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I would like to learn more about cosmology

  1. May 25, 2012 #1
    Hello, I am a 12 years old in 6th grade. It's been my dream (since I was five) to become a cosmologist. Sadly at school we do not learn about cosmology, because of "religious" reasons.
    I would greatly appreciate it if anyone would know where there is a beginners area for cosmology.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2012 #2
    Welcome to PhysicsForums!

    Great to hear you're interested in cosmology. Here are few links that are pretty basic, but cover a solid amount of modern cosmology:

    Firstly, here is NASA's site on cosmology. It doesn't go very in depth, but it goes over most of the basics in a simple manner:


    Here is the PF FAQ on cosmology:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=206 [Broken]

    I like this animation for the very early universe, you may like it:


    Here is Ned Wright's FAQ:


    If you're interested, this is a more complex page on cosmology put together by Ned Wright:


    These are a few, I'm sure others will post more (and better!) ones.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. May 25, 2012 #3


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    While I'm sure that it seems like you don't learn about cosmology for religious reasons, it is most likely because the 6th grade is far to early to begin teaching cosmology. I can't really see anyone still in pre-college education to learn much about cosmology at school itself. Very little in cosmology is useful to the development of the basic skills that have been deemed necessary to form a good base for someone to have before they get out into the real world on their own.

    I would suggest that if you want to learn about cosmology you focus on doing your best at all aspects of education. Once in high school you should get a few more options open to you such as physics classes and such. Until you graduate and can go to college your best bet for astronomy and cosmology related subjects will be the internet or any books you can find from a bookstore or library.

    While religious prejudices may be part of the teachers and parents attitudes towards cosmology, it is very unlikely that it keeps any basic courses from being taught. But I could be wrong, I am not attending your school. I just feel that it is highly unlikely.
  5. May 25, 2012 #4


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    http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/cosmology.php [Broken]

    It is an "ask an astronomer" site suited for bright junior high and highschool kids.
    Scroll down the page and you will find a list of questions that young people wrote in asking and which the Astro/Cosmo graduate students at Cornell answered.

    Whatever question catches your attention you can click on it and see what the Cornell people answered. they also have lists of most popular questions.

    because your understanding of Cosmo will be much better if you understand things like star-formation and how supernovas work and how people measure distances in our own Milkyway galaxy (much smaller than the observable universe as a whole :-D).
    So I would say, if you haven't done it already, to start here on the main homepage:
    And look over on the lefthand side where the Q/A menu is and look down to where it says

    Extrasolar Planets
    Black Holes
    And Quasars
    The Milky Way
    Cosmology And The Big Bang

    Each one of those 7 topics is a link to a list of Questions that have been asked (by young people like you) and that have been answered by older students working on their PhDs.
    I would learn about ALL those things, not just about Cosmology (the last on the list).

    After you have tried that, come back here for more advice :biggrin:

    I don't agree with every answer I've seen given at the Cornell Q/A site because I think they sometimes oversimplify and sacrifice part of the story to make it seem easy. But on the whole it is an excellent resource for smart motivated young learners.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. May 26, 2012 #5
    I would disagree. There are some things in cosmology that is accessible to 6th graders. The concept of isotopy and homogenity is something that one can explain. Also some of the basic observations can be presented to kids in middle school (i.e. redshift and CMB).
  7. May 26, 2012 #6


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    I don't agree. I don't believe most 6th graders would be able to understand isotropy, homogeneity, redshift, or the CMB adequately enough to justify teaching it. At least beyond just mentioning some of it. Perhaps we have different views on what "learn cosmology" means. I admit I am far from an expert on it and I am definitely not a teacher, so I could be wrong.
  8. May 26, 2012 #7
    I've done astronomy talks to my son's Cub Scout troop and did a weekend Q and A to middle school students, and I think they understood what I was telling them.

    The other thing is that most adults have a 6th grade level of math, so anything that a 6th grader can not comprehend would also make it impossible for most non-specialist adults to understand either.

    Yup. I don't think you can teach a sixth grader (or for that matter most adults) how do calculate a FLRW metric. What you can teach is scientific reasoning and observational data (i.e. this is what we see when we point the telescope at the sky. Teaching that sort of reasoning is important, because if scientists don't satisfy their curiosity, the young earth creationists will.

    The other thing is that sixth or seventh grade is when kids start figuring out their professional identity, so if you want to get kids interested in physics, that's when to start. Of course, part of the reason I'm so involved in talking about physics careers in the careers forum is that I realize that today's eager Cub Scout could turn into tomorrows bitter underemployed cosmologist.
  9. May 27, 2012 #8
    Thank you all very much for the replies!
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