1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Looking into astrophysics

  1. Aug 5, 2007 #1
    Hi there,
    I am currentley in grade 10 and am having trouble getting into the highest maths wich is geometry and trigonometry which in partnership with introductory calculus goes into Calculus in year 12. I have gotten in to introductory calculus but im quite positive that ill need calculus and introductory calculus only goes into applicable maths in year 12.

    Geometry & Trigonometry/introductory calc>calculus=Solid preparation for science courses in university
    Introductory Calculus>Applicable Maths=solid preparation for university

    i have a bad past and i may have only pulled my finger out too late. i am in one of the top schools and am ranked 3rd out of 114 year 10's. This means i can easily study any science however maths is a different case and the system works different and i dont know how i am going to do calculus.

    Do i absoulutley need to go into calculus to pursue a career in astrophysics or is there a course in university that can make up for me missing calculus?

    will i be accepted into astronomy/astrophysics because of my science abilities? if so hardly or easily?

    This is my plan of subject selection so far if i cant do geometry and trigonometry:
    Introductory calculus
    English Lit/2A2B

    Very smart for my career intentions?

    Sorry for such a long post and thankyou for any help that follows.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    A good understanding and competence in mathematics, particularly calculus, is a requirement for in-depth work in the sciences, particularly physics, which includes astrophysics.

    Without a good grounding in mathematics, one can still enjoy astrophysics, but perhaps as a non-scientist.

    Normally one do a general physics curriculum and begin to specialize in the 2nd year of an undergraduate program.
  4. Aug 5, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If you're in the UK then certainly they will run a course in the first year that basically covers everything that you should have done previously just to make sure there are no gaps and everyone is at the same level. I couldn't say the same of universities elsewhere. Other people will have to chip in with that.
  5. Aug 10, 2007 #4
    Well to be honest, I'm someone who also aspire to be a physicist in future though I'm not stong with my Mathematics. At most i could only help around with a few descriptions and some theories in this forums. Otherwise, i would leave it to the mentors and advisors' in here. :tongue:

    As what Astronuc said, you could still enjoy Astrophysics even if your maths aren't in tip-top conditions :wink:
  6. Aug 10, 2007 #5
    To be honest with you, I think you will be fine. You are in Grade 10...you have all the time in the world to get prepared. It just depends on how much time you are willing to put in and how much patience you have.

    I dropped out of high school and did not go back community college until I was 24. I am now 27 and am just transferring to a 4 year University. I just know that I need to put in the time and I cannot get discouraged if I am not as far along as I would like to be.

    Do yourself a favor, never set absolute deadlines for yourself.
  7. Aug 10, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Nothing that you do in the tenth grade will have any measurable impact on your success (or failure) in a field that will require you to pursue another 12 to 15 years of education.

    Just take the highest classes you can right now, and don't worry about it.

    - Warren
  8. Aug 11, 2007 #7
    I'm an astrophysics grad student, and like Astronuc, I also would say that a working knowledge of calculus is essential for the study of astrophysics. In my experience, astrophysics tends to be the least mathematically rigorous of the fields of physics, so you might not have to deal with crazy stuff like gauge theory or tensor analysis (unless you become a Cosmologist). But proficiency in single variable and multivariable calculus, as well as differential equations, is very important in astrophysics.

    Having said that, you're only in 10th grade, so I really wouldn't worry about this. Most people only take calculus their senior year of high school or their freshman year of college, so you've got plenty of time to learn the necessary math. Calculus is a rather easy subject (well OK, I was a math major...), and I'm sure you'll do fine if you take the course work in high school or college.

    Of course, I may very well defect to condensed matter physics by the end of this academic year, so what do I know? :rolleyes:
  9. Aug 11, 2007 #8
    I have to wholeheartedly agree with this.

    Hard work is far more important right now than exactly what you are working hard on.
  10. Aug 11, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I've taken some courses on Astrophysics at my university; and I also suggest that taking some courses in computer programing and scientific calculations, or learn on your own. Good languages are C++, fortran, matlab, and IDL (many astrophysics use IDL, but I do not think you can buy it for a reasonble amount of money).
  11. Aug 11, 2007 #10
    Yeah, brother, I'm getting myself all worried now as a sophomore in college that I have screwed up my entire future in astrophysics with one bad test grade. From what I have learned in the last week, you just gotta let the past go and decide that you are going to fix all your previous mistakes. So, my advice: While the work you do in tenth grade may not impact your future, your mentality and work habits will impact your future unless try to improve upon them.
  12. Aug 11, 2007 #11
    m pretty sure you will be fine, you have whole bunch of hours before entering to uni. calculus takes few semester to u which are not too complex(kind of okyae).
    I have seen lots of smart peoples in community college who have started their math from basic algebra ( in college) and doing excellent in calculus level..
    don't worry give your maximum possible time in the study..and keep your interests in it.
    gud luck
  13. Aug 12, 2007 #12
    Those are all good recommendations for astrophysics (at least to my knowledge). I'll add that in high energy astrophysics, we use ROOT, which is essentially C++.
  14. Aug 13, 2007 #13
    Hi thanyou for the excellent responses. I have some good news that i moved up to the second top class in advanced mathmatics and now can do geometry and trigonometry and then calculus ^^

    Thankyou very much
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook