My name is Benjamin Blake Hart and I'm a sophomore at Stony Brook University majoring in physics. I grew up in the small town of Auburn, NH and completed my high school education at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH.
For longer than I can remember, I've been interested in discovering the way things work. A number of old family videos show me explaining my "inventions" composed of nonfunctioning electronics, wooden BRIO train-tracks, and leng ths of string, describing with deep and misguided detail their every component. But in 2nd grade, I got my first taste of physics and have been hooked since. We were assigned to do a biography on a famous person, and I happened to choose Albert Einstein. I don't remember precisely the event, but my grandmother takes great pride in relating the story where, after I presented my project, my teacher apparently pulled me aside and explained what plagiarism was. She suspected I had simply copied some information about special relativity, but after talking to me for a w hile she dropped the subject. Later, in a parent teacher conference, she told my mother that she was surprised to find I had some, albeit basic, understanding of what I had written. Since then, I have sought to learn more about how the world works, with much encouragement from my family.
I spent many friday evenings as a young scientist accompanying my grandmother to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium to gaze at stars at the telescopes they set up for kids. These days, we try to get together from time to time to watch Science Channel specials together and discuss what we've watched. My parents have both encouraged me to attend many summer science camps and events like MIT's Splash Program to enrich myself, and are patient as I explain what I found interesting or exciting to them. This support, coupled with a persistent personal interest, has kept me invested in physics to this day.
After getting most of my exposure to physics from personal inquiry, high school was the first formal education I'd received on exclusively the topic. I chose to take an accelerated math and science course my freshman year, and thus was able to take more advanced courses after I completed the regular curriculum. AP Physics, Chemistry, and Calculus BC gave me an opportunity to participate in a formal learning environment, but Honors Science Independent Research was my first taste of personal research. I worked with a Dr. Harald Kucharek, a research scientist in the Space Science center at the University of New Hampshire, on a project analyzing the data that had just been public ly released from the IBEX Satellite. Now, in college, I'm excited to be taking courses in more advanced physics topics and to take part in more research to tread further down the path of understanding.