I was chatting via IM with science writer and Wired contributor Quinn Norton recently when a light bulb went on. We were talking about math and physics, a conversation spurred by Quinn’s reading of the remarkable Garrett Lisi‘s paper proposing a new unified theory of physics.

2:52:52 PM Dylan Tweney: I got as far as calculus and ap physics in high school, then made a very bad decision to avoid such things entirely in college
2:52:59 PM Dylan Tweney: even though I had some aptitude

2:53:25 PM Dylan Tweney: I’ve never quite recovered the ability to understand the concepts … though I’ve toyed with the idea of relearning calc, just as a way of getting my brain back in gear

2:54:45 PM Dylan Tweney: me, I wish I’d skipped all the poststructuralist theory in college, which is now about as useful as a tick on a dog’s back
2:54:55 PM Dylan Tweney: besides, it turned out I was a structuralist

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past fifteen years thinking and re-parsing my college education, which was heavy on theory.

But it turned out, after I had some distance from my teachers, that my inclination is actually far more pragmatic.

Thus, I’ve spent much of the past two decades learning new things that have nothing to do with what I studied in college.

(note started 2010, revisited 2014)