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THE BRILLIANT FOLLY OF A MAGNET DRIVEN CAR - Amherst Supplement Essay


kartikt 4 / 8 3  
Sep 22, 2018   #1
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.

Holt [Contributor] - / 7,323 1847  
Sep 23, 2018   #2
Kartik, from the point of view of an admissions officer, I would rather read about your high school realizations in the realms of thermodynamics and theoretical physics as opposed to the imaginings of your 9 year old self. I know that you are trying to come across as a child prodigy in Physics. However, the story you told comes across as laughable instead. Since you are being asked to discuss a statement that is obviously far beyond the understanding of a 9 year old, you may want to rethink the presentation and bring it down several notches to a reality based one. Since we are all taught the basics of physics and thermodynamics at some point in high school, you may want to explain your realizations and understanding in relation to the insights that high school level reading, understanding, and class or personal experimentation may have provided. That way you can provide a more thorough and applicable insight into the discussion topic.

Try to discuss these essays from the more believable age groups for these discussions. While your 9 year old self will have simple experiments, the child will not have the ability to properly analyze the situation and how to resolve it. However, a high school aged student will have the common sense to try various methods to solve the given situation before giving up. Thus aligning your discussion better with the expected analytical discussion and references.

Don't get me wrong, the essay is good. It is just the age reference that is the problem. Believe me, you will not be able to convince the reviewer that you are a scientific genius because you did not get into Amherst as a 9 year old. You are applying at the proper age for a person entering college. Therefore, trying to pass yourself off as a prodigy, which you are not, will not help your application. Be realistic in your age usage and discussion presentation. Maturity in the presentation of the discussion counts more than trying to show off.
OP kartikt 4 / 8 3  
Sep 23, 2018   #3
Makes sense. I made following changes-
Amidst plastic dinosaurs ... became
Amidst screw drivers and dismantled remotes, the 13-year-old me sat dissecting a Hot-Wheels car I ... My intense episode of reverse-engineering was disrupted when a metal slab's glimmer caught my attention. A magnet!

became '8th Grader Solves ...
Years later became A year later
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,323 1847  
Sep 23, 2018   #4
@kartikt Definitely much better. It's more believable in terms of age requirement and the situation presented is something that could lend itself to a Eureka! moment on your end in relation to the given discussion. You should definitely consider revising the essay to better super this moment in the presentation. It just may work to your advantage of presented properly to the reviewer.Don't lose focus of the given statement for connection with your experience and realizations. The connected analogy is important to your presentation so hype it up. Focus on the discussion provided as exemplified by your discovery and experiments with subsequent results leading to your understanding of the given statement.

You must explain how your given experiment gave you an "insight into the workings of the world". I am not sure how you will be developing that explanation further but you could try to use failed experiments at that point to show an understanding of how simplicity or complexity is not always the solution to a given scientific problem or something along those lines. Look for the guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments in this instance and apply it to the discussion.


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