Parallel Worlds

Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. (100-250 words)

To pass the time in monotonous car rides, my dad would describe an environment from a random point of view. I would guess where he was, or what he was. We called this the Imagination Game. As I grew older, my dad began to recount scenes from all over the universe, ranging from an electron in a circuit to the pupil of someone’s eye. What fascinated me the most, however, was when he described small marbles orbiting a very large one. Not knowing whether my dad was inside of an atom, or a humongous giant looking down at the solar system, I asked him, “Are you big or small?” He replied, “Everything is big compared to one thing and small compared to another.” I rolled my eyes sarcastically. But looking back on it, I realized that he was teaching me about frames of reference and perspective.

That moment also planted the seed that would eventually blossom into my desire to understand the world, to understand the patterns of repetition from the atomic level to systems that span millions of lightyears. I want to understand why math can describe nature seemingly so perfectly, why the number of flower petals follows the fibonacci sequence, or why the path of a projectile is parabolic. Math and the physical world are so closely intertwined,...

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