When the Snow Finally Returns: Cornell Spring 2012

For many days, the town of Ithaca was enjoying the rare and delicate specimen of winter without the winter. The next day, stuff starts dropping from the sky—hey, it’s pretty cool I guess. And the day after that, the universe as we know it is covered in snow. Such is the schizophrenic weather of this place.

The snow arrives firstly as a reality check. What is more real than snow, diving in swarms into your face and crunching your every step to your classes? Or perhaps, snow serves as the exact opposite. By making the outside world less accessible, less attractive, it has a hibernating effect. You want to stay indoors more and move less, sinking into a false reality. Who knows?

What I do know is that I haven’t blogged in a long time. In fact, it has been a really long time. Here are my thoughts so far on my classes this semester:

  • Math 6120 – Complex Analysis. This is the first math/science class I have ever taken that did not contain absurdly large amounts of review of background knowledge before diving into the course material. There was no review in fact. Granted, this is a graduate level course, and it is the first time I am taking one. It is an incredible change of pace from previous courses.
  • Math 4140 – Honors Intro to Analysis II. Significantly harder than part 1, which I took last semester, but still significantly easier than complex analysis. Then again, this is an undergraduate course, so it was to be expected.
  • German 1220 – Exploring German Contexts II. Also much harder than first-semester German, though this may be due to my rustiness at it since I practiced no German over the break.
  • Astro 1102 – Our Solar System. I’ve always wanted to take an astronomy class, as my interest in this subject stems from first grade. Plus, Cornell has a prominent role in the Mars rover project, so it was interesting hearing the professor talk about his opinions on how the rover mission should continue on the first day of class.
  • Math 4900 – Independent Research. My topic is the relation between thermodynamic formalism and complex dynamics, and my advisor is John Hubbard, who is also teaching the complex analysis class. For a layman description, we are trying to understand how one can use mathematical techniques that were originally developed to analyze fractals, to analyze thermodynamics. This seems like an interesting bridge between math and physics.

So, this is my first semester ever not taking any humanities/social science classes. It is also my first semester ever taking more than one math class. In that respect, this is really the first time since first semester of freshman year that I feel I’m doing something new. In the prior case, it was the nontrivial transition from high school to college. And now, it’s that from a general education to a more focused one. In the meantime, I’ll try to update this blog if anything interesting shows up.

One final bit of news: as of a few days ago, I am officially a math major. Cheers!

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