In the revolutionary new book Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday’s Tomorrow, author Nicole Yunger Halpern, PhD (PhD ’18) delivers a steampunk adventure guide to how mind-blowing quantum physics is in transforming our understanding of information and energy.
Yunger Halpern, PhD (PhD ’18) is currently employed as a theoretical physicist at the National Institute of Science and Technology and a QuICS Fellow at the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the University of Maryland (QuICS). Her doctoral dissertation in physics at Caltech won the Ilya Prigogine Prize for Thermodynamics.
“Caltech, especially my PhD advisor, John Preskill, offered me the freedom and support to develop my quantum-steampunk research program,” says Yunger Halpern. During this time, Yunger Halpern adopted the habit of interweaving science with literature, art, and history as she began writing for Quantum Frontiers, a blog by the Institute of Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech, posting once a month and unintentionally writing what would become the beginnings of her book. “Without Caltech, I might not have a story to tell. The research program that I expanded during my postdoctoral years forms much of the material in the book,” says Yunger Halpern.
So, in 2020, when Johns Hopkins University Press invited Yunger Halpern to write a book for the general public after reading her existing discussions on quantum steampunk, she already had a foundation to work from. “I mulled over the book possibility on many a pandemic-exercise walk, and I discovered that I did have a substantial story to tell about quantum steampunk.”
In the book, which will be available on March 22, 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?"