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Three solutions to the two-body problem
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Technology, Department of Mathematics.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The two-body problem consists of determining the motion of two gravitationally interacting bodies with given masses and initial velocities. The problem was first solved by Isaac Newton in 1687 using geometric arguments. In this thesis, we present selected parts of Newton's solution together with an alternative geometric solution by Richard Feynman and a modern solution using differential calculus. All three solutions rely on the three laws of Newton and treat the two bodies as point masses; they differ in their approach to the the three laws of Kepler and to the inverse-square force law. Whereas the geometric solutions aim to prove some of these laws, the modern solution provides a method for calculating the positions and velocities given their initial values.

It is notable that Newton in his most famous work Principia, where the general law of gravity and the solution to the two-body problem are presented, used mathematics that is not widely studied today. One might ask if today's low emphasis on classical geometry and conic sections affects our understanding of classical mechanics and calculus.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 39 p.
Keyword [en]
two-body problem, Newtonian mechanics, classical geometry, Feynman's lost lecture
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-26781OAI: diva2:630427
Subject / course
Available from: 2013-06-19 Created: 2013-06-18 Last updated: 2013-06-19Bibliographically approved

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Gleisner, Frida
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