What is Essay: Definition and 215 Discussions

An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a letter, a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story. Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal. Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.
In some countries (e.g., the United States and Canada), essays have become a major part of formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills; admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants, and in the humanities and social sciences essays are often used as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams.
The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing. A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea. A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.

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  1. gmax137

    The Maniac, by Benjamin Labatut

    Has anyone here read this https://www.amazon.com/MANIAC-Benjamin-Labatut/dp/0593654471?tag=pfamazon01-20 It is a strange book, seemingly about Johnny von Neumann. Each chapter appears to be a short essay written by von Neumann's colleages and wives. Feynman, Morgenstern, ... As I read this I...
  2. thematrix1101

    Admissions Comments on PhD Statement of Purpose

    Hey guys it would be great if you could take a look at my statement of purpose for a physics PhD program included below. The "Future Work" section at the end is where I talked about the specific program and faculties and how it will be a great fit for me. Any comments, criticism, advice is...
  3. J

    Extended Essay Research question help (first year IB student)

    Hi guys, I am a first year IB student and I need to give hand in my research question for the extended essay today, the only thing is that I don't really know what I could do it on. The extended essay is basically a 4000 word research project. I was going to do it on photoelasticity, but when I...
  4. nononeone

    Exploring Einstein's Equations: A Journey Through Time

    As a child I have always wondered, as I used to watch a lots of sci-fi cartoons, if it's ever possible to time-travel. It has always been like a fairy tales to me until a friend of mine passed a magazine to me. It was Einstein's 100th birthday, and the headline of the weekly science magazine was...
  5. jtbell

    With ChatGPT, is the college essay dead?

    This article reminded me of the current Fun with ChatGPT thread in General Discussion: The College Essay Is Dead (The Atlantic) My wife (a retired professor of German language and literature) commented that students will have to be forced to write their essays in the classroom, after having...
  6. SaintRodriguez

    Please help me pick a topic for an essay about classical mechanics

    I was wondering if someone can telling me a topic about classical mechanics which I can write an essay. First I thought to write about Legendre transformation, but I guess that is very general. Also, if someone can tell me some tips to write an scientific essay I'll be so glad.
  7. A

    Essay on Life without Mobile phones today

    Could this be a good essay for school or college children to write a essay on "Life without Mobile phones today" as the essay title? The Mobile phones (Wireless technology) has impacted our lives and its hard for us where once upon a time we were using land line phones (wired technology) and...
  8. N

    What Are Some Possible Topics for an IB Physics Extended Essay?

    These are a few topics I had shortlisted, please advise if anyone of them is EE worthy: - To what extent does the rotational velocity of a ping-pong ball affect its horizontal travel distance? -How is the drop time of a parachute affected by variables such as mass, canopy area, size of apex...
  9. U

    B Help with IB Extended Essay Physics Experiment Ideas

    I'm having trouble coming up with a experiment to investigate for my IB Extended Essay as well as formulating my research question. Does anyone have any recommendations on similar (in terms of classical physics & abundance of background theory) physics experiments that can be done?
  10. E

    Extended Essay IB - Quantum Physics Oriented

    Summary:: - IB Extended Essay - Physics - Quantum Mechanics and Electricity/ Electrical Components I've been asked to pick a topic for my IB Extended Essay. Basically the extended essay is a piece of independent research done during the course of IB. It's meant to be 4000 words and you have to...
  11. SoulOfSword_

    Astrophysics/Astronomy Extended Essay -- Trying to figure out a research topic

    Homework Statement: Ideas for astrophysics EE Homework Equations: Extended essay Hi Guys! I'm trying to figure out a research topic in astrophysics/astronomy for my IB extended essay. I don't really know what to do, do any of you any ideas, maybe even off the top of your heads? It needs to...
  12. K

    B IB Physics Extended Essay - Quantum Levitation

    I've decided to focus my essay on quantum locking: including superconductors (YBCO), the Meissner Effect. I have access to the materials needed to experiment with this topic (materials from quantumlevitation.com). Could anyone help me formulate an appropriate research question for my Extended...
  13. K

    B I formulating a research question for my Extended Essay

    Hello, I am a student in the IB Diploma course. I've decided to focus my essay on quantum locking: including superconductors (YBCO), the Meissner Effect. I have access to the materials needed to experiment with this topic (materials from quantumlevitation.com). Could anyone help me formulate an...
  14. A

    Astronomy Physics Extended Essay

    Hi, I was told today that I will be starting my EE (an EE stands for Extended Essay, where we have to write 4000 words research paper where you analyse data, do experiments etc... for a particular topic of your choice) One of my main areas of interest in physics is astronomy and I would like to...
  15. V

    B Physics Extended Essay Research Question

    So we need to decide our research question for the Extended Essay. The extended essay is basically a 4000-word in-depth research on atopic. I chose physics as my subject and I want to something in classical mechanics. can someone please suggest a topic ASAP. P.s. even though its a high school...
  16. Z

    Programs Internship essay for CERN -- Please help

    So I'm applying to the REU through university of Michigan to attend CERN this summer. This is like my DREAM to be at CERN. i just finished writing my essay and I want as much feedback as possible, i really want to get this internship. Please write a single paragraph describing why you would...
  17. V

    B IB Extended Essay in Astrophysics

    Hi everyone! I am currently in desperate need of help in choosing an appropriate topic for an extended essay in HL physics. (If you didn't know, an extended essay is a 4000 research paper where you analyze data, do experiments etc... for a particular topic of your choice) I am really interested...
  18. Lacana

    What are some general essay writing tips?

