275. Late-Night Cramming

May knew she should have started studying earlier for this paper.

She tapped her pencil against the paper, biting her lips as she thought – not about the problem, but about how much fun her housemates must be having right now. Absently, she began drawing little stars in the corner of the paper. The silvery-black graphite gleamed a little in the light of the table lamp. Like star-shadows, May thought. If stars, by nature, emitted their own light, it wasn’t impossible that the shadow of stars might also be able to emit their own light, just maybe in a duller shade. Negative light, perhaps…

No, no, no. This would not do. She shook the thought of of her head.

Assuming a perfect system, with zero entropy… She began to write, and before she knew it, her mind had wandered off all over again.

After dinner earlier in the evening, Johann had went straight to their room and changed into her going out clothes. May found her standing in front of the cupboard, deciding between a plain blue t-shirt or a red button shirt with a slim cut.

“What are you going to wear?” Johann asked, not bothering with turning around. “I’ll wear whatever color you’re not.”

“I’m not going,” May said. “Test tomorrow.”

Johann looked back at her, her mouth forming an o shape as she remembered. “The thermodynamics one?” she asked.

May nodded. “Principles of Thermodynamics. PHY 121.”

There was a pause. And then Johann decided to go with the t-shirt, because she wanted something that she could sleep in after returning to the dorm past midnight.

Assuming a perfect system, with zero entropy, the final temperature of Fluid A will be 453K, which is the point of thermal equilibrium between the Fluid A and Fluid B.

May dotted the full stop, feeling a little sense of satisfaction that she had at least managed to complete a sentence. This isn’t too bad, she thought. It’s just a lousy mid-term anyway. I bet I can finish up the next three chapters in like, 30 minutes, and I can sleep until 5.30am. That’s 6 full hours of sleep right there. Then I’ll wake up and cram the other 2 chapters… I’ll just skip breakfast–

Her heart sank when she saw that the 3 chapters she intended to finish revising went out for about 120 pages. She discounted the pages allocated for sample questions, class discussions, and introductions, and found 108 pages left to go through.

She really should have studied earlier for this test. A sour, twisting dread was working into her guts. All she wanted to do was to curl up in bed, close her eyes, and when she wakes up, all of this would have been a dream, and she’s actually back in Cameron Highlands tutoring primary school kids in maths.

No. She steeled her mind. Escapism wasn’t going to get her anywhere – least of all pass the passing grade for this class. She pressed the tip of the pencil down against the paper.

The rate of heat transfer is given by the equation below…

And as she wrote, she promised herself again that next semester, she would begin studying earlier. Next time, she would do better.

Next time.


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