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It's never too late to be who you might have been.

  1. Sep 22, 2009 #1


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    Hey to those perusing the mathematics forums.

    I was just wondering if there are any others out there who are pursuing/pursued the study of mathematics "later" on in their life ?

    I realized 1/2 of the way through my first degree (political science/criminology) that it wasn't the path I wanted to head down for the rest of my life. An astronomy elective I took second year really opened up my eyes, ever since then I knew what I was meant to do.
    [Astronomy theory -> Physics theory -> Mathematical theory -> Physics/Math]

    I finished the degree, and now I'm going to be heading back to university again next year to study Mathematics & Physics. I'm really looking forward to it.

    So what's your story if you've got one ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2009 #2


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    Was just going to move this thread from general math to general discussion. My bad, and thanks :S
  4. Sep 23, 2009 #3

    George Jones

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  5. Sep 23, 2009 #4


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  6. Sep 23, 2009 #5
  7. Sep 23, 2009 #6


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    I have always loved astronomy, but it was an avocation until a few years ago when research became a passion. The Internet, and the availability of NED, IRSA, HyperLEDA, and other large databases have made it possible for amateurs to conduct research, discover interesting stuff, and publish peer-reviewed papers on their findings.

    I'm working with a couple of younger guys, and we published a paper on interacting galaxies recently, and have another one in the works (data is collected, we are composing the text). Another person (with good math-stats skills) has joined our little group in the last year or so and will co-author with us on the next publication. He is retired and in his 70's. Too old? I don't think so - if you've got the fire in your belly and an inquisitive mind with good problem-solving skills, age is just a number.

    BTW, none of us has ever met in person. I started the project as a one-off, another collaborator from Finland wanted to help me extend the research, and another guy in New York jumped in. We get along well - it's only data-laden emails for the most part, along with an internal system for establishing consensus in regard to problematic associations. The occasional back-and-forth about how to satisfy the requests of referees when tweaking a paper are not contentious, either, though it's good training in the discipline of getting good peer-reviewed publication. Our archive of shared emails, spreadsheets, etc would give pause to anybody considering this method of research and publication. Upon hearing of our initial project early-on, a well-respected observational astronomer told us (paraphrasing) "You're nuts. You have no grad students to enslave, no grants for funding, and no institutional associations to exploit. You're going to beat yourselves into the ground." It was a lot of work that we all had to do on our personal time, but it was all worth it. Astrophysics and Space Science is a well-respected journal, and I wish that I had taken a skeptic's bet when he stated that that the initial paper I envisioned would never see print.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
  8. Sep 23, 2009 #7
    We are all Ed Witten.

  9. Sep 23, 2009 #8
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