Eight highlights from publishing a science book for the general public
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
1M ago
What’s it like to publish a book? I’ve faced the question again and again this year, as my book Quantum Steampunk hit bookshelves in April. Two responses suggest themselves. On the one hand, I channel the Beatles: It’s a hard day’s night. Throughout the publication process, I undertook physics research full-time. Media opportunities squeezed themselves into the corners of the week: podcast and radio-show recordings, public-lecture preparations, and interviews with journalists. After submitting physics papers to coauthors and journals, I drafted articles for Quanta Magazine, Literary Hub, the N ..read more
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A Peek Inside Northrop Grumman’s Subatomic Endeavors
Quantum Frontiers
by jleschack
2M ago
As the weather turns colder and we trade outdoor pools for pumpkin spice and then Christmas carols, perhaps you’re longing for summer’s warmth. For me, it is not just warmth I yearn for: This past summer, I worked as a physics intern at Northrop Grumman. With the internship came invaluable lessons and long-lasting friendships formed in a unique environment that leverages quantum computing in industry. More on that in a bit. First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jade LeSchack, and I am an undergraduate physics major at the University of Maryland, College Park. I interact with Dr ..read more
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The spirit of relativity
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
2M ago
One of the most immersive steampunk novels I’ve read winks at an experiment performed in a university I visited this month. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley, features a budding scientist named Grace Carrow. Grace attends Oxford as one of its few women students during the 1880s. To access the university’s Bodleian Library without an escort, she masquerades as male. The librarian grouses over her request. “‘The American Journal of  Science – whatever do you want that for?’” As the novel points out, “The only books more difficult to get hold of than little American journa ..read more
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Announcing the quantum-steampunk short-story contest!
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
4M ago
The year I started studying calculus, I took the helm of my high school’s literary magazine. Throughout the next two years, the editorial board flooded campus with poetry—and poetry contests. We papered the halls with flyers, built displays in the library, celebrated National Poetry Month, and jerked students awake at morning assembly (hitherto known as the quiet kid you’d consult if you didn’t understand the homework, I turned out to have a sense of humor and a stage presence suited to quoting from that venerated poet Dr. Seuss.1 Who’d’ve thought?). A record number of contest entries resulted ..read more
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Mo’ heights mo’ challenges – Climbing mount grad school
Quantum Frontiers
by Shayan Majidy
4M ago
My wife’s love of mountain hiking and my interest in quantum thermodynamics collided in Telluride, Colorado. We spent ten days in Telluride, where I spoke at the Information Engines at the Frontiers of Nanoscale Thermodynamics workshop. Telluride is a gorgeous city surrounded by mountains and scenic trails. My wife (Hasti) and I were looking for a leisurely activity one morning. We chose hiking Bear Creek Trail, a 5.1-mile hike with a 1092-foot elevation. This would have been a reasonable choice… back home. Telluride’s elevation is 8,750 feet (ten times that of our hometown’s). This meant ther ..read more
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We’re founding a quantum-thermodynamics hub!
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
4M ago
We’re building a factory in Maryland.  It’ll tower over the University of Maryland campus, a behemoth of 19th-century brick and 21st-century glass across from the football field. Turbines will turn, and gears will grind, where students now sip lattes near the Stadium Drive parking lot. The factory’s fuel: steam, quantum physics, and ambition. Its goal: to create an epicenter for North American quantum thermodynamics. The factory is metaphorical, of course. Collaborators and I are establishing a quantum-thermodynamics hub centered at the University of Maryland. The hub is an abstraction—a ..read more
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Rocks that roll
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
6M ago
In Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novel Soul Music, rock ’n roll arrives in Ankh-Morpork. Ankh-Morpork resembles the London of yesteryear—teeming with heroes and cutthroats, palaces and squalor—but also houses vampires, golems, wizards, and a sentient suitcase. Against this backdrop, a young harpist stumbles upon a mysterious guitar. He forms a band with a dwarf and with a troll who plays tuned rocks, after which the trio calls its style “Music with Rocks In.” The rest of the story consists of satire, drums, and rocks that roll.  The topic of rolling rocks sounds like it should elicit more yaw ..read more
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If I could do science like Spider-Man
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
7M ago
A few Saturdays ago, I traveled home from a summer school at which I’d been lecturing in Sweden. Around 8:30 AM, before the taxi arrived, I settled into an armchair in my hotel room and refereed a manuscript from a colleague. After reaching the airport, I read an experimental proposal for measuring a quantity that colleagues and I had defined. I drafted an article for New Scientist on my trans-Atlantic flight, composed several emails, and provided feedback about a student’s results (we’d need more data). Around 8 PM Swedish time, I felt satisfyingly exhausted—and about ten hours of travel rema ..read more
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Quantum connections
Quantum Frontiers
by Nicole Yunger Halpern
7M ago
We were seated in the open-air back of a boat, motoring around the Stockholm archipelago. The Swedish colors fluttered above our heads; the occasional speedboat zipped past, rocking us in its wake; and wildflowers dotted the bank on either side. Suddenly, a wood-trimmed boat glided by, and the captain waved from his perch. The gesture surprised me. If I were in a vehicle of the sort most familiar to me—a car—I wouldn’t wave to other drivers. In a tram, I wouldn’t wave to passengers on a parallel track. Granted, trams and cars are closed, whereas boats can be open-air. But even as a pedestrian ..read more
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Distilling Quantum Particles
Quantum Frontiers
by davidarvshu
8M ago
This is a story about distillation—a process that has kept my family busy for generations. My great, great, great, great grandfather was known as Brännvinskungen, loosely translated as the Vodka King. This “royal” ancestor of mine lived in the deepest forests of Småland, Sweden; the forests that during his time would populate the US state of Minnesota with emigrants fleeing the harshest lands of Europe. The demand for alcoholic beverages among their inhabitants was great. And the Vodka King had refined both his recipe and the&nbs ..read more
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