Lecture 32

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Watched Film: It's All Relative, Mr. Poincaré

To Do: add detailed notes describing contents of the film.

See the paper "xxx" for a rebuttal of the perspective offered in the film.


The French scientist Henri Poincaré had a number of ideas that heralded later developments in mathematics and mathematical physics:

Chaos Theory

Poincaré observed, in relation to his work on the wikipedia:Three body problem, that systems such as the Sun-Earth-Moon were highly sensitve to their initial conditions. In other words, miniscule perturbations in the starting position, velocity, etc. of such systems would lead to drastically different configurations as the system evolves over time.

Work on dynamical systems carried out only in the last 30 years, inspired in part by these observations by Poincaré, has led to the development of wikipedia:Chaos Theory.


Poincaré made a number of observations that seemed to prefigure the development of the Theory of Relativity. It is speculated in the movie that he has not been given his due as an originator of the Theory along with Lorentz and Einstein, perhaps in part due to the political considerations of his day, e.g. the wikipedia:Dreyfuss Affair and Franco-German tensions.

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