Friday, December 28, 2007

Fall 2007 Finals

I survived another round of finals with better-than-expected results.

E/M Theory was predictably nightmarish, with a full semester of memorization required and no hints as to what might be needed. As it turned out, he did not ask any questions at all from the last two chapters, which is just plain silly (but hardly my only complaint of the instruction), as those were the only two chapters we had not been tested on. That did not keep me from totally blowing two questions, but they were not hard questions - just happened to require formulas I did not memorize (of the couple hundred possible). I had already estimated that I only needed a 45% on the final to receive a B for the course (but an 85% needed for an A), so the final grade surprised me. Course grade: A-

Classical Mechanics was not as tough as it could have been, although I could have done better. Just as in E/M, I blew two questions, but in this case, it was just plain brain meltdown. They were not hard questions; I was just under temporary idiocy. Thanks to the marvels of heavy curving, I managed to come out on top. Course grade: A

Introduction to Applied Mathematics finally started getting interesting in the last few chapters (Complex Analysis). I studied the hardest for this exam for some reason, going over nearly all of the suggested practice problems throughout the entire semester. Given that I was going into the final with a low- to mid-80s average, I was surprised at the final grade. I suspect I managed to pull off nearly 100% on the final. Course grade: A-

My cumulative GPA has now been scratched (3.95), which is bad news in some ways, although still quite good, of course. As long as it was a perfect 4.00, I had a vested interest in having the best scores in class - now an A- does not seem as bad. Fortunately, I have only 4 more classes (well, two lecture-based classes, a major lab and a research project) remaining.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Out, Out Damned Apathy!

Another day of studying nearly done.

On a positive note, while firmly not studying earlier today, I was analyzing my remaining classes required to graduate. Looks like I can dump two of the courses I was not really interested in anyway (Thermal Physics and Quantum Mechanics) for one class I am interested in (Astrophysics) and a second term of Senior Research. While dumping those two classes goes directly against an advisor's suggestion (because of applicability to future graduate studies), at this point grad school is not looking like a highly-probable event, so I am more interested in taking courses of interest than courses of future necessity.

I sat down with Dr. Michael Summers (my former astrobiology teacher) and we discussed some nice possibilities for research next semester. While many options are open, I will probably stick to work I started earlier this year--mathematical modeling of potential atmospheres for Pluto's moon, Charon. It is interesting work and I also get to do some programming in IDL, which is not too bad (if substantially different from what I am used to in C/C++).

In any case, I am sufficiently recharged to finish studying tonight for tomorrow's Applied Math and Classical Mechanics finals. I still cannot muster much desire to study for E/M Theory (Thursday exam), though. (Knowing I only need about a 44% on it to get a B in the class does not help much!)

Finals Week

It's that lovely time of the semester - trying to remember things your prof mentioned in one class back in August and September which you hoped you would never see again. Alas for the Comprehensive Final Exam. Of the three finals (two back-to-back), only one is not comprehensive (which is good - that one will be hard enough).

Unfortunately, E/M is comprehensive and that is very possibly the hardest course I have had so far. Adding to the pain, the prof has indicated that no equations will be given and refused to tell us which of the over 200 formulas covered this semester we might need to have memorized for the final exam.

Math should be relatively painless (only relatively - dealing with Green's and Stoke's respective theorems can often be painful, even though they are meant to make things easy).

Mechanics is the only exam that is not comprehensive, which is good for us - with a class average of only around 60% for the prior two exams, I think he was worried that nobody would even bother showing up for a comprehensive final.

A full sense of apathy has taken over my brain, which is not helping matters. Ah well... back to studying. Now, was it Green's 1st or 2nd Identity which had the Laplacian of g? Oh, right, it's in both, but in a different place... sigh.