You might remember the media storm a few months ago about the schoolboy who "solved problems posed by Sir Isaac Newton that have baffled mathematicians for 350 years", etc., etc.. (e.g. )

At the time there was no real explanation of what he had done. Now there is, courtesy of Ralph Chill and Jürgen Voigt at Dresden University:

The answer is that he produced analytic solutions for the equations of motion of a particle in fluid and under gravity, e.g. the path of a ball (modelled as a particle) travelling through the air, taking air-resistence into account.

So, did mathematicians already know how to do this? Short answer: yes.

"The work is without doubt exceptional for a high school student and it merits the attention that it received in a national science competition for high school students... nevertheless all his steps are basically known to experts, and we emphasize that he did not solve an open problem posed by Newton."
Shared publiclyView activity