• Who am I?

    I am Qrystal; or at least, that's my dot-name! Har har. (My name is really Crystal, but that's not as internet-searchable; hence, switching the C for the little-used letter Q.)

    I am here because I enjoy writing. I do this mostly for myself, but I also have a passion for helping others learn things from the things I write. Now that I am done my Ph.D. in Physics, I am stepping away from academic research so that I can indulge in some creative ways to share my knowledge and inspire the appreciation of scientific thinking in others. I am also working as a tutor, which is one of the jobs I've most enjoyed doing in my life so far.


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    Loopholes in quantum entanglement?

    Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

    We have been told that experiments agree with all the predictions of quantum theory, including those that involve the impossible – the Bell test experiments, that are supposed to show totally incomprehensible effects of separated particles on each other. — Caroline Thompson In working on my thesis, I realized I wanted to be sure that [...]

    Just Like My Computer Desktop…

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

    Oh. My. Gosh. PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham knows what MY Computer Desktop looks like!! I especially liked the section entitled, “Papers you’ve been meaning to read for months.” I have five of those… :)

    Research Paper MadLibs!

    Friday, January 16th, 2009

    PHD Comics: Abstract Mad Libs I laughed out loud at the blank labelled “buzzword”. In the case of my thesis, the buzzword is “quantum gravity”. I’ve been encouraged to toss that word into grant applications more than once. It’s not really a stretch, even though my thesis has nothing to do with gravity. I am [...]

    Alas, No Second Edition

    Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

    There will not be a second edition of Nielsen and Chuang. This comes directly from Michael Nielsen himself, in a comment on his blog. I must say I’m disappointed, because the book of theirs in question, Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, is a fantastic overview of the field… but it’s starting to show its age [...]

    Thesis Struggles: Analyzing the Cause

    Thursday, November 6th, 2008

    If you’re filled with strong negative emotions – particularly when they don’t make sense to you, you’ll do what it takes to avoid those feelings. Hence, procrastination and paralysis when it comes to scholarly writing. So says Gina Hiatt of AcademicLadder.com. I’ve been subscribed to the free newsletter from this site for a few months [...]

    Lack of Funding in Science

    Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

    If lack of funding drives our most promising young people away from careers in research, the long-term damage to science could be significant,” Finneran said. To prevent this, he said, scientists may have to learn how to fight for what research dollars they can get. U.S. Bailout May Set Back Science Funding, Experts Fear. I’m [...]

    Dreaming of a Six Hour Startup

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

    It didn’t take much to get [it] up and running. Just an initial idea — which [he] couldn’t get out of his head — a domain name, and a few smart people. All told, about $30 was invested in the project, including the snacks … purchased to fuel developers during the coding marathon. Ready, set [...]

    Electron Spin Visualization

    Friday, September 5th, 2008

    Air on the Dirac Strings, by EVL: Electronic Visualization Laboratory, and posted by evltube on YouTube. Electron spin is definitely a weird property, especially because of the fact that it requires two full rotations to return to its original orientation, instead of just one. This video has some excellent visualizations to help wrap your head [...]

    End of a PhD Candidate’s Day

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

    Brilliant! Jorge Cham from PhD Comics did it again: he got inside my head, and made a comic of what life’s like as a grad student. It’s so nice to think that I’m not the only one going through this!

    Time Estimates as Ranges of Possibilities

    Monday, August 11th, 2008

    I recently discovered LiquidPlanner, a project planner based on a unique concept:  that plans are meant to be fluid, and that nothing can be planned with exact certainty. With normal planning software, this fluidity causes the need to replan and tweak and fiddle… and in my case, my tendency towards optimism resulted in me letting [...]

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