Physical Natural Sciences

Applied in: Winter 2013

University Offers: Cambridge, Imperial College, Durham, UCL, Warwick

I sat the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge this summer, and was awarded a Roentgenium and invited to the Chemistry Camp at St Catharine's. We were taught by Dr Peter Wothers, whose work on entropy I had already found extremely useful and enlightening in my studies. What thrilled me most about this opportunity was the chance to learn more about aspects of Quantum Mechanics that I had previously only read about, particularly using the Schrodinger equation to derive Heisenberg's uncertainty principle for a particle on a line.

Although not taught at A level, both of these have been areas of fascination for me. To have read and heard about them and then to see them in action was extraordinary. While there, I also studied the mechanisms and reaction conditions for synthesis of large molecules such as Nifuratel used in chemotherapy. I really enjoyed the logical nature of the mechanisms and their elegance. At the end of June, I did a project on the Grignard Reagent, in which I explored its use as a carbon nucleophile and its role within the synthesis of long chain carbon molecules. While doing this project, I discovered that Tetrahydrofuran, the solvent we had been told to use, was ineffective, and that using Diethyl ether was far more productive. I concluded that, while there is not a great difference between the chemical formulas of these substances, the difference in their structural arrangement might suggest that Tetrahydrofuran is too powerful a solvent to use in this reaction, which may imply the arrangement of the carbons in Diethyl ether protects the oxygen atom. My Maths education has involved a number of Challenges, and I have won Gold in both the JMC and IMC. Last year I won a Silver award in the SMC and will be retaking it this autumn.

I love to prove and disprove assumptions, in particular proof by induction and proof by contradiction. The simplicity of the proof that the square root of two is irrational appeals to me hugely because the mathematics involved is eminently simple, and there is such a grace in the logical progression of the argument. I have attended lectures at school and Imperial College on a variety of topics. I particularly enjoyed Brian Clegg's 'How to Build a Time Machine' in which he follows the principle of general relativity to posit that one could build a time machine by crushing ten neutron stars into a cylindrical shape, and using the curvature of the cylinder to go back in time. It was very interesting to hear his alternative to the idea of Worm Holes in time travel, and it inspired me to read Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku.

In July and August last year, I spent 5 weeks at Physics Camp at Brown University. We studied the links between philosophy and physics, in particular Berkeley's concept that nothing exists unless it is observed. That he postulated this theory without the background of Maths and science seemed confusing to me, but when we studied quantum mechanics a few days later, it became clear that his philosophy was very similar to that implied by quantum mechanics.

This summer, I spent two days at CERN, where I met Bryan Lynn, a particle physicist, who is working on the Higgs Fine Tuning problem. We had lengthy discussions about the Standard Model in terms of his research, and the use of a modified Feynman diagram to explain his thesis. I found his mathematical workings phenomenal and I relish the opportunity to study towards this level of mathematical dexterity during my undergraduate studies. These interests and activities all combine to drive my desire to read Physics and Natural Sciences at university. To be able to study the subjects that most compel me at undergraduate level has been the most significant motivating force in my academic career, and the goal towards which I have worked throughout my schooling. I particularly relish the prospect of deconstructing what I have already learned, and deepening my understanding of Physics and Chemistry.

Please note UCAS will detect any form of plagiarism. PSE and its contributors do not take any responsibility for the way in which personal statements are used.

Contact us