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'Initially disappointed with physics' - Common app for Upenn


fineboy 2 / 6  
Oct 20, 2011   #1
This is the my 1st time to post my essay on this forum. Could anyone help correcting my paper? Thanks a lot!

The late autumn sun lazily spilled its light and warmth into my room, but I, a future Nobel Prize winner, could not get my mind focused, and was stuck on a quiz relating to Newton's Second Law. Disappointed with physics, I threw away my pen, lay on my bed, and freed my mind to wonder aimlessly around.

When I woke up I found myself in a structure similar to Plato's cave, dim and dank, with my hands and feet chained to the ground. As I sat, my neck felt stiff and prevented me from looking around. A wall I was facing quite resembled a cinema screen, on which I saw puppets dancing and playing.

A voice came from behind, "Do not be deceived by those shadows of reality. Let me show you the truth."
Truth? Until last week I did not doubt that I would be a physicist to explore the truth of this world. I used to enjoy the elegance and conciseness of Newton's law, though it troubled me right now. However, relativity kicked Newton's truth to the backyard of physics. Then "Quark" and "String" were thrown at me like a bowl of thick gravy that spilled over my head. Einstein did not grab the whole truth either. Generations of physicists who tried to reveal truth were like Sisyphus who rolled his boulder. Again and again Sisyphus's boulder rolled back down and physicists proved "truth" to be untrue. Where is the ultimate truth, if there is any? I felt frustrated.

The voice came again, "It's great that you know Sisyphus. Let me tell you more. "
A thin pamphlet appeared before my eyes, The Myth of Sisyphus. The following words queued in a line: "The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory." Though Sisyphus knew his fate, he kept rolling because "the struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart."

Was I not a man?
"Stupid! There were young people who said that they would rather die than suffer the pain of illness. Nonsense!" I heard the voice of an old man I met in a nursing home. He had a severe stroke three years ago and the lower half of his body was paralyzed. His skin was as dry as tree bark and the bones on his hands protruded. Nevertheless, he was a man. He deemed his life worthy, and his illness never prevented him from loving his life. In contrast, by criticizing physics for its incapability to capture the ultimate truth I had let go the fulfillment that I should have experienced. The joy of searching, analyzing and calculating had escaped my sight.

Give me a boulder, and I will roll it! A thousand torches were suddenly lit in the cave, and fierce heat started to boil my blood A volcano then erupted in my chest, and the fire of physics went on to consume my body. My back was burnt and under great ache I screamed, "Rise!" I broke free from the chains and suddenly saw fireworks in the sky.

Wonderful sunshine greeted me from outside my window, but I felt my back was still on fire: I was lying against my pen.

Longxuan Wang

OP fineboy 2 / 6  
Oct 20, 2011   #2
It feels so great to be praised by you, beccalevesque! Sure I'm writing about a dream, or a day dream you may say. But seems that I need to make my information clearer. Thanks a lot!
flipwhit 2 / 5  
Oct 20, 2011   #3
great descriptive language, great examples, I love it.
Only correction I can make is for your sentence beginning with "Give me a boulder," you missed a period between blood and A:

"...started to boil my blood A volcano then erupted in my chest..."
OP fineboy 2 / 6  
Oct 20, 2011   #4
Could anyone make some comments on my first and my last paragraph. I am not confident with that two parts.Thanks!
NotAnAccount 1 / 5  
Oct 20, 2011   #5
This whole essay comes off as surreal. I am not sure what your message is trying to get at. While I love the word choice and imagery it conjures up, could you perhaps specify the theme you are trying to share in your first paragraph? What is your prompt?

Also, your last paragraph needs a bit of clarification. How are you "lying against" your pen?
desm2012 6 / 36  
Oct 21, 2011   #6
I used to enjoy the elegance and conciseness of Newton's law

You should change this to "I used to enjoy the concise elegance of Newton's Law"

"His skin was as dry as tree bark and the bones on of his hands protruded"

"When I woke up I found myself in a structure similar to Plato's cave"
It's implied that you're daydreaming because you say immediately preceding this sentence that you have freed your mind to wander aimlessly around. I think "When I woke up" is unnecessary, but I may be wrong so you should ask someone else about this.

"As I sat, my neck felt stiff and
stiff neck prevented me from looking around"

While your allegories are full of imagery and allusions, they are hard to follow and your theme is vague.
Also, the sentences about the old man seem out of place because he is the only nonhistorical figure in your essay. It kind of seems like you're just trying to remind the audience you volunteer at a nursing home.
Mohaimin 3 / 7  
Oct 21, 2011   #7
I actually had no problem understanding the theme of the essay, and I think your theme is very good. No scratch that, I thought that was great.

While you might want to take others' advice about making the theme more clear, I believe it would be a huge mistake to underestimate the intelligence of the adcoms.

oh and btw,

"Stupid! There were young people who said that they would rather die than suffer the pain of illness. Nonsense!" I heard the voice of an old man I met in a nursing home. He had a severe stroke three years ago and the lower half of his body was paralyzed. His skin was as dry as tree bark and the bones on his hands protruded. Nevertheless, he was a man. He deemed his life worthy, and his illness never prevented him from loving his life.

The style here is somehow worse than in the rest of the essay. Maybe work on it a little more?


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