Part IB Advanced Physics Course



Search :

A Brief History of Dynamics (see recommendations in the reading list)

384BC-322BC
Aristotle
310BC-230BC
Aristarchus of Samos proposed the Heliocentric theory.
190BC-120BC
Hipparchus of Rhodes measured the angular height of the star Alpha Virginis above the ecliptic and compared it with 150-yr-old Babylonian observations. From the change of 2 degrees, he deduced that the Earth's axis precesses at 47 arc-seconds per year. He also made detailed observations of the moon and estimated the earth-moon distance with similar accuracy.
150AD
Ptolemy knocks heliocentricity on the head because it violates Aristotle's ideas. Building on Hipparchus's work, he wrote a detailed mathematical theory of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets.
1564-1642
Galileo
1546-1601
Tycho Brahe
1571-1630
Johannes Kepler
1629-1695
Christiaan Huygens [In 1656 he patented the first pendulum clock and applied it to longitude determination.]
1643-1727 (1669-1687)
Newton (Lucasian Professor in Cambridge)
1693-1776
John Harrison. Master clockmaker.
1736-1813
Lagrange. Had 10 younger siblings only one of whom survived infancy. His father, a military man, wasted his earnings; Lagrange viewed this as good fortune: "Had I been rich, I might never have known Mathematics". He founded the Turin Academy of Sciences.
1729.
Laplace born. "The Newton of France." He published from 1766-1817. Among his many achievements, he put the (gamma-1)/gamma into the speed of sound.
1762
Lagrange Method of Variations
1766
Lagrange moved to Berlin (where Euler had been). Won prizes for work on moon, Jupiter, 3-body problem and comets. Wrote "Analytical Mechanics", which contained no diagrams.
1775
Nevil Maskelyne and Schiehallion, famous gravitating mountain, now owned in part by the John Muir Trust (Help to buy it!)
1787
Lagrange moved to Paris and became depressed.
1787
publication commences of "Celestial Mechanics", Laplace's peak. Biot assisted with the galleys.
Laplace is president of board of Longitudes. Went into politics where he was useless. Was replaced by Bonaparte.
1812
Laplace's work on probability published. (Generating functions; inference)
1889, 1892
Poincaré. Poincaré was first to consider the possibility of chaos in a deterministic system, in his work on planetary orbits. Little interest was shown in this work until the modern study of chaotic dynamics began in 1963.

Site last modified Wed Aug 17 16:39:36 BST 2005