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Physics Essay / Dissertation

  1. Jul 14, 2013 #1


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    Hello! I'm in need of some guidance concerning the topic of my essay.

    I've been tasked with writing an essay on physics as part of my IB Diploma requirements. The IB Diploma is meant to be a 4000 word essay exploring a narrow topic of my choice.

    I have been extremely interested in deterministic chaos theory, and am looking to perform experiments or simulations related to the field. I, however, cannot figure out exactly what to attempt to investigate. I have been looking at the Chua's Circuit for simulating the dynamics of the Lorenz System, and I naively suspect I will end up exploring the lyapunov exponent, relative sensitivity to initial conditions, and the time horizon of the Lorenz System. However, this would really accomplish nothing -- these fields are all extremely well understood. If anyone has any suggestion at all for a route to pursue in the field of deterministic chaos, I'd like to hear it!

    Looking forward to your ideas!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2013 #2
    Usually, these are some things to discuss with some kind of advisor. Do you have an advisor that is assisting you? Can he help you find somebody who knows more about these things? For example, a professor in a university?
  4. Jul 14, 2013 #3
    You mention Chua's circuit, so I'm wondering if your subject is math or physics. My advice would be to make a clear distinction between the two subjects. A student at my school had a very good essay in physics, but the IB examiners assessed that it was actually a math EE, so he lost most of his marks because he wrote the EE to the physics criteria.
  5. Jul 14, 2013 #4


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    Thanks for your reply!

    I am going into my last year of high school, and I do have an essay advisor (my physics teacher), but I think that we both know about the same amount about deterministic chaos. I was hoping that I could get some outside help in coming up with a topic.
  6. Jul 14, 2013 #5


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    It is a physics extended essay, but if it becomes a math extended essay I'll simply hand it in as a math extended essay.

    To be honest, I am not as concerned with the IB as I am with writing a great essay. I think that the essay will serve me better as a great learning experience and a supplementary material for college than as an IB graded paper -- it won't be graded and returned to me until well after I'm accepted to college, and American universities tend to care less about final IB scores.
  7. Jul 14, 2013 #6
    It's true that American colleges don't care about the final IB marks, but they do include in their applications a supplement for independent academic work. Considering the topic you have chosen, your EE (if executed well) can be a big advantage for your application.

    The EE is a project that is meant to be done over many months under the supervision of a teacher in that subject. I (and the IBO) don't recommend that you just change your subject because math and physics have quite a different rubric.

    Before you begin the work, I suggest that you give your advisor the text that you're using to learn the material so that he/she may guide you further.
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