Physics and Astronomy

Nicole Yunger Halpern ‘11 PHYS-NicoleHalpern
F09-S10 D-plan: R-R-R
Modified Physics

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

Favorite: The people—the professors and TAs (see “favorite professor” below)

Least favorite: That I have so little experience with it. So far, I have taken only one physics course at Dartmouth, though I have interacted extensively with certain professors, TAs, alumni, and administrators.

Talk to me if:

1)    You enjoy a range of disciplines and can’t pick one
2)    Unconventional solutions to the major dilemma (special major, modified majors, Senior Fellowship, etc.) interest you
3)    You’re curious or have insights about the sculptures in front of Wilder

Most valuable academic info learned:

Dartmouth spoils us rotten, faculty-wise. Ask professors questions; take them out to lunch; camp out in office hours! After all, when will you have so many fascinating, fascinated people at your fingertips again?

Favorite class and professor:

Professor Blencowe has encouraged me inside and outside of the classroom. He welcomes my ideas (including interdisciplinary ones, even offering to assist with my major) and questions (even when I’ve feared I’ve simply been pestering him). I love popping into his office for a chat!

MATH 17 (the “Geometry of the Fourth Dimension” incarnation) brought to light vast tracts of mathematics I hadn’t known existed while demonstrating how to approach concepts I can’t understand through sight or touch.

Major classes taken:

Not including prerequisites: PHYS 19; MATH 17
Including prerequisites: AP Physics C: Mechanics and E&M, PHYS 19;
MATH 11, MATH 22, 17; PHIL 2, PHIL 3

Major journey:

Intrigued by most disciplines I’ve studied, I couldn’t bear to limit myself to one. While trying a variety of classes, I sought advice from over thirty sources (seriously; I’ve kept a list!), from PALs to peers to alumni. Though I’d long suspected I’d end up in philosophy, I increasingly balked at the idea. Eventually, I worked with Professors Blencowe and Lawrence—while all but memorizing the ORC—to concoct a special major-turned-modified-philosophy-turned-modified-physics major.

Major-specific activities:

Presidential Scholarship with Professor Marcelo Gleiser; Aporia – editor; “XKCD Comes to Dartmouth!” (a host of events involving the physics/math departments/administrations concerning a visit by the creator of a physics/math/engineering/CS webcomic during Fall 2008) – primary organizer

Thesis status:

I currently do not plan to write a thesis.

Other activities:

Rocky VoxMasters – co-leader; Hillel – Jew Crew secretary, Jewish Undergraduate Advisor; Hebrew lunch – founder, leader; Thursday Night Salsa; Dartmouth Argentine Tango Society; Community Columnist blogger for the Tampa Tribune; Leadership Discovery Program; Civic Skills Training

Internship experience:

During Spring 09, I interned at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries in Washington, D.C. At the Dibner Library, which contains rare books and special collections pertaining to the history of science and technology, I created a bibliography, assisted with outreach, learned about the structure and formation of books, examined documents by famous scientists, researched some of those documents, and digitized letters by Erwin Schrödinger. At Digital Services, I helped maintain the Libraries’ digital repository.

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Christopher Talamo ‘11 PHYS-ASTR-ChrisTalamo
F09-S10 D-plan: R-R-R
Astronomy and Physics

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

The physics department is incredible because of the seemingly infinite research opportunities there are for students who want to pursue them. Faculty members are always eager for the chance to work with students, and the dynamic between the professor, graduate student, and undergraduate student is ideal. The chance to work with a grad student is also great if you’re not sure about being a physics major. It does seem like the department’s research interests tend to cluster, so unfortunately it can sometimes be difficult to decipher which professor to work with if your interests don’t line up with theirs exactly.

Important info for potential majors:

The best way to find out if you really want to be a physics major is to engage and work with the faculty. If you don’t find research enjoyable, then physics is probably not for you. Strong math skills are also important, so if you’re a first-year, make sure to complete the calculus progression in the math department.

Talk to me if:

you are interested in theoretical physics

Most valuable academic info learned:

Office hours are not just for homework help (though they’re great for that, too). The professors love to talk to students about their research

Favorite class and professor:

My favorite class was Physics 16 with Professor Marcelo Gleiser. Not only is Prof. Gleiser a fantastic lecturer and fostered within me an intense love of physics, but he was also very engaging outside of class. I’m now working with one of his graduate students on a research project that very closely matches my interests.

