Jiaxen Lau is currently reading Physics in University of Oxford. This personal statement was part of his successful application to University of Oxford, Royal Holloway, University of London; University of Warwick, University of St Andrew and Durham University.
For me, the most exciting thing about physics is the thought of what it can help us achieve in our future. The fundamental nature of subatomic particles could develop new forms of qubit-based computers; superconductors could alleviate inefficiencies in public transport and electronic circuits; the nature of space-time could even allow a fast spaceship to noticeably slow its own passing of time. As I explore books and other media, I find that our world’s intricate clockwork is beautiful, intellectually stimulating and full of discoveries to be made. By uncovering and understanding these phenomena, we allow ourselves to make great leaps in our own technological capabilities. I aspire to explore the physical world with like-minded peers and professors, as well as do research to contribute to this extraordinary field.
I keep up to date with current developments in Physics through online science news and communities including the Institute of Physics. To add to my knowledge of physics, above popular physics books, I am currently also reading Feynman’s transcribed lectures and undertaking Leonard Susskind’s Theoretical Minimum course online. I find them challenging yet rewarding, as they use more complex diagrams and intriguingly more sophisticated manipulations of mathematics than my A-levels. I especially admire their intricate use of mathematical principles I know to spawn ideas in physics, such as the use of geometric lengths of a light ray’s path from different reference frames to arrive at the theory of special relativity, or the solving of differential equations to determine concepts in classical mechanics.
Physics expresses itself through mathematics, and apart from representing my school in various maths and science competitions, I had the opportunity to practise using mathematics during an internship with Accenture, where I helped to develop software to predict a company’s categorical expenditures. The project involved using Excel and Visual Basic programming to manipulate large amounts of data. I enjoyed applying my mathematical knowledge, in particular the process of generating and understanding various graphs from the complex sets of data I sorted, and then modelling and making predictions from trends. I also enjoyed writing technical procedures and explanations for the software’s user manual.
Becoming my school’s Film Club President taught me a lot about communication. Making films made me think of creative ways to deliver information; I also enjoyed teaching junior members in the club filmography-techniques and how to use editing software. Over time, I learned to articulate ideas more efficiently and to think from others’ perspectives to make my explanations captivating. I further practise this skill in my school’s maths club, where I regularly prepare and give mathematical demonstrations and lessons. I love to talk about useful applications of mathematics in the sciences; one of my favourite topics to present was an introduction to Fermi Problems, an estimation technique used by scientists to induce approximate values from limited data. Sharing ideas and teaching others allows me to solidify information in my own mind, which I find helpful when studying. I look forward to challenging myself to use these skills at university to convey increasingly complex and technical ideas in physics to others.
As my school’s Head Boy, I lead a team of prefects in a multitude of activities aimed at maintaining a positive learning environment, while also playing a part in coordinating social events such as fundraisers, concerts and the Sixth Form induction. I find that the organisational, time management and teamwork skills I gain through these experiences help me to plan my studies well and work comfortably in groups.
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