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Astrophysics for the Math Challenged

  1. Apr 22, 2013 #1
    I am seriously considering a path of education in the direction of astrophysics/cosmology, but I can barely divide numbers on paper. I have never had any aptitude for mathematics, in my view, but I am extremely interested in the concepts of physics and always have been. If I go to school, I will be going for free for at least 3 of the 4 first years, thank you Obama, but I wouldn't be seeking a career with it, I just want to know it better. I think I would be a cut-rate astrophysicist were I to seek it as a profession. I have a job that I like, which affords me a lot of time for study most of the year, and we go crazy and make a third of our yearly income within 6 weeks in the middle of the summer.

    My struggle is not only with an apparent block to, or fear of math, but also the fear of all that other stuff I would have to 'complete' in order to learn deeper the subjects about which I care the most. This is my laziness speaking, and I know the answer to this question is just suck it up, thanks for reading...

    Also, could someone point me in the direction of good places to look for self-teaching on the internet, hopefully free of charge, particularly in lower maths, so I may not have to waste the free money on a couple of classes?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2013 #2
    I think that most likely the path of least resistance towards getting the math skills you will need is by taking classes, not avoiding them and trying to learn on your own.
  4. Apr 23, 2013 #3
    So you think the money spent on Math 101 is money well spent?
  5. Apr 23, 2013 #4
  6. Apr 23, 2013 #5
    Go to the library (or Amazon) and get a book like this:
    Principles of Physical Cosmology by Phillip James Edwin Peebles.
    Start reading it and see if you can make any sense out of it.
  7. Apr 23, 2013 #6
    Thanks Robin and gmax. That's teamwork!
  8. Apr 23, 2013 #7


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    Education Advisor

    If you want to take Math 201, yes.

    Obviously there is a subjective element to these things. Some people take the class and just learn everything out of the textbook, but if you want to seriously study physics at more than a superficial level (i.e. beyond a first year college class) you need the prerequisits and that's all there is to it.
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