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A quantum mystery on the streets of Tokyo

Maggie, a worn-out pri­vate eye, is hired to find a rogue quan­tum physi­cist who kid­napped his daughter. Strand­ed in the grave­yard of whisky-fuelled mem­ories of Tokyo, she un­ravels a dubious quan­tum puzzle...

ZENO EFFECT is a film noir about quan­tum physics. Watch the trailer now:

Where to watch ZENO EFFECT?

We'll keep you posted once our film is officially released. For now, get into the mood with the trailer above, read the background infos on this site, and enjoy an exclusive clip from Dr. Erwin Heisinger's lost VHS tape.


The official film poster (click to download high-res image, PDF available upon request)

ZENO EFFECT — trivia

  • Shot on location in Tokyo and Singapore
  • Filmed on Soviet and German vintage lenses
  • Proudly presented in original 2.66:1 CinemaScope
  • Anamorphic glory with the Aivascope 1.75× Mk I adapter
  • Feature length: 50min

A private eye trapped in a quantum maze

ZENO EFFECT is the story of a kidnap case on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. It is the story of Maggie, a private eye from Singapore running on an endless stream of whisky and ciga­rettes to wash away memories of better days long gone. Her inves­tiga­tion becomes an odyssey through the elusive depths of quan­tum reality.

The plot

Tomek Tomek, a once famous Polish quan­tum physi­cist, kidnaps his seven year old daughter Alicia and vanishes in Tokyo. Maggie Cheung, a private eye who has seen better days, is hired by Tomek's ex-wife Mrs Leung to find them and bring the daughter back to Singapore. Alicia is terminally ill with cancer.

Maggie Cheung

Private eye Maggie Cheung (Darrell Chan)

Mrs Leung

Maggie's client Mrs Leung (Abby L. Kahei)

Maggie's only lead is Tomek's former friend and colleague Dr. Nakamoto, an eccentric scientist at the University of Tokyo. The two physi­cists worked to­gether on a rev­olu­tion­ary, but con­tro­ver­sial appli­cation of the quantum Zeno effect — research that almost ended Tomek's academic career.

Dr Satoshi Nakamoto

Quantum physicist Dr. Nakamoto (Rick Chan)

Tomek Tomek

Quantum physicist Tomek Tomek (Dagomir Kaszlikowski)

As she is racing against time to bring Alicia back home, Maggie's troubled past starts haun­ting her. Con­fronted with the bizarre world of quan­tum physics, she begins to question the very fabric of reality and her own self.

Reality and the observer in quantum mechanics

They say that "a watched pot never boils". As a proverb it tells us some­thing about our percep­tion of time but, of course, it isn't objec­tively true. Every­day life bru­tal­ly veri­fies this simple experi­mental fact: all being equal, water always boils in the same time inter­val regard­less of anyone watching it.

Things change in the realm of atoms. To enter their world you need to be fluent in quan­tum mechanics, a theory that de­scribes the be­haviour of the funda­mental con­stituents of every­thing there is. Incepted in the early twenties by a bunch of European physi­cists, quantum mechanics turned up­side down our un­der­stand­ing of how the uni­verse works.

Sounds fishy? Let's hear what Dr. Erwin Heisinger has to say in this rare VHS recording:

Quantum theory teaches us that atoms somehow know whether they are being 'watched' and alter their be­haviour ac­cord­ing­ly. One of the mind-boggling mani­fes­ta­tions of this weird property is the quan­tum Zeno effect. It tells you that you can prevent atoms from moving around if you just sit there and keep watching them. Once you stop they will resume their business as usual (which you don't know as you are no longer watching). Physi­cists have veri­fied this be­haviour experi­mentally, so it really happens out there. Of course, you can't apply the quan­tum Zeno effect to the boil­ing pot, because it is a macro­scopic object and it seems that all those bizarre quan­tum effects dis­appear for such large assemblies of atoms.

The quan­tum Zeno effect is named after the Greek philo­sopher Zeno who shocked his colleagues with a series of puzzling state­ments about motion and reality. Watch the movie if you want to know more.

Quantum theory and cinephilia

We are theoreti­cal physi­cists by day, seek­ing a deep­er under­stand­ing of the world through the lens of quan­tum theory and ab­stract ma­the­matics. We are cine­philes by night, sharing a pas­sion for the great old masters of cinema.

ZENO EFFECT is our attempt to open the rational world of abstract quan­tum theory to the lan­guage of emotions, dreams, and visual expression.


Dagomir Kaszlikowski →


Stefan Nimmrichter →

  • Quantum physicist and cinephile
  • Post-doctoral Researcher at the Centre for Quantum Technologies Singapore
  • Studies the theory of quantum optics and thermodynamics and explores quantum phenomena in nano-mechanical systems

The Movie Credits

Maggie Cheung — Darrell Chan
Mrs Leung — Abby L. Kahei
Dr. Satoshi Nakamoto — Rick Chan
Tomek Tomek — Dag Kaszlikowski
Phone operator — Stefan Nimmrichter

Dagomir Kaszlikowski
Stefan Nimmrichter

Dagomir Kaszlikowski

Jenny Hogan
Artur Ekert
Akihito Soeda
Karol Jalochowski
Teng Kiat

Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi)
Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT @ National University of Singapore)