Winter as “a version of the classic game of strategy that follows the rules of probability and uncertainty and treats each piece as a quantum particle.”

The inventor of the game, Chris Cantwell, developed the concept in one month for a school project. He describes it as “playable but certainly not fun.”

“It wasn’t even reminiscent of chess. But, it was unique,” Akl writes on his website. “Quantum Chess is a game that allows players to interact with a quantum world, in a way that has never been possible before. It seeks to make quantum phenomena accessible to everyone, and in doing so demystify the quantum world.”

While Hawking has several decades of research into quantum physics under his belt, Rudd’s credentials are limited to his role in the Hollywood film Ant Man, which briefly touched on some of the science’s principles.

After losing to Rudd, Hawking described his rival as a “nerd”.