    What tips should I follow to write a perfect essay?
  19. FallenApple

    What is the Relativity of Wrong?

    I read the essay. It's a very interesting account of scientific progress. What type of scientific paradigm is this? It seems to have a very close feel to Bayesian Epistemology and/or Inference Quote from Wiki https://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm
  20. Philip Dhingra

    I Feedback Requested: Special Relativity Simplified by Phil

    I took a stab at simplifying Special Relativity, but I want to be 100% sure I'm not butchering physics in the process. Anybody care to weigh in on that? Here is a draft of my Medium article: https://medium.com/@philipkd/special-relativity-explained-with-a-deck-of-cards-f99bfd873bd5 Thanks, - Phil
  21. manu101

    Physics EE (Extended Essay) on Bicycle Stability

    Hello! I'm new to the Physics forums so I'm not too sure if this is the right place. But hopefully it is :) Anyway, I'm currently an IB student studying Physics at higher level and decided that I was going to do my EE (extended essay), which is about 4000 words, on physics. Since I really...
  22. A

    Other Previous Research experience and contribution essay

    I'm trying to write an 1800 character (including spaces) essay that describes my previous research experience and contribution. I'm using a GRF previous research experience document as a guide line but I think it's impossible to include all of that into 1800 characters. I have provided a link...
  23. Dadface

    Essay Writing Services: Is It Cheating?

    A few minutes ago I was searching for details of a particular experiment and google came up with a list of companies offering essay writing services. I had a quick glance at one of them and they seemed to offer a whole range of services going from writing up high school projects to writing up...
  24. E

    Advice on deciding my topic for the Extended Essay

    Hello everyone I hope I am writing in the right place, it is my first time posting on this forum. I am a student at an international school doing the IB education system. As like many of the past posts here, I am extremely stressed about my physics Extended Essay (Basically a 4000 word essay...
  25. C

    Other Physics EE (Extended Essay) Advice: Conservation of momentum

    I am not sure if I am at the right place and I hope that I am... For my EE I want to do an investigation on something related to pool table and games so it will definitely be related to momentum. And one of the common techniques in pool games is that the player aims the ball on the rail of the...
  26. K

    IB Extended Essay Ideas (viscosity)?

    I'm starting the extended essay and have decided to explore more on finding the viscosity of Newtonian liquids. However I was told by my supervisor that this topic is too broad, and that I should come up with a more specific topic/research question— one that possibly relates to a real life...
  27. G

    Safety Essay on Fault Tree Analysis

    Hi All, would someone (hopefully a professional), who has used Fault Tree Analysis read my essay and give me some pointers for improvement? I'd really appreciate if someone could help, especially since this is the only essay I've written in recent years.
  28. D

    Little Rant... about essay writing

    So I recently checked online to find out I got a 69% I thought I had a passing grade on because I feel like I put a fair amount of work into it and also went to a tutor for it. My teacher tries to be hard and warns us to write using correct MLA format in our class or else she wouldn't read it...
  29. astro_chara

    Exploring the Fifth Force: A Promising Frontier in Physics?

    I have to write an essay on a current scientific idea or concept that is still considered emerging or experimental. Does anyone have any ideas as to what topic I should write? I'm looking for more physics-related topics, and I've considered writing about the "fifth force," though I'm not sure...
  30. S

    Interesting essay on Science in the Age of Selfies

    Hi everyone. I wanted to post this interesting essay by Donald and Stuart Geman on Science in the Age of Selfies. http://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~aldous/Blog/PNAS-2016-Geman.pdf The essay raises some interesting questions on the scientific enterprise in the age of online communication and great...
  31. S

    Inter-Religious Dialoguing: Exploring Jesus' Teaching on Turning the Other Cheek

    This has nothing to do with physics I know, but this is gen discussion so ok right? I have to write essay on inter-religious dialoguing but want to use Jesus teaching on "turning the other cheek" in this same essay. Is there any creative way that these two themes can go together in the same...
  32. A

    Admissions Can you guys who got admitted post their "Why <univ>" essays

    Hello PhysicsForum Community, I know the questions seems to be weird but can you guys who have been admitted to MiT,STanford,etc,care to upload their "Why I" or "Why this ,<univ> is for me" essay" (if guys have a copy with you) because country I...
  33. Zero-shift

    Are Equations allowed in a Physics ESSAY?

