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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Tour/Hack/Math by Snively '11

Three things that happen a lot at MIT

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a very eventful day. It began with me in lab building toys (for anybody who is unsure, this is a good way to start the day). After working for 3 hours I decided to study for my 18.03 test that I had today. I worked for a little bit but then got distracted because a prefrosh (Danny ’12) is in town and I decided to go on a campus tour with him and Jordan ’11.

For many of you, a campus tour will be one of the first things you do at MIT. To be honest, I really enjoy them! I get weird looks from anybody who knows me, but whatever, it’s still a good time. I tried to be as tourist-y as possible and take a bunch of pictures of stuff. Unlike the typical tourist, however, I decided to take pictures OF the tour, not IN the tour. I present to you a glimpse into what the average MIT student sees on a daily basis.

The tour has stopped in the student center. They are learning about the wonders of Dunkin Donuts and Subway.

After leaving the student center they head towards the main part of campus, listening intently.

At this point we get to Lobby 7, home of the big interior dome. Danny asks me “Is this the spot you were complaining about? The spot where people take terrible pictures of the skylight?” “Yes, this is it, just watch, you’ll see it happen.” Sure enough, the lady to my right took a picture, the lady behind her took one, and then another guy took a picture. I stepped out of the crowd and got my camera out in hopes of capturing and documenting this horrible sense of photographic taste. As I waited I saw, to my amazement, that Danny decided to take a picture of the skylight.

But I warned you! Why would you do it anyway!?

Anyway, the tour moved on, and eventually we were in Killian Court looking at the great dome. This is the part of the tour when the tour guide talks about hacks, which is convenient, because guess what was sitting right by the steps into Lobby 10.

What’s that black dot off in the distance?

It’s a hack!

On March 4th, 2008, Gary Gygax (the creator of Dungeons and Dragons) died. He was important to many of the students here and so to commemorate his passing a group of hackers created a huge D20 and displayed it in Killian Court. Rest in Peace Gary.

So that’s the tour and the hack, what about the math? I’ve discovered an awesome way to study for math tests. Basically, find a board room with a wall-sized white board, grab some friends, and fill the entire white board with math. Write everything from the entire unit on the board. Solve the practice tests, do everything, and don’t leave until you know math.

At 8 pm Maddie ’11, Megan ’11, Danny ’12, and I all met at the Media Lab and commandeered a board room. We then proceeded to just spew all math onto it. When we started we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. Seriously, I haven’t been to lecture in 3 weeks, Maddie missed the last several lectures, and Megan just writes stuff down and doesn’t actually pay attention. Danny has taken DiffEQ before but hadn’t covered some of the stuff we were doing, so we were essentially teaching ourselves math the day before the test.

I hope you realize that it’s impossible to study without getting distracted. When you’ve got white board markers and no idea what you’re doing, some interesting things get written on the board. At first they were fun drawings.


About halfway through harmonic oscillators we realized that we had no idea what we were doing.
Us: “Megan, why did you write that on the board?”
Megan: “It was in my notes.”
Us: “But what does it mean!?”
Megan: “I don’t know! It was in my notes!
Us: “But, but, shoot.”

Conversations like this spawned the following distracted drawings:

But what’s Figure 1?

Oh. That makes sense.

As we continued grinding through math we got to something called the “Exponential Response Formula.” Our teacher took the liberty of abbreviating it.


Did you know that to the rest of the free world, ERF DOES NOT stand for Exponential Response Formula. It stands for Error Function. In 3.091 it stands for Error Function, in Mathematica it stands for Error Function, it stands for Error Function EVERYWHERE but in 18.03. This brought about this drawing:

Strike! Strike!

Quick sidestep. We all had our computers with us so I decided to take pictures of them. Here are the ’11’s computers:

Two Dells and a Mac.

And here’s Danny’s computer:

That’s right, he was showing off his new EeePC.

Anyway, I’ve just noticed that all of these pictures have been pretty zoomed in. Let me give you an taste of the bigger picture here. This is one panel of six.

That’s a lot of math!

We continued work, coming on 1 o’clock in the morning, and now had little gems like this scattered across the board:

Math. Math. lol.

Cool beans!

Gotta love real solutions!

Then we got to the devil’s math. That’s right, math that is pure evil. It looks so innocent, right?

