Mathematical Sciences

Hello From The Other Side!

How’s everybody doing? I hope everybody’s having a great time relaxing, or preparing in advance for many things ahead! Summer’s always the best time for everybody – personally for me, this is the first time I am experiencing summer that lasts for around 3 months and this explained fully why summer is said to be the best 104 days (according to Phineas and Ferb…anyone?). Why? Because this is not the case from where I come from, that is, Indonesia!

 

Coming from the other side of the world means that coming home after 9 months of living in London has made me miss home more than ever. Coming back to Indonesia allowed me to meet my family and friends, and also savour all of our dishes and street food and all the small things that I have always been craving for in London. Of course, happiness is meant to be shared and hence I will share my joy with all of you through some pictures to allow you to see through my eyes.

 

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Food as expected – and a bowl of chili!           Nighttime culinary market called Cibadak.

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Nature! Indonesia attracts tourists mostly for its natural scenes!

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A bowl of meatballs in soup would cost about 1.5 pounds and two or three bowls are enough to make you full! Definitely, the picture on the right is a restaurant that serves everyone’s (ehem) favourite instant noodle – Indomie – that is topped with Indonesian traditional spices and sauces!

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Being at home means being able to play with the cats again!

 

Even though summer is such a great time for all of us, let us not forget a few things! For many of you applying to Queen Mary, don’t forget to sort out your accommodation, tuition fees, or even your visas if you are coming from outside the UK. Get prepared for university life! It may be hard to settle and fit in in the beginning, but eventually ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and you will meet the right group of people for you, and QMUL is even glad to help you out with their buddy scheme which allows you to feel more than welcome on campus. Most importantly, going to Queen Mary means that you are about to be surrounded by a diverse environment, and you will be able to see the beauty coming from the differences every one of us owns.

 

With that, have a fantastic summer and have a good time, and see you soon!

Colour Up Your London Summertime

Summer has come upon us now and let’s all be honest, as much as we love the feeling of not thinking about any studies, we get bored. However, there are definitely some things to do to fill your time here in London, both near campus and away from the campus. Let me give you a sample in-the-day-of-my-life time table:

 

09:00 – 10:00

Wake up, reply to all the texts from back home, make myself a smooth cup of hot coffee.

 

10:00 – 12:00

It’s all about the gains. Hitting the gym at QMotion which is on campus making it so convenient for students that needs to burn off some fats from last night’s dinner.

 

12:00 – 13:00

I usually cook – I’ll get ingredients beforehand from either Co-op or Sainsbury’s which can be found beside the campus and opposite the campus respectively. Again, convenience is key here. Otherwise, I’d go eat in Mile End chicken shops (ahem, Dixie’s £2 for 8 wings) or go around London. Where to go, though? We’ll see below.

 

13:00 – 21:00

Okay, I go out a lot and spend a lot of time outside because staying inside for too long can get my mind tangled thinking about life and such too much. I spend this much time because I usually go out with my good friends that I’ve met in my course, my department, or even the societies I joined. Here’s a list of places you can visit:

  1. Chilling in the park: London has so many parks that you can just sit down and chill on, all very accessible by both the closest stations near campus. Need a closer one? Go to Victoria Park or Mile End Park.
  2. Central London: Of course, who doesn’t go here? Take the westbound central line to either Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, or Bond Street, and treat yourself for some good food.
  3. Westfield Stratford: Just a stop away, take the eastbound central line and you can spend time shopping, bowl, or ride the Boris Bikes around the Olympic Park, which is right behind
  4. Mile End Pool & Snooker OR Riley’s: Interested in pool or snooker? You should definitely give them a visit – one just very close to the campus and the other in Victoria, which is possible to get to using the District Line from both Mile End station and Stepney Green station, literally approximately 2-3 minutes away from campus.
  5. Tourist-y stuff: Check online some touristy things to do and get the most of London, simple ones like visiting the Museums for FREE, or even watch the changing of the Guards at Buckingham palace.

