Virtual Event: Nicole Yunger Halpern


Quantum Steampunk:
The Physics of Yesterday's Tomorrow

in conversation with JACOB BARANDES


March 24, 2022
6:00 PM ET


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.


Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome theoretical physicist NICOLE YUNGER HALPERN for a discussion of her book Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday's Tomorrow. She will be joined in conversation by JACOB BARANDES, co-director of Graduate Studies for Physics at Harvard University.

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About Quantum Steampunk

Victorian era steam engines and particle physics may seem worlds (as well as centuries) apart, yet a new branch of science, quantum thermodynamics, reenvisions the scientific underpinnings of the Industrial Revolution through the lens of today's roaring quantum information revolution. Classical thermodynamics, understood as the study of engines, energy, and efficiency, needs reimagining to take advantage of quantum mechanics, the basic framework that explores the nature of reality by peering at minute matters, down to the momentum of a single particle.

In her exciting new book, intrepid Harvard-trained physicist Dr. Nicole Yunger Halpern introduces these concepts to the uninitiated with what she calls "quantum steampunk," after the fantastical genre that pairs futuristic technologies with Victorian sensibilities. While readers follow the adventures of a rag-tag steampunk crew on trains, dirigibles, and automobiles, they explore questions such as, "Can quantum physics revolutionize engines?" and "What deeper secrets can quantum information reveal about the trajectory of time?"

Yunger Halpern also describes her own adventures in the quantum universe and provides an insider's look at the work of the scientists obsessed with its technological promise. Moving from fundamental physics to cutting-edge experimental applications, Quantum Steampunk explores the field's aesthetic, shares its whimsy, and gazes into the potential of a quantum future. The result is a blast for fans of science, science fiction, and fantasy.

Praise for Quantum Steampunk

"Like any good quantum system, this book is complex, entangled, and unpredictable. Yunger Halpern provides an expert tour of the bustling new research frontier at the intersection of physics, information, and technology, complete with goggles and brass fittings." —Sean M. Carroll

"To most people, quantum information science is an enigma. Yet, it is expected to shape much of the future of computation. To dive into this brave new world we need a patient, kind, and fun guide. In Quantum Steampunk, Yunger Halpern performs a magnificent trick, presenting tomorrow's science in the guise of yesterday's scientific landscape with great clarity and originality. Science writing at its best." —Marcelo Gleiser

"Quantum Steampunk, written by one of the most gifted quantum theorists of her generation, is a must-read. It is filled with poetic illuminations of quantum mysteries and storytelling so captivating that I could not stop reading. This book will be a classic." —Stephon Alexander

Jacob Barandes
Jacob Barandes

Jacob Barandes

Jacob Barandes is a theoretical physicist and philosopher of science at Harvard University. He did his undergraduate work at Columbia University in physics and mathematics, and then completed his PhD in theoretical physics at Harvard. Dr. Barandes currently serves as Lecturer and Co-Director of Graduate Studies for the physics PhD program at Harvard, where he teaches courses on the fundamentals of theoretical physics, classical electromagnetism, general relativity, and the history and philosophy of quantum mechanics. He is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Harvard Black Hole Initiative. His research publications span the foundations of quantum theory, philosophy of science, and quantum field theory. Dr. Barandes also organizes an international workshop series on physics and philosophy.

Nicole Yunger Halpern
Nicole Yunger Halpern

Nicole Yunger Halpern

Nicole Yunger Halpern is a theoretical physicist at the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the University of Maryland. She earned her PhD at Caltech, winning the international Ilya Prigogine Prize for an energy-science thesis. She won the International Quantum Technology Emerging Researcher Award from the British Institute of Physics as an ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University.

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Harvard Science Book Talks

The Harvard Science Book Talks series is a collaboration between the Harvard University Division of Science, the Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store. The series features talks by the authors of recently published books on a variety of science-related topics and is open to both the Harvard community and to the general public. Typically, lectures are followed by a book signing with the author and refreshments. Learn more and watch recordings of past talks here

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