By Jacob Crawford, The University of Newcastle

To be honest, I’m not the kind of person that would boldly say, “I love math”. Sometimes I like it, sometimes it’s annoying, uncooperative and downright infuriating. And yet, as I’ve toiled over my project for the past month or so, I’ve gained an intriguing sense of triumph from completing the problem I set out to achieve.

Growing up in Lake Macquarie and attending the closest public school available did not set me up for a life of mathematical pursuits. Instead I grew into a plethora of diverse passions including music, art, science, philosophy and literature. At first I wanted to be a musician. After that I wanted to write my own novels and in my late high school years I leaned towards the science of physics. As my time at high school came to a close I concluded that abandoning all my other interests for studying was not something I’d like to do. So I decided to enrol in a bachelor of science and a bachelor of mathematics at the University of Newcastle, as I believed that an education was most suitable for physics rather than my other passions. The bachelor of mathematics was intended to support my understanding in mathematical languages, which is crucial when one wants to understand the physical world.

For the past three years my experience at university has given me the chance to refine my interests. I am glad to say that I have neither abandoned my music, art nor writing and have worked to develop these skills on the side.

Throughout this summer vacation I have experienced a mixture of curiosity, frustration and humility. This scholarship has helped me to develop the patience I need to tackle problems that are on the front line of research. I have also acquired skills for using mathematical writing software such as LaTeX and Beamer. But most importantly of all, this opportunity has imbued my mind with reverence for the beauty that math can give us.

 

Jacob Crawford was one of the recipients of a 2016/17 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.

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