Why I Failed My Physics Final (1st Place)

April 3, 2017

I'm laying in my bed.

It's 2:13 AM. Five days before my first final.

I'm not sleeping; I'm mulling over physics problems, fussing over frictionless pulleys and massless strings.

I'm eating yogurt.

Well, not yet.

A question has stumped me.

I peel the tinfoil lid off the pocket of curdled milk and smile smugly at my breakfast in bed.

I realize I do not have a spoon.

I also realize that as a member of a progressive student body within a community of global citizens, it is my duty to smile in the face adversity and welcome the chance to overcome it. I fold the circular tinfoil lid in half, then in half again, then in half again.

I'm hungry.

I look at the lid.

In a perfect world, where my writing is legible in lowercase and every handwritten letter I write is not read in constant exclamation, the angle between the folded edges of this lid, now in eighths, measures to 45°. In a perfect world, the cosine and sine of the lid, were it placed in the first quadrant of a standard Cartesian plane, would be (√(2)/2, √(2)/2), respectively. In a perfect world, √(2)/2 would not need to be approximated when converted to decimal form. It would go on perfectly forever. Sometimes I wish that the world were perfect, because then I wouldn't have lost points on my tests for rounding a decimal prematurely.

But then I think a little more. I consider a world in which a collision could be perfectly elastic. A world in which ropes could be massless. A world without friction. A world where a particle could change velocity without changing speed.

Though the numbers would be round and the paths of objects more easily determined, it would be a world of cold and still. Friction is important in thermal dynamics and motion according to Newtonian mechanics, as it turns out.

In a perfect world, not only would humans be unable to survive, but the inception of our existence would be rendered a scientific impossibility. After all, we are merely the product of a mass culmination of heat that turned simplicity into chaos a surely-not-round number of years ago. So I suppose it doesn't matter if I wish the world were perfect, because if it were, I could not be satisfied with its perfection. I could not even be.

But because I'm a little wrong, I show indifference to the universal indifference and rejoice in the natural gore of it all by feasting upon my barely-expired yogurt, using my almost (but definitely not) 45°-angle of a spoon. I savor the metallic taste of the lid under the yogurt as I continue to pretend to find a definitive point at which a vertical projectile's velocity equals zero.

 

(I actually ended up with a 96%.)

 

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