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21 May 2008 / April

I’m still not going to be an engineer though

Yesterday we had this fantastically entertaining speaker in Physics, who came over from Alfred University (hey! I know you! You’ve been sending me ceaseless college mail recently!) to talk to us about engineering in general and electrical engineering specifically.

He was really funny, even in front of an utterly unresponsive and untalkative class like ours. He said things like, “Engineers get all the marketing jobs, because business majors are idiots,” and “When you hear the word ‘technology,’ turn and run like hell,” and my personal favorite, “Engineering is like pornography.” He finished the analogy too, but it’s funnier taken out of context. (Something about it being hard to define…)

It was a good 45-minute plug for engineering, but it always kind of annoys me how people try to “sell” their fields by emphasizing how useful they are. Engineers shouldn’t even have to do that because their field is clearly useful, but this guy did, talking about all the different kinds of jobs his former students have (instead of the business majors, inevitably). This is probably effective for most people, except I have a penchant for useless things like music and number theory, and admittedly a little bit of scorn for people who do things just because there are lots of jobs and money to be made out there, so hearing about how applied and relevant to real life a field is is not what I’m interested in.

Okay, that was a lie. But it’s always best when concepts start out totally pure and removed from reality, and then you realize just how pertinent to the universe they in fact are, like with hyperbolic trig functions or something.  And your belief that math is amazing gets reaffirmed.

The rest of the time in Physics, as in Calculus and US History, we’ve been “researching,” which in all three classes has basically involved chilling in the library and watching epic chess games (e.g. between Bryton and Rayleigh!!!).  Incidentally, my three big end of the year projects are string theory, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, and Barack Obama. How awesome is that?

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4 Comments

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  1. Rachel / May 21 2008 9:34 pm

    I have to read GEB. Along with Div, Grad, and Curl. There are so many math books out there that I should be reading.

    I think you would enjoy this… it’s kind of long, but if you have a spare half hour sometime: http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_03_08.html

  2. Rachel / May 21 2008 9:35 pm

    I lied. That’s just an introduction to it. The thing you would actually enjoy is here: http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

  3. April / May 21 2008 10:09 pm

    I hope I don’t shred my nerd cred by saying I’ve never heard of Div, Grad, and Curl….. But you really do need to read GEB. It is required reading for AP Life.

  4. Rachel / May 21 2008 10:45 pm

    I only know about it because my brother and dad have been going on and on about it, saying you have to read it if you want to understand multivariable calculus. Which, of course, I do, so… clearly I’m a failure.

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