Hi all,(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

I should start by saying I'm an amateur at mathematics so please excuse me if the question seems a bit daft. But I'm just reading a book about chaos and complexity theory (John Gribbin: Simply Complexity) and it brought up a problem that I've certainly heard of before; the 'three body problem'. Where (for example) 3 planets are exerting forces on each other simultaneously and hence moving accordingly.

I understand that these problems become very complicated very quickly and so any problem with n+ bodies involved may become practically impossible to solve. But the book seems to imply (unless I've misunderstood), that they are literally impossible to solve - even if all the variables are known to complete accuracy.

A particular example is a problem where one (let's say) billiard ball hits two others simultaneously. Gribbin says determinism breaks down in this example, and even a computer (or deity or whatever you prefer) with full knowledge of all the variables would not be able to solve this.

Is this the case?! If so, why? Or have I just misunderstood (and again, if so, why)?

Look forward to hearing back from someone who can help explain this to me.

Thanks

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# N body problem

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