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MIT student blogger Hamsika C. '13

I Feel Cool by Hamsika C. '13

Welcome to MIT, Mr. Gates!

As you’ve probably heard about already, Bill Gates visited campus today! And thanks to the MIT Admissions Office, I got a ticket to see him :)

(Thank you, Dave!!)

He was scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m., but the doors to Kresge Auditorium opened half an hour earlier. When I wandered into line at about 10:40 a.m., there were about 20 people ahead of me. Ten minutes later, there were hundreds of people behind me. Apparently, I got there at the right time.

(the people in line before me)

Our tickets were efficiently scanned, and we were all ushered into the auditorium. Ranjeetha ’13 and I managed to snag some pretty awesome seats, just behind the last row of reserved seating. We did, however, throw a few jealous looks at the Gates scholars, who not only got to meet Bill Gates in a smaller, more personal setting but also got to sit directly in front of the stage! Lucky…

When Bill Gates walked onto stage, there was a flurry of flashing cameras, to which I contributed:



(They’re kinda blurry – sorry, guys…)

After a few minutes, the number of flashes died down, and Bill Gates began to speak. His talk was entitled: “Giving Back: Finding the Best Way to Make a Difference,” and he focused largely on education, energy, and international development. I actually enjoyed his casual, occasionally stream-of-consciousness, style of speaking and found much of what he said relevant to my life as an MIT student. Changing the world, making other people’s lives better – that’s why I wanted to come to this school.

The last bit of the program was dedicated to Q&A. Ranjeetha ’13 and I had a quick, whispered conversation in the audience:

Ranjeetha: “Hey, what question did your friend want us to ask him again?”
Me: “‘What does it feel like to be one of the richest people in the world?’ I’m way too scared to ask him that.”
Ranjeetha: “I’ll ask him!”
Me: “Wait, seriously?”
Ranjeetha: “Yeah!”
Me: “…Go for it!”

Ranjeetha left her seat and got in line to ask her question. When it was her turn, she went up to the microphone, introduced herself, first asked a legitimately academic question, and then –

“So I’m curious…how does being such a rich person affect your life?”

To which Bill Gates responded, in complete seriousness, that after a few million dollars, it didn’t quite matter so much and that McDonald’s burgers were as good as anything. He did admit that air travel was better, though (private jets tend to be that way :D) Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my seat – simultaneously impressed and shocked by what Ranjeetha just did.

As soon as we left Kresge, I managed to rein in my excitement long enough to get a brief video interview with her:

If you end up reading any articles on Bill Gates’s visit to MIT today, she’ll be the “freshman” or the “bold student.” Just FYI ;)

37 responses to “I Feel Cool”

  1. genius ('18) says:


    “He did admit that air travel was better, though; private jets tend to be that way smile

    OHHH! Don’t you know? Bill Gates famously ALWAYS flys coach/economy class!

  2. genius ('18) says:

    Wasn’t Bill Gates a dropout from “that other Ivy-league school from cambridge whoose graduates a have a certain tendency for mentioning their alma-mater* more than nescessary?” wink


  3. Nadia ('15?) says:

    The video is set as private ):

  4. Hamsika '13 says:

    Ahh, sorry! I fixed it – good catch smile

  5. Anonymous says:

    @ genius’18- my question still stands

    “@ genius, are you really? What;s your actual IQ test score?
    Specify which test (wechsler, standford binet, etc), what deviation,and what edition.
    I have dyslexia and ADHD rather severely[took a while to type this and I had many errors to fix],which impacted my school performance, but I’ve tested a 167 stanford-binet LM (sd16), have an auditory digit memory span of 25, and started talking at 7 months, sentences by 12.

    A lot of people like to proclaim genius because they can test at a 130s/140s level, but I consider real genius starts at around , maybe, 160+ish (sd 15.)Would this actually describe you?”

  6. mmr says:

    Genius is not based on the base of IQ but I also think using ‘genius’ is pretty lame.

  7. mmr says:

    Genius is not based on the base of IQ but I also think using ‘genius’ is pretty lame.

  8. Chottu says:

    Just wondering – did his reply allude to him being happy at all? I think not. This could have been nice social experiment to see if money brings happiness grin

  9. Videos are not playing on my laptop. I’m using Firefox and i have java plug installed. what should i do?

  10. Armin says:

    I don’t agree with air travel.

    I am myself an international student and I used to return to my country by plane twice. But once I shifted my level a bit higher and the advent of surface travelling started.
    Ships, have a talk with passengers on the bus. Could you ever invite someone for coffee on an aeroplane?

