This semester (Spring 2019), I have been taking a class titled “Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics” taught by Nina Emery at Mount Holyoke College. In this class we examine some of the strange phenomena seen in quantum mechanics and discuss the philosophical interpretations of this phenomena.
During the first portion of the class we talked about two odd phenomena known as the Two Path Experiment and the EPRB experiment. Both of these experiments exhibit surprising results that stun physicists to this day.
In particular, the results of the EPRB experiment exhibit a perfect anti-correlation, which has surprised physicists for decades and deserves an explanation. Many have attempted to develop theories to explain these bizarre results and interpret their implications, including Einstein and two of his grad students. The three of them came up with a theory known as “hidden variables theory”, which in short, explains the perfect anti-correlation seen in the EPRB experiment using a common cause explanation.
John Stewart Bell responded to this by developing a theorem known as “Bell’s Theorem”, which states that it is mathematically impossible for one to hold two assumptions, known as no conspiracy and locality, and allow hidden variables theory to be true. This leaves everyone with the dilemma of either giving up one of these assumptions or to not accept hidden variables theory and make another attempt to explain the perfect anti-correlation.
This paper that I wrote for the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics class argues in favor of giving up the locality assumption. I argue for this response by explaining the EPRB experiment, hidden variables theory, and Bell’s theorem, and then making an argument for giving up the locality assumption in Bell’s Theorem. Lastly, I give a possible objection to my argument and explain why this objection is unconvincing.
During the Fall 2018 semester, I took a course titled “Statistical Mechanics” at Mount Holyoke College, taught by Kerstin Nordstrom. This was an 300-level course that focuses on concepts in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Nearly all of our time in class was spent on lectures, where we discuss the fundamental concepts in statistical mechanics and solve some complex problems as a class.
Towards the end of the semester, we were assigned to come up with a project to do independently that further explores one of the topics we discussed in class. I was inspired by the lecture on quantum gases, which mentioned white dwarfs as an application of the Fermi gas, an example of a quantum ideal gas. Seeing this as an opportunity to merge my interests in physics and astronomy, I decided to do my project on white dwarfs, where I completed a problem that derives the relationship between the mass and the radius of a white dwarf star. The relationship between mass and radius is directly derived from the function for the total energy of the white dwarf. The function for total energy incorporates the Fermi Energy, which is an important property of a quantum gas.
This article walks through the derivation of the relationship between the mass and the radius of a white dwarf. It includes a detailed description of the process, as well as the equations used, calculations done, and some figures I created. Figure 1 in the article, the sketch showing the assembly of a sphere shell by shell was created in Adobe Illustrator, and Figures 2 and 3 in the article are graphs generated by Wolfram Mathematica.
During the Fall 2018 semester, I took a course titled “Electronics” at Mount Holyoke College, which was taught by Kathy Aidala. A lot of physics majors take this course in order to fulfill part of the lab requirement for the major. Most of our time in class was spent working on labs that reinforce the concepts in analog electronics that we learn by reading, solving problems for homework, and discussing in a lecture before the lab. The labs we do in class have us building and testing analog circuits that serve a variety of purposes.
The lab I’m sharing in this post is the third lab in the class, and the first one we were assigned to do a write-up on. In this lab, we designed, built, and tested two different circuits, both of which function as a voltmeter. Both of the circuits we built had some parameters that we were required to meet with the design. Before we began, we were given skeleton circuits for both voltmeter circuit designs, meaning that we already had a basic layout of what the circuits should look like. The part of the design that we were tasked with figuring out was what we should use for the specific components of the circuit, such as the values of the resistors, and the model of the op-amp. All of the decisions on these components were made in order to meet the parameters we were given for the circuits. Once we decided on these specifications and had a complete design, we built and tested both of the circuits.
This write-up discusses the specific tasks we were required to do in this lab, and walks through the entire designing, building, and testing process. All circuit designs and drawings, as well as the calculations done to find resistor values are included in the document. The final document was written in LaTeX, and all of the figures were hand-drawn by me.
A bachelor's in physics and astronomy sharing her thoughts on science and experiences as a student