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Scientists Discuss Physics and Mathematics behind ‘3 Body Problem’ | Sci.News

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the scientific accuracy of the Netflix series "3 Body Problem", which is based on the book trilogy "Remembrance of Earth's Past" by Chinese author Cixin Liu. It examines how the show portrays advanced concepts in physics, such as the three-body problem, and how closely the story adheres to the underlying science.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The Three-Body Problem

1. What is the three-body problem in physics?

  • The three-body problem is a famous problem in classical and celestial mechanics, involving the interaction of three celestial bodies via gravitational force.
  • Unlike the predictable motions of two-body systems (e.g., Earth-Moon, Earth-Sun), the three-body problem does not have an analytic solution.
  • The work of French mathematician Henri Poincaré on the three-body problem in the late 19th century led to the development of chaos theory and the concept of the butterfly effect.

2. How does the three-body problem relate to the Netflix series "3 Body Problem"?

  • The very name of the show comes from the three-body problem, which is a central concept in the story.
  • The novels and the Netflix series depict a visualization of the three-body problem, showing a solar system with three stars in erratic orbit around one another.

3. What are the scientific issues with the depiction of the three-body problem in the show?

  • According to experts, there are no known configurations of three massive stars that could maintain an erratic orbit as shown in the series.
  • A breakthrough about 20 years ago led to the discovery of a "figure eight" solution to the three-body problem, but the movement is not chaotic.
  • It is even more unlikely that a fourth body, a planet, would be in a stable orbit around this system of three stars, as depicted in the story.

[02] Climate Stability and Habitability

1. What are the challenges in maintaining an Earth-like climate that supports life?

  • According to the experts, a stable climate on an Earth-like planet is unlikely, as there are at least a hundred independent factors required to create a planet that can support life as we know it.
  • The relatively stable climate that has existed on Earth for the past 10,000 years, which has coincided with the rise of advanced human civilization, is the exception rather than the norm.


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