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Patrick Hurst

Aurora, IL

Illinois Math & Science Academy

Grade: Senior


Computer programming, Reading (technical, politics, current world events, blogs),Video Gaming, Computational Linguistics, Wikipedia Administrator


Math Team (competitions), Math Circle (group discussions, topic based), Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honors Society


National Merit Scholarship Recipient, Presidential Scholar Candidate, American Invitational Mathematics Examination Qualifier (3 Years), AP Scholar, American Regions Mathematics National Competition (ARML) - 7th Place Team, The Mandelbrot Mathematics Regional Competition - 5th Place tie, Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics State Competition (ICTM) - 1st Place Team, High School Mathematical Contest In Modeling Legos Robotics, and various mathematics competitions in elementary school


When I was in sixth grade, my parents bought me The Feynman Lectures on Physics, and I proceeded to read through the series as if I was reading a novel. These books taught me the majority of what I know about electricity and magnetism, as well as the mathematical aspects of quantum mechanics. I have always had an intuitive understanding of mathematics, and my interest in physics seems to be a natural derivative of my inquisitive mind. I am drawn to the logic and predictability, and the ultimate simplicity of the laws of physics. It naturally complements my interests in computer programming and future use of technology to develop the means to understand and solve world-wide problems.

One early example of my combined interests in physics and mathematics involved an eighth grade experience playing with a Slinky©, and working on rotational motion. I wondered; if you set a massless Slinky© with two weights at its ends, each of which has a given mass m, and start the Slinky© rotating, how much would the Slinky® spread out? The problem is harder than it seems, because as it rotates, it expands due to 'centrifugal force', which slows down the rotation due to conservation of angular momentum, which shrinks the spring, which speeds up the rotation, etc. I then translated the problem into the language of differential equations, and, making various simplifications, I finally came up with the equation for the solution.

I enjoy physics because it lets me understand the world on a fundamental level. If I know how each individual atom in a complex physical system will act, then I can predict how the system as a whole will act in the future given enough computing power. Since physics is a part of everything, in order to truly understand anything, we must understand physics.

I am looking forward to participating in the US Physics competition so that I can meet other students my age who have the same passions and interests, and I would like to see what I am capable of learning. I have completed all of the advanced physics courses that are offered at my high school, and I am drawn to the opportunity to see how far I can go, and I want to experience what exists beyond the high school classroom. I would like to represent my school (IMSA) in national and international competitions since IMSA has provided so much to me. I realize that this is a great opportunity to meet international leaders in this field, and I hope to reap the rewards of working hard at this challenge.

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