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Academic Guidance Academic Guidance - Academic guidance for those pursuing a college degree... what college? Grad school? PhD help?


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August 6th, 2012, 03:18 PM   #1
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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. Short-term 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?
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August 6th, 2012, 03:22 PM   #2
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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.
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August 6th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #3
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Re: Are math and physics only for the young?

Wonderful! I'm 80 but in good health. Maybe I'll finally contribute something!
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August 6th, 2012, 05:32 PM   #4
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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 Vallée 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.

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August 7th, 2012, 08:13 AM   #5
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Re: Are math and physics only for the young?

The only negative factors I can think of are a poorer mind and less self-discipline. 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!
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August 7th, 2012, 09:32 AM   #6
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Re: Are math and physics only for the young?

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Originally Posted by goedelite
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.
Absolutely. Even for the brilliant, math is hard work.
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December 31st, 2016, 07:04 PM   #7
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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.
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January 19th, 2017, 09:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by goedelite View Post
Wonderful! I'm 80 but in good health. Maybe I'll finally contribute something!
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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