I often ask students, if you practice hard enough, will you be able to control a coin-toss? If yes, why is batting order decided by a coin-toss? If not, why not?, is not rigid body dynamics, ruled by Newton’s laws?

A part answer to that comes from the work of Sofya Kowalevskya, from her analysis of the differential equations that govern the rotation of rigid bodies.

What is all the more interesting is that essentially the same equations govern the roll of a dice of spin of a sattelite.

Her work has a quality of “mysterious” about it because she used a conjecture (unproven theorem) to get a set of solvable systems, without actually solving them. Now if the last statement has made you furious, I am sorry, the full story is very long, so some other time and some other place.

You must be logged in to post a comment.