Friday, March 28, 2014

A Process Completed

Over the past few months a majority of my time was dedicated to the college application process. I've received all my decisions, and wanted to share the essay that I sent to the University of Chicago. I picked a "choose your own prompt" and had fun with it.

When you drop a pencil, where does it go?
You drop your pencil. You go to pick it up and you realize you cannot see it. You look around for a bit, maybe it rolled somewhere. It’s still missing. A more intensive search still proves futile. The pencil has disappeared.
There are a number of theories on the issue ranging from the pencil rolling out of sight to unscrupulous people seeing the opportunity to take the dear possession. These theories however, rely on one common assumption: that pencils work just as any “normal” object would be expected to. I however, have a different opinion. Though it may seem highly unlikely, even paradoxical, pencils do not follow laws of physics. Similar to subatomic particles, whose behavior is governed by quantum mechanics, pencils have been known to follow the set of rules known as pencil mechanics.
My research has led me to summarize the four Mazorian principles of pencil mechanics as follows:
I. Non-conservation of pencils: The number of pencils picked up during any given time span will always be less than the number of pencils dropped.
II. Inverse usefulness relationship: The likelihood of a pencil falling is inversely proportional to the usefulness of that pencil. A pencil with an eraser is more likely to fall than a pencil without one. Conversely, a pencil with a broken tip or a mechanical pencil without lead has never been observed to fall.
III. The law of multiple searchers: If, while searching for a pencil, a second searcher begins helping, they will find it where the first searcher has already looked. Observations suggest that this may be intrinsic of all household items, and is not exclusive to pencils.
IV. The law of irretrievability: The only situation in which a pencil is more difficult to retrieve than by dropping it, is by letting someone borrow it.
Pencil mechanics is not without dissenters. There is a group dedicated solely to the purpose of the destruction of the theory. I received a strongly worded letter claiming that the results of pencil mechanics are “unfounded, lack an underlying explanation as to why pencils behave differently, do not explain where the pencils disappear to,” and “are entirely ridiculous.” I responded merely by noting that the letter was written half in pencil, half in pen.
Pencil mechanics is a relatively new field, and there are many questions that have yet to be answered. For example, further research must be done to determine how pencils change while taking a test. Also, it’s still unknown as to whether pens are subject to pencil mechanics or not. More funding is required to continue research, because our equipment keeps getting lost.


  1. I have read this essay at least a half dozen times now and it just keeps getting better. This is a great essay Jacob.

  2. I loved it, and hope it gets read by many a test-takers. Without fundamental understanding of principals of Pencil Mechanics, all standardized test takers are undermining their effort.
    Further aspects that would be interesting to research are whether presence of a sharpener affects behavior of a pencil before and after it get dropped, or if an eraser is present that is not attached to a pencil, would that affect the pencils behavior once dropped. Could you imagine winding up with a sharpener, and an eraser, but NO pencil during a standardized test????

  3. This is very much a work in progress whenever I find out about one who is more beautiful than any of these I will write my essay add her and kick out number ten Thanks for sharing the informative post.