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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

More Doonesbury by Matt McGann '00

Follow-up on Alex Doonesbury's college choice.

My previous post about Alex Doonebury’s college choice was linked from the MIT homepage yesterday, the final day of voting. According to the site, the online voters will “make the final choice, which will be honored in the strip.” The strip has not yet run, but as of 12:58am this morning, here were the results, with nearly 170,000 votes recorded:

  1. 48% MIT
  2. 32% RPI
  3. 19% Cornell

My sources tell me that at least two of the three schools (and quite possibly all three schools) involved had students who wrote scripts (computer programs) to “stuff” the ballot box. It crashed the server at some point last week, and when it came back up, the folks at shut down voting access for those in the domain (and, I might guess, those on and

Relatedly, two recent physics-related strips generated a little bit of controversy on campus:

The rigorous freshman physics class 8.022 (also known as “Electricity and Magnetism for Masochists”) had an official response to the question, which was forwarded on to me by the awesome Nick ’09:

Alex isn’t explaining the problem very clearly. It’s about the equivalence between Thevenin and Norton circuits. One can turn any two-terminal circuit that consists of emfs and resistors into:

  • an emf plus a resistor in series (Thevenin), or
  • a current source plus a resistor in parallel (Norton).

They are electrically identical. When nothing is connected to their terminals, however, the resistor in the Norton circuit consumes power while the one in the Thevenin circuit doesn’t. So the Norton circuit must be warmer than the Thevenin circuit. Clever, huh?
PS: the instructors Alex talked to were NOT 8.022 instructors…

And on the MIT LiveJournal community:

The whole point of the Thevenin/Norton thing is making the assumption that they are IDEAL current/voltage sources. As such, they aren’t generating heat anyway. (and the “resistor” in a source like that isn’t really even a resistor…it’s a resistance, yes, but it’s ideal, just like the source is; and generates no heat). Those are circuit *approximations*. There is no such thing as an actual black box containing an exact Thevenin or Norton circuit.

…and later on LJ:

Also, the answer assumes that all of the components inside the box have a linear current/voltage dependence. Without that, the Thevenin/Norton thing doesn’t even make sense.

Anyway, it will be interesting what Garry Trudeau does with the next four-plus years of the MIT setting (assuming he abides by the poll results).

8 responses to “More Doonesbury”

  1. Anonymous says:

    MIT (48%) + RPI (32%) + Cornell(19%) = 99% of votes. Hmm…I wonder what the other 1% of voters thought.

  2. thekeri says:

    Is that an MIT decision I see?


  3. Adam says:

    MATT! Urgent question! How do I log onto my new MIT account? You know, my screenname. I can’t figure out where to go to log in and check my mail.

  4. semenko says:

    Adam: Regarding your MIT account.

    Your “ screenname” is something created by you, when you’re sent an MIT Athena Coupon:

    I’m not sure when you recieve your coupon, but once you do, you can choose a screenname online, and then use MIT’s resources.

    If you already registered for Athena, you should browse the IS&T website for what you can do:

    Quick Tips:

    – Get a Certificate:

    – Check email:

    – Get software:

    You’ll need your personal certificate (get one on that certificate page above) to get software. If you get the MIT VPN, you can connect to other MIT services, such as those by MIT Libraries (tons of online journals, books, etc.).

    Finally, if you’re really awesome, connect via SSH (google for PuTTY if you’re on windows) to

  5. Diana says:

    SO Hey I am one of your Waitlisted kids…

    Since I can still log onto the admissions page I am assuming I haven’t been kicked off the waitlist.

    I was wondering if you knew when we’ll know for sure if we are in or not…


    Diana F.

  6. Adi says:

    hey Matt

    i know this is irrelevant but i havent recieved my NBM yet. what should i do?


  7. Carly says:

    hey adam,

    what i do to log in is i go to search and enter webamil then i press the first search result which is something like MIT webmail. This link says login on top of it and then i login. I sure there is a easier way though but that works for me for now.