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Juan David's Newsletter - November 8, 2020
Teaching Myself Calculus, Winning Without Competing, and Rejecting a Nobel Prize.
A few weeks ago, I told you I needed to teach myself a calculus course so I can take the suggested engineering sequence on time, and graduate in four years or less.
I’ve been making consistent progress, and I should be done with it before December. Now, I’m thinking of teaching myself the next calculus course so I can know what will be covered during my class next semester.
Teaching yourself stuff isn’t easy but here are three factors that helped me:
1) Make Progress Every Day: either ten minutes or two hours. It’s all about momentum.
2) Schedule Your Study Time: life gets busy and if you don’t make time for it, you won’t get it done.
3) Ask For Help: I’m happy to know smart people that I can always ask for help when I don’t understand a topic. This reduces my study time and accelerates my learning.
I wish more people had the opportunity, and maybe even the courage to teach themselves calculus. Fewer people would hate it, and more people would see its beauty and art.
Regardless of your math knowledge, I recommend watching this YouTube series so you see what it might feel like to invent calculus.
This week’s essay came out of a conversation with my engineering T.A. where we talked about competition, what it means to win, and how to win without competing.
And, if for some reason, you enjoy the essay. I would love to hear from you!
Don’t forget to check out this week’s Curiosities 🐉👸🤮.
Winning Without Competing
If you prefer, read this essay on my website.
It’s become a routine when I finish the assignments, my engineering TA and I start talking about life, economics, psychology, and anything that comes our way. In our conversation, the topic of competition came up.
He tells me when he applied to colleges, he avoided the “famous” and “prestigious” places from the East Coast because of the overfocus on competition, and the lack of focus on what you’re genuinely curious about.
He says, “Students don’t do what they like or what they want to learn more about, rather they tend to do what they’re good at because the school, parents, friends, etc tell them to.”
As soon as he said that, sparks started happening in my head, and I was ready to share my response about the dangers of competition.
1. Mighty Dragons are Little Princesses
"Perhaps all the dragons in our life are princesses who are only waiting for us to be radiant with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything terrible is at bottomless helpless, waiting for our help."
2. Why We Shouldn’t Distrust the World
Another quote from Letters To A Young Poet! I recently reread it, and I realized how many powerful words there are in this book.
"We have no reason to distrust our world because it is not against us. If it contains frightful things, these frights are our frights, if it contains abysses, these abysses belong to us, if there are dangers we must try to love them."
3. Who Rejects a Nobel Prize?
Only a patriotic bold man.
I learned about a fellow Venezuelan who was one of the lead investigators of the Nasa Apollo Project and taught in many universities such as MIT and UChicago. He was the first person to use the concept of cryo-ultramicrotomy and contributed to the development of the electron microscope.
What stands out the most about Humberto Fernández-Morán is that he rejected a Nobel Prize because he was required to reject his Venezuelan nationality to acquire it.
4. A Year Since My First TEDx Talk
It’s been a year since I traveled to Colorado and gave my talk about inspiring the next generations to be more optimistic.
What’s funny about it was my experience before giving my talk where I threw up and was super dizzy. But somehow, I was able to get up there and just talk.
If you haven’t watched it yet, watch the talk HERE.
If you watched it already, read this short reflection I wrote after I gave the talk.
5. One Of My Favorite Towns
One of my favorite towns in the U.S. is probably where I gave this talk in Durango, Colorado.
The community, the people, the landscape, and almost everything about this town made it feel like home.
This was a picture I took with my coach, Tonya. She’s one of the smartest, kindest, and wisest people I’ve ever met. Meeting her was the highlight of giving this talk.
Many of the problems we face are technical problems that often are not conditioned to have a political viewpoint.
Ponder and think about these words to gain more objectivity and clear thinking as we intend to make progress and move forward as a society.
Until Next Week,
Juan David Campolargo