978-0-7167-2396-7 / 9780716723967

Newton's Clock: Chaos in the Solar System


Publisher:W H Freeman & Co (Sd)



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About the book:

In this book, author Ivars Peterson examines a mystery that has fascinated and tormented astronomers and mathematicians for centuries: are the orbits of planets and other bodies stable and predictable or are there elements affecting the dynamics of the solar system that defy calculation? It is one of the most perplexing, unsolved issues in astronomy, with each step toward its resolution-from Newton's clocklike mathematical models to the astonishing work of super computers exposing additional uncertainties and deeper questions about the stability of the solar system. To bring readers up to date with this scientific detective story, Newton's Clock describes the development of celestial mechanics-from the star charts of ancient navigators to the great Renaissance scientists; from the crucial work of Poincare to the startling, sometimes controversial findings and theories made possible by modern mathematics and computer simulations. Equal parts science and history, the book shows how the exploration of the solar system has taken us from clocklike precision into chaos and complexity.

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