This is the prompt. Additional instructions mentioned that the essay must not be argumentative but rather very personal in nature.
"Rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. In the natural sciences, I would say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. Rigor is, of course, very important. But the most important value is insight-insight into the workings of the world. It may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments."
Kannan Jagannathan, Professor ofPhysics, Amherst College
THE BRILLIANT FOLLY OF A MAGNET DRIVEN CAR
Amidst plastic dinosaurs and chess pieces, the 9-year-old me rolled a Hot-Wheels car I recently rescued from the crevice of a sofa. My intense high-speed pursuit on the floor was bluntly disrupted by a glossy slab of metal. A magnet!
I wondered, perhaps, a proper magnetic arrangement could propel my car like an invisible engine. I taped a pencil to my car, suspended the magnet from the pencil using rubber bands and decided what I'll wear during my interview titled '4th Grader Solves Global Fuel-Crisis'. To the wildest of my amazement, it didn't move. So, I quickly embedded a lump of play-dough to the back of my car hoping it would rectify the weight distribution irregularities only to encounter further disappointment. The payload turned too bulky for my wee magnet and no amount of convincing could get my mother to buy me an 8kg neodymium one.
Between insufficient apparatus and an unending pile of schematics, I vaguely realised that true insight is the sole needle which penetrates the bubble of empirical confinements, beyond which lies the vastness of pure science. Blank papers and sketch-pens, ever since, have turned into my research companions with whose help I've design multiple universes of my own.
Years later, I did learn how Laws of Thermodynamics disallow a perpetual motion machine but my adventures with the impossible magnet-car rendered me with the epiphany that my interests were in exploring (and occasionally bending) the nature of reality using theoretical physics. I would travel to black-holes and dive in subatomic worlds all in the same day, with merely sketch-pens and a creative aptitude.
Gradually, rigorous reasoning has developed an organised space for my creativity to stroll in but my inherent nature to solve global-problems with insights I find in my 'toy-boxes', beyond normative places, has definitely not been altered.