How to be an astrophysicist?

  • For a high-school students, what are the ways to become an astrophysicist?

    What should he/she take in college?

    What is the career path to become an astrophysicist?

    I moved this question here because meta is not the right place for it. That said, I have a feeling this may be too broad, but we'll see what the community says.

    Want truth? You have to be born in a rich country like United States. Also your parents somehow should be highly educated and paid a lot of money (which is a total contradiction) to allow you spend hours over learning instead of spending hours over serving meals in kfc. All of it really does not really depends on you, your talent means nothing. Real talents like G. Perelman mean nothing in this world and dumb society.

    As for part of being real astrophysicist, is being able to write articles. Could be really done by anyone in finite period of time, the only problem is that only some people will be fast enough, because science is competition. But to obtain position in astrophysics is easy, you just pay a tonns of money and they allow you to call yourself whatever you want.

    I think a full answer on the career path for a astrophysicist is probably off-topic for a answer. but it's most likely going to involve becoming university/college professor/lecturer. So if you plan on making it your career looking up the pathways (and skills and responsibilities) required to be one of those is your best bet at making a career out of it and finding out the requirements to make it a career. This may or may not be what you want, but doing only research and making it a career will be much much harder and maybe even impossible.

    @sanaris It's strange that as an example of a rich country you used one of the few rich countries where people need to serve meals in KFC instead of studying if their parents are poor.

    @sanaris I'm sure we can agree that people's life chances are greatly affected by where they live and what their background is; but to say "to obtain position in astrophysics is easy, you just pay a tonns of money and they allow you to call yourself whatever you want" would very likely be defamatory if you were to dare to name someone who you think this applies to. It certainly doesn't apply to me or anyone I know.

    There is strong difference between being astrophysicist and simply naming yourself like that, @RobJeffries, the difference between Feynman type figure and mediocre scientific worker today is just tremendous.

    I guess one definition would be writing lots of papers and getting paid to do it? not a Feynman, but I came to terms with that a long time ago.

  • planetmaker

    planetmaker Correct answer

    3 years ago

    In addition to the answer of James K, who outlines the most straight forward way into astrophysics, there's many paths. Some others include:

    There are people who did a BSc and/or MSc in Engineering subjects (rocket science of course being a favourite one), and then changing into astrophysics via instrumentation - or just simply switching to astrophysics directly in their PhD.

    Another popular approach is via geo sciences, especially geophysics, geology, etc. From where knowledge and methods can be applied and generalized to other bodies in the solar system.

    You can get there from a mathematical or computer science background while looking for applications... The necessary simulations in theoretical (astro)physics and especially cosmology are far from easy math and simple algorithms, so a sound mathematical and algorithmic understanding will get you very far there.

    Generally, it's science. And you can only really do science, and be good at it if you love what you do. That includes learning, being curious, inventing, combining and applying methods and approaches on a problem and generally being not shy of mathematics is somewhat a pre-requisite.

    You can get **there** via math...

    computer science would be another one that fits this answer. Astrophysicists need lots of advanced computer programs to run their simulations.

    yes indeed. I amended my answer with that

    Luck also plays a big part. There are a lot more applicants than positions available. Going to a high reputation school, and getting great results out of your undergraduate research is very helpful. Apparently the total number of *astronomers* has increased from 2000 some in the 1970's to 10000+ today; That's still not very many. Expect competition.

    While a good complement answer, this shouldn't be the accepted answer. The best bet is to study pure physics.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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