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Student, 74, Follows in Einstein’s Footsteps 

FILE - Dr. Albert Einstein writes out an equation for the density of the Milky Way on the blackboard at the Carnegie Institute, Mt. Wilson Observatory headquarters in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 14, 1931

Seventy-four-year-old Ken Holdeman is attending the University of Minnesota for one purpose — to immerse himself in quantum entanglement, a physics concept that has intrigued him for years.

In 2009, Holdeman encountered a Scientific American article that included comments on quantum entanglement, and he said to himself, “There has to be a better way.”

Three years later after retirement, Holdeman signed up to audit his first quantum mechanics class on the Twin Cities campus to go further on this complicated physics issue. Eight years later, he is still trying to solve it, the Minnesota Daily reported.

As of fall 2019, Holdeman is one of over 500 senior citizen students ages 62 or older who are taking classes on campus under the Senior Citizen Education Program. Students in this program pay $10 per credit and audit classes for free on the Twin Cities campus.

Like Holdeman, many come back with different purposes — some want to continue their interests outside of their professional career and others hope to refresh themselves. For Holdeman, that interest was quantum entanglement.

Quantum entanglement is credited to a 1935 paper co-authored by Albert Einstein and colleagues that is popularly referred to as the Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox. The thought experiment involves particles interacting physically and when the properties of one, such as its polarization, are measured, the other’s properties can be predicted.

Different scholars and groups find this experiment intriguing, but few people understand the math behind it in enough detail to ask questions. Holdeman said he has insights of how the math works, so he has worked with University professors to pursue further developments.

Holdeman finds that classes outside of the physics department help him understand quantum entanglement. He once took a class called Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics.

“When I took it, I found my people,” Holdeman said, adding that he had many “wonderful discussions” with several classmates.

University philosophy professors Samuel Fletcher and Jos Uffink have helped with Holdeman’s research. One of them volunteered to help him and introduced him to several articles, where Holdeman said he furthered his understanding and improved the depth of his ideas.

Holdeman said he is not sure his ideas to better understand quantum entanglement are correct, but there is a chance they may be “revolutionary.”

Holdeman was a computer science master student at the University back in the early 1970s and worked at Seagate Technology, a data storage company, for 28 years before retirement.

“My lifelong experiences have helped me understand nuances in why professors approach subjects the way they do,” Holdeman said. “I’ve found it fascinating to compare how classes were taught years ago and how students are responding in today’s classes.”

In addition to pursuing quantum entanglement, Holdeman took psychology professor Daniel Kersten’s fall 2018 class Intro to Neural Networks, which discussed connections between artificial intelligence and psychology. He now helps with Kersten’s presentations to better align the material with cutting-edge neural network software development using his coding experience in Python.

“Lifelong learning is a wonderful ambition to have,” Kersten said.

It is rare to find a student like Holdeman who maintains an interest in the content of the course after the course is over, Kersten said.

“Ken is pretty special,” Kersten said.

Holdeman plans to share what he has discovered about quantum entanglement so far with arXiv, an open-access archive.

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Enrollments Are Down, Budgets Are Tight; One College's Answer: Pizza-Carrying Robots

FILE - People walk their dogs on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

To cut costs, many colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are using robots to deliver food in dining halls and at sports games. Students can order food with an app, and the robot will deliver it to them.

According to the robot's manufacturer, 64% of students surveyed say the service has kept them from skipping meals. Lauren Coffey of Inside Higher Ed has more. (August 2023)

What’s It Like to Come to America as an Undergraduate?

What’s It Like to Come to America as an Undergraduate?
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Many thousands of international students come to study at American universities and colleges each year. VOA’s Laurel Bowman met four students who have just landed at campuses in the Washington area. Camera — Adam Greenbaum and Saqib Ul Islam.

Top Employers’ Latest Perk: Free College Counseling

FILE - The sun sets over Seattle's University District, May 13, 2023, seen from Medina, Wash.

Many prestigious companies in the U.S. are now offering their employees free coaching to get their children into selective schools. The perk is designed to recruit the best workers in a tight job market, but critics say it only worsens inequality.

Jon Marcus has more for The Hechinger Report. (September 2023)

International Students Should 'Know How Majors and Grading Work'

FILE - People enter the campus of Morehouse College, a historically Black school, in Atlanta, Georgia, April 12, 2019.

The U.S. college system is different from most others: Students are graded from A to F, and often choose their course of study — their "major" — one to two years after enrolling. Anayat Durrani of U.S. News & World Report explains the differences. (August 2023)

Hoping to Study in the US? Here's How to Secure Housing

FILE - University of California, Berkeley, freshmen Sanaa Sodhi, right, and Cheryl Tugade look for apartments in Berkeley, Calif., March 29, 2022.

AfterSchool Africa takes a look at the finer points of arranging accommodations for international students. Among the considerations: How close is the housing to campus? How safe is it? What about its proximity to public transit?

Read the full story here.

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