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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Delayed Reaction by Laura N. '09

A day in the life.

Hey, remember that job I got six months ago? I start this week! (I got a job working at the computing help desk last semester- you know, I’d be the person who answers your frantic phone call and then tells you to check if your computer is plugged in. It turned out that I wasn’t able to make it to these mandatory training meetings which conflicted with field hockey, so we postponed my first day by six months.)

Monday was the 2.001 lecture from hell. I’m not even joking. So you know how the least fun part of physics is trying to figure out which angle is which? I mean, you have some block on an inclined plane or something, and you’ve got to figure out the component of mg in the direction of the inclined plane. Where is theta, and is the component mgsin(theta) or mgcos(theta)? That’s always my least favorite part. Of anything. Ever. Well, this particular 2.001 lecture was one and a half straight hours of that basic concept. Only it related to normal and shear stresses, a diagram of a rotated block with no less than 8 vectors to break down, the use of double-angle formulas, and the most absurd algebraic manipulation I have ever seen. (I’m not even joking.)

Thankfully, the point of all that was to introduce the concept of Mohr’s circle, which is this amazing shorthand way to solve these kinds of problems. But you know how professors are, they always make you do it the hard way first, so that you “appreciate” how brilliant the shortcut truly is. (There were actually lines in my notes that reference how Mohr probably hated this stuff as much as I do.)

Anyway, after class I tried a culinary experiment and I successfully made homemade mashed potatoes! It was glorious. I mean, granted, the recipe came from my college student cookbook, and it’s just mashed potatoes. But still! Awesome!

Then I decided it was time to accept that the week-long post-field-hockey-season-rest I had allocated for myself was officially over, so I should get my butt in gear and start exercising again. So, I did something I’ve been dying to do for years- I went to a kickboxing class! (MIT has kickboxing as a club sport.) So I showed up at the session feeling all super awkward since I don’t know anyone, and all of a sudden Gloria ’08 (yet another Conner 2 resident) walked in and proclaimed, “Laura! I didn’t know you did kickboxing!”
Me: “Ummm….actually this is my first class and I feel really awkward.”
Gloria: “Hey me too!”

…What do you suppose are the odds of that?

Anyway, kickboxing rocked. It was seriously a lot of fun. A little awkward, since I’m brand-new and all. But still a lot of fun. And a really intense workout. I’ll be sore tomorrow, that’s for sure.

But for now, I have sold my soul to scheme (the programming language that introductory computer science is taught in at MIT), so I have to finally force myself to figure out just what the difference between cdr and cadr really is. Hmm, puzzling…

11 responses to “Delayed Reaction”

  1. salamanca says:

    I love to read your articles very much!
    Because it’s real and interesting.
    Though these,I know you are very kind!

    Could you give me your E-mail?
    mine:[email protected]


  2. Melis says:

    YAY for Mohr’s circle, I remember that lecture =)

    Good luck with the kickboxing class, who’s your teacher? I did it a few times (as make-ups for other missed classes) and it was really fun!

  3. Thuita Maina says:


    Am just concerned about admission chief, Marilee Jones, blogs. I haven’t seen her blog since I got hooked to the MIT site – four months ago. Is she very very busy? I would love to hear from her, and I guess so would many applicants.

    Thuita Maina,

  4. Robert Carr says:

    Yay Scheme

    Lisp like languages are a lot of fun, and while often less practical (Though not always, Maxima for example is a shining example of a good application of lisp), often much more interesting from an academic point of view.

  5. Brandy says:

    Good luck with your new job!

    I love mashed potatoes. I make them all the time.

  6. Sarab says:

    Hey I did kickboxing for a year.
    It is good fun.
    Especially if you ahve a teacher from Iran who fought the Iran-Iraq war and trained with their special forces.
    No kidding!

  7. Crystal says:

    Well, I just started karate a few weeks ago and, trust me, I know exactly how it feels.. (try picturing 9 year olds that could kick your butt)


  8. Mr Dee says:

    Laura, I need you to use that kick boxing on your cousin, more specifically on his BUTT, when you come home on break. Enjoy the spuds.

  9. Jacqueline says:

    Definitely understand what you mean about the angles. The last problem on my physics final last year was of those “hypothetical situations” where a boat is crossing a river leaving from the south shore and the wind is pushing it northeast and the current is flowing west and a school of goldfish is exerting a southwest force on the stern, and the coefficient of friction of the seaweed scraping the bottom is 4.2 x 10 ^ -4242.
    I can’t wait to hear about Mohr’s Circle though.

  10. Mona says:

    Hi. Thi i not a repone to thi pot, but rather a concern regarding the application proce. I hope you can help me. What do I do with the teacher recommendation? hould I end it myelf or hould they end it? And hould I ign the part on top where it ay I waive the right to review thi? I know it’ better if I don’t ee the paper myelf, o I jut need to know what’ the right way to do it, and hould I end all the tuff together in one big envelope?


    (orry my keyboard i broken! :( )

  11. lulu says:

    Mohr’s Circle is just one of many wonderful circles in nature.