 

21:00 – 00:00

At this time, I usually have a couple of pints with my friends, just talk about what to do the next day, or even sleep earlier.

 

There’s so much that you can do around London as you study in Queen Mary. First year studying here has been eventful for me but there’s definitely more outside London – in my hometown Bandung, Indonesia – that I will tell you about in the next blog!

Stepping Out of First Year

img_6451Exams are finally done and there goes my first year! It is crazy to think that being in a three-year course would eat up a lot of time but now I’m done with one-third of the way as we speak. In the grand scheme, life passes by in the blink of an eye. I would honestly say this year has been one of the greatest years in my life. It started from coming here alone without anyone that I know, a shy Indonesian kid that tried to make his very first friend. I went through thick and thin with my closest friends that eventually found me, and helped me with the struggles that I face, may it be my studies or even my relationship problems! I’ve got to learn that there are good people out there that become your good friends and that you can depend on them regardless of many circumstances.

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img_7252I even joined clubs here that promoted my physical well-being, simultaneously allowing me to experience further university life and what it feels to be like to be in an international environment. I managed to even experience working part-time in a foreign country, and performed several gigs around London with my band. However, we should all keep in mind that this would not be able to be achieved if all we do is stay in our comfort zone. Reach out of your comfort zone – be tired, be ambitious, be stressed, and in the long-run, you will realise that you have become a stronger version of yourself, and that everything done was worth it. Now that my first year is over, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead in my second year!

One Angry Nan and 76 Minutes I’ll Never Get Back

On the 19th of May, at exactly 12:00 my final exam was over, marking the end of the academic year.  As much as I am looking forward to summer and being a relatively stress-free human for a few months; I am feeling particularly reflective. As well as experiencing all the typical student scenarios; coffee induced late nights in the library, intoxicated Wednesday evenings at the student’s union and subsequently rocking up to your Thursday 9am lecture half still in your pyjamas at 9:10; the most rewarding and exciting moments of the year, are a collation of completely unexpected, spontaneous and terrifying scenarios.  Here are a few of my favourite:

The Time my Grandmother Came to London and Got Very Mad at Theresa May
I had an unexpected phone call off my mum one Wednesday morning, explaining that my Nan and her two friends would be travelling to London to take part in a protest.  I was instructed to go and ensure that she “didn’t get herself into any trouble.”  Assuming this was a slight exaggeration on my mum’s behalf, I arrived at Parliament Square with intentions of a relatively calm afternoon with my Nan.  However, when I emerged from Westminster Tube Station, all I could see was thousands of women draped in purple sashes labelled “WASPI”, yelling, singing and waving their fists towards the Houses of Parliament.  A few hours later I found myself in the heart of that crowd, with my Nan, learning about their struggle and chanting along with them.  After living in London for two years, my first genuine experience at a protest was completely accidental but a completely irreplaceable adventure.

The Time I Got Lost at 4am
We were somewhere in central London, it was 4am, I was exhausted, my friend had just lost her Oyster card, our phones were on low battery, and we weren’t entirely sure of where to get our next bus from.  We decided to walk down the road towards the street map, and stopped to check the name of the street we were on.  Tired, lost and so very ready to be at home in bed, we both looked up at the street name.  Turn Again Lane.  London was surely mocking us.  We looked at each other, both perplexed but desperate enough to be willing to take advice from a street sign, without any exchange of words, we turned around and began walking in the opposite direction.  As if it were a miracle, within 30 seconds we could see our bus stop and within a few minutes we were on our bus, driving through the city centre.  It became clear that being lost in central London isn’t actually something to be hugely concerned about; I mean, I wouldn’t suggest looking to inanimate objects for advice; however, the number of maps, night busses, and people in the similar situations as you almost ensure that there is a way for you to arrive home safely.

