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Newton's Clock: Chaos in the Solar System

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  6 reviews
With his critically acclaimed best-sellers The Mathematical Tourism and Islands of Truth, Ivars Peterson took readers to the frontiers of modern mathematics. His new book provides an up-to-date look at one of science's greatest detective stories: the search for order in the workings of the solar system. In the late 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton provided what astronomers had long ...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by W.H. Freeman & Company (first published July 15th 1993)
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Is the solar system stable? What stops planets from just flying off into the sun or into deep space?

It's at first natural to say "conservation of energy + angular momentum", but this actually isn't quite true. You could imagine that over time, inter-planet interactions would distort orbits to the point where the solar system gets disrupted. Certainly, asteroids, comets, and moons sometimes collide or get ejected from the solar system. And dynamical systems in general can be chaotic, and can tran
Erik Graff
Mar 21, 2015 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: astrophysics fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
Astronomy was my first scientific interest, books in that area occupying much of my time while I was simultaneously getting into science fiction. So great was my evident interest that Dad bought me one of those cardboard reflector telescopes while I was still in elementary school. Although never having gotten beyond an elementary understanding of astrophysics, I've kept a hand in, reading books about astronomy now and again throughout the years. This popular treatment is typical.
This was a really good book! You might think it would be dry and boring, but it's well written and presents the history and material in an exciting and enjoyable way.
Jeff HansPetersen
Brilliant, informative writing with elegant and beautiful counter-examples to the mechanical solar system we thought we knew. Hyperion tumbles!
Alex Hughes
Amazing, accessible tale of how our understanding of the solar system developed. The asteroid section really opened my eyes.
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