My application to Columbia. I applied early decision, since I really wanted to live in New York and Columbia was the top ranked school in Manhattan.read more
List the required readings you enjoyed most in the past year: Plato's Phaedo, Self-Reliance, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, Civil Disobedience, The Oversoul, Walden, The Great Gatsby List the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year: Slaughterhouse-Five, Brave New World, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Einstein: His Life and Universe, The Feynman Lectures on Physics Volume 1, Chaos: Making a New Science, Animal Farm, Ishmael, My Ishmael List the publications you read regularly, including print and electronic sources (websites, blogs, podcasts, etc.): engadget.com, damninteresting.com, betterexplained.com, xkcd.com, slashdot.org, engineerguy.com, ted.com, worrydream.com, New Yorker Animated Cartoons podcast List the films, performances, exhibits, concerts, shows, lectures, etc. you enjoyed most in the past year: Steve Jobs: How to live before you die, "The Universe, Then and Now: Reflections from the 'Big Bang Machine'" by John Parsons, Tick Tock -short film, MIT 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics, Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms, Conrad Wolfram, Teaching kids real math with computers, Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong, NOVA: Hunting the Hidden Dimension, NOVA: The Elegant Universe with Brian Greene, Louis C.K. Live at the Durham Performing Arts Center, Women's World Cup, attended Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Please tell us what you found meaningful about one of the above mentioned books, publications or cultural events. I purchased Chaos: Making a New Science at the Raleigh airport book store so that I would have something to read on the plane to Australia. I was entirely unaware of the book's notoriety. What was a fleeting choice evolved into an intimate love affair; I was hooked immediately. Gleick brought together mathematical and scientific phenomena like I had never seen. The book introduced me to the fact that common, simple equations, when treated a certain way, can behave erratically. I found this so fascinating that I had to demonstrate it myself. I wrote a Java program that graphed the periodic behavior of a simple, recursive function over the variation of a constant. This yielded what is called a bifurcation diagram which resembles an infinitely branching tree with periods of disordered and tangled branches. After being able to see this intricate complexity embedded in a superficially simple equation, I was really able to understand the depth and power of Mathematics. This book entirely changed my view of the complexity of the world; it taught me to search for order and fundamental governing principles and it led me to my great appreciation of the entanglement of nature and mathematics. Please tell us what academic class has been your favorite and why. Calculus has been my favorite academic class because I've found that it's the subject I'm most easily able to apply to my daily observations. In fact, I've found that Calculus is one of the few subjects I've been able to see and apply in nearly any situation. Additionally, Calculus' simplicity makes it easily accessible and employable: even with a very limited knowledge of Calculus, I'm still able to use it to analyze and predict commonly encountered phenomena to an acceptable degree of accuracy. In learning Calculus, I really feel like I'm being given the tools to understand how things happen and why they happen the way they do. This is remarkably meaningful to me because understanding the 'why' and 'how' of things gives me the profoundest of pleasures. Thus, I've found that Calculus has helped me satiate some of my deep curiosities about the world. In fact, I find being able to do Calculus empowering. For example, I can easily derive the formulas to find the surface area or volume of any common shape using Calculus without having to memorize any formulas. Additionally, performing this derivation allows me to get an intuitive understanding of the formula's structure. Calculus is the class I'm currently most excited about and I look forward to being able to study it much more intensively in the future. Please tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why. I have read that college is "what you make of it" and it doesn't matter very much which college one attends. Although I agree that one can get a great education at an average college or an average education at a great college, I know that I do best in an environment where I can readily discuss my ideas with peers and teachers. I believe that Columbia, with its high standards for admissions and its renowned faculty, will provide an excellent environment for me to pursue my studies. I want to be around students who are interested and engaged; students who question things as I do; students who are going to test a formula before using it. I'm looking for a collaborative environment in which other students inspire me and share their insights. I want to work with people like me, people who really care about the basis of the topic and not the superficial aspects such as formulae. I want to be with people who can explain a formula with words and diagrams. Based on Columbia's small class sizes and diverse student body, I believe that it will provide the best environment for this to occur. New York City is also a factor in my choice of Columbia. As the son of a native New Yorker, I have been visiting annually my entire life. As far back as I can remember, I have been attracted to the City's energy and vibrancy. I know I'll be working quite hard at Columbia, and it pleases me greatly to know that when it's time to relax, I'll be able to do so in that great city. For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Application Data section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have interest at this time, but have not yet selected as a major interest. I'm drawn to Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science all for the same reason: I want to understand the universe by studying its phenomena. These three topics of study are the tools I need in order to do so. Mathematics is the most fundamental of these; it is direct, descriptive, and concise in representing our world. I find Mathematics and Physics so profound because their laws not only existed before humans but have always existed. This means we're discovering the indisputable and invariant laws of the cosmos; thus, these discoveries are the closest to absolute truth one may achieve. I also find Mathematics appealing because of its depth and the multitude of ways to treat Mathematical problems. Just as there is not only one way to solve a problem, there is not only one way to understand a concept or principle of mathematics. Another appealing quality is the description of perceptibly inaccessible attributes/objects (such as the geometric 4th dimension) using mathematics. However, the most interesting thing about the world, which Mathematics allows us to identify, is its interconnectedness. The relations between superficially discrete phenomenon can become integrally connected from a comprehensive Mathematical view. The depth of Mathematics is incredibly intimidating and to understand even a fraction of it would be an incredible feat. If, as Richard Dawkins has said, science is the poetry of reality, then mathematics is the language of reality. This past summer, I interned at a Physical Chemistry lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The graduate students I worked with were studying semiconductor nanostructures using ultrafast spectroscopy with the goal of developing materials for efficient solar fuels production. The results of our research have been accepted for publication in "The Journal of Physical Chemistry". I am a co-author on the paper. The complete paper will be available in November 2011 at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp207830h.
Altering Short Answer QuestionsCalculus has been my favorite academic class because I’ve found that it’s the subject I’m most easily able to apply to my daily observations. Additionally, its simplicity makes it easily accessible and employable: even with a very limited knowledge of Calculus, I'm still able to use it to analyze and predict commonly encountered phenomena to an acceptable degree of accuracy. In learning Calculus, I really feel like I’m being given the tools to understand how things happen and why they happen the way they do. This is remarkably meaningful to me because I see understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how‘ of things as my objective in any situation. Thus, I’ve found that Calculus has helped me satiate some of my deep curiosities about the world. It has helped me understand Why is the volume of a sphere defined by 4/3 pi radius cubed? Calculus can answer that. How do the populations of a predator and its prey change over time? Calculus can answer that, too. I’m immensely grateful that I know Calculus With Calculus, I feel more equipped for understanding the world. also have found Calculus particularly helpful in creating mathematical models, which interest me very much. I've been surprised and excited to see that I can and have used Calculus to solve problems in other areas of math, such as statistics. (Explain when I used it in the Stats problem last year). Once an object or phenomenon is represented by an algebraic function, Calculus can be used to extrapolate an enormous amount of information about that function and therefore about that object or phenomenon. Calculus can tell you the ‘why’ questions and provide an intuitive understanding. Why is the volume of a sphere defined by 4/3 pi radius cubed? Calculus can answer that.