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MIT student blogger Jack-William B. '21

Freshman Fifty-Seven by Jack-William B. '21

Back and Busy for Semester 2

By now, three full days have passed into my second semester here. The infinite corridor is total chaos as tourists and students battle for placement in the hall, the dining halls are back up and running, and the weight of 4 Psets are setting in. All that being said, I am glad to be back and with a full schedule. Here is a look at how I am keeping busy for the next few months with 57 units of courses:

On February 6th, the first day back started. I got up way too early, ate way too much grapefruit, and sat in front of my Real Analysis class (18.100A) for a solid twenty minutes because I showed up too early. Pretty soon, I grabbed a seat, and the instructor came in. The class started right off feeling a lot different from the only other math class I have taken here, 18.02. For starters, I wasn’t in a huge lecture hall filled with hundreds of people. It seems to be a real mix of different year students in there, and I don’t know anyone. I started the first homework assignment last night, and it honestly is pretty satisfying even proving simple limits and stuff that just can be solved by doing a quick glance at it and writing down the answer like in Calc AB. In high school, I always used to bug my math teacher about wanting to have things proved and all, so I definitely like the idea of the class in general of proving all the results although my instructor warns that the proofs get annoying. I’m sure I’ll see in the next few weeks. On a good note, I almost finished the Pset. My work looks more like an essay rather than math!

Moving on with my classes, the next lecture I attended was 8.03 (Waves and Vibrations). The first lecture was kind of a throwback to AP Physics C: Mechanics, with a little new material on complex numbers. So much Euler for the first day back. The first third of the course or so centers around mechanics, which I will admit is not my favorite. I am really looking forward to the electromagnetic portion and optics. I never have formally learned any optics before, so it will be all new material! In general, it is exciting to take 8.03 as well as 18.100A because both of them are officially out of the GIRs. I am entering classes that are part of my major now, and they feel that way too. I am not really a fan of the big lecture hall 26-100 (If you go here, you’ll know this place, trust me), and I prefer these smaller classes that give a more individualized experience with the professor and recitation leaders.

So far, those two courses are my favorite. Although, as I finish this blog post, I am only two lectures deep in both of them, I am certain of my decision in majoring in Course 8 (Physics) as well as Course 18 (Mathematics). Other than these two, 18.03 (differential equations) started off on a very exciting and quite funny note just yesterday. Professor Poonen is our instructor. After reading his CV, you’ll probably have a moment saying, “holy crap” to yourself. He is quite the character. Although the class is in 26-100 and is basically a graduate requirement for over half the school resulting in the huge size of the course, I enjoyed the lecture a lot more than expected. He really brings the life the subject through a very enthusiastic presentation of the material. I can’t finish this discussion without bringing out the awesome fact that he is the guy online with the Big Mouth Conjecture.

Finally, I have Chemistry (5.111) and a HASS (humanities course) called Materials in Human Experience (3.094). I took a few years of chemistry in high school, so it seems that the latter portion of the class is very similar to AP Chemistry. However, the first portion, which we are diving into today, is about quantum mechanics. I am excited for this part because my high school chemistry was a lot of AP Chem and organic stuff as well, so it will be a lot of new things. In terms of the Materials class, it is a humanities course with a lab component! Next Tuesday, I will be smelting copper from minerals from 7-10 at night, and it will be my first time doing anything even remotely close to this kind of work. My fingers are crossed that I don’t burn down the school or myself in the process.

Overall, this semester seems like it is going to be a lot of new material. Everyone of my subjects, other than chemistry for the most part, is going to be brand new information for me! Other than classes, I decided to stay with my UROP in Biocrude Oil that I wrote a blog post about a while back because we are in the final stages of producing the oil and moving into more interesting components of the applications of our products. Also, my two post docs I am working with and I will be hopefully publishing a paper before the spring semester ends. Next Wednesday as well, I will be going to orientation for a job I got as a Teaching Assistant for TSR^2. TSR^2 is a program run through the Office of Minority Education, and I will be helping help with physics on Pset nights, one-on-one tutoring, and exam reviews. It definitetly will be a busy semester indeed, but I am ready to take it on.