Something from Nothing

Tell us about someone who has influenced you

I have been solving problems my whole life, from mathematical proofs to the dilemmas of the pendulum. These problems are the glowing embers inside my heart. The elegant approaches of masterminds, like Gauss, are the kindling to the flame. I fell in love with the beauty of their ability to transform complicated phenomena into simple solutions. Yet, everyday challenges, like my crosswords, cradle that fire. It was not the answer; it was the process. The mental exercises created something ineffable–something that vigorously forced the adrenaline through me. The simple solutions to the complex problems struck as beautiful and exhilarating. If there was an answer to be found, I was comfortably in an all-consuming state of wonder and lust until it surfaced.

Last summer, I worked as a Fellow at Stony Brook University under the mentorship of Dr. Tzu-Chieh Wei in theoretical physics. My enthusiasm vanished within the first hour of meeting Dr. Wei: after trying to comprehend his onslaught of graduate-level discourse on Hamiltonians, I inquired, “So what exactly will I be working on?” His face scrunched up as if perplexed by my question; he replied, “Come up with something of your own.” Rather than presenting my summer to me, he explained...

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