I finished the third week of my month long project to get a basic understanding of quantum physics.
I wanted to tackle this project for two reasons. First, because quantum mechanics always interested me. It’s part of the most successful scientific theory we’ve ever devised, yet it is also intuition-defying and confusing. To really understand it, I’d have to work hard on understanding the mathematics behind it.
The second reason for tackling this project was that I wanted to try out a shorter project completely livestreamed. Every minute I spend working on the project is done live, meaning there’s nothing omitted or edited out. Few people will watch even more than a small percentage of it, but I’m hoping this approach to doing projects makes them easier to document than projects I’ve done in the past.
What Happened This Week
This class has been harder than I expected. I knew it was going to be hard going into it, which was part of the reason I chose this project, but the difficulty was higher than I had expected.
I don’t think this is anything intrinsic to the class, but simply relative to my pre-existing knowledge. Going into this class, I was at a bit of a disadvantage because I hadn’t taken one of the prerequiste classes 8.03 – Vibrations and Waves, and the other five prerequisite classes I haven’t done in nearly eight years, meaning some relearning and brushing up was inevitable on top of learning new material.
This difficulty meant that my pre-planned schedule and timeframe may not be enough. This is common in self-directed learning projects. Sometimes a project will turn out to be easier than expected (learning Spanish in Spain) other times progress will come more slowly (learning Chinese).
Regardless of which way reality unfolds, however, I think keeping focused on an ambitious target is the best way to move forward. Even if your initial plan ends up being overly optimistic, you’ll still accomplish more with a challenging goal than by lowering your sights.
To compensate for the heightened difficulty, I decided to work a little more on the project this week, closer to the schedule I maintained in the earlier part of the MIT Challenge.
With my added time, I managed to finish a first pass on all the problem sets. Since I finished all the lectures the week before, this means I’ve covered all of the material now. With the remaining time I have, I’m going to try to focus on practicing the core technical skills, debugging my understanding of the concepts and drilling into memory a few of the key patterns I need to remember.
As I enter the final stretch, you can drop by to say hello as I livestream the rest of the project. Regardless of whether I meet my target or not at the end of the month, I’m going to keep studying hard!