Subject: Physics & Calculus???

Dagmar Fertl (
Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:22:05 PDT

I am a senior in high school and am planning on majoring either in
zoology or marine biology in college.  When I look at the courses
involved with these majors, I often see a lot of math classes, such
as calculus and physics (aughh!).  I was wondering, why is math so
important in zoology?  When will I ever use it?  Thank you for your

I'm afraid you're not going to like my answer, but yes, math and even 
physics are important to marine biology and zoology.  It depends on what 
exactly you study and do as a job as to how much you use those classes. But, 
since they require them for a degree, you will need to take them.

The math question is pretty easy to answer. You need math when you're doing 
data analyses (like statistics) and during modelling...which is a very hot 
technique that many scientists are using these days. Calculus is definetely 
needed during mathematical modelling of why things work the way they do and 
trying to predict how things will happen under different circumstances. 
Calculus is needed during some physics work. Physics, believe it or not, is 
important. When you are looking at the physics associated with biology, it's 
called biophysics. Different things people might use physics for is how does 
a dolphin move thru the water, a bird fly thru the air, etc. Hope that makes 
sense...this was the quick answer to your question. Chin up though...there 
will always be classes that you're sitting in, and wondering why you have to 
take them, and later on you figure out you should've paid a lot more 
attention during them.  Some classes are used to weed out people who have a 
passing interest in a field (like wanting to be doctors or veterinarians) 
and is a way for the school to narrow down the field of how many people will 
get the degree and go on to have a career in the field. I can't tell you how 
many people I knew in college who wanted to be a doctor and then took a 
physics or chemistry class and decided that it was too much work and time to 
learn those classes, and went to another field that interested them more.

Oh, and if it makes you feel better...I was not a whiz at either calculus or 
physics, and I think I still did pretty well for myself. :-)

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