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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

A person can develop a cough. by Sam M. '07

Simultaneously the coldest and hottest entry I've ever written.

DID YOU KNOW? …what the most awkward thing in the whole entire world is? Well, I will tell you. It is going to the Zesiger Center to go running and seeing one of your professors in the locker room wearing only boxer shorts. And then he recognizes you.

How’s that for teacher-student interaction?

While sitting in 10.37: Chemical Kinetics and Reactor Design this morning, I felt a faint red soreness on my uvula, which can only mean that I’m developing my traditional mid-winter cold. I have way too much to do in the next two days, so I’m hoping that I delay its onset until Thursday by sheer force of will.

I originally wrote “shear force of will,” as in the component of force that my will would experience tangent to the wall during pipe flow. This is what writing a 21-page proposal on drag reduction in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System can do to you.

Despite my cold, I persevered and managed to design my very first NOT gate in 6.002 lab. Considering that I entered lab with my lab kit still unopened and the first thing I said to the lab assistant was, “Can you give me a hand? I have no idea what I’m doing,” I was pretty proud of myself, although I’m sure all of you circuitry prodigies are sitting in your floating chairs and laughing about how much smarter you are than an MIT student while your homemade killer death robots or whatever open another bottle of Jolt Cola for you.

Well, you know what, circuitry prodigies? Everybody reading this blog is actually smarter than I am. Do you know why?

One time in high school I set toast ON FIRE.

It was beautiful–our toaster oven had broken over the summer, and of course this only increased my appetite for toast by a thousandfold, so I stuck a piece of white bread in the oven and set it to low broil, then went back to watching Xena: Warrior Princess or something. Thirty minutes later, I returned to the kitchen to find a faint burning smell and a charred piece of blazing toast which left the oven fully illuminated even with the lights off.

Luckily I had Sam’s Mom around back then. “Mom, wake up. I set toast on fire.” “You did what?” “I was making some toast, and now it’s on fire.” Sam’s Mom calmly opened the oven door, took the flaming toast out with barbecue tongs, and threw it into the sink, which was fortuitously full of soapy water and soaking dishes.

Now I do not know what I would do. I might have to [email protected].

Anyway, I was so proud of my NOT gate that I took pictures of it, of course.

You will see those soon enough.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done?

28 responses to “A person can develop a cough.”

  1. Kristin R. says:

    I made “grape juice” using my mouth and some grapes, and then I offered it to relatives.

    Let’s say I was seven.

  2. Mollie says:

    The summer after freshman year, when I lived in Washington, DC, I once took a nighttime walk around the city. And got lost. Alone.

    No more walking alone in cities at night for this girl.

  3. Arya says:

    when I was 12 I was trying to prove that einstein’s energy conservation law is false..! (:|

  4. R says:

    The dumbest thing i’ve ever done is making a list of all the dumb things I ever did, and then to my horror, my parents let me know they had read that list :(

  5. Anonymous says:

    i burned two pieces of toast 0_0

  6. me? says:

    I recently set two pieces of bread on fire as well. I put them into one of the conveyer toaster things, without taking note of their size (I had done it before with this same type of bread, no problems), so I turned away for a second, turned back, and there were many, very large flames coming out of the toaster. The bread had gotten caught on the burner on the top because the bread was thicker than I thought. I just turned off the toaster and let it flame itself out (20 seconds of big flames after I turned it off).

  7. Katie says:

    I’ve been a lurker for a while. It feels kind of stalkerish, being a lurker lol. I found your blog through a knitting blog, and I find your posts quite entertaining. I’m a sophomore in high school, can’t wait to be done with it, just to give a bit of background. Anyway, dumbest thing I’ve done.. myy brother threw a plastic fork, it wasn’t even going to hit me, but I threw my glass of water at the fork, maybe I was thinking the water would make some sort of forcefield, I don’t know. grin

  8. I don’t really consider it dumb, but not too long ago I used grapes to make miniature fireworks in the microwave oven. I go the instructions from the same ‘site with the report on the creation of a strawberry poptart blowtorch.

    It was pretty.