    A pro backpacker friend of mine says: Plane simply doesn’t have any taste. – She’s seen the pyramids for six times.

  11. @Anonymous who commented on genius(’18): I would be deeply curious to find out what my IQ/intelligence, etc., would be. I know I’ve been tested a lot, and I’ve always been called “gifted” and subsequently placed in corresponding classes (which were fun but still easy), but my parents and teachers never explained the tests to me, told me my results, or anything like that. I know my dad has a 160 IQ, but is that relevant genetically speaking? And also, are IQ tests primarily numerical a lot of times? I know I have a near-photographic memory, learn very very easily, am very creative in numerous ways, and manipulate words/concepts/ideas at the speed of light; I know I’m good at math, also, but I’m very meticulous about it and hence a bit slower than at other things (or at least manipulate mathematical concepts less instinctively unless I can visualize them clearly). How might that all translate into test scores, if at all? I want to find out, but have no idea how…Any hints?

  12. Amethyst says:

    Lucky people! smile

  13. '14 says:

    If I choose MIT, can I be your friend? :DDD

    not creepy

  14. Hamsika '13 says:

    @ ’14 – lol! for sure smile

  15. Anonymous says:

    nice job hamsika – u captured the aura of the occasion nicely!

  16. Jochi Pochi says:

    I just realized that you asking that question to Bill Gates is equivalent to so many applicants asking you how it feels to be an MIT student lol XD

  17. '14 says:

    yay! :D

    Also, incidentally, how could you NOT mix frozen yogurt and fruit?! Melon + strawberry yogurt = yay! :D

    Also, incidentally, how could you NOT mix frozen yogurt and fruit?! Melon + strawberry yogurt = <333

  18. what your asking is a very complicated question, without a definitive answer. Intelligence is extremely difficult to define- it is processing ability? cognitive fucntioning? deductive logic? problem solving? Keem peek had his IQ tested at 87 SD 16, at the very highest, yet he could memorize the bible in an hour, calculate the day of the week of any date in seconds…..a savant, who tested at “low intelligence”, yet had unbelievable cognitive functioning power.
    its difficult to measure logic by a standardized test. “common sense” can be another word for logic, and almost certainly correlate with “intelligence”, but “common sense” is hard measured by any test
    you have fluid intelligence versus crystallized (logic vs knowledge), abstract vs directional, processive vs innovative, and so forth.
    I’d take an IQ test, i recommend stanford-binet (sd 16) or wechsler (sd 15)

    online tests are usually worthless, with this one exception; its a pretty good test, but has a very low and variable ceiling (149-157ish) if you start getting 120s and 130s and low 140s, thats probably a solid indication you arent of 160+ level.

  19. 167 SD 16 says:

    and IQ is partly genetic, partly enviromental, party trainable, and party random.
    Lol I need an actually name to go by, so my new name is “167 SD 16”

    iq tests always give a numerical response, but what does that mean? again, read the last response.

  20. Hello Hamsika Didi,
    Where’s the interviewer in the interview video above?

    Atleast there should be some introduction of the person behind the camera in the video too ! It seems that the interviewer is afraid of the camera also. (kidding) raspberry

    Nice Interview smile

  21. genius ('18) says:

    Actually, I don’t know if I am or am not a genius. Frankly I picked my screen name at random.
    18 seemed like a good number, and MIT is full of geniuses. My screen name’s only real signifcance, is that it helps me differ between my comments, and those of the default title of “Anonymous”. I had no idea my randomness would spark a discussion about IQ etc… Does it ACTUALLY matter to you? wink

  22. Armin says:

    @ genius(’18)
    Once you told me I should keep guessing for 18, and now it just seems a good number!

    Anyway, If you’re a genius, you don’t have to wait till 2014 to apply – and graduate in 2018 – you can apply now.

  23. @anonymous who commented genius:
    Thanks! smile I will definitely go look up that test, and maybe try to take the Stanford Binet as well. I think it would be interesting…

    I think another interesting thing (and one of the reasons I like MIT for, because they recognize it) is that a lot of the people we call “geniuses” historically–Leonardo da Vinci, etc.–had high, but not astronomical IQ’s, but what they did have was coupled with creativity and applied processing capability that helped them do everything they did. So it IS variable–wonder what Daniel Tammet’s scores are like, lol?

    @genius(’18): 18 is my favorite number. It seems purple for some reason, too raspberry Don’t know why!