    Say I'm asked to write a 1-2 page essay on Nanotech. Will adding equations improve my chances of better marks or cripple it?
  34. fresh_42

    I The geometry of manifolds .... (an essay by R.O.Wells Jr.)

    I have found this paper on the internet and think it might be interesting for some on this forum because there are frequently questions similar to the ones the paper tries to answer. http://arxiv.org/abs/1605.00890 http://arxiv.org/pdf/1605.00890v1.pdf
  35. P

    Exploring Microwave Oven Geometry for My IB Extended Essay in Physics

    Hi everyone, I hope this is the correct place to post this thread. So, I'm in a school that takes part in the IB diploma which is basically an internationally recognized diploma that let's students have a wide range of possible universities when they leave high school. One of the requirements...
  36. K

    Schools Physics Extended Essay Topics (Electricity/Circuits/etc.)

    I am an IB student and I want to write a 4000 word paper on Physics. I want to incorporate circuits into the paper with the foundation of my topic discussing electric fields/electric force/anything of this sort. I need advice on what kinds of topics can be suitable to write 4000 words on. I am...
  37. E

    What topic does my Extended Essay idea go under?

    Homework Statement I'm currently trying to decide on a topic for my IB Extended Essay, which is essentially an essay that I'll be doing research for and working on for the next 8 months. Right now, I'm really fascinated by the idea of doing an extended essay on the topic of prosthetics or...
  38. E

    Engineer hopeful- Does my IB Extended Essay topic matter?

    Homework Statement I'm currently trying to decide on a topic for my IB Extended Essay, which is essentially just a long-term essay I'll be working on for the next 8 months or so. The topic of the essay is limited to IB courses I've taken so far, in addition to a few other types of topics that...
  39. TheMathNoob

    Help with literature essay about the film Thelma and Louise

    Prompt 3. How do you read the final scene of Thelma and Louise? Is it a fitting conclusion to the film? Does it shed new light on meanings of the road? The main topic in the course is road narratives. I need feedback for my essay. It's just a 3 page essay. I need also new ideas to finish my paper.
  40. W

    Yet another read-my-REU-essay-please thread

    Hi guys! Like the title says, I'm applying for 10 astrophysics-related REUs, and I'm a frosh, so I have few other people to ask for guidance. Please let me know if this is a good baseline to add to. Thank you all in advance!Sitting in the middle of an abandoned lab, late on a Friday night, head...
  41. X

    Schools Critique old College Essay of Mine

    " The driving force for human ingenuity has always been the sciences. Because of the large and diverse nature of our world there cannot just be one science. Many different fields of the science exist and they are all radically different from each other. When one wants to become a scientist...
  42. ujjwal3097

    What should i write in this essay prompt ?

    Hi everyone I am applying to University of Michigan. There is prompt in the application that is giving me some hard time so I need some suggestion from anyone who is willing to help me. Essay prompt : Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things)...
  43. N

    Help with Physics Extended Essay

    Well, I'm just finishing my first year with the IB program and we're starting our extended essay (a 4000 words investigation). I am posting here because i need help with the topic (I've chosen to do a Physics EE). So far I've came up with windmills and to determine factors that affect its...
  44. ujjwal3097

    Schools Is it Okay to Write Broadly About Future Goals for a College Physics Essay?

    hi i am applying to Georgia tech and there a question that asking about what you want to do in future . so i am writing that i will get physics degree then for advance study i will enroll in grad school and after my phd i would like to work as a scientist in NASA astronomy department . what I...
  45. S

    [IB] Physics Extended Essay

    Sorry I didn't post this using the template :c, since this is not a Physics problem to solve. Hello everyone, I hope this is the right section to ask this.. I am in a program called International Baccalaureate and I need to write a 4000 word essay on Physics. My investigation is related to 2D...
  46. I

    I need an essay question about sports aerodynamics

    I have a physics essay coming up with the subject of the effect of aerodynamics on projectiles in sports. Does anyone have a good question for it? Thanks!
  47. I

    Writing an essay for summer research as an undergraduate

    I'm a second year physics undergrad getting ready to apply for a summer research program at my school. These positions are very competitive so I'd like to ask for some advice. The main component of the application is a 500 word essay stating why I want to participate in the program and what I...
  48. U

    Ib extended essay about magnetic repulsion (maglev trains)

    I have been trying to come up with a good question for my Ib extended essay which is a 4000 words essay about any physics topic of my choice. However, with this topic I need to come up with an experiment to further investigate this topic and write up an analysis and conclusion. I am really...
  49. R

    Argument Essay Topic Ideas: AI Research

    Hello all! My class is doing a an argument essay that requires students to choose a topic that is specific and has two sides. My problem is that I can't seem to find a topic that fits this criteria. I was hoping to find a topic in technology. One topic I really wanted to research was artificial...