My favorite rocket scientist
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
1w ago
Whenever someone protests, “I’m not a rocket scientist,” I think of my friend Jamie Rankin. Jamie is a researcher at Princeton University, and she showed me her lab this June. When I first met Jamie, she was testing instruments to be launched on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. The spacecraft has approached closer to the sun than any of its predecessors. It took off in August 2018—fittingly, from my view, as I’d completed my PhD a few months earlier and met Jamie near the beginning of my PhD. During my first term of Caltech courses, I noticed Jamie in one of my classes. She seemed sensible and appro ..read more
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Quantum Frontiers salutes an English teacher
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
1M ago
If I ever mention a crazy high-school English teacher to you, I might be referring to Mr. Lukacs. One morning, before the first bell rang, I found him wandering among the lockers, wearing a white beard and a mischievous grin. (The school had pronounced the day “Dress Up as Your Favorite Writer” Day, or some such designation, but still.1) Mr. Lukacs was carrying a copy of Leaves of Grass, a book by the nineteenth-century American poet Walt Whitman, and yawping. To yawp is to cry out, and Whitman garnered acclaim for weaving such colloquialisms into his poetry. “I sound my barbaric yawp over the ..read more
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Watch out for geese! My summer in Waterloo
Quantum Frontiers
by jleschack
1M ago
It’s the beginning of another summer, and I’m looking forward to outdoor barbecues, swimming in lakes and pools, and sharing my home-made ice cream with friends and family. One thing that I won’t encounter this summer, but I did last year, is a Canadian goose. In summer 2023, I ventured north from the University of Maryland – College Park to Waterloo, Canada, for a position at the University of Waterloo. The university houses the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), and the Perimeter Institute (PI) for Theoretical Physics is nearby. I spent my summer at these two institut ..read more
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Film noir and quantum thermo
Quantum Frontiers
by Shayan Majidy
1M ago
The Noncommuting-Charges World Tour (Part 4 of 4) This is the final part of a four-part series covering the recent Perspective on noncommuting charges. I’ve been posting one part every ~5 weeks leading up to my PhD thesis defence. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. In four months, I’ll embark on the adventure of a lifetime—fatherhood. To prepare, I’ve been honing a quintessential father skill—storytelling. If my son inherits even a fraction of my tastes, he’ll soon develop a passion for film noir detective stories. And really, who can resist the allure of a hardboiled dete ..read more
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Let gravity do its work
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
2M ago
One day, early this spring, I found myself in a hotel elevator with three other people. The cohort consisted of two theoretical physicists, one computer scientist, and what appeared to be a normal person. I pressed the elevator’s 4 button, as my husband (the computer scientist) and I were staying on the hotel’s fourth floor. The button refused to light up. “That happened last time,” the normal person remarked. He was staying on the fourth floor, too. The other theoretical physicist pressed the 3 button. “Should we press the 5 button,” the normal person continued, “and let gravity do its wor ..read more
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To thermalize, or not to thermalize, that is the question.
Quantum Frontiers
by Shayan Majidy
2M ago
The Noncommuting-Charges World Tour (Part 3 of 4) This is the third part of a four-part series covering the recent Perspective on noncommuting charges. I’ll post one part every ~6 weeks leading up to my PhD thesis defence. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. If Hamlet had been a system of noncommuting charges, his famous soliloquy may have gone like this… To thermalize, or not to thermalize, that is the question: Whether ’tis more natural for the system to suffer The large entanglement of thermalizing dynamics, Or to take arms against the ETH And by opposing inhibit it. To die—to therma ..read more
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How I didn’t become a philosopher (but wound up presenting a named philosophy lecture anyway)
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
3M ago
Many people ask why I became a theoretical physicist. The answer runs through philosophy—which I thought, for years, I’d left behind in college. My formal relationship with philosophy originated with Mr. Bohrer. My high school classified him as a religion teacher, but he co-opted our junior-year religion course into a philosophy course. He introduced us to Plato’s cave, metaphysics, and the pursuit of the essence beneath the skin of appearance. The essence of reality overlaps with quantum theory and relativity, which fascinated him. Not that he understood them, he’d hasten to clarify. But he p ..read more
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My experimental adventures in quantum thermodynamics
Quantum Frontiers
by alasek
3M ago
Imagine a billiard ball bouncing around on a pool table. High-school level physics enables us to predict its motion until the end of time using simple equations for energy and momentum conservation, as long as you know the initial conditions – how fast the ball is moving at launch, and in which direction. What if you add a second ball? This makes things more complicated, but predicting the future state of this system would still be possible based on the same principles. What about if you had a thousand balls, or a million? Technically, you could still apply the same equations, but the problem ..read more
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Noncommuting charges are much like Batman
Quantum Frontiers
by Shayan Majidy
4M ago
The Noncommuting-Charges World Tour Part 2 of 4 This is the second part in a four part series covering the recent Perspective on noncommuting charges. I’ll be posting one part every 6 weeks leading up to my PhD thesis defence. You can find part 1 here. Understanding a character’s origins enriches their narrative and motivates their actions. Take Batman as an example: without knowing his backstory, he appears merely as a billionaire who might achieve more by donating his wealth rather than masquerading as a bat to combat crime. However, with the context of his tragic past, Batman transforms int ..read more
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A classical foreshadow of John Preskill’s Bell Prize
Quantum Frontiers
by Hsin-Yuan Huang (Robert)
5M ago
Editor’s Note: This post was co-authored by Hsin-Yuan Huang (Robert) and Richard Kueng. John Preskill, Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, has been named the 2024 John Stewart Bell Prize recipient. The prize honors John’s contributions in “the developments at the interface of efficient learning and processing of quantum information in quantum computation, and following upon long standing intellectual leadership in near-term quantum computing.” The committee cited John’s seminal work defining the concept of the NISQ (noisy intermediate-scale quantum) era, our joint w ..read more
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