Jussieu 75251 Paris Cedex 05, 75251, Paris, France
Astronomie et Systèmes Dynamiques, IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris & Départment de Mathématiques
A note by Poincare
2005, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 143-154
On November 30th 1896, Poincare published a note entitled «On the periodic solutions and the least action principle» in the «Comptes rendus de l’Academie des Sciences». He proposed to find periodic solutions of the planar Three-Body Problem by minimizing the Lagrangian action among loops in the configuration space which satisfy given constraints (the constraints amount to fixing their homology class). For the Newtonian potential, proportional to the inverse of the distance, the «collision problem» prevented him from realizing his program; hence he replaced it by a «strong force potential» proportional to the inverse of the squared distance.
In the lecture, the nature of the difficulties met by Poincare is explained and it is shown how, one century later, these have been partially resolved for the Newtonian potential, leading to the discovery of new remarkable families of periodic solutions of the planar or spatial n-body problem.