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August 6th, 2012, 04:18 PM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 25 Thanks: 1  Are math and physics only for the young?
Frankly, when I was in high school, lastly 62 years ago, I was on the math team but not in the first string. Now, I read math and some physics for amusement, but I do have to make a great effort to remember the theorems I have learned. Shortterm memory weakens with age, I guess. Are there any examples of mathematicians who continued to make important additions to the subject in later age, say over 60 years old? 
August 6th, 2012, 04:22 PM  #2 
Senior Member Joined: Jul 2010 From: St. Augustine, FL., U.S.A.'s oldest city Posts: 12,155 Thanks: 464 Math Focus: Calculus/ODEs  Re: Are math and physics only for the young?
Off the top of my head, I believe Gauss and Euler were both making important contributions up until their deaths at ages 77 and 76 respectively.

August 6th, 2012, 05:21 PM  #3 
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 25 Thanks: 1  Re: Are math and physics only for the young?
Wonderful! I'm 80 but in good health. Maybe I'll finally contribute something! 
August 6th, 2012, 06:32 PM  #4 
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 937 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  Re: Are math and physics only for the young?
Euler made many spectacular discoveries in his 70s, despite having gone blind! I'm sure with modern medicine he would have lived, and contributed mathematically, even longer. A few centuries later the (simultaneous) discoverers of the Prime Number Theorem, Hadamard and VallĂ©e Poussin continued working on mathematics until their 90s. A century later we have you... I see no reason you couldn't have a decade or two of productive contributions. Last edited by skipjack; January 20th, 2017 at 08:54 AM. 
August 7th, 2012, 09:13 AM  #5 
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 25 Thanks: 1  Re: Are math and physics only for the young?
The only negative factors I can think of are a poorer mind and less selfdiscipline. The work of math is not easy, I think, even for the more gifted. They must have had stimulating curiosity and have been very dedicated. Thanks for the encouragement!

August 7th, 2012, 10:32 AM  #6  
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 937 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  Re: Are math and physics only for the young? Quote:
 
December 31st, 2016, 07:04 PM  #7 
Senior Member Joined: Feb 2016 From: Australia Posts: 1,519 Thanks: 506 Math Focus: Yet to find out. 
G.H Hardy seemed to be fairy convinced that mathematics is a young man's game, which is a bit demoralizing. However I can't say i support his view on this, and agree with the preceding posts. 
January 19th, 2017, 09:43 PM  #8 
Senior Member Joined: Nov 2015 From: United States of America Posts: 165 Thanks: 21 Math Focus: Calculus and Physics  Let me just say that I have tremendous respect for you for being so open minded to pursuing mathematics at your age. Most people I know who are 75+ don't do anything cool like that. Best of luck! 

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