Guest Post: by Shannon Lawrence
Solving The Universe: The job of an Astrophysicist by Shannon Lawrence
The universe is vast and mysterious. From subatomic particles, to enormous spinning galaxies. Mystery en-veils everything. Is their life on other planets? Could we eventually live on other planets? Overall, what makes the universe tick? Questions like these may deter some, but for others this is a problem that needs to be solved; and Physics is the solution. Astrophysics (a branch of Physics) deals with the phenomena that happens in the macro-scale such as black holes, Multi-verse theory, and the infamous anti-matter that is more common than real matter. For the dreamer and star gazer, Astrophysics is a dream job.
Astrophysicists spend most of their time writing theories or experimenting depending on which sub field you enter. If your a theoretical Astrophysicist then you deal with phenomena on a theoretical view point. You have to support your idea's with facts and then an experimental Astrophysics will try to prove it using technology or by writing a computer program to simulate what would happen if the theory was applied. NASA and other organizations will hire for this job, but you get payed more for working for the smaller organizations. The pay you get will depend on the following variables; time schooling, what you went to school for, experience, and time you've been with them. The average money you can get is between 100k per year to 150k per year.
To prepare to be a theoretical astrophysicist you need to have either a lot of determination or a lot of skill in science and math. The field is a very limited one since there are only a handful of places that will hire an astrophysicist, so getting in is tough. To prepare you should be in the highest classes of science and math and have many extra-curricular activities so that you may get into a good college (once again because selection is so limited you need to be the top of the top and focus your life around this goal) You also need a natural love for science, math, and the universe and be naturally curious. From middle school to high school the best thing to do is get a 4.0 grade average (pretty much everyone who goes to Stanford has a 4.0 or above and most are musically endowed) Along with this, you should try to get teacher recommendations later in High school so that you can get into a good college.
The overall goal of an Astrophysicist is to solve the mysteries of the universe, but that doesn't impact society much. The things physicists have contributed is their knowledge. For instance, computers, air planes, cars, and pretty much any technology you see is made from an Engineer, who can make these incredible things because of our understanding of physics. Although many aren't aware of the physics of our world, it does make up everything you see and everything you do.
Overall physicists are very under rated. They help with our understanding of everything around us. Creating the foundation of technology which drives our growing world. This career path is a hard and peculiar one, but the laws we humans discover will benefit us for as long as our race continues and forever after it ends. This is an amazing field and is filled with surprises. For the young star gazer, this truly is the dream job.
Shannon is only 13 with big plans for her future....:)