Schoolboy Solves Newton’s 300-Year-Old Puzzle
Posted on May 28, 2012
Three centuries of mathematical genius led by Sir Isaac Newton couldn’t solve these problems from the field of dynamics, but a 16-year-old German boy fiddling with a school project could. Unfortunately, his achievements will probably be used to help governments kill people with greater precision.
Incidentally, Shouryya Ray lives and attends school in Dresden. The city was the recipient of more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II. The attack killed more than 20,000 people. —ARK
The solution devised by Shouryya Ray, 16, makes it possible to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance.
… The problems he resolved are from the field of dynamics. The first, dealing with the movement of projectiles through the air, was posed by Newton in the 17th century. The second, which relates to the collision of a body with a wall, was posed in the 19th century.
Only partial solutions had been discovered up to now, requiring simplified assumptions or calculations by computer. Shouryya’s elegant solutions could contribute to greater precision in fields such as ballistics.
jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)