Sunday, July 15, 2018

n-body problems

Sunday reflection:
"...a lot of effort was devoted to the three-body problem: the motion of a system consisting of three point masses (such as Sun, Earth, Moon) moving under Newtonian gravitation. It's easy enough to write down the appropriate equations of motion; but immensely harder to solve them... As an aside: it has been said that one can gauge the progress of science by the value of n for which the n-body problem cannot be solved. In Newtonian mechanics the 3-body problem appears to be insoluble. In Relativity, it is the 2-body problem that causes trouble. Quantum Theory gets hung up on the 1-body problem (a particle); and Relativistic Quantum Field Theory runs into trouble with the 0-body problem (the vacuum)!"
                                                                                -- Ian Stewart

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