    PS I am also Amethyst, but when I wrote my original post I didn’t want to seem cocky or off-topic or anything. Bad low-ego day.

    I met a Class of ’14 boy today at a regional competition!

  24. Domi says:

    to anonymous who commented on genius
    i took the IQ test and i want to go to MIT i got a 107 when i guessed almost every answer does that mean im luky or i have some potential please also take into account that i am in 9th grade

  25. Amethyst says:

    Continued from the IQ test discussion above:

    Hmm. Interesting. Took the test once and had no idea what to do at first (except on the memory, verbal analogies, math, and factual knowledge, which were easy-peasy)–first score was 111, bleargh. Awful for me. But then I realized the “find the missing square” questions were to do with inclusion/comparison as well as similarity, I looked a little bit closer, and tried to think about it less and act on instinct a bit more. Second time got a 122–still bleargh! But this brings up the interesting question:
    When I look at test questions, for the most part, the answer “jumps” out at me, or just *feels* right, and I know it’s the answer, like a key in a lock. Same thing when I’m doing a puzzle or working on a piece of artwork/music or figuring out how to put something together. On the online test, this happened for about 4 of the six sections–to someone with a higher IQ, do the spatial/visual relationships do the same thing, as instantaneously as other kinds of questions initially did for me? Second interesting question: although the questions were different mostly on the second run-through, did I actually “learn” the test, not necessarily score naturally higher on it? Did my comprehension of the form the questions took make it easier–and does that comprehension validate my score (in that I figured it out) or negate it, since I knew a bit more about how to answer them? Which is more important here–learning curve or innate ability, or are they both interdependent facets of the same thing?
    Interesting smile

  26. Amethyst says:

    Sorry if I’m irritating the admin for this blog with my repeated and non-Bill-Gates-related posts, but this is just too interesting!


    Haha!! Funny. The first time I took the more advanced test, I got a higher score than the first time I took the easier test–the verbal questions were more obscure but thank goodness for vocabulary skills smile Maybe that’s it, then–don’t have a super-high IQ but do have good skills for comprehension, retension, synthesis, and analysis. Phew!

    Ok. No more posts. Sorry, admin!

    ReCaptcha: martinez they. Bad grammar!

  27. 167 sd 16 says:

    @ Amethyst: O, I don’t think they mind. Neurocognition should be considered relevant on any M.I.T discussion. Any, for your interesting questions:
    1. the “easier” test is the more accurate- the more advance test relies far too much on general knowledge rather than cognitive processing. Vocabulary is supposed to correlate with IQ, and I’m sure it does, but only to a limited extent.
    2. Well, remember what I said about intelligence being so hard to define and so varied. The second time was probably the more accurate test, as you hadn’t seen enough to memorize anything, and you were better utilizing your cognitive ability to solve a problem. You bring up a very good point regarding “learning vs IQ”- most of the things you see on an IQ test can be practiced. Digit span, for one, and those puzzle like squares. You can increase your vocabulary and knowledge, and learn more advanced mathematics. Eventually, you’ll reach a limit, but it’s possible to score MUCH higher on an IQ test if you were to do all of the things mentioned above. In your case, you probably did better because you focused better, I doubt doing it once could be considered practice.
    I’ve always hit the ceiling on that test, ranging from 149-157 (different weight on certain questions which don’t always appear.) It never really takes me longer than 10 seconds a question, usually less My real IQ test scores also have variations. My highest score was a 167 SD 16, my lowest score was a 155 SD 15, and I’ve taken two other tests- a 163 SD 15 and a 165 SD 15. The 167 SD 16 (which equals the 163 SD 15) was my most recent test. the 163 sd 15 was the first test I ever took.

    Daniel tammet tested a 150 SD 15
    Leonardo da vinci DOES have a astronomically high IQ, his predeicted to have a non-flynned (probably fake science anyway) IQ of 200+ (sd 15/16, wouldnt matter at that rang.) He might have had a 180 or 190, but whatever it was, it was certainly very high.
    Einstein had a 160 around a 160ish, and the highest recorded IQ is Kim yong of korea, with a 210 sd 15.
    william sidis is predicted to have had a 250-300 IQ (sd REALLY doesnt matter at that level)
    btw, i also started that post recapcha trend in late 2009.

    @ at tomi- taking that test once probably isn’t a perfect reflection of your IQ, especially as 107 really isn’t very high. try it again, see how you do.
    professional testing is your best bet

    p.s. MIT rejected me for my grades…never mind why I got them.

