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Why I Love Miscellaneous [Applications Collection]

Now that I'm well-past completing my various applications, I've been sharing some of the essays I wrote on this blog. I know they're shorter than my usual posts, but since they're actually, you know, proofread and edited, they're probably better reading. I'll be putting various essays and other application materials up in lieu of a blog post proper for the last few weeks. Here is the final part of a cacophony of written materials that don't really have a cohesive theme.

17 Reasons To Love 17

My favorite number is 17 today, because it’s special in a lot of ways. Here are 17 reasons to love 17.

1. When asked to select a random number between 1 and 20, studies have shown that 17 is consistently the most common.

2. Seventeen is the largest number with only one distinct vowel.

3. The minimum number of givens in a solvable 9x9 sudoku puzzle is 17.

4. People often talk about how 2 is the only even prime - but 17 is the only prime that's a multiple of 17.

5. 17 is the sum of the first four primes.

6. Draw 17 points, and draw a line connecting each pair of points. Then, color each line either red, blue, or green. There is forced to be a triangle that’s entirely one color. Furthermore, 17 is the smallest number where this works. In mathematical terms, the Ramsey number R(3,3,3) is 17.

7. Wikipedia tells me that "there are 17 orthogonal curvilinear coordinate systems (to within a conformal symmetry) in which the three-variable Laplace equation can be solved using the separation of variables technique." Amazing!

8. 17 is an integer, a property approximately 0% of rational numbers have.

9. 17 is a rational number, a property approximately 0% of real numbers have.

10. 17 is a real number, a property approximately 0% of complex numbers have.

11. 17 has the property that, when you start with 0, and add 17, you get 17 - itself!

12. Think of a number. Add 12. Triple the result. Add 15. Finally, divide by 3, subtract your original number - and voila, 17!

13. 1+1 equals either 2 or 17.

14. At time of writing, I have 17 bookmarks on my computer.*

15. The derivative of 17 is 0.

16. Turn to page 17 of the novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling. The first word - the - is the most common word in the English language. This can’t be a coincidence.

17. Look back at the number of reasons there are to love 17: 17. And the number of this reason: 17. This can't be a coincidence - we are forced to conclude that the number 17 abounds in nature!

You know exactly where I got this photo.

Why I Love Piano

When some people think of piano music, they think of painstakingly refining classical music published centuries ago with names like “Minuet” or “Etude in F minor.” That’s never been what piano has been about for me. For me, composing piano music is like a mathematical proof. For example, you can use heuristics, like that octaves, fifths, and fourth sound harmonious, or that you shouldn’t abruptly change the key of the song. But there’s still room for discovery, creativity, and innovation. The finished product has the elegance and beauty of a proper mathematical proof.

There’s another reason that I still play piano after all these years, and it took me many years to figure out. Playing piano makes me happier. Hearing the notes sing from the keys always seems to lift my spirits. Even though I don’t practice piano every day, it’s still a deeply mathematical activity that gives me joy, and that’s why I love doing it.

Single-Sex Schools

Every semester at my previous school, we could choose a “passion project,” or something that we were interested in, to study. I selected single-sex schools in sixth grade, a concept which I vehemently opposed. They were sexist, and wasn’t this like racial segregation which was prohibited by Brown v. Board of Education, and how could anyone do this conscientiously?

However, after doing my due diligence, I found that single-sex schools actually had real, proven benefits for some students. Different genders focused better in different temperature rooms, for instance, and separating the genders can help make that a reality. I emailed with some administrators from Castilleja, an all-girls school, and they tended to back this up, also adding that it can increase student confidence. This isn’t to say that single-sex schools are perfect, or that I particularly want to attend one, but I now have a more balanced view.

What I took away from this was that just because I was convinced of something, that didn’t mean it was right. I’ve learned to research topics with an open mind, instead of just looking for evidence to back up my claim. There are multiple legitimate perspectives on most issues, and often more than one has good evidence. It’s important to think critically about my own beliefs.

Favorite Quote

But, no matter what, life goes on. And most of the time, it’s good.

–Clara Elizabeth Lind, “Memories”, from Stone Soup (March/April 2017)

Well, the truth is, I listed that quote, but it isn't really my favorite. I have many quotes I like, and there wasn't enough space in the box for a longer quote. Here are a few other quotes I try to live by:

“Every moment of your life is lived for the future–you go to high school so you can go to college so you can get a good job so you can get a nice house so you can afford to send your kids to college so they can get a good job so they can get a nice house so they can afford to send their kids to college.”

–John Green, Paper Towns, as said by Margo Roth Spiegelman

“Years from now, our children and our grandchildren will look up and lock eyes with us. They will ask us where we were when the stakes were so high…I don’t want us to just tell them how we felt. I want to tell them what we did.”

–Sen. Kamala Harris, The Truths We Hold

“Maybe love is not as gentle as my memory.”

–Cheryl Wheeler, “Arrow”

“Every time you silence somebody you make yourself a prisoner of your own action because you deny yourself the right to hear something.”

–Christopher Hitchens

“People will always be critical!

They’ll make the personal political!

They’ll try to knock you off your pedestal, your pinnacle.

Let other people be cynical!

Let it go!’re smiling, because you know I’m right.”

–Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Let it Go,” from Hamilton (Off-Broadway), as said by Eliza Hamilton

“The idea of something for nothing is appealing in some visceral way. Even free things are never free. The burden of ownership means everything has a price.”

–Holly Goldberg Sloan, Counting by 7s

My other favorite quote isn't really fit to publish in this blog, but I couldn't resist linking to it so y'all would read it anyway.


Also: Why I Love Politics, Why I Love Math

*This isn't really true, to be honest. I recall deleting a bookmark, writing this sentence, and readding it, for instance. Right now, I've got 18 bookmarks.


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