The Exponential Shift Law

The exponential shift law makes absolutely no sense. We stared at it for the longest time and still couldn’t figure it out. Eventually we kinda figured it out, but realized that it was completely useless because it could be easily replaced by another method that we already knew. We expressed our displeasure.

Signed of course

Figure 3

In the end, we had our way with the Exponential Shift Formula board.

Admire my awesome MSPaint editing skills

At 3 AM we finally finished studying and went to bed. I woke up this morning at 8 for a 9 o’clock class, meaning I got a grand old total of 5 hours of sleep. Add to that how hosed I am and a bunch of other stuff and you get a very unhappy/unhealthy/unfun Snively. Ask Danny, he knows. Anywho, that’s all for now, it’s time for me to go start calling you guys at the telethon. 5 hours of phone calls, woo-hoo!

49 responses to “Tour/Hack/Math”

  1. Edgar says:

    No matter how many times you warn people…some will not resist to violate Master Sniveley’s Law of Pictorial Taking.

    Ok, that was horrible…hehe.

    Awesome entry as always! ^_^

  2. Marissa says:

    Some of that looks frighteningly like physics. Since when do you have charge density (rho!) in math?

  3. Chris says:

    I know, it makes me a hypocrite to think commenting first is silly, and then get soo excited to be first. I can’t explain why that was cool, but I understand why people get excited. But more on topic, that is quite a board of math. We had a moment like that in Calculus when we were re-associating variables in integrating by parts; we accused our teacher of making up rules to math. It was an angry lecture.

  4. 111th! Snively, great to see you’re still keeping random things. That was a giant D20. Was it left over from the giant board game hack? I’d like to get my hands on one of the MIT Risk boards.

  5. OK fine Snively. I give up…

    I am never going to be the first post on the home page for more than 30 minutes cause you always snag me…

    So fine. Tell me when you’re going to post next and I’ll be sure to get out of your way.

    But seriously, have you ever sat in on an Admissions Info Session? I have a couple of times. Those are fun…

    If you plan on going to one, let me know… I’ll meet you there and we can do a joint liveblog about it.

    Hey now back to phoning the 12s OK? Stop reading your blog comments…

  6. Becky '12 says:

    How do you think you did on the test?

    and OMG TELETHON! =P I’m going to make sure I don’t leave the house tonight.

  7. Ahmed '12 says:

    I’ve been wanting an eeePC! Do you know/can you find out if it’s Danny’s only computer on campus? And how well it works with the MIT network and printers?

  8. How much sleep would you say you get on a nightly basis?

  9. Karen '12 says:

    I missed my call!!! :(

    My mom was confused about why I was so disapointed, though. smile

  10. Chris '12 says:

    hmm no call for Chris yet….

  11. hey Snively sorry I missed the call, although I did enjoy the message

  12. Firewall off… there we go

  13. Becca says:

    I got called, though I missed the first one.

    @Karen: totally agree with you.

  14. fhew, I’m a terrible phone personality
    have fun everybody I’m off to fund raise

  15. Harrison says:

    Wow you guys are covering a lot more useless stuff in 18.03 than we ever did. Here’s a lesson prefrosh–take GIRs (and classes in your major, actually) when the majority of people are NOT taking it and it’ll usually be easier. I’ve found this to be generally true so far.

  16. Anonymous says:

    i actually think that the Lobby 7 dome is quite impressive.

  17. Lainers says:

    And of course somebody’s computer has the blog page up on it…

  18. Chelsea says:

    This is entirely unrelated to the blog itself, but in regards to phone-calling, the girl who called me is friends with my sister so I had actually met her before and it wasn’t awkward at all. But then I just got a call from Caltech which was wicked awkward, not to mention the fact that they forgot to figure in the time difference and decided to call at 11:00 PM here, which doesn’t bother me but it woke up my dad. Major brownie points for MIT… smile

  19. Sareena '12 says:

    California – Hmm :( I never got a call…I don’t think I got a call. I dunno I’m kind of delusional right now – I hate fevers.

  20. aysenur says:

    hi! i wanna be a student in mit.what must i do?anybody answers me.can you help me?i live in turkey.which exams can be passed by me?(toefl, sat..)please give me answer thank you

  21. |Lex! says:

    Still off topic, but did anyone call Idaho? I was accepted EA, and still haven’t gotten a call… :(

  22. Snively says:


    We only called RD this evening. The EA telethon was back in December. If you want to chat now you’ll just have to come to CPW.

  23. Davorama says:

    I was wondering what your suggestions would be for buying a laptop?

