Wednesday, September 13, 2006

College Essay, Draft One

I honestly thought this was pretty clever.

I always wanted to be a poet. Poetry alone seemed to have the power to transcend my everyday life and show me that there could be something more fundamentally important than the world I could see. I wanted nothing more than to be able to find for myself that fundamental truth that would, from time to time, peek out at me from behind a stanza.

My interests turned from poetry to physics for a simple reason: I am good at math, and terrible at writing poetry. However, I believe that my two passions have a common motivator. Physics, like poetry, is about searching for the truth, a fundamental truth that is somehow greater than the person that strives for it. Both the physicist and the poet want nothing more than to completely understand the world around them.

The approach is different. The sudden, revelatory flash of intuition plays its part in both disciplines, but for science to be taken seriously it must be supported by piles of evidence painstakingly extracted by experiment from the universe itself; the poet can just write it down and be done with it. This "extra" step reveals the difference in the kinds of truth revealed by each approach. The truth poetry seeks to attain is inherently human. It is rooted in humanity, based in human ideas, written in human language. The truth revealed by science is universal. It rises above those who observe it; it exists regardless of their observation. The laws of the universe hold true whether we recognize them or not. Poetic truth is created, while scientific truth is discovered.

Anyone who would scoff and say that the scientific perspective is cold, calculating, and devoid of emotional content simply lacks the proper understanding of what science lets us see. The subatomic world is filled with uncertainty, strangeness, and charm; the world we can see pales in comparison.

Knowing the mechanisms of the universe only heightens my appreciation for them. A watch is a mere timepiece until one looks beneath the face and can see the delicate intertwining of gears and cogs and springs, acting in precise unison. Afterwards, a watch is never just a watch. Every time I watch a sunset, I find myself thinking about the diffractive properties of light that cause it to be so.

And yet, the universe is not merely a colossal timepiece; indeed, modern science tells us that it is impossible to comprehend it as such. There is much in the universe that humans have yet to understand, and every time we think we've come close, we realize that we have barely even scratched the surface. To anyone but a scientist, this would be frustrating. But science is not about finding answers. Science is about asking questions, and perhaps encountering some fundamental truth along the way.

It is this desire to understand the world beyond the surface that drove me to become a poet. It is this very same desire that fuels my zeal for scientific understanding.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Old Doc Keller said...

Poetry and physics both require elegance of style, and your essay displays that in spades. Nicely done.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

Good luck with the college search. One of the best statistics to examine is the student retention rate from year to year. What is to be the fate of OMNIA? TambiƩn, what is your address?

11:32 PM  

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