So I said to Einstein… by Sam M. '07
...think of a name for my new theory while I go talk to my relatives.
DID YOU KNOW? Even if you want to boil water really quickly, don’t start with hot tap water.
“I think of MIT as a samurai school,” said Jones. “It is preparing you for the highest work of advancing civilization. You have to find a way to be happy here. Every single student here is challenged — they have their moments, but it’s all in order to prepare you for your ultimate pass… and that is not trivial.”
According to Ben, it’s got some factual errors, but whatever… that one sentence is seriously enough to put it among the top ten things I have ever read.
But I digress.
Sometimes in the course of my job of turning turkeys into oil, there are long periods of waiting, like when I want the reactor to heat up from ambient temperature to 250 C or when I want to sparge the water with helium to get out any dissolved carbon dioxide or when I need the tank to fill up, so I sometimes end up surfing the internet a little at work.
One thing I found today was Manolo the Shoeblogger.
Another thing I found was the unbelievably great website of Scott Hughes, my professor for 8.022. I was only accidentally stalking him. Professor Hughes is working at [email protected] to make sounds out of gravity waves… and probably, like, solve the mysteries of the universe at a quantum level. I don’t know. I’m an engineer, not a lover.
Though it wasn’t quite my favorite, 8.022 was probably the most rewarding class I took at MIT… over the two days before the final, I did enough studying to listen to The Beatles’ entire output post-Revolver three times, and then some. It’s billed as electricity and magnetism for physics majors, although quite a few non-majors end up taking it, and it’s a great way to see what physics is really like, learn a heck of a lot of problem solving techniques while banging your heads against the problem sets, or just plain avoid TEAL. When we got to deriving Maxwell’s equations and learning special relativity just so we can show that electricity and magnetism are actually kind of the same thing, I started to get a little worried…
But, luckily, Professor Hughes was there to guide us through the material, blow stuff up with electricity, exercise flawless board technique, sprinkle his lectures sparingly with delicate profanities, wear a crazy dangly moon earring on test days, distribute lollipops, and recieve a minute-long standing ovation on the last day of class. He was definitely the all-around coolest professor I’ve had at MIT, and this webpage really only confirms that in my mind.
Note: Many undergrads have asked whether 8.962 [General Relativity] is appropriate for them. I have never taught it before, so the most honest answer is “I don’t know”. I plan to follow Ed Bertschinger’s course from Spring 2002 to first approximation; I’ll adjust things the second time I teach it. My intent is to teach 8.962 to graduate students. I will assume office hours are unnecessary (none will be offered), and that students will not be taking too many additional classes (so 15 hour problem sets are reasonable). I’m not sure if it will work out this way in practice; we shall see.
I would love to develop an undergraduate general relativity course, probably based on Jim Hartle’s new textbook. Developing a course from scratch before tenure is stupid, however, so don’t hold your breath waiting!
So, go ahead–I give you permission to look into the personal life of this guy who I think is just plain awesome.
His bio is particularly enlightening.