the three-body problem

by diane raptosh

               Solutions to the three-body problem may be of an arbitrary
complexity and are very far from being completely understood.  –Scholarpedia

i) Periodic Systems of Astronomical Interest

Like some Carica papayas, George Washington had the XXY condition. He
pointed out that he was statuesque, had no kids but rather broad hips,
a size 13 boot, and a fondness for swatches of calico. He liked to rub
and compare them, to watch them through moon-mote, to flutter and twirl
them in horseshoe orbits. He powdered his red-brown hair and tied it in
a braid down his back like a small mane. When George was elected, a
czarina reigned in Russia, a shogun lorded over Japan. Only the office
of President endures. In this case we can ignore the influence of the
light body on the other spheres. For assurance, Washington carried a
pocket sundial wherever he went. He bred hound dogs he named Tarter,
True Love, and Sweet Lips. He would spell words like blue as
blew, oil as oyl, and eie for an eye. The six white horses in Washington's
stables had their teeth brushed every morning. Washington's orders. As
can be seen, the three-body problem—its four degrees of freedom—offers
myriad options for public service.

ii) Without Loss of Generality, We Consider the Three-Body Problem on a Plane

                                                                         Three healthy male volunteers
in their 20s were placed bare-chested in front of cameras in light-tight rooms
for 20 minutes every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for three days.
Researchers watched body-gleam spool through the dark. “If you see the
sheen from the surface of three bodies, you can see the whole body condition,"
states researcher Etsuko Kobayashi from Kyoto U.

iii) Three Bodies of Equal Mass Follow Each Other at Uniform Spacing

If there was a drowning in the River Rappahannock, her mother would

note how that was the third in a series, even if it was not, or how there

would be a third drowning if two had taken place within the past six years.

iv) Celestial Mechanics

Her boyfriend is the mother of her child.

v) Two Bodies Move Closely Round Each Other and Around a Third Body Far Away

The oil-black aril-covered seeds in the papaya’s core, which smack 
of nasturtiums, have contraceptive effects in adult male langur monkeys

and handpicked blue-green eyed persons . . . .


“The Three-Body Problem” was first published in The Prose Poem Project, Fall 2010