The Quantum Ballerina

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Dr Merritt Moore is a STEM advocate, quantum physicist, and professional ballerina with a penchant for connecting technology and the arts. A robotics enthusiast who one day dreams of dancing in space, Merritt explores her dual interests by using Artificial Intelligence to choreograph routines for her dance partner, an industrial robotic arm.

In this episode of the Create the Future podcast, we explore Merritt’s fascinating endeavour to fuse performance with collaborative robotics and hear why she believes STEM and art are inextricably linked. We learn about the importance of perseverance, discuss her work as artist-in-residence at Harvard ArtLab, and—as one of the 20 finalists for SpaceX’s dearMoon mission—why Merritt’s dream of dancing around the Moon is closer than you think.

Episode Highlights

  • “I’ve always been curious to see if there’s a way to merge both the arts and sciences in a way that enhances both and opens our eyes to new possibilities.”
  • “I thought, how interesting would it be if you could use generative of adversarial networks and say, ‘give me something that's 30% hip hop, 30% ballet, 30% flamenco, 10% pedestrian’ and it gives a new way to find new choreography, new ways of moving.”
  • “AI doesn't take away the human element. I think it enhances it and allows us to learn and be more creative.”
  • “Einstein has this quote, which is ‘play is the highest form of research’, and I really took that to heart, I was like, ‘I am going to play and this is how I'm going to learn about robotics’.”
  • “There were so many times I tried to quit and focus on either dance or physics, but it just didn't work. There was something deep within me that was like, ‘but what if I can do it?’.”
  • “What humans have that machines don’t is creativity and imagination. There needs to be a huge emphasis, push, and celebration of that so, instead of focusing on answering questions, we need to learn how to ask questions.”
  • “I worked like a mole underground, doing my thing for at least 10 years before there was any recognition of it. I liked that because some things take time.”
  • “ I think challenges force questions. That's what leads to breakthroughs.”
  • “Passion is the magic, it brings in light and fun and makes work not feel like work.”

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