The Time I spent 76 Minutes Stuck in a Lift
Living on the 5th floor meant that, occasionally, I had to overcome my slightly irrational fear of lifts.  One morning I was supposed to be travelling to South Wales for a family party and I was running extremely late.  I hopped into the lift with my shoes still untied and clothes falling out of my not very well packed bag.  I was so preoccupied with composing myself that I failed to recognise that the lift was not moving.  It wasn’t until the lights turned off that it dawned on me; I was stuck.  None of the buttons were working.  Everyone I phoned was busy.  After being stuck for 15 minutes, I had to call the fire brigade.  They arrived swiftly but were at a loss when considering possible ways to get me out.  When it got to the half hour mark, I had stressed, cried, gotten frustrated with myself for being lazy and not taking the stairs, called my mum, and finally, accepted the fact that I was probably going to spend the majority of my day completely alone in a glorified box.   One of the firemen stayed outside the lift the entire time, and we discussed a variety of topics from my increasing levels of hunger to the British weather; until finally, after 76 minutes, I was released.

From my first experience calling 999 to accidentally protesting the rising age of pensions with my 60-year-old grandmother, this year has been a series of peculiar events; but I honestly don’t think I would change a thing.  Soon I’ll begin organising my Summer; even though knowing my luck, none of it will go to plan.  I look forward to the slightly terrifying, unsuspected chaos that will almost definitely unfold over the next few months.

 

 

 

 

Good Grades, Social Life, Enough Sleep – How About All Of Them?

Exam time is here! That means a few things:

cramming, cramming, and cramming…and loads of coffee perhaps.

Is cramming necessary though? It is natural for university students like many of us to

stress everything into last minute but                                   of course, that is not wise at all. We all

talk about setting a neat time table and                              creating to-do lists but in the end do not

follow  them  at  all.  Then, how do we                                 prepare  well  for exams,  while getting

enough time to rest and relax? People                                 usually believe that you can only choose

two  out of  these  three:  good grades,                               sleep, and social life. Lucky enough, we

 can     do  the   simple   maths    here.                                 24 hours  for  three   aspects  of life we

        would like to indulge  in. That                                   sounds like 24/3 and that gives us 8.

Eight  hours  of sleep,  eight                                   hours of  studying, and eight

hours of relaxing. Eight hours of relaxing and eight hours of studying is a LOT

of time when you  come to  think  of  it. This simple  8-hour rule  for these

three aspects vital to the lives of university students who wish to obtain a first

in their degrees, get enough sleep for daily energy, and parrrrr-tay! Now, following

the   eight-hour   rule   isn’t  too                                      difficult. That just  means you only

need  a  little  bit of  discipline and                                    not following the timetable wouldn’t

be  much of an issue. What  comes                                     with this eight-hour rule is efficiency

with  this  time.  Be productive  and                                      be efficient – study hard, play hard, and

eventually this while exhaust you to                                     a  good  level where you can get into  a

deep  sleep.  Studying  for 2  hours                                     can  give  you so  much when  you are

focused,  imagine what 8  hours                                       can give you! Relaxing for the same

amount of time can bring you                                     so much  enjoyment  as well. Is

  this  rule difficult?  Definitely not, and it’s definitely worth a try.  Now,  to keep

 track of any  other things, you  can simply make notes on your phone

   and make sure you would not forget any other things, may

    that be giving your parents back home a phone call,

meeting a friend for brunch, and more.

I recommend you all to give this a try this – and hopefully the results would amaze you!

Caffeine, Confidence and Careless Planning: A Personal Guide to Revision

Advice on how to get the most out of your revision, from information on visual aids to what foods you should be eating, is available everywhere.   As someone who is prone to stress, I often feel overwhelmed with everything that I am told I “should” be doing whilst revising.  After years of trial and error, I have found a few things that really work for me:

1.       Mathematics can be intense and overwhelming so I find it incredibly useful to take a few hours to remind myself why I’m doing the degree.  If I’m finding a module particularly wearing I’ll find an article, book or video loosely based on the subject to spark my interest again.  For example, after reading through my probability notes for a few hours yesterday and very almost losing the will to live, I decided to watch a video by Vsauce about the maths behind shuffling a deck of cards (which, by the way, is mind blowing).