  28. 167 sd 16 says:

    a few corrections:
    -the 165 test was a sd 16, not 15.
    -da vinci HAD a very high iq

  29. Amethyst says:

    @167 sd 16:
    Don’t worry smile I had a friend in physics last year who was astronomically intelligent, possibly the most amazing person I’ve ever met–techy, off-the-wall verbal and mathematical capabilities, inventive, creative, philosophic, read like a maniac, incredible attention to detail and logic, the whole shebang–but he didn’t agree with the school system and barely passed his classes because he didn’t do his work. I used to tape the login for our online hw site into his calculator (and then he’d throw it away, but oh well…) You’ll get where you need to go. Funny how things work out.
    My dad tested the highest in his high school on the stanford-binet, but it was the ’60s and they told him it must be because he had a “good day”…he believed it for almost 40 years. The subject is very interesting to me, both on a personal level and in a neuroscientific sense (my intended major is BCS). It is nice to be able to discuss it!
    People bug me a lot when they call me “brilliant” or “a genius”, because it makes me feel like a fraud–and then I feel like my ego is starting to believe it, and it makes it worse…I know I’m very high-achieving, and have intense interests/curiosities, love to learn, and have done a lot of laudable things, and I get a sense that I’m smarter than a whole lot of people I know–but then I have to kick myself, because I know know a number of them score even higher on certain things than I do…like you said, measuring intelligence or logic is hard to do, and I don’t like the idea of either over- OR under-estimating myself. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much, and just sit back and let the sum of the parts work like they should…
    *groans* I talk too much.

  30. abir '14 says:

    verrry nice~ smile

  31. Amethyst says:

    @167 sd 16:
    Yes, sir/ma’am. I got deferred EA, then rejected RA. I think I got killed by my SAT also, but in a different sense–you see, I got a perfect 800 on the Critical Reading, and a 740 on the Writing, but a 650 on the math and worse on the subject tests. Not because I’m bad at math, but because 1)severe anxiety on timed math tests, and 2)I got the other scores by going into the tests cold, because I am what they call “verbally gifted”, but I didn’t study at all for the math, etc. And my interview was kind of bad, I got the impression–it was my first, and I was scared. I’m thinking I should have just sent in my ACT (31), because the one school I did that I got in. Once it got down to the numbers game, the SAT part probably helped eliminate me, I think, with other factors :(
    I love the idea of going to MIT–the innovative, creative spirit, the idea of using our intellects to change the world for the better, the hacks and pranks and frigid New England weather! I’ll admit, I am one of those overachiever people, but I’m also known at my school for being an overachiever who overachieves for the love of learning. Yes, I do everything, but it’s because I LOVE everything, and feel a lack if I don’t do things to my best ability. And I’ll admit, I want to go somewhere where I’ll be around people I identify with more.
    I think my main problem with school is just tedium. I hate busywork, and doing all the little intricacies of my calculus stresses me out even though I understand the concepts well. I have to work out ways to make my math visual, so I can manipulate it in my head and see it.
    What are you interested in majoring in?

  32. 167 sd 16 says:

    @ amethyst:
    I know the feeling very well. I KNOW I’d be exactly what M.I.T needs- their entire philosophy “we look for the innovators and dreamers” reads as though I wrote it for myself. But alas, it isnt easy getting over lower scores and grades on “standards and practices” for the admissions office of the best university in the world. My adhd and dyslexia definitely don’t help. When I took a sat practice test from the book the first time, I scored, out of 2400, around a 1250- i looked back and realized I had got every single question wrong on one section, all questions i could get the answers to. I tried again, this time reading ALOUD each question, and got a 2200+. I spent the time training myself to take those tests- the content wasn’t the difficult part, but the actual test taking was. As a matter of fact, in the last few months i’ve virtually “cured” the dyslexia, by training myself to work right through it.
    I havent done a homework assignment at home since 3rd quarter freshman year.

    so, are you a class of 2014 reject also?

  33. 167 sd 16 says:

    amethyst, we should probably take this to email.
    whats your address?

  34. Amethyst says:

    Hmm…good point. Otherwise this blog entry is going to end up having around ten thousand posts–however, internet safety being the concern that it is, I generally do not give out my personal email/info online. Any chance you’ve got a Youtube account, or something like that? I could message you from there.

  35. Ammar says:

    @Intrigued Other Anonymous AKA Amethyst

    “18 is my favorite number. It seems purple for some reason”

    One word comes to mind:
    Synethesia, specifically grapheme.