Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Surfing the Solar System", by Gary Taubes. Discover, June 1999, pages88-93.

This article discusses work by astronautical engineers that uses mathematics toimprove the design of trajectories for spacecraft. Central to this effort isthe mathematical notion of a libration point, which is a point in space whereall gravitational forces cancel. This notion was first explored by the18th century mathematicians Lagrange and Euler. The recent work onspacecraft trajectories has inspired researchers at Caltech to tackle moregeneral problems about the nature of the solar system.

--- Allyn Jackson