Friday, February 19, 2010

It's a Wonderful Life

Today I learned that what I want to do with my life is arguably the most difficult subject ever undertaken by humans.

Joy.

My calculus professor, Dr. Ivanova, whom my cosmology professor Dr. Heacox pointed out as the most promising source of knowledge on the math I need, informed me that theoretical cosmology uses math so difficult even pure mathematicians avoid it.

Wonderful.

The reason for this disclosure is because today I decided that a directed studies program would likely be the only way for me to start learning the tensors that are so important in theoretical cosmology. I talked with Dr. Heacox first, who after pointing me towards Dr. Ivanova and offering to set me up with some books, remarked "It's a beautiful subject, but it hurts your head" (and he's been working with tensors in cosmology for over 40 years). Dr. Ivanova had more to say, because she's one of the few math faculty on campus who knows anything about differential geometry, the extremely high-level and abstract field of math in which tensors (and more exotic stuff) reside. Part of her remarks, along with much helpful overview information, were the aforementioned "Cosmology uses such heavy math, even pure, theoretical mathematicians avoid it", and that cosmology is so difficult, very, very few people have ever really understood it.

I have always had an idea that what I wanted to do was complicated, but never before truly realized the extant of what I had planned. It's like discovering that wanting to put up a shed in your back yard requires you to learn how to survey land, study atomic bonding theory, and be able to calculate strains in materials (which, incidentally, requires tensors for fullest treatment).

But she also said that anything less would be a waste of my mind, which I'm going to take as a compliment. It will be an interesting life, if nothing else...

1 comment:

  1. Well, a mind is a terrible thing to waste, right? If anyone can do it, you can. But then, I AM your mom!! :-)

    ReplyDelete

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