Posts Tagged ‘finals’

Spectrum | Dec. 18 5:21 pm EST
let's talk about science

What Planck can teach us about uncertainty during finals

frogthroat / flickr

In this new Spectrum series, readers submit their thoughts about things across the scientific spectrum (yes indeed) as they relate to Columbia students and faculty. In the first installment, a reader talks about how scientific discovery is often a matter of chance and uncertainty—and how you don’t have to be a genius to study the sciences. So if you’re cramming hard for that orgo final tomorrow, take hope from our old friend Planck. 

Dec. 14 this year marked the 113th anniversary of Max Planck’s lecture on energy quanta to the German Physical Society, an action that would spark a radical change in the world of physics, and kick off the quantum revolution.

It’s easy to imagine Planck, with his solemn mustachioed expression and conservative air of distinction, peering through his spectacles as he analyzes complex physical concepts, postulating clever hypotheses and orchestrating insightful experiments to validate them. The reality is probably more like what Columbia neurobiologist Stuart Firestein describes as “bumbling around in a dark room, bumping into things, trying to figure out what shape this might be, what that might be.”

Planck’s discovery resulted from his analysis of blackbody radiation—he had no intention of revolutionizing physics and was a firm believer in the principles of classical physics. Yet it was his discovery that energy was quantized that would completely rock the world of his discipline. Quantization meant that energy could only be gained or lost in multiples of quantity , where, ν represents frequency and h is a specific number now called Planck’s constant. Today this equation is known to describe the energy of a photon in terms of frequency, and it can be used to understand how light interacts with electrons in a molecule.

There was no well-designed plan ironed out to pave the way for a new theory of physics. There was no hypothesis in place that assumed the necessity of energy quantization. What Planck stumbled upon was radical, almost too radical—he was even reluctant to introduce it, and after doing so spent years looking for a way to connect it back to classical principles. The years that followed saw scientists such as Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schrödinger take Planck’s discovery and propel it forward, building upon it with new ideas that seemed to highlight a previously unrecognized characteristic of nature: uncertainty. More »


Spectrum | Dec. 13 4:07 pm EST

The puppies return!

File Photo

The finals therapy dogs will be back tomorrow, Saturday, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the John Jay and Furnald lounges. Bring a friend, have some cider, make crafts, and play with some super-cute dogs!

Can’t wait until tomorrow to see puppies? Check out adorable photos from last year’s event!




Opinion | Dec. 9 9:02 pm EST
the quick and dirty

Stop, breathe, read. Here’s how

tumblr/ thegoodlifeoncampus

Quick and Dirty is an occasional series in which we ask our regular Opinion contributors their thoughts on a particular topic. This week, we asked them to share their thoughts on reading week – that twilight period between the end of classes and the beginning of finals where most Columbians are overworked, overcaffeinated and under-rested. 

Ben Rashkovich, Canon contributor:  I’ve had a tradition, once I’m done or nearly done but with lots of free time, of going into Butler with a friend and watching Netflix or just eating while everyone else studies. Last semester I brought an entire homemade cherry pie and a quart of milk and watched Breaking Bad until like 6 a.m. with my roommate.

Orli Matlow, Blogger:

To the tune of 12 Days of Christmas:

On the last day of classes my true love gave to me:
12 to 15 page paper
11 hours in Butler
10 days till freedom
9 dollars worth of coffee
8th season of Always Sunny unfortunately just released on Netflix
7 courses this semester
6 Luna Bar meals
5 final papers
4 calls from my Mom I had to ignore because I was in the library
3 books I forgot to read
2 in-class exams
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Spectrum | Dec. 9 1:11 am EST
the one eleven

Stay happy, stay healthy

Daniela Quintanilla / Spec

It’s late. You’re up.

You’re probably going to be up for a while. It’s finals season, after all – final papers and exams and problem sets all lined up ready to take aim.

But don’t let it get to you. Don’t let stress absorb you. Don’t let it bleed into your relationships – the most important part of your life.