2.       Finding a suitable place to revise was actually a bit issue for me.  At home I get too easily distracted but I can’t deal with the silence in the library.  Coffee shops were my saviour.   When I’m struggling to revise, I walk to a local coffee shop, order myself a drink and set out all my revision on a little table.  I enjoy working within a lightly bustling area; I can concentrate well but also when I need a break I can get some fresh air and take a stroll.  Obviously, the big upside to working in a café is the possibility of a constant supply of caffeine which is extremely alluring. 

3.       One major issue I used to have whilst studying for exams was confidence.  I would always compare my work and results to my friends’ and subsequently be far too hard on myself.  During exam season, I find it useful to remember that people work at different paces and revise in diverse ways.  It is for this reason I tend to steer clear of ‘group revision’ as I know I am more comfortable going through things at my own speed.

4.       Finally, I find it most useful to be ridiculously organised during exam season.  Revision timetables are my strength, however I must remind myself to be realistic.  If I had followed the first timetable I had made for myself this year I’d be clocking a solid ten hours of revision a day, and subsequently, probably would have died after about a week.  Setting myself unattainable goals is a bad habit; I am never going to be doing ten hours a day and that is completely fine.  I find it important to set myself reachable goals at the end of each week and if I was unable to finish everything one week I go back and assess what the issues are. 

There is roughly twenty-two days, one hour and 35 minutes until my first exam.  I am soon to be completely submerged in scrap notes, past papers and post-it notes.  My hands are decorated with black ink smudges.  I am simultaneously completely exhausted and also experiencing a caffeine-induced spark of motivation.  My brain seems to be completely incapable of completing any tasks that aren’t maths related; for instance, after making a cup of tea, I proceeded to put the milk in the cupboard, tea bags in the fridge and spoon in the bin. 

Revision sucks.  There is no point in sugar coating it.  However now that I have found my own little preferences, it sucks just a little bit less.

A Delicious Slice of Pie. Wait – I Meant π!

Happy belated π day! To start up, here are some amazing facts about and around π that you definitely need to know RIGHT NOW:

  • Chinese man Chao Lu memorised 67,890 digits of π in 2005. Seems like somebody’s got so much time in life!
  • Calculating π is used as a stress test in computers – I’d say it’s a stress test for all beings in the world don’t you agree with me?
  • “Wolf in the Fold”, the Star Trek episode, Spock spoils the evil computer by commanding it to, compute the last digit of π value. The geekiest way to defeat a bot.
  • π is defined as the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter.
  • You can type π (like me!) in a Macintosh simply by pressing the alt button simultaneously (yes, simultaneously because…maths.) with p. Now let the πππππ roll in!
  • π is considered to be the most significant and intriguing constant, as mentioned by numerous scholars.

However, why do we even care about the existence of pi, then? In simple words, not everything in this world, both stationary or moving, are geometrically straight. Any form of curvature, to be measured more accurately, needs this irrational number π. Even if we are unable to get the true value of anything that is related to π as it is an irrational number, we are able to get the closest value and calculation of things almost perfectly despite this inexact constant.

I personally found Archimedes’ way of calculating π as the most interesting of them all as it invokes to me so many thoughts. He calculated π but drawing a hexagon inside of a unit circle, and calculated the ratio of the perimeter of the hexagon to the diameter of the unit circle. Then, he did this until he got up to 96 sides – meaning that the number of sides for the polygons he used were the numbers in the sequence an= 2an-1 where a0 is 6, and 0 ≤ n ≤ ∞. This makes me think – is a circle really a shape with no sides, or perhaps a shape with infinite number of sides?

