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About Nicole Yunger Halpern

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So far Nicole Yunger Halpern has created 25 blog entries.

Reading the sub(linear) text

Physicists are not known for finesse. “Even if it cost us our funding,” I’ve heard a physicist declare, “we’d tell you what we think.” Little wonder I irked the porter who directed me toward central Cambridge. The University of Cambridge consists of colleges as the US consists of states. Each college has a porter’s lodge, [...]

“Feveral kinds of hairy mouldy fpots”

The book had a sheepskin cover, and mold was growing on the sheepskin. Robert Hooke, a pioneering microbiologist, slid the cover under one of the world’s first microscopes. Mold, he discovered, consists of “nothing elfe but feveral kinds of fmall and varioufly figur’d Mufhroms.” He described the Mufhroms in his treatise Micrographia, a 1665 copy [...]

Clocking in at a Cambridge conference

Science evolves on Facebook. On Facebook last fall, I posted about statistical mechanics. Statistical mechanics is the physics of hordes of particles. Hordes of molecules, for example, form the stench seeping from a clogged toilet. Hordes change in certain ways but not in the reverse ways, suggesting time points in a direction. Once a stink [...]

Oh, the Places You’ll Do Theoretical Physics!

I won’t run lab tests in a box. I won’t run lab tests with a fox. But I’ll prove theorems here or there. Yes, I’ll prove theorems anywhere… Physicists occupy two camps. Some---theorists---model the world using math. We try to predict experiments’ outcomes and to explain natural phenomena. Others---experimentalists---gather data using supermagnets, superconductors, the world’s [...]

Guns versus butter in quantum information

From my college’s computer-science club, I received a T-shirt that reads:while(not_dead){ sleep--; time--; awesome++; } /*There’s a reason we can’t hang out with you…*/The message is written in Java, a programming language. Even if you’ve never programmed, you likely catch the drift: CS majors are the bees’ knees because, at the expense of sleep and [...]

Polarizer: Rise of the Efficiency

How should a visitor to Zürich spend her weekend? Launch this question at a Swiss lunchtable, and you split diners into two camps. To take advantage of Zürich, some say, visit Geneva, Lucerne, or another spot outside Zürich. Other locals suggest museums, the lake, and the 19th-century ETH building. The 19th-century ETH building [...]

The cost and yield of moving from (quantum) state to (quantum) state

The countdown had begun. In ten days, I’d move from Florida, where I’d spent the summer with family, to Caltech. Unfolded boxes leaned against my dresser, and suitcases yawned on the floor. I was working on a paper. Even if I’d turned around from my desk, I wouldn’t have seen the stacked books and folded [...]