We all know that Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy was a mathematician,
right? (If not, check out Sherlock Holmes.)
In fact, his second famous paper was on the dynamics of an asteroid.
Now, you may ask, why is the greatest criminal mind of all time
interested in asteroids? Isaac Asimov suggests that his interest was completely diabolical. (To wit, the idea turning the Earth into just another asteroid belt was appealing.)
The non-integrability of the three-body gravitational problem is discussed explicitly (as is the perturbation method used to address such problems in practice). The role of general relativity in correctly predicting the orbit of Mercury is also discussed.
Ironically, this story about a Black Widower (cf. other Black Widower mystries) who wants to join the Baker Street Irregulars by determining Moriarty's interest in asteroids is also Asimov's work intended to gain him entry to the Irregulars.
It is interesting to compare this story to The Adventure of the Russian Grave which takes a much less mathematically sophisticated approach to the same problem.
See also Professor and Colonel, a short-story by Ruth Berman which similarly considers Moriarty's thoughts about his reseach, but with a very different result. |