    Speaking of poptart-fueled blowtorches, I was wondering what effect different types of poptart would have on the flames. Any ideas, oh mighty student of course 10?

  9. You are smarter than me…..

    I put my hands in a bowl of boiled water ….. it’s not the dumbest …. here it is …. I didn’t feel anything until i get the first after-call from one of my cousins …. I was only four ……. I am not sure it’s the dumbest or the dumbest thing is i can remember it ……… :S

  10. Beth says:

    Anyone for CDs in a microwave?

    Just kidding.

    What’s a “NOT gate”? I don’t get it! I must be {emph really} stupid.

  11. Stupidest thing I’ve ever done? Well, that I won’t disclose here. But something really stupid I’ve done: drink tea with lemon…and milk. The stupid plays in when you realize the acid from the lemon curdles the milk. I somehow managed to down the entire cup, thinking it just tasted weird. Then when I saw what looked oddly like cheese at the bottom, I knew something was wrong.

  12. Mike says:

    My lab keeps its incubator and freezer right next to each other. And one day when I went to put away this box of DNA that we spent all semester prepping, I chose the wrong door.

  13. Dinyar says:

    yay, prof. virk! (yeah, your heroes are my heroes.. sorta.. :D ) and yay, latex! (if i see correctly.. otherwise don’t be bothered by me.. it’s late at my place.. wink )

  14. Mridul says:

    The dumbest thing that (I think) I’ve done is to make mud speed-breakers in backyard and then ride my cycle through it. And this *extra-curricular* wink activity continued for about 3 years. Heh, I can still remember those good ‘ol days.

  15. Saad Zaheer says:

    The dumbest thing I ever did was to apply ‘Head and Shoulders’ on my face in the guise of a lotion for three straight days without looking at the bottle…. yeah.. I go to MIT!

  16. Saad Zaheer says:

    and my mom knows that!

  17. Sam says:

    Kristin R — How were you going to give this grape juice to your relatives? Did you pour it back into a glass or something. I’m befuddled.

    Mollie — Yes, generally not very good, but after missing Saferide on the way back from AXO Fondue, I found that the area of Boston around MIT is surprisingly welcoming at night.

    Arya — Well, that definitely shows ambition; I’m not sure I could have even told you anything about energy conservation when I was 12.

    me? — YES, I think those conveyor toasters are the coolest (no pun intended) things; sorry to hear you had such a traumatic experience.

    Katie — Delurking is AWESOME, as is the line “maybe I was thinking the water would make some sort of forcefield.”

    Rhiannon — Have you heard of using a candle in a microwave to make plasma? It’s really astounding fireworks, but then our microwave mysteriously broke.

    more in a moment…

  18. Kristin R. says:


    Yeah, I sort of collected the “grape juice” in a pitcher as it was…produced.

    I’m trying not to make anyone gag!


  19. thekeri says:

    Nice move, Kristin. ^_^

    But at least you didn’t burn water!

    Yeah, I don’t quite know how it happened yet, but I’m not exactly a culinary genius. In fact, I can’t cook at all. All I know is that the kettle was fine one second – the next, and it was primarily composed of water vapor and flaming bits of metallic charcoal.

    It took me nearly six months to even begin to approach the stove in my kitchen again.

  20. Joe says:

    The dumbest thing that I have ever done has actually happened quite recently. Let me relate the story.

    It was a slow night at the theater where I work. My fellow coworkers and I were looking to have some fun. Well caffienated and extremely tired, a coworker and I noticed that a small group of popular kids from the high school were gathered near the glass doors that proved a safe viewing area for the observers.

    He and I began by walking outside, an action unworthy of note. We then proceeded to stretch. Yes, we stretched. This, naturally, grabbed the attention of our audience. Okay, we now had them. Without warning, my fellow employee and I ran towards our local steak restaraunt, ripping off our own shoes, shirt, and eventually pants. Left only in our underwear, we then amazed the now gasping crowd by doing a set of jumping-jacks.

