Feb. 2nd: It’s the night before the Spring semester makes an illegal left turn and crashes into my face. Immutably, as IAP drips to an end, I become terrible at completing this paragraph and start to wax poetic (instead of waxing my windows, which seriously need more waxing than whatever a poetic is). Like chocolate, winter break melts under the hot pressing tongue of February into a sticky-sweet memory, bequeathing cavities you will later regret as you gnaw through the fibrous lump of homework sitting on your plate. I am falling asleep as I write this, so please ignore the fact that the reference frame of this sentence is accelerating towards sleep at -9.81 m/s^2.
In 12 hours, I will be in class.
For now, I will be a non-lame blogger and give you a lot of hard integrals. Last Wednesday beheld the night of MIT’s annual Integration Bee, the spelling bee that only uses about a third of the letters in the alphabet (x, u, c, o, s, i, n, h, e, l).
Here’s the gig: The 12 top scorers on a quick written integration test open to all MIT undergrads receive the unparalleled honor of standing in a semi-packed lecture hall and speed-integrating on a chalkboard as the rest of MIT’s math fanatics (aka, the rest of MIT) grip the edges of their seats in excitement and wonder why the Superbowl exists. The maximum time allowed for each problem is 4 minutes, and the fastest solver in each round get to have another load of integrals dumped on him/her in the next round. After four rounds of rip-roaring calculus, a phrase I never thought of writing in public, only one integrator remains. He or she forever becomes The Grand Integrator, at least until next year.
Fun fact: 5/12th of the finalists live on a single floor in my dorm, an impressive statistic considering that each floor in Random Hall only has about 14 people.
Maria was one such Randomite. She also used circle geometry to solve this other tricky problem, and you could feel the crowd swoon with love.
Phil, another Random resident, got coshed in his first round. Neither competitor actually solved this one, though.
You can take the integral off of the cosh, but you can’t take the cosh out of the integral. This is an ancient Chinese proverb.
Teddy, yet another Random resident, got frustrated and drew houses instead.
And then, in a moment of heartstopping suspense, he started doing calisthenics.
This guy, henceforth known as Guy in Red Shirt until someone corrects me in the comments [CORRECTION: his name is Brayden], did not live in Random but nonetheless could do math good. Notice the motion blur. In my book, if there’s motion blur involved, it’s a sport. You go, mathletes.
His final answer, Re(something ugly), was rejected by the judges for aesthetic reasons.
Teddy literally solved this in 2 seconds after looking at it for about 5 seconds. The audience exploded in applause.
Teddy apparently does not comply with standard mathematical notation though:
A sliver less than two hours later, the competition was down to Teddy and Some Other Guy Whose Name I Will Insert Here After Someone Recognizes Him in the Comments [Insert: his name is Murtaza]. So that you all can give me more hits on YouTube, I won’t reveal the answer here. Instead, I present you with the final breathtaking moments of Integration Bee 2009, captured in the cinematic style of your aunt’s home videos:
And now for the integrals, or at least the ones I managed to bootleg off the PowerPoint display from my seat in the 2nd row:
COMMERCIAL BREAK: Buy my biology textbook from last semester!
Sometimes, it’s more than just math.