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Should I pursue astrophysics?

  1. Sep 8, 2011 #1
    Hi. I'm 15 years old (grade 10) and I live in Vancouver, BC. Within the past 6 months or so, I have developed an extremely big interest in cosmology and sciences like that. It would definitely be my top choice as far as careers go, and I wouldn't be too worried about the money I was making, as long as it was a decent wage that I could live comfortably with. My basic questions are as follows:

    Should I pursue this, and is there a big risk of spending a large amount of time and ending up jobless?

    If I was to go after this career, what universities would you suggest, preferably as close as possible?

    What should I do this year and the following two years to prepare, or heighten my chances of actually becoming an astrophysicist?

    If you don't think I should do it, what other jobs would interest me? I haven't found any subject yet in my life to be this interesting, so I have a hard time thinking of anything else I could do the rest of my life.

    And finally, any other information you think would be helpful.

    Thanks for your time!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2011 #2


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    Math is a big deal in cosmology. Take all the math you can stomach, the physics will come later.
  4. Sep 9, 2011 #3


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    It's great that you want to be an astrophysicist, but be advised that at your age you likely don't really know what an astrophysicist does on a day to day basis. The reality of life as a research scientist is very different from how it is portrayed in popular media!

    I echo Chronos' suggestion though; just make sure to get good marks in your maths courses and take physics classes as you can. Then when you get to university you will be well prepared to embark on the physics cirriculum and you can decide whether or not you'd like to major in physics (in general, anything that we'd call 'astrophysics' is basically an undergraduate degree in physics with a few astronomy classes). If you decide that indeed you do like astrophysics, the next question is whether or not you'd like to pursue it as a career. That question has been brought up countless times on this forum, and it's a difficult path to try to walk down. But I wouldn't worry much about this for now -- really it's a decision you should start thinking about in four or five years rather than right now.
  5. Sep 9, 2011 #4
    So to start for university, what courses would I want to take for undergraduate? Just physics and astronomy? I heard you have to take those, computer science, and math to start going to a masters or doctorate. Again, I understand that right now all I can do is just do the best I can in school, but it's nice to just know some information. Another question: what are the best books on cosmology/astrophysics or theoretical physics? I first got interested in the subject by watching Michio Kaku talk on youtube so I bought one of his but I would like to know others.
  6. Sep 11, 2011 #5
    Maths. Do as much damn maths as you can. Get ahead of your classmates and those in the year above you. At university take maths first and physics second - you can go from maths to physics much more easily than the other way round.

    Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe is a popular physics book, I'd also recommend reading as much Richard Feynman as you can get your hands on.

    So in summary: Study maths. Read and enjoy physics in your spare time (to keep you interested and motivated).
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