    I’m getting one for grad. ^_^

    + What do you think about tablet PCs? (eg. [or did I really mean ie.?] Dell’s Lat. XT)

  24. Snively says:

    @ Ahmed

    Danny hasn’t actually “gotten” to campus yet, he’s just visiting for a week. As such, he hasn’t actually tried hooking it up to the printers and things. I assume that he’d be able to because all you need is an SSH client or the ability to install printers.

    All I saw it do was surf the internet (which it did very well, including applets). It’s a slick little guy, I can get you in contact with Danny if you’d like to ask him more questions about it.

  25. Davorama says:

    PS – I’ve taken a picture of the skylight :X

  26. KelseyK says:

    Hey there Snively!

    So, after all the questions about classes and how many kids from Oregon got in, I have a another question! Crazy, I know.

    This won’t sway my decision any way, but it’s just curiosity… Coming from Oregon, am I going to be a popsicle in the winter?

    Just wondering how many parkas I’m going to need to buy… smile

  27. Emily says:

    I was so excited to get my call tonight! I thought I would miss it. The girl I talked to was so helpful! Thanks for doing that!!

  28. Celena '12 says:

    Hey Snively,

    I’ve actually followed your blog since before you were an official blogger…but I’ve never really responded, until now! (There’s always a first time for everything, right?)

    I enjoyed the phone call I got– I don’t remember her name, although I asked for it twice. She was a nice Polish girl though…tell her I said thanks? =)

    As for math, I also find that doing it on the board with friends is super effective. When I visited MIT in the fall and was in the Stata building, I had an urge to write all over the huge chalkboard walls…

  29. Megan '11 says:

    Hahaha Exponential Shift Law was actually pretty important. oops…

  30. Snively says:


    Just bring a nice Columbia jacket, some gloves, and a hat. You’ll be fine, it’s more the wind that’s annoying than anything else.

    @Megan ’11
    * * * Son of a * I hate ESL *


  31. Danny '12 says:

    The EeePC works great on the MIT network. I haven’t tried printing anything yet but I’m assuming that’ll work fine since it’s standard functionality. The keyboard is a little bit small so I think I’m going to get a MacBook at the beginning of the school year. The EeePC is great for travel and portability though. I highly recommend it.

  32. KelseyK says:

    Sweet, thanks!

    I can handle wind… smile

  33. Batbaatar says:

    Unfortunately, i lost the chance to be admitted. I really love math though :(

  34. Haha, best. entry. ever. Love the drawings.

    Man, if I’d stayed for a day longer, I might have gotten to chill with you guys. Danny’s from my school; represent! We at AHS are so excited that he’s practically famous, after this entry! Well, by “we at AHS” I mean me. But, you know, whatever.

  35. Anjaney says:

    DANNY!!! for the record, Danny was the prefrosh that 16.00 LTA team 7 used as our personal slav….-cough- i mean calculator. way to go Danny! we missed you at today’s meeting.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I got called but I was too nervous/awkward to say anything so I just said that I didn’t have any questions because I was so overwhelmed about gettig in.

  37. Isshak says:

    Diff equations : yikes ! Interesting way to learn something, I think I’m going to try that.

  38. José P. says:

    Pshaw, I prefer chalkboards. XP

  39. Snively says:

    We’ll call back. What state are you Karen?

  40. Karen '12 says:

    Illinois – I got my call already, though. I’m pretty sure that was the most awkward phone call the very nice girl that called me has ever been subjected to…

  41. David ('13?) says:

    Everything on the whiteboard looks terrifyingly familiar. DiffEqs is the second weirdest class I have ever taken, right behind Numerical Analysis.

  42. Agreed, nice hack.
    And the very response I’d like to unveil upon some math homework…
    See you soon, crazy math equas.!

  43. Rutu says:

    So, if you can write an entry like this when you’re “a very unhappy/unhealthy/unfun Snively,” you just prove that you’re a genius. That was actually one of the things I’ve read/seen all day……or more…….

    But yes, scribbling on a board is fun. Like, putting polka dots on a board, all the while going, “poke, poke, poke, poke, poke” is fun. Hehe, I find it interesting how your dancing e-loving stick-figure is bigger than your average line of math ^__^.

    Also, why should we never take pictures of the skylight? Is it cuz the lighting will distort it and we won’t be able to see anything? Or something else?

    Thanks for the post ^__^.