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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

We even learn stuff here! by Laura N. '09

There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium...

As I told you in my last entry, my mother has become concerned about my life here at MIT. I mentioned awhile ago that by now, basically my entire extended family reads this blog. Hello, family! Obviously my mother is included in the term “extended family,” and she thinks it’s great that I’m doing so many awesome things, like watching April paint the room (just kidding! I did my share of the work! Promise!) and taking pictures of LEGOs. But do I actually do any work?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

I am enrolled in 4 classes and one seminar this semester, so let’s talk about them.

First there’s 18.01 (Calc I), and I have nothing interesting to say about it. Not to burst anyone’s bubble about MIT or anything- because it is an insanely awesome/amazing/fantastic place. But it is still a school, and you still have to go to classes, and I still don’t really like math so much. (I am also still an MIT student, so I was really excited when, while working on the first problem set, I had a lightbulb moment on Part II, problem 2b.) But hey! Please don’t worry about that! This is just me talking here. Go find someone else who adores/adored 18.01. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that I’m sure there are plenty of them. =) Personally though, I’m just going to skip right along to….

7.012, which is the introductory level biology class taught by the famous Eric Lander, who did so much work on the Human Genome Project that Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of our time. That’s pretty cool. Anyway, this is just a basic, introductory level bio class with a focus on (what else?) genetics.

What I really want to talk about though, is 3.091, or, as some like to call it, “3.09-fun.” Clever, isn’t it? (By the way, here’s a general rule to pronouncing MIT numbers: the number before the decimal point should be read as one word, i.e. 18 is “eighteen” not “one eight.” Numbers after the decimal do not follow any remotely logical rule or pattern. 7.012 is “seven oh one two,” but 5.111 is “five eleven one” and not “five one one one” or “five one hundred eleven” or, God forbid, “five one eleven.” Anyway, the point is that 3.091 is pronounced “three oh nine one,” which conveniently allows for the cute little pun “three oh nine FUN.”)

Anyway, here’s what’s cool about 3.091: music. No, seriously. A couple of weeks ago there was music playing as we walked into lecture. After teaching us some history about how Mendeleev worked out the ideas behind the periodic table, Professor Sadoway, one of the craziest and most entertaining lecturers to grace the front of 10-250, I’m sure, explained to us the significance of the music. Were were listening to songs composed by Alexander Borodin. Borodin was a chemist by day and a musician by night who also happened to be good buddies with Mendeleev. (See? You can go to MIT and still be a rockstar!) Along with the music theme, we listened to the periodic table song. Professor Sadoway proceeded to tell us about the discovery of the element administratium and tell a joke that began with “So a neutron walks into a bar…” (do I even really need to finish?) before dismissing us for the day.

And now you know why they call it “3.09Fun.”

2 responses to “We even learn stuff here!”

  1. madmatt says:

    Perhaps I should do an entire entry on this… why is 5.111 “five eleven one” while 6.111 is “six one eleven”? Well, Back In The Day, there was only one version of Course 5 intro chemistry: 5.11. When the two versions were added — 5.111 and 5.112 — the traditional “five eleven” was kept, with the addition of a “one” or a “two.” Ditto goes for the 7.01x classes — that’s why it’s “seven oh one two” instead of “seven oh twelve” — the 18.01 and 18.02 classes, and the 8.01 and 8.02 classes, which all began with no thousandths digit. I believe 3.091 was always 3.091.

    Anyway, enough boring administrative babble. Your blog is awesome, keep it up!

  2. Sam says:

    My freshman advisor actually referred to “five one twelve” in every meeting I had with him. I won’t name any names because if Matt and Ben found out, they’d probably laugh at him every day in the office.