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It’s 7 pm on a Sunday night, and I still have AP Physics homework to do.

So, what am I

doing that’s so important? I could be texting friends, or watching YouTube videos, or even

Googling “college essay tips.” Actually, I am watching YouTube. It’s a video about black holes

and how they form. Something about them has always captivated me, they are so mysterious and

powerful. I imagined them as invisible monsters roaming the universe and eating helpless planets

and stars.

As a child I loved playing “the why game.” I constantly asked questions about how and

why things are as they are. Of course, I wouldn’t always get an answer. My grandma isn’t a

biologist who knows why birds lay eggs, and my uncle isn’t a geologist who knows how

volcanoes erupt. Eventually I found science, which was perfect. It turns out there is a proper

method to ask questions and find the answers. I would devour every piece of scientific

knowledge I could find like scraps of food.

I look at my clock and suddenly it’s 9 pm. Somehow two hours of my life just

disappeared. I’m also not sure how I got to a video about colonizing Mars when I was just

watching one about black holes. I turn off my laptop and get to work. I have problems about

projectile motion to solve. While physics calculations can be tedious, I find them interesting and

even fun. It’s like a puzzle in that I must use the limited information available to find what I

don’t know. As I progress, my mind wanders back to the videos I was watching earlier. I think of

the thing that black holes and falling projectiles have in common: gravity.

I know that gravity was first described mathematically by Sir Isaac Newton. He stated

that every object is attracted to every other object through a force directly related to their masses

and inversely related to their distance squared. As I think, it occurs to me how profound this

must have been for people hundreds of years ago. Newton showed that the force that makes
apples fall from trees is the same force that dictates the movement of the heavens. Moreover, this

force can be expressed by a single mathematical equation. It is amazing and powerful that the

motions of the planets can be described by such a simple rule.

I sit in my chair contemplating my thoughts. Not only did the knowledge of gravity

change our world, but it allowed us to step onto other worlds. However, I also know that

Newton’s law of gravitation isn’t the end of the story. It was Albert Einstein who showed that

gravity actually isn’t a force. Rather, mass curves space-time and this curvature dictates the path

an object follows. His theory of general relativity made many predictions, including objects that

deform space so much that all possible directions point inside. This means nothing, not even

light, can escape their gravitational pull. A black hole.

With that my thoughts this night come full circle. I find it amazing that even though we

know so much about the universe, there is still so much mystery. Even gravity is not fully

understood. It is the only fundamental force not described by quantum mechanics. Like most

people, I have troubles understanding quantum mechanics and have no idea how it could be

united with general relativity. Yet, this is what I find fun about science. The answers are not just

given to us, they must be pried from the universe using our best tools available: logic, reason,

mathematics, and science. I know it’s improbable that I will ever understand the universe

completely. However, I think that if I’m going to bother to dream, then I should dream big. I

have to start somewhere though, so I clear my head and focus on finishing homework.