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What would you suggest?

  1. May 1, 2012 #1
    im 13 from the UK and i have a dream of becoming an astrophysicist but i think im too thick. now, im trying really hard to get my grades up in science and im really good at maths. im going for my PSc, PhD, masters degree ect. what would you suggest me doing. any help would be nice :)

  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2012 #2


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    Keep after the math, it will be your best friend. You need not even look at an astrophysics textbook until graduate school. Mastering geometry, algebra and calculus is vital, science can wait until later.
  4. May 1, 2012 #3


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    Well, until graduate school might be a bit of an exaggeration, I think cracking open a book in undergraduate might be okay!

    But essentially, yes. I was in the same shoes as the OP about a decade ago, and indeed at this stage focus on the maths, make sure you know this well. If you're really wanting to think about these things, I don't think popular science books are a bad idea. They'll give you a qualitative understanding of what's going on, and then later it's exciting to follow it up with the quantitative mathematics.
  5. May 1, 2012 #4


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    astroboy12, Welcome to Physics Forums!

    I too found myself in your same position a long, long time ago!

    My suggestion to you is first, as others have already said here, pay attention in classes and learn your maths/chemistry/physics lessons as thouroughly as possible.

    Do follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. It's OK to "like quasars" this month and then change over to the "cosmic background radiation" next month. Try on lots of different areas of astronomy/astrophysics and I promise you, you will gradually discover your "favourite subject areas". Welcome, astroboy12, and Good Luck!
  6. May 2, 2012 #5
    thank you. it really helps me to know what i need to prepare for
  7. May 2, 2012 #6
    Everybody thinks they are too 'thick' [slow] at some point because you can always find somebody who is better....but there is a lot of room for math and science trained people!!! If you do the hard work there, you get to do what interests you all your working career and get paid for doing it!

    You can also consider taking some 'extra' classes in summer school....anything in math or science that interests you. You may find that, for example, if you major in physics or engineering and take some extra math courses you might be able to squeeze in two degrees in four years. I only realized too late that by taking two additional math courses, beyond some elective math courses I took for 'fun'....that I could have gotten a second degree. Nobody told me until my last semester of my senior year....so be sure to check on that sort of thing yourself.
  8. May 2, 2012 #7


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    Welcome to the forums! At 13 you're around the time where you have to choose your GCSE's aren't you? I'd say aim for all the science and maths you can, if your school offers extra or triple science take that and same for further maths.

    If you're having trouble make sure you get good text books (these ones are excellent) and consider summer classes or private tutoring. Also your form tutor and careers advisor should be able to help point you in the right direction in terms of subject choices that can help you on your way.
  9. May 7, 2012 #8
    At your age many things can prove a distraction. Associate with people who will encourage you. Avoid those who won't is my advice.
  10. Jul 26, 2012 #9
    thanks guys. it really means a lot. I'm reading up on every aspect and so far ive been getting 95-100% on all my maths and science tests. GCSE's here i come. this is my dream and i'm not giving up on it. I dedicate myself to studying, watching lectures and reading books about physics. to some people it may seem sad but its what makes me happy :)
  11. Jul 26, 2012 #10


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    I see as yet nobody in this thread mentioned differential equations.

    Differential equations can be a lot of fun.

    Do you happen to know how soon, in your UK study plan, you will encounter some simple D.E.s? It might be soon or it might not be for 2 or 3 more years---I don't know how they do things in UK.

    It's where you have a curve that is generated by a rule that tells you how the slope of the curve changes depending on where the curve is.

    The slope of the sine curve is a cosine curve. Stuff like that.

    I'm curious how early UK students get introduced to that sort of thing.
  12. Sep 3, 2012 #11
    hmmm well in england from what i understand, we are not educated on that sort of stuff untill late college - university. yes you may be thinking that its quite a long way a way for such simple things compared to other thing but see, we not to smart :)
  13. Sep 3, 2012 #12
    I'm an English-educated professional scientist (admittedly Chemistry, but Physics was my first love) and I know from experience that it's very dependent on the school you're at and the teachers you have.

    I learnt differential equations at 14-15 years old, but I have friends from similar schools who never touched them until 17-18 (due to changes in the syllabus).

    My advice to you is to talk to your teachers in both mathematics and sciences. Ask whether your school does Triple-award science at GCSE, and if not, whether they would consider it. At the very least they will point you in the right direction towards what you want to achieve and what you need to work on, based on your grades and results so far.

    If none of this seems promising, I'd recommend simple reading. Even smaller local libraries will have good starting books for almost all sciences, especially one as attractive as astrophysics.

    Finally, I would recommend continuing to work hard on your mathematics. It is an invaluable tool and will allow you to solve problems that you might think you can't answer. At your age I doubt there's such a thing as being "thick".
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