Download e-book for iPad: Adventures in Order and Chaos: A Scientific Autobiography by George Contopoulos

By George Contopoulos

ISBN-10: 0792354656

ISBN-13: 9780792354659

The box of Order and Chaos had a extraordinary enlargement within the final 50 years. the most cause used to be using desktops, and the improvement of latest theoretical tools that we name now 'the concept of chaos'. the writer describes this interesting interval in a peaceful and infrequently funny autobiographical method. He relates his interactions with many of us in dynamical astronomy and he rates numerous anecdotes from those interactions. He refers additionally to his reports whilst he served in a number of overseas positions, resembling common secretary of the IAU and chairman of the magazine Astronomy and Astrophysics. in recent times the idea of chaos has been prolonged to new parts, like relativity, cosmology and quantum mechanics and it maintains increasing in just about all branches of physics. The publication describes many vital principles during this box in an easy method. It refers additionally to difficulties of extra common curiosity, like writing papers and giving lectures and the interplay of authors and referees. ultimately it supplies a few beneficial customers for the way forward for dynamical astronomy and similar fields.

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Thus, we became good friends, and I learn of their progress every Christmas even now. I owe to Morris Davis also a lot as regards the use of computers. We had, first, a small computer, connected with a typewriter. When I wanted to calculate an orbit I was sitting next to the typewriter with a piece of graph paper. Every few minutes the typewriter would write the coordinates of a point along the orbit. I would mark the point on the paper and then wait for the next line. This process was incredibly slow.

Such particles stay in the well known van Allen belts, far above the Earth’s atmosphere. But sometimes these particles come to lower altitudes near the poles of the Earth, producing the phenomenon of aurorae. A theoretical study of the motions of charged particles in the dipole magnetic field of the Earth has been made in particular by Dragt and Finn (1976, 1979). M. Finn. I followed with much interest Finn’s work while I was a visiting professor at the University of Maryland. I studied myself a particular case of the St¨ormer problem, namely the case of resonances (Contopoulos and Vlahos 1975).

These notes were never published, but I still have a copy of them. The discussions during this meeting were the precursors of the later developments in this field. In particular we had the first estimate of the spiral pattern velocity in our Galaxy, given by Str¨omgren, who found the positions of the spiral arms where stars of our neighbourhood were born. From these past positions and the present positions of the spiral arms he derived a pattern velocity of 20km/sec/kpc, which is of the right order of magnitude.

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Adventures in Order and Chaos: A Scientific Autobiography by George Contopoulos


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