Major classes taken:

PHYS 15, 16, 24, 41, 43, 47; ASTR 15, 25; MATH 12, 23

Major journey:

I’ve always been in awe of early-universe cosmology, particularly inflation theory, so I was always interested in physics or astronomy. However, because cosmology brings together the physics of the small (quantum mechanics) with the physics of the large (general relativity), just a physics or an astronomy major wasn’t going to satisfy me. I decided to take on both majors to get a holistic physics experience, and I’m much happier for deciding to do so.

Major-specific activities:

Research, leading study groups.

Thesis status:

Intended, hopefully on the topic that my research is currently in (inflationary cosmology)

Other activities:

Dartmouth Model United Nations – Secretary General; National HS Model UN – Under Secretary General; The Dartmouth – Opinion staff writer; Green Key;

Internship experience:

I spent my off-term in 09S at Dartmouth working in Prof. Gleiser’s lab with one of his grad students as a research assistant.

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Laura DeLorenzo    ’10 PHYS-LauraDeLorenzo
F09-S10 D-plan: R-R-L
Physics

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

My favorite thing about the department is the availability of classes with a laboratory component.  Verifying theoretical results in lab is fun and reminds you that physics is an experimental science too.  My least favorite thing is how rarely classes are offered.  Some are offered only once every other year, which makes scheduling difficult.

Important info for potential majors:

Make sure to get your pre-requisites done early and plan out your leave terms carefully because most classes are offered only once a year and some are offered only every other year.

Talk to me if:

You are interested in doing research programs on your leave terms.

Most valuable academic info learned:

Don’t be afraid to go to office hours for help with homework or class material.  Having a good understanding of how to solve homework problems is the best preparation for exams.

Favorite class and professor:

My favorite class is PHYS 75, Quantum Computation and Information, with Professor Lawrence.  The subject is fascinating because the unique phenomena that occur in the quantum realm allow quantum computers to solve certain types of problems much more quickly
than classical computers.  For example, Shor’s algorithm for quantum factorization works exponentially faster than the best classical factorization algorithm.

Major classes taken:

MATH 8, 13, 23; PHYS 13, 14, 19, 24, 41, 42, 44, 75, 76

Major journey:

I came to Dartmouth planning to be an engineer, but I realized that I liked to understand the theoretical side of things more than just the applications.

Major-specific activities:

Presidential Scholar research

Thesis status:

Intended

Other activities:

Academic Skills Center tutor; DAPA; WISP peer mentor

Internship experience:

WISP internship at CREEL, winter and spring 2007
Harvard University Research Experience for Undergraduates, summer 2007
NASA Undergraduate Student Researchers Program, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, fall 2008
DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering, GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt, Germany, summer 2009

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Maria Vishnevskiy ‘10
phys1-maria
F09-S10 D-plan: R-R-R
Physics

Favorite and least favorite thing about department:

Most of the professors and staff I have met in the department are really great, chill people who are truly interested in their subject – it shows when they are teaching it! Taking the math required for physics can get a little confusing though. There is a variety of intro math classes that are considered equivalent when it comes to prerequisites, but they do not always cover what you need to know for a physics class in a timely manner, especially if you are taking them concurrently.

Important info for potential majors:

Take some time to plan out when you will take your physics and math classes so you don’t find yourself trying to squeeze them all in one term or missing a prerequisite.

Talk to me if:

You are trying to decide between the 13/14 and 15/16 sequence.

Most valuable academic information learned:

Work with other students from your class to do problem sets and study for tests. You will cover more material if you discuss concepts together, and you will understand the concepts better if you teach them to somebody else. Studying and doing problem sets also takes a lot of time, so it is more fun in a group!

Favorite class and professor:

Physics 15 with Barrett Rogers was a great overview of mechanics and my first experience with special relativity, which was really cool. Professor Rogers is hilarious – I especially loved his cartoons of electrons when he taught about the cathode ray tube experiment!

Major classes taken:

PHYS 15, 16, 24; MATH 8, 13, 23

Major journey:

I came in wanting to be a biology major, but I realized that I liked science that involved a little more math. You can use the math to get a precise answer that you can check and use the physics to relate it to something tangible. (Scarily enough, both my parents were physics majors as undergraduates..)

Thesis status:

Thinking about it!

Other activities:

DMC, Active Minds, EDPA

Internship experience:

I worked in a radiology lab through WISP in the Dartmouth Medical School with Benjamin Williams during my freshman and some of sophomore year doing electron paramagnetic resonance research and some MATLAB work.