Physics and Philosophy personal statement
When I look at the world and try to understand how things work, I come to realise that there might not be a definite answer, a correct explanation, a yes or no to a specific theory. Today's culture teaches us that science is the ultimate way to describe our surroundings, the one unassailable episteme. But the closer one looks at how those scientific statements come to be, the more fragile they become.
To answer the uncertainty, I have ever since tried to widen my horizons to at least get a broad overview on how others try to systemize the chaos. This still seems to me today to be the most suitable answer to all questions: a life-long hunt for the truth - no matter that there might not be one. This search for knowledge has already brought me to various places and situations.
On my own accord, I interned in 2014 at the Deutsches Electron Synchrotron DESY in Hamburg and in 2015 at the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the RWTH Aachen University. I have also spend one year (2014/15) at a British Boarding school which, as the other experiences, has not only helped to satisfy curiosity that has always gone beyond what is taught at school but helped me to develop independent thinking.
It is compulsory for all students to write an extended essay during sixth form. I used this opportunity to familiarise myself with a topic that goes beyond the Physics curriculum. Entitled "Why is there not nothing?" I dealt with the asymmetry of matter and antimatter. We have to thank our lives to the fact that, as Andrei Sacharow described, laws of symmetry in charge, parity and time that should be applying have to be violated to imply a state that stopped the total annihilation of matter and antimatter. This obvious contradiction made me realise how closely Physic is linked to philosophical matters: Law - in common sense - is defined to be a rule for how the things it is applied to have to work and it therefore felt illogically to me that a law has to be broken to work out and still is accepted as one. I learned to scrutinise what I see and concluded that scientific laws are only our best description of nature available today. Although I highly value the fundamental approach Physics delivers to comprehend our life, this completely changed my vision on what I have been taught at school, which I thought of as being inevitably absolute and with further thinking, I might therefore approve of P. Feyerabend's demand to separate science and society.
It was therefore only natural for me to deepen my studies in Philosophy. During the two-year course I not only learned the basics of various philosophical issues, but, due to my developing interest in the topic enjoyed epistemology the most, I also learned how every opinion has its weak points and that there will always be someone to criticise them. I trained how to approach difficult tasks and how to successfully defend my own opinion. Due to my commitment to the subject I have been awarded with a price from the German Society for Philosophy for the best graduates from all over my country.
Starting in September 2017, I will be interning for three months at the Institute for Nuclear Physics at the Juelich Research Centre, working at the COSY accelerator. I hope to obtain an understanding of how today's scientists work to get to new breakthroughs, a process that interests me because it reveals a lot about the theory behind anything scientific. It will also give me a realistic impression of a work environment I hope to be in one day. Studying a unique course which I will only be able to take up in Great Britain, I hope that I can continue my curious but questioning approach towards any given question.
I realise that there is no possibility of a final solution to any of the problems, which might be frightening to some but rather is a welcomed challenge to me - even though it is one I cannot master -because only consistent scepticism can lead to change and progress, which I hope to one day contribute to.
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I am from Germany and graduated in 2017, so I am taking a gap year right now.
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