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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Math hermit

With the first term nearing its end, here's a little review of my second year so far.

That is the best way to describe how I spend most of my time now. With three math classes, I spend nine hours a week listening to math lectures. I have three assignments due each week, so I work on those in my time between school and work. Every second week until the middle of November, I went to a practice sessions for math competitions for an hour on Fridays. Even when I'm not doing my own math, I like to help other people with their math. I am living and breathing math.

AND IT'S FRELLING AWESOME.

For those who don't understand how someone can be so excited about math, the best way I can describe it is like being closer to God. I don't necessarily believe in God, but I imagine that what I feel when I'm exploring mathematical concepts is the same feeling pious people get when they do whatever it is pious people do to feel closer to God. And math truly is the language of the universe. If God does exist, in one form or another, then understanding math helps one understand the universe and, in a way, get closer to God and creation.

When I first started university, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up. I had this deep, dark fear that I'd fail to understand crucial concepts and I'd never be able to graduate in the math program. Fortunately, so far that isn't the case. I am learning, and it is a challenge--some of these concepts are really complicated! But I build on what I learned before, and that allows me to understand concepts that a year ago I would have been unable to grasp.

The more I learn, however, the more I'm able to comprehend just how much more there is I don't understand yet. I'm starting to get an idea of where my interests lie, however. I'm really enjoying ring theory--we'll see if my interest continues next term, when we learn group theory. Abstract algebra appeals to me because it focuses on the reason I love mathematics. Abstract algebra involves constructing and proving the fundamental aspects of math. It's the fundamentals of the fundamentals. I'm discovering that I love doing proofs.

I'm getting the sense that most of my peers don't have the same white-hot passionate love for math that I do. But that's fine. I'll show them. I'll show them all! Muwahahaha! Muwahaha--er ... right. Moving on.

When I tell people who know me that I want to teach high school, most of them react with scepticism. Apparently I walk around with the word "Professor" stamped on my forehead. Working for the first time with a new hire at the gallery, I made an allusion to Sisyphus, and my boss said, "Ben's our resident Einstein." And the new girl replied, "Yeah, I'm getting that vibe."

Apparently I give off a vibe now....

I have wanted to teach for as long as I can remember. As I got older, however, the age group I wanted to teach got older as well. So I can't deny that now that I'm in university, I'm starting to understand why I would want to teach at a university. My main reason for not wanting to become a professor is that I don't want to write math papers and do research into theories. I just wanted to do math. Now I'm realizing that I actually like doing proofs, and it's scary! :whoa:

Will I stick with my original desire to teach high school? Or will I fulfil everyone else's predictions? Tune in for the exciting conclusion over the next three years!

Either way, I'm going to be a math hermit for a very, very long time.