The three body problem

My physics and math aren’t all that strong, but I always interested in reading about new discoveries and proofs. Just recently, there have been advances in the three body problem in physics.

The three-body problem dates back to the 1680s. Isaac Newton had already shown that his new law of gravity could always predict the orbit of two bodies held together by gravity—such as a star and a planet—with complete accuracy. The orbit is basically always an ellipse. However, Newton couldn’t come up with a similar solution for the case of three bodies orbiting one another. For 2 centuries, scientists tried different tacks until the German mathematician Heinrich Bruns pointed out that the search for a general solution for the three-body problem was futile, and that only specific solutions—one-offs that work under particular conditions—were possible. Generally, the motion of three bodies is now known to be nonrepeating.

There was a solution in the 18th century by  the famed mathematicians Joseph-Louis Lagrange and Leonhard Euler, and with the help of modern computing more were discovered in the 1970s. Now however, Milovan Šuvakov and Veljko Dmitrašinović at the Institute of Physics Belgrade discovered 13 new families of solutions. There is more work to be done to determine how many of these are stable, but it is an incredible advance in physics.

As we could expect, SMBC has  a slightly different take on the topic.

Not exactly a new discover though.


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