Revision was tough, with days on end when I didn’t leave my pyjamas, but holed up with a pile of textbooks and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I felt guilty watching television, would not leave the house without some notes and became the most antisocial and annoying teenager I could ever wish on a parent. Often I wondered, if it was worth it; the stress, strops and sleepless nights. Then, I thought about Murray Edwards. Any psychologist will tell you that motivation is a vital driving force, and the Offer Holders’ Overnight stay in March gave me that incentive to work my socks off. In the 1960’s, Mischel carried out an experiment where children were told they could have one marshmallow there and then, or wait fifteen minutes and get two. The offer from Murray Edwards drove me to put in that extra mile to get the grades. At the end of the day I waited for that marshmallow that is my chance to study at Cambridge.
So, now having finished school, I am awaiting results. I can honestly say to myself that I couldn’t have worked any harder to get to Murray Edwards and although having an ‘Internal Locus of Control’, believing my actions determine all my outcomes, I do now think that fate will decide. I am very worried to get excited about September just in case the ‘what-if’ happens. However, there is so much to look forward to from rowing to garden parties, it is truly impossible to simply forget about it until August. So against all advice, I will go university shopping, I will get a bicycle, and I can’t wait! …continue reading…
Last month, I read a letter in The Psychologist:
“Professor Alec Rodger . . . at Birkbeck, underlined that in developing a career there were at least two opposing strategies . . . to match an individual’s inclinations and abilities with external circumstances and opportunities. For some, a headlong target-oriented approach was appropriate in developing one’s career; while for others . . . . both external fortune and internal inclination better prescribed a procrastinatory (though agile at the right moment) strategy.” (Mallory Wober, May 2014)
The author, a social psychology researcher at my school some 45 years ago, encouraged my nascent interest in psychology, albeit with a formidable reading list.
In 1969, New Hall (now Murray Edwards) gave me a great escape from school.
The expected Oxbridge route was an extra term at school after A Levels, preparing for scholarship exams, in a conventional subject (English Literature, for me). This was not what I wanted. I discovered New Hall and its extraordinary entrance process: one paper, three essays “for which you could not possibly prepare”. I applied to read Moral Sciences (Philosophy), hoping to read Experimental Psychology for Part 2. I wrote my essays with exhilaration. The interview day was one of wonder: appreciating the architecture, having a wide-ranging and challenging conversation with Miss Murray, and then meeting two women who seemed to me almost magical, in their different ways. One began, “I’m Susan Haack. I’m a logician. If P hook Q . . .”.. The other, Jenny Teichman, began, “Ah! You’re the one who wrote that essay . . . . Now argue against it”. I was filled with amazement that this place and these people were real, and that I might be able to make good my early escape from school and join them. …continue reading…
Are there infinitely many pairs of prime numbers that differ by just 2? (A number is prime if it is divisible only by 1 and itself. For example, 3 and 5 are prime numbers that differ by just 2, as are 11 and 13, and as are 107 and 109.)
No, me neither.
There are all sorts of reasons why it seems likely that there are infinitely many pairs of ‘twin primes’ (prime numbers that differ by just 2), but nobody can prove it. Yet.
One of the things that I love about maths is that such an apparently simple, elegant question can turn out to be so challenging. The ancient Greeks proved, more than two thousand years ago, that there are infinitely many prime numbers, via a beautiful argument. It may well be that they also wondered whether there are infinitely many of these pairs of twin primes, and many mathematicians have worked on this problem, but it turns out that it’s really rather difficult. It’s a very famous problem in maths, known as the Twin Primes Conjecture. (A conjecture is a statement that mathematicians think is true, but cannot yet prove. Gathering lots of evidence, perhaps with the help of a computer, just isn’t enough: we have lots of examples of twin primes, some of them involving very large prime numbers, but that’s not the same as a proof that there are infinitely many twin primes. After all, a computer might just have found the largest pair of twin primes!) …continue reading…
My name is Laura Imperatori and I studied the Natural Sciences Tripos at Cambridge University. Before I came here I was very interested in three questions: “Does a theory of everything exist?”, “How are we able to think logically and critically and seem to have a free will based upon physical and chemical processes in our brain?” and “How can we use our scientific knowledge to tackle climate change?”
Studying the Natural Sciences Tripos enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of how nature works, but only practical experience could help me to decide which one of these questions I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to. I found that the Gateway programme (in Murray Edwards) did not only help me in the organisation of my studies, but it also enabled me to gain research experience in different fields through the financial support of the Gateway Challenges Funding Award. I received an Award for summer activities in all three years of my undergraduate studies, which helped me make a well-founded decision about my third-year-courses as well as my Master’s degree. In my fourth year of the Natural Sciences Tripos, I will be able to advise the incoming students based on my own experiences.
Having spent a gap year working in the Dominican Environment Ministry, I have been interested in environmental issues especially during my first year, so I decided to participate in the “Cambridge Summer Programme on International Policy and Climate Change Risk Assessment”. However, since then through my involvement with the Cambridge University Physics Society and others I realised that I would like to work in basic research. In the following summer, I conducted a two-month-long internship combining my interest in Physics and in Neuroscience: I investigated the community structure of the C. elegans neural network at the Theory of Condensed Matter group of the Cavendish Laboratory. Based on this internship I realised that my interest in the more complex workings of the human brain outweighs my interest in what we can currently find out about the brain using Statistical Mechanics. As a result, I made the decision to study Half-Subject Physics with Experimental Psychology in my third year. …continue reading…
Hello! My name is Katie Kibbler and, as of last week, I am a teacher.
I have just passed my PGCE in Secondary English. I graduated from Murray Edwards this time last year and started the course at Homerton last September. It has been a really full-on year, packed with huge highs and some frankly embarrassing bloopers; so much has happened that I can’t believe it was only a year ago that I completed my undergrad degree.
The PGCE course at Cambridge synthesises school experience with university-based learning, so we were encouraged to apply educational research to our work in the classroom, and to test our own classroom experience against the theory learnt in the Faculty of Education. We completed four essays during the year, with the last being a big, dissertation-style research report.
This time last year, I never would have imagined that I’d be impersonating Alan Sugar to teach Media, smearing Year 8s with fake blood in the name of kinaesthetic learning, nor donning a moustache and learning how to stage a performance of Macbeth in a single afternoon.
The best thing by far about teaching is the vast range of brilliant people you come into contact with: you get to work with more than a hundred different people every day. I have seen some inspiring teaching and, as a result, some amazing learning; when a teacher is doing their job well, the atmosphere in the classroom can be so exciting. Young people are also just really, really funny. When my Year 10s came in and announced that they called me ‘Kibbles’, after a brand of dog-food, I knew I had really made it. …continue reading…