- #1

Simfish

Gold Member

- 818

- 2

I am only 14 years old, and am going into my freshman year in high school. I aspire to become a nuclear physicist when I grow older, which is certainly a job that requires a lot of experience in mathematics and physics. What do you think is the best thing that I can do through my high school years if I am to become a physicist? Should I study quite a lot of mathematics by myself, like what Feynman, Einstein, and many other great physicists did? Or is it acceptable for myself to study more about the physics if my school is going to teach me mathematics? (According to my education plan, I am going to learn Calculus (aka IB Math Methods II) in the 11th grade, and then I'll take IB Mathematics in the 12th grade. Is it adequate enough, or would I need to study more math at my age right now?

I do know that many physicists were Mathematics prodigies when they were young, and learned Calculus in their younger years. However, is it really necessary to learn Calculus at such young ages? Neumann learned Calculus at age 8 according to a biography I read about him, and I'm seriously not joking. A more reasonable age for learning Calculus would be set for Feynman at age 15; but I'll only learn Calculus when I'm 16 according to my education plan. Is that an adequate age to learn Calculus? Can I spend more time to the sciences that I enjoy and still become an effective physicist with (perhaps) a shot at the Nobel Prize?

Now, as for over the summer; I am studying some geometry and algebra concepts over the summer, and am planning on studying more mathemtatics as the school year starts, but I would really love to devote more time to what I enjoy: Science. Also, is it still important to take courses in the Humanities? Roald Hoffmann recommended that young scientists should take Humanities courses, but are they really necessary to become a good physicist? (After all, my communication skills are already complex enough to communicate ideas effectively, and I don't need to read all those novels if I aspire to become a physicst). ;)

Your advice would be grealtly appreciated!