Peter M. Whalen
Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
I love to read deep, meaningful books, sing deep, meaningful songs like “the Song that Never Ends”, and play the deep and meaningful sport of water polo, a rare game whose rulebook includes a penalty for inadvertent removal of limbs, and video games.
Southern Houston Institute of Technology Test for Youth
The most important question facing humanity today is: “Do androids dream of electronic sheep?” I am the next in a long tradition of physicists questing to discover this holy grail of science, but it has thus far eluded me. Some may doubt the significance of this query, but its answer, by Asimov and Niven’s “sheep conjecture,” leads to the all-important “bovine principle,” the law of conservation of swine, and the proof to “Colonel Sander’s Last Theorem,” in addition to applications in Freudian analysis and the social sciences.
I was born in Aachen, Germany in 1986 on a dark and stormy night and came to the United States in 1989. My childhood was spent outside, examining bugs, logs, and elevated arboreal fortresses. My first encounter with mathematics involved eating it. Not literally, but as a green rectangular creature with a big mouth called appropriately “the Number Muncher.” The high point of the game was not the intellectual stimulation of solving devious addition problems; it was in dropping big rocks on the red bad guys. I learned physics as most kids do, by jumping out of trees, throwing balls, and running into walls.
I love to read deep, meaningful books, sing deep, meaningful songs like “the Song that Never Ends”, and play the deep and meaningful sport of water polo, a rare game whose rulebook includes a penalty for inadvertent removal of limbs, and video games. Until you try, you can never understand the ecstasy of sending large green dragons against an on-line opponent as he swears at you in German. The Internet has truly created a world community.
Now, the inevitable listing of accomplishments and achievements. My GPA is a respectable 7.2, I have taken AP Number Theory, AP Topographical Analytic Lebesgue Integration by Complex Parts, and AP Procrastination, along with 37 more mundane Advanced Placement Exams. In addition, I was the national winner of the Southern Houston Institute of Technology Test for Youth contest, as well as the recipient of numerous Brilliant Studies awards at my current school. Oh, wait, that’s my roommate.
In actuality, I have advanced physics skills, among them procrastination, misdirection of blame, and relevant sarcasm. My mathematical repertoire includes courses in “Mathemagic: Addition Tricks for All Occasions,” “Corporal Linguistic Analysis: What Does a Scowl Mean,” and “Taxonomy: Filling out the 1040 Form.” With this incredible reservoir of knowledge, I hope to be a benefit to the United States Physics Team.
I would like to thank Dr. Peter Watt and Dr. Robert Perrin at Phillips Academy, and Mr. Jim Warren at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their help, without whom I could never have figured out why touching hot things hurts or why objects in motion refrain from motion when acted upon by a thick stone wall.
Of all the things I’ve ever actually learned in physics, one stands out: Relativity. In the words of Albert Einstein (approximately): “An hour spent with a math problem seems like an eternity but a half hour talking to a pretty girl seems like five minutes. That’s relativity.”