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Other Terrified of advanced math

  1. Dec 8, 2016 #1
    To start off I am a 16 year old student with a passion for learning and understanding the universe I live in. I maintain a very high average in math and the sciences, and am at the top of almost all my classes, that being said I also attend the worst school in my district, and very very few students have any amount of academic interest whatsoever. Going back to the title of the post I spend most of my free-time reading about quantum, and astrophysics but the math is completely foreign to me. Despite constantly trying to teach myself through books and videos(and asking for help from teachers to no avail) I'm unable to comprehend any of this advanced math. Long story short: I'm not able to understand the math behind the physics, and am extremely anxious about entering post-secondary insight from anyone who's been in this position would be very helpful.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2016 #2


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    The mathematics used in technical discussions of these subjects is well beyond what you normally learn in high school, or even beyond what junior physics students learn. That is no cause for fear, though, because if you decide to continue studying physics after high school, you will have plenty of opportunities to acquire this knowledge in a step-by-step fashion and potentially have fun while doing it. (Of course, if you want to learn it even better, you could consider switching to mathematics entirely. :smile:)

    Also, some of the posts in this recent thread may be of your interest.

    In addition, if you have specific questions, you could always try to formulate them in one of the appropriate forums on PF.
  4. Dec 8, 2016 #3


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    You are not supposed to understand the math in those topics at your level of education. I am not sure why this scares you. In fact, when you go to college, it will be at least a couple of years before you learn about the mathematics needed to do those subjects.

    In college, the school and your advisor will indicated mathematics classes that you will need. You take those classes, and you learn the mathematics, and from there, you springboard to other mathematics that you may not have time to take, but you will be equipped to learn on your own.

    There are no shortcuts, and you don't just jump from being a 16-year old high school student to knowing the mathematics to do quantum mechanics.

  5. Dec 9, 2016 #4
    I don't know what your current mathematical education is like, but in my experience university is very good at starting you off at a level you can understand and taking you forward step by step. You'll have taken everything through multivariable/vector calculus and differential equations (a full good 2 years of math) before you'll be ready to tackle topics like quantum, E+M, astro, etc. You're still young, try not to worry too much.
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