Here are some friendly reminders of what is good, healthy, and beautiful about life:

1. Snow! It snowed today!

everyonelovespokemon / tumblr

And unless you endured the two EC fire drills today, the snow is pretty from where you are cozy and warm – Butler or not.

More »


Spectrum | Dec. 8 1:28 pm EST

Spectrum’s got jokes

Illustration by Darializa Avila-Chevalier

It’s a tough time of year. Papers, exams, emotional transfers of power. But put the coffee, mobile Facebook (because you blocked it on your computer), and Thai take-out away for a minute.

Laughter is the best medicine.

louie-delly / tumblr

Sit back, relax, and get ready to groan at (but secretly enjoy) these fun puns and jokes:

Why wouldn’t the shrimp share his treasure?

rexan / tumblr

He was a little shellfish.

More »


Spectrum | May. 14 1:11 am EST
One eleven


It’s late. You’re up. You may have noticed the moving and poignant nature of some posts now that the semester is winding down. This will not be one of those posts, because idk emotions wut? I DO know, however, that I should have devoted more time to writing things I need to write, and reading things I need to read, but instead, these are some articles I have read and videos I have watched. Enjoy!

Wooo academic journals!

More »


A&E | May. 12 2:00 pm EST
Unrested Development

Countdown to ‘Arrested Development’ and the end of finals…in GIF form

Today marks the two-week countdown to the Netflix premiere of Season 4 of “Arrested Development,” the FOX comedy that was sadly canceled before its heyday. The built-up excitement coincides with the rough patch of finals we’re about to enter (or have already entered … rough for us Lit Hum students).

With 14 days until we can binge-watch all the “AD” our hearts desire, here are 14 truths of finals period — in “Arrested Development” GIF form, no less.

What my parents think (and hope) when I tell them I’m going to the library:

throughthefearandfire / tumblr

More »


Spectrum | May. 11 12:13 am EST
make-up artists

The only time students will ever write a petition to take a test

After learning today that a Literature Humanities instructor gave strong hints as to where the final exam’s passage IDs could be found—and, as a consequence, that section would not be graded—first-years have started a petition to retake part of the exam. So far, 61 have signed.

They’ve pointed to a nearly-identical incident from 2007, when the Center for the Core Curriculum gave the class of 2010 the option of retaking the final. Read the text of the petition after the jump, or sign here.

More »


Spectrum | May. 9 9:13 am EST
Wake-Up Call

Brace yourself…


Finals are coming… It’s day three and the last day of reading week. I hope everyone is surviving this horrible week and is feeling prepared for exams. If you need a study break, Orgo Night is being held in Butler 209 by our funny (YMMV) and controversial CUMB, so come on by for some laughs, some boos, and a much needed rest from studying.

Listen to this: This is the soundtrack to my week.

Know this: You don’t ever need to leave your room for food. Here’s a place where you can order food online and have it delivered to your room.

Here’s more: Finally an app like SelfControl for us PC users: Cold Turkey.



Spectrum | May. 6 1:11 am EST
the one eleven

The little-known origins of famous events

It’s late. You’re up. And you’re wondering, why am I on Spectrum at 1:11 at night when I should be studying for tests, or, better yet, sleeping? Well, it’s obviously because I’m an amazing writer. Obviously.

Anyways, what I wanted to talk about tonight is about those events that happen around this time of year that you or I don’t know that much about the actual history.

Cinco de Mayo

While those of you of Mexican descent, or Hispanophiles (not sure if a word), might know about the history of this celebration, many of us (or just me) have no idea about this party. I always thought it was something in between the 4th of July, Halloween, and President’s Day.

The day commemorates an important victory in Mexican history in 1862, when an invading force of the French were looking to have some sort of tributary government in the Americas. Obviously, they would have none of that, and the victory became something comparable to the Alamo, besides the fact that they won.

Battle of Puebla

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It is comparable to the Alamo in the sense that, while pro-freedom Mexicans won this battle, it was mainly symbolic, as the French would go on to take over Mexico City and instate a puppet Emperor for the next three years. After which, from some pressure from the newly unified States of America, France left Mexico.

More »