As Andrew Kelly ’12, a proud prospective physics major, lopes up the stairs to the second floor of Paresky where our interview is about to take place, he is chock-full-o-grins and toting his trademark steel water bottle in a Nalgene thermos protector. As a personal philosophy, Andrew espouses “hydration: a number one priority.”
I don’t even understand what physics is, let alone have enough competence to consider pursuing a major in it. Physics equations just look like magic to me.
I think the goal of physics is to explain the world in mathematical terms, so to quantify everything you talk about. Basically anything you study is trying to explain the world in different terms, and physics just looks at a really small scale with very few variables.
With the recent appointment of Professor Bolton as Dean of the College by our physicist president, Adam Falk, some have begun theorizing that the physics department is making a power play to seize control of Williams. Should we be concerned?
So let’s talk about what you do besides physics … how was spring break?
I went to the Virgin Islands, St. John, for a couple days. Last year I actually went to New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity, and that was a lot of fun. But there weren’t that many service trips this year so I couldn’t latch onto one. So I spent the second week playing tennis at home with my dad, who’s actually the tennis coach at my high school.
How was it being coached by your dad in high school?
Thing was, he only became the coach because we had been working really hard to get a varsity team at my high school, but then the coach quit. So we needed a coach, and he knew I really wanted to play, so he was like, “If there’s no one else, I guess I’ll coach.”
Do you generally do lots of service trips and the like?
Not in particular. Last year I could have just spent spring break doing nonproductive things, like usual, but I decided to do something good for humanity, I guess. It was a great experience; I’d recommend it to anyone. Maybe there weren’t many service trips because the budget got cut – ironic, I know.
Yeah, they had a JRC trip to New Orleans, but I’m not Jewish, even though I might look it, and they did some sort of Jewish study along with it so I didn’t think I could be a part of that.
So you’re from Lebanon, N.H.? What a happening place.
It seems like a surprising number of people have heard of it, actually. It’s the town south of Hanover where Dartmouth is, and there’s a good number of people here from Hanover, but none from Lebanon. That’s because we’re the poor kids. Hanover’s where all the professors and doctors live. We in turn make fun of Claremont because, in both socioeconomic status and geography, it goes Hanover, Lebanon and Claremont.
So before this interview, I only knew two things about you. One of them was that you’re roommates with Pete Mertz ’12.
Everyone knows Pete.
And the other thing was that you have a profile picture on Facebook of you kissing a walrus.
Oh, yes. Well, walruses are my favorite animal. They just have the right outlook on life. They just sit around, enjoy themselves and make big walrus piles. I actually wrote one of my college essays on walruses. There’s not a real good reason, they just always have been my favorite. I think they’re funny. Just sitting in the sun, chilling.
I once saw a YouTube video of a walrus that was just absolutely tearing up a polar bear.
I mean, I think I have this idealized picture of “the peaceful walrus,” and in reality they’re really not that peaceful.
Have you ever met a walrus in real life?
When I went to the zoo when I was younger I’m quite sure I saw walruses then, but since I’ve had this affinity for walruses, that’d be my dream. By the way, how do you guys pick the One in 2000? Is it just random?
We actually look for people with awkward animal fetishes. I heard somewhere that you also play volleyball?
Well, it’s a club sport and it’s mostly guys. Girls are welcome too though, because girls tend to know what they’re doing a lot more than we do. There’s no high school guys’ volleyball teams, except in like California and a few places in Massachusetts. So there’re a few guys that have played before, but most of us are new.
So you play some intramural sports. I had this preconception that all physics majors are like tutors in the MSRC.
I did tutor a high school student last year and was a TA this fall, so I am plenty nerdy. But not all physics students do fall into that category. We’re all sort of nerdy, but in different ways. Like my roommate Pete, he’s not nerdy socially, he’s kind of insane, but he absolutely loves anime and computer programming.
How did you get the Hubble Double?
We didn’t even have a good pick number. All the football players end up in Dodd because they want to live together and defy the whole purpose of the neighborhood system, and it’s the easiest neighborhood to get into. They end up all picking into the same houses, and they get gender-capped for guys, and the nice houses in Dodd circle get gender-capped for girls. So when we went in to pick, all the doubles in Hubble were open and we got the nice one with the porch. Which is also how the squirrel got in that one time.
You had a squirrel in your room?
We had a classy party in our room fall semester and it was really hot, so we had opened up the window. So we went to bed with the window open and, oh, I should note that my roommate Pete talks a lot in his sleep. I wake up at like 10 a.m. and hear him talking, and he’s like, “stupid squirrel, get out of our room.” So I figure he’s having some weird dream, until I hear him get up and there’s a squirrel on his desk eating cookies.
You asked before how it was for me being a Streeter, considering your roommate is in the Octet. So, I must ask – how is it living with a member of the Octet?
Well it’s great, because it’s Pete. I feel like, and I’m just going to put this out there, that you guys [the Streeters] are a lot classier than the Octet, knowing people in the group. The men in the Octet are nice guys; they’re a lot of fun and I know a lot of them through Pete, but they’re just a dirty bunch.
But I feel like out of all of them, Pete Mertz must be one of the classier ones in the bunch?
Oh god no. He has no class whatsoever. He’s a very sociable person, a very likeable person, but he’s not a classy person.
I’ve seen you around campus and I’m really impressed with the way you deal with saying ‘hi’ to people while walking around campus.
I sort of mouth the word ‘hey,’ because it’s not committal, and if they don’t look at you then it’s no big deal. I just hate saying ‘hey’ out loud because then if they don’t hear you, but someone else does, it’s like you just got totally shut down. Or I’ll use a little wave that no one else can see but them.