Of all my classes, 6.003 is the one in which I was most worried about my grade. I had done well on the tests, but I hadn’t been doing the homework, and the final was extremely difficult. Actually, the difficulty wasn’t precisely the problem, but rather that the percentages were slightly screwy.

It was a three hour exam. The first question was worth 35% of the grade, it said, so I budgeted an hour for it. The second and third questions were both worth ~30% of the grade, so I budgeted an hour for each of those. I finished the third question about two hours in, turned the page, and blinked at question 4, also worth ~30% of the grade. As was question 5. And question 6. The exam, it seems, was out of 200 “%”.

Anyway, I just got my grade back in that class, and I got an A+. So I probably shouldn’t have worried. I suppose it helped that the average on the final was below 100 “%”.


I applied to some grad school today. I say some because I only submitted the ones that were due today, which is three, or about half of what I expect to submit in total. That sounds like a low number to me, but in truth there aren’t that many places in the world that know the difference between biophysics and medical physics.

If my old link to gizmoball didn’t work for you, maybe this one will. Note that it requires the very latest version of Java.


So the secret is, my Gizmoball team (for 6.170) won the Best Gizmoball Design award. There are two other awards, but given that it’s a software design class, I think we have a reasonable claim that this award is the most prestigious.

So that’s pretty cool.

Last night I played hockey for Student House. We were late, so we forfeited, but it was fun anyway. I hadn’t played hockey in a very long time, so I was pretty bad, and I think I still have a bruise on my hip, but I would still do it again.

Insane weekend

I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe what happened to me over the past day in a way that will make sense, but I don’t think it is possible. The closest I can come is to say that I threw myself on the kindness of friends and strangers, and they were helpful beyond measure. I took the GRE, and I expect I did well enough.

The details involve leaving Chorallaries winter auditions early to drive to Mount Holyoke College in the dark, staying up late discussing theology with actual theology majors, scouring the campus early in the morning for clues as to the location of the test, discovering at the last possible moment, and running back and forth across their campus and later, mine. It was hectic, crazy, stressful, and fun. It was like an academic extreme sport.

In other news, the final project for 6.170 is due Monday. What sounded impossibly ambitious at the beginning of term is beginning to shape up into actual code. I’ll probably be working on it all day tomorrow, after Chorallaries callbacks that is.


It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year.
When the seniors in college applying to grad school just cower in fear!
It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year.

It’s the hap, happiest sea—son of all.
When the seniors applying to grad school don’t know where they’ll be the next fall.
It’s the hap, happiest sea—son of all.


The world is covered in snow. And not not just small amounts of snow: at least an inch everywhere.

I think it did not sink in until just now that it is, in fact, December.


Last night was the grand opening of Building 46, which is apparently called The Picower Center for Learning and Memory. Everyone just calls it “the new course 9 building”, which shows once again the triumph of numbers over words at MIT. I was there to sing two songs with the Chorallaries.

Course 9 is Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Anywhere else, that subject would probably be called Psychology, but at MIT it’s really focused on questions of neuroanatomy and brain stuff. They love fMRI.

The building is fantastic. I can’t really describe it, except to say that it’s huge, square, covered in glass and marble, and has a train that runs through the middle of it. Yes, a train.

The event was also pretty great. It’s rumored that James Watson attended, and by the reactions of a certain other distinguished guest in the front row, it appears that the Chorallaries have a new fan.