A Task that Exceeded the Technology: Early Applications of the Computer to the Lunar Three-body Problem

Revue de Synth├Ęse 139 (3-4):267-288 (2018)
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The lunar Three-Body problem is a famously intractable problem of Newtonian mechanics. The demand for accurate predictions of lunar motion led to practical approximate solutions of great complexity, constituted by trigonometric series with hundreds of terms. Such considerations meant there was demand for high speed machine computation from astronomers during the earliest stages of computer development. One early innovator in this regard was Wallace J. Eckert, a Columbia University professor of astronomer and IBM researcher. His work illustrates some interesting features of the interaction between computers and astronomy.
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First archival date: 2019-11-20
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