π is delicious useful in our daily lives even though it may seem totally irrelevant in such a capitalistic society. Nevertheless, underestimate not the power of such a simple constant and the beauty it brings to the world! Once again, have a belated happy pie π day everyone! *stomach grumbles*

Women and Space

“Science” is the term encompassing the study of our natural and physical world; its structures and behaviours.  A “scientist” is an intellectual with expert knowledge of a particular branch of science.  From the intense study of the human body we gain knowledge of disease and are then able to construct medicines.  By observing the nature of the stars in the sky we are able to assemble a broader perception of the universe in which we live.   Science is the foundation of our society; the knowledge, health, sources of entertainment and standard of living we have today has been built upon centuries of scientific study and discovery.  It is for this reason, I find it incredibly perplexing that science and scientists have not been immune to discrimination.   

In school, we discuss Newton, Einstein and Pythagoras.  At university, I have considered Fermat, Euler and Euclid.  With this education, it wouldn’t be outrageous to believe that female scientists accomplished very little.  However, this is definitely not the case.  The list of influential women within science is, actually, a rather extensive one; but I would like to focus on one in particular. 

Katherine Johnson, an African American physicist and mathematician, made substantial contributions to the US’ aeronautics and space programmes at NASA in the 1950s and 60s.  From a young age, Katherine was a gifted mathematician with a passion to succeed.  Her early career consisted of teaching jobs; as work within mathematics for an African American woman were few and far between.  In 1953, Katherine was offered a job at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, which she accepted and so started her career within the early NASA team. 

For five years, Katherine worked in an office labelled “Coloured Computers”.   The women who worked within that office were required to do all of their daily activities completely segregated from the white men.  Regardless of how important their work was, these women were unable to put their names on reports they had contributed to.  Katherine herself said that women needed to be “assertive and aggressive” in order to be recognised; which, she was.

When NASA disbanded the “computing pool” in 1958, Katherine worked as an Aerospace Technologist until her retirement.  A women, who was once unable to use the same bathroom as her scientist colleagues, was now a vital part of an important team.  She calculated the trajectory for the first American man in space, she calculated the launch window for the 1961 Mercury Mission, she plotted back up navigational charts and was asked personally to verify the numbers for John Glen’s orbit around the Earth.  Katherine helped calculate trajectories for the 1969 Apollo mission; as well as helping to establish confidence in new technologies with her work with digital computers.

Katherine Johnson is just one example of many under-appreciated women working in NASA at the time; and is just one of thousands of under-appreciated women contributors to science.  Despite increasing rates of women studying mathematics and science at universities; the percentage of women within STEM careers is still extremely low.  It is vital to celebrate and learn about women who were not only major contributors to science; but had to overcome all kinds of social barriers to do so.  

A Personal View of Mathematics

Mathematics is a scientific language whose nature is theorised by people like us to produce a system made from mathematical elements that act as useful items that describe everyday objects that bring the idea of this language to reality. Many of its components are correlated to the universe and can explain its constituents, such as the idea of finite quantities, and some that cannot be fully understood, such as the idea of infinity. It is, I believe, independent of human logic and intuition, but through them it is defined and further developed into enterprises that may be beneficial in helping us to understand the universe.

Findings that arise from mathematical elements may sometimes be judged as invalid if proof is absent (as one of my lecturers said!), but majority of them have in fact displayed validity and illustrate more thoroughly the universe, such as transverse waves having similar shape as the sine or cosine graph, potential wells of planets similar to the function of x2, and even projectile motions. Equations created as a consequence of mathematical notations and numbers have even made researches easier, for example, the equation found in chi-square tests and the equation of the normal distribution graph in order to find to find approximate probabilities of large-sized populations. Some other simpler instances include Fibonacci’s rabbits, parabolic movement of a basketball shoot, snowflakes having six-fold radial symmetry, and numerous more. Imagine what else we can find if we continue to immerse ourselves in the world of maths and further develop it – who knows you might be the Nobel Prize winner one day!

Mathematics grants us access to universal truth despite its man-made essence because of its theories being backed by powerful evidence that is so persuading that minor contradictions may be abandoned. Mathematics is indeed a scientific language that plays a significant role not only in sciences and businesses and other developing areas of study, but also in other aspects of our lives.

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