In the beginning of the twentieth century, the University of
Göttingen was one of the top research centers for mathematics
in the world. The mathematician David Hilbert was a
well-established professor there, and during the winter semester of
Thanks to the rabbit I pulled out of my hat on my returning from the museum the other evening, I’ve been able to get back on track. But today I’m filled with a strange mixture of optimism and dread. . . . the complexity of the mathematical landscape that’s now opened up makes my head spin if I think about it for more than a few moments.
Can one predict the future arrangements of planets over
extremely large time periods? For centuries this issue has
triggered dreams of curious people, and hot debates by specialists
including Newton, Lagrange, Poincare, Kolmogorov, Laskar,
John Brockman, founder and proprietor of the Edge website,
asks a question every New Year and invites the public to answer it.
THE EDGE QUESTION 2012 was, “What is your favorite deep,
elegant, or beautiful explanation?” He got 150 answers that
Derek and I had several conversations during lunches about the potential for “The Symplectic Piece.” And he continued to attend occasional lectures on the subject, searching for a way to map symplectic geometry onto a musical score.
The stability of the solar system is one of the oldest problems
in theoretical physics, dating back to Isaac Newton. After Newton
discovered his famous laws of motion and gravity, he used these to
determine the motion of a single planet around the...
The mathematical problems arising from modern celestial
mechanics, which originated with Isaac Newton’s
Principia in 1687, have led to many mathematical theories.
Poincaré (1854–1912) discovered that a system of
several celestial bodies moving under...
A conference on algebraic and differential geometry was held
last fall in celebration of the seventieth birthday of former
Institute Director (1991–2003) Phillip A. Griffiths, a
Professor in the School of Mathematics, who will retire at the end