Thoughts on Theses: Erik Dourville ’15

Erik Dourville

Erik Dourville ‘15 is a physics and math double major, and is writing a physics honors thesis. His results will be on display on the first floor of Frost Library from April 13th-17th, in an exhibition titled “Rolling Forward.”

Q: Tell me a bit about your thesis.
A: Well, the first thing I should say is that it’s really complicated. And it’s not really possible to dumb it down, but I’ll do my best. Basically, we’re a society on the go, right? So I wanted to use physics to get us places… faster.

Q: That’s so interesting.
A: Yes.

Q:Can you explain a little more about what you mean by “get us places?”
A: Well, I wanted to theorize a new paradigm—I’m sorry, “object”—to aid in the passage of matter-based substances across gravity-bound planes. And I’ve done it.

Q: Wow! So what shape has this paradigm, or object, taken?
A: It’s funny that you used the word “shape” just now, because back in October I started to think about circles. Specifically, I started to think about circles, and about how you can draw an infinite number of tangent lines at an infinite number of angles along a circle’s circumference. Once I started thinking about those tangent lines as, like, vectors of force and/or friction, it was a no-brainer. But again, this is all pretty complex, so don’t feel like you have to keep up.

Q: So… is it a circle?
A: Ha, it’s a little more complicated than that. Picture a circular object, fixed to a stable point at its hollow center and free to rotate. That object, when placed beneath a matter-based substance, could theoretically help to counteract the forces of friction by rotating in one of two directions and helping to “roll” that matter toward its desired destination. It’s truly groundbreaking, and I couldn’t have done it without my advisor’s tireless support and constant challenging of my ideas.

Q: So, like, a wheel? Is it fair to say you re-invented the wheel?
A: Haha, that’s silly. No. Or, well… I guess when you put it like that, yes. Yes I did.

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are considering writing a thesis?
A: Fuck you. This interview is over.