Physics Personal Statement

I have an innate fascination with nature's machinations, but particularly Physics as it is the most fundamental. Seemingly insurmountable problems varying in extremes of scale can make themselves known from what would outwardly appear to be novel, even trivial observations. As August Comte would have had it, the chemical composition of the stars would forever be beyond humanity's grasp given the vast distances involved. Yet a mere 24 years after Comte's gloomy musings, Gustav Kirchoff had attributed Fraunhoffer lines, the dark lines in the suns visible spectrum, to exactly that! The secrets of our nearest stellar neighbour unlocked with nothing but its light, a diffraction grating and some careful thought with regards to comparable phenomena on terra firma. This I think is the primary attraction to Physics for me. In how a feature that is at first sight unrelated to another, goes on to shed light on it. Pun definitely intended.

As well as the predictive power of Physics, the beauty of the subject is that when its proposed theories fail, that's when things get interesting. It can be as simple as modifying a model to account for aberrant data or it can mean revising fundamental assumptions about the physical world, opening a window into new sometimes strange laws. Quantum Mechanics being a case in point, knowledge of which I'm sure would have confounded any 19th century Physicist.

When in Melbourne I traded my guitar with my housemate for a few Physics textbooks including, Physics A Strategic Approach by Randall Knight and Introduction to Modern Astrophysics by Bradley Carroll and Dale Ostlie. I have focused mainly on the former and found it quite in depth with good coverage of the basics of Physics. This in conjunction with my studies mentioned below have me well prepared for my return to university.

In my spare time I have taken to dismantling my electric guitar, both for practical reasons and curiosity. It has been good hands on revision of electrical circuits and systems as the setup is a relatively simple one. Three single coil pickups whose coils have an induced alternating emf produced by varying the magnetic flux passing through them, this change in flux being caused by plucking a string which has its magnetic field induced by the magnetic poles that the coils are wrapped around. The signal is then modified by potentiometers affecting the volume and tone of the sound with their resistance, the latter of which I removed one.

Later I replaced one of the pickups so I had one single coil to play with. I unwound the coil, delicate and time consuming work as they typically have turns in their thousands because the emf induced is directly proportional to the number of turns and a small gauge wire is used to achieve this without too much bulk. I used the coil to make another pickup from a sewing thread spool along with the magnets. I tested it with an amplifier and a kitchen fork and found it worked pretty well, C. Then I will measure the emf from a standard pickup with the same magnets and with known turns, induced by a string at known distance d through a known area A. From this I will figure out the rate of change in flux produced by the string, feed that back into the equation and come up with a number of turns for my makeshift pickup. Then I can unwind, carefully, and see how my calculations pertain to reality. I have no doubt I'll get some things wrong but I'll learn something along the way.

A lot of my inspiration to pursue Physics has come from hearing its great communicators, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman. How anyone can watch Feynman explain the journey of carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere via photosynthesis to the structure of a tree, eventually being spat out with the help of a little heat and ambient oxygen to become carbon dioxide once again without a sense of incredulity at the realization that a tree is made of air! That is beyond me. But the laws that underpin these processes I think are not. So now I will try to learn exactly what he was talking about.

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Author's Comments

My application was through CAO in Ireland but I had a lot of help in preparing my statement looking at Studentials examples so I thought I'd put mine up.
Got me accepted to Trinity, UCD and DIT


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