Flowers and Physics – Surrey students create the Quantum Garden
Students from the University of Surrey have entered the annual ‘Guildford in Bloom’ competition again this year, with a garden theme of Quantum Computing and its relevance to society. The garden will also reflect the ‘Guildford in Bloom’ 2019 theme - the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing.
Thanks to a design by Physics PhD student Daisy Shearer, who in her spare time is a keen baker and gardener, and with the support of fellow student volunteers and University staff, the garden of a rented student property in Guildford Park Avenue is undergoing a complete transformation.
Daisy said: “I’ve been inspired by the University of Southampton’s ‘reflecting photonics’ garden to create an outdoor space to educate people about quantum computing and its possible applications. I wanted to both inform the local community that this kind of research is happening on their doorstep at the University, and get people interested and excited about the idea of quantum computing and how will this improve our lives.”
The circular garden features a ‘path to Quantum Computing’, with paving stones engraved with significant scientific breakthroughs, while the centre explores quantum computing concepts such as superposition, entanglement and qubits with a visitor bench as the centrepiece. Sections around the bench illustrate the applications of quantum computing though specific planting: for example, biomedicine is represented by the genus Digitalis – commonly known as ‘foxgloves’ -- which contains digoxin used to treat arrhythmia.
As a tribute to the lunar landings, the garden will also feature a 3D printed DSKY Apollo Guidance Computer.
The project has received support from local landlords and A. Buchanan Construction Ltd. with planting and maintenance provided by volunteer students, the Students’ Union, staff from the campus Estates & Grounds team, University of Surrey Lettings (USL), the University’s own not-for-profit lettings agency, the Public Engagement department and the physics faculty.
Liani Mannifield, Manager of USL, said: “This is one of the most inspiring projects I have been involved with, and the passion shown by these students is inspiring. We hope that other students will see how rewarding it is to create beautiful gardens that showcase creative flair and community spirit.
“Houses of multiple occupation, such as student houses, often get a bad reputation for not maintaining the upkeep of external areas. Through this project, we really hope to inspire others to get more involved in gardening, and show that students really do care about their homes and the communities they live in.”
The University of Surrey is key a sponsor of ‘Guildford in Bloom’ 2019. Lisa Dimbylow, Public Engagement Manager, said: “As an enthusiastic and active member of our local community, we are passionate about giving back to the town. Sponsoring this wonderful event is one of the many ways that we hope to achieve that.
“We have been delighted by the community support for the Quantum Garden, with local residents offering their encouragement and expertise. Our Estates & Grounds team have also been inspired by this project and have entered our stunning Stag Hill campus lake into the ‘Best Site for Nature Conservation’ category.”
Other popular events supported by the University include the Pint of Science Festival, Innovate Guildford, Guildford Music Festival and Guildford Book Festival.
To learn about more community projects and events from the University of Surrey community, follow @UniOfSurreyCPE or visit surrey.ac.uk/in-the-community.