Q&A: Miscellaneous

Q:

I have just finished high school and entered a faculty of Physics.
I am interested in Cosmology and generally in Astrophysics. For a future
research in this field, what branches of superior mathematics should I
concentrate on?

A:

For all types of physics and astrophysics you will be required
to study trigonometry, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, possibly
including analytic geometry and tensor analysis depending on what you specialize
in.

For cosmology and studies of gravity, tensor analysis is crucial, and
is a very compact and convenient way to write the math that underlies Einstein's
theory. Also Riemannian geometry will teach you about the wonderful surfaces
that we believe spacetime is made up of, called "manifolds" and how to connect
them with mappings. Often the mathematics necessary to understand and use
general relativity (the theory of gravity) is taught in the general relativity
course.

If you are considering a career in observational astronomy, spending
a lot of time doing data reduction from a telescope, then both a data analysis
class and a statistical analysis class will be useful.

There is a nice interview with an astrophysicist at the Chandra X-ray Center
about math and astrophysics at this web site: http://chandra.harvard.edu/chronicle/0402/trig/index.html

And a bit of general information at: http://chandra.harvard.edu/resources/faq/misc/misc-1.html.

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