    Yes, it was stupid, maybe a little illegal, but it was a rush. It established my place in the company, got the attention of a couple good looking cheerleaders, and made the older people leaving the theater happy. They were, in fact, hitting their car horns and shouting cheers of acclamation. Yeah, that was fun. Ah, good times…

  21. Phil says:

    Well, it all started one Sunday night during my freshman year. Sitting on the corner of my bed, my eyes turned and locked onto one of those rock balls (like a superball except with jagged angles instead of a smooth sphere). Ominously, my eyes then moved to the pocketknife resting on my dresser…my fate was sealed. I guess the need to know what made a bouncyball bounce had been fermenting in my head for a while, but I grabbed the ball and took up the knife and began to dig in. As you probably already guessed, it ended in a bloody mess and a 12-o’clock, Sunday-night trip to the hospital with a very angry dad driving the car.

    Stupid? Yes.

    Worth it? Yes.

  22. See, that’s the thing about the grape fireworks. The microwave survived, and the grapes were still essentially edible afterward.

  23. Yasha says:

    hmm stupidest thing ever done….i guess i’ve used my tramponline too many times inside the house. considering the fact that my ceiling is made of nothing but a thin sheet of wood, i guess getting my head stuck through the ceiling so many times and shelling out a fortune in repairs makes me an idiot…….

  24. Yasha says:

    hmm stupidest thing ever done….i guess i’ve used my tramponline too many times inside the house. considering the fact that my ceiling is made of nothing but a thin sheet of wood, i guess getting my head stuck through the ceiling so many times and shelling out a fortune in repairs makes me an idiot…….

  25. Sam says:

    Okay, some more…

    Mohammed — Well, at age 3 I was trying to eat the lit candles off of my birthday cake, so I’m not sure I was much better off than you were as a toddler.

    Beth — No, seriously, I did not have any idea until two weeks ago, and today I managed to combine a NAND and a NOR gate into one glorious piece of circuitry, with nary an hour to spare in lab.

    Michael B — I never even thought of that… although now that you mention it, I do remember Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef (who, much to my chagrin, does not cook naked), making a chicken dish which he braised in cream and then added lemon to, to get a more curdlike texture. It looked delicious, as did he.

    Mike — That is research life.

    R — Sam’s Mom would probably tell you that that is a parent’s job.

    Dinyar — Oh, more Professor Virk stories to come. I had dinner with him last night and he quoted AC/DC in reference to drag reduction (“I always want to hit the max drag reduction asymptote… like AC/DC said, I can’t stop, I’m on a Highway to Hell!”

    Saad — Well, they do call it “Head.” Didn’t it sting a little bit, though?

    Mridul — It’s funny, I used to be so fearless when I was a child on my bicycle, but now I can’t even run down my driveway without screaming.

    Kristin — I have heard of this happening before! But not before I got to college. I guess if you just boil plain old tap water, the vast quantity of dissolved metals therein could burn up or something.

    Joe — Well, perhaps you should head over to Harvard; I hear they have some sort of streaking event in the middle of January. You would probably fit right in there.

    Phil — Didn’t they have google back then? I’m kind of curious now.

    Yasha — There was a curious incident at home where my dear friend Allison bounced off Ben’s bed and smacked her head into the wall of Ben’s basement. So you are not alone.

    No man is an island.

  26. Jess says:

    I once believed I could fly off my coffee table and ended up with severe rug burns on both my knees. :D In my defense, I was probably about five. The stupidest thing, though? That’s a tough one. There are so many!

    Oh, I know. watching The Wedding Planner. (shudder)

  27. Jess says:

    I once believed I could fly off my coffee table and ended up with severe rug burns on both my knees. :D In my defense, I was probably about five. The stupidest thing, though? That’s a tough one. There are so many!

    Oh, I know. watching The Wedding Planner. (shudder)

  28. Movie Guru says:

    I can’t limit it to one stupid thing but rather one area of expertice at messing various items up. Things seem to spontaneously blow up at my home…

    A large chocolate bunt cake that took approximately 2 hours to scrape off the walls and ceiling.

    A vacuum cleaner that was not plugged in.

    A vacuum clear that was plugged.

    2 microwaves (you’d think after one aluminum foil instance, I’d have learned).

    And of course a computer while I was typing my Anatomy final (and on page 23 of 50 with no back up disc).