Ode to Newtonian mechanics

(after Sonnet 130)


My mistress shapes ellipses round the Sun;
        Their perihelion does not precess.
If neutron stars combine, no waves are shun,
        If stars be dense, black holes may not progress.
I’ve read that matter makes space-time be curved,
        But no such curvature, just force I see;
The field equations Einstein to us served;
        Yet she prefers $\mathrm{d}(m v)$ by $\mathrm{d}t$.
I love to talk of her, yet well I know
        That relativity be general;
I grant I never saw dark matter though;
        My mistress is far less ephemeral.

        And yet, by heav’n, I think my love as rare,
        For Newton and Einstein I shan’t compare.

David teaches and researches maths at King’s College London, with a focus on geometry. In his spare time he likes to make music and read poetry.

Antonio researches modifications and extensions of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and enjoys teaching Newtonian mechanics at UCL. It was a ride on the number 8 bus from Shoreditch to Holborn which gave Antonio the idea of thinking of Newtonian mechanics as the mistress to general relativity’s stable partner.

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