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Jack Wisdom (born 1953) is a Professor of Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his B.S. from Rice University in 1976 and his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1981. His research interests are the dynamics of the Solar System.

Jack Wisdom
Born (1953-01-28) January 28, 1953 (age 66)
Alma materCaltech(Ph.D., 1981)
Rice University (B.S., 1976)
Scientific career
FieldsPlanetary Science
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorPeter Goldreich[1]

Wisdom pioneered the study of chaos in the solar system. His 1981 dissertation demonstrated for the first time the theoretical reason for the clearing of the Kirkwood gaps in the asteroid belt.[2][3][4] His work has also brought to light the chaotic rotation of Hyperion,[5] chaos in the orbital evolution of Pluto,[6] and the chaotic obliquity of Mars[7] which has important implications for the past Martian climate.

Work with colleague Gerald Sussman using a specially-built computer demonstrated that the solar system as a whole is chaotic on a timescale of about four million years,[8] confirming results from Jacques Laskar.[9] This work was responsible for "shattering the long-held view of the clockwork motion of the planets."[4]

More recently, Wisdom's work has shed light on the complex evolution of the Moon[10][11] and the tidal heating and dynamics of Enceladus.[12][13]

In addition, Wisdom is credited with developing "numerous analytical and numerical techniques" that are fundamental to modern celestial mechanics,[4] most notably the symplectic map for the n-body problem (developed together with Matthew J. Holman),[14] which "now forms the core of nearly every solar system dynamics integration scheme in use today."[4]

Jack Wisdom is co-author of Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics. His 2003 paper in Science[15] on a new geometric phase effect which Wisdom calls "spacetime swimming" has attracted considerable attention, although it is not yet clear whether this effect has practical utility or even can be used to devise new tests of relativistic gravitation theories.

Awards and honorsEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Jack Wisdom at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Jack Wisdom (1982). "The origin of the Kirkwood gaps - A mapping for asteroidal motion near the 3/1 commensurability". Astronomical Journal. 87: 577–593. Bibcode:1982AJ.....87..577W. doi:10.1086/113132.
  3. ^ Jack Wisdom (1983). "Chaotic behavior and the origin of the 3/1 Kirkwood gap". Icarus. 56 (1): 51–74. Bibcode:1983Icar...56...51W. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/0019-1035(83)90127-6.
  4. ^ a b c d 2001 Brouwer Award Citation, AAS DDA
  5. ^ Jack Wisdom; S.J. Peale; F. Mignard (1984). "The chaotic rotation of Hyperion". Icarus. 58 (2): 137–152. Bibcode:1984Icar...58..137W. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/0019-1035(84)90032-0.
  6. ^ Gerald Sussman; Jack Wisdom (1988). "Numerical evidence that the motion of Pluto is chaotic" (PDF). Science. 241 (4864): 433–437. Bibcode:1988Sci...241..433S. doi:10.1126/science.241.4864.433. PMID 17792606.
  7. ^ Jihad Touma; Jack Wisdom (1993). "The Chaotic Obliquity of Mars". Science. 259 (5099): 1294–1297. Bibcode:1993Sci...259.1294T. doi:10.1126/science.259.5099.1294. PMID 17732249.
  8. ^ Gerald Sussman; Jack Wisdom (1992). "Chaotic Evolution of the Solar System". Science. 257 (5066): 56–62. Bibcode:1992Sci...257...56S. doi:10.1126/science.257.5066.56. PMID 17800710.
  9. ^ Jacques Laskar (1989). "A numerical experiment on the chaotic behaviour of the solar system". Nature. 338 (6212): 237–8. Bibcode:1989Natur.338..237L. doi:10.1038/338237a0.
  10. ^ Jihad Touma; Jack Wisdom (1992). "Resonances in the Early Evolution of the Earth-Moon System". Astronomical Journal. 115 (4): 1653–1663. Bibcode:1998AJ....115.1653T. doi:10.1086/300312.
  11. ^ Jack Wisdom (2006). "Dynamics of the Lunar Spin Axis". Astronomical Journal. 131 (3): 1864–1871. Bibcode:2006AJ....131.1864W. doi:10.1086/499581.
  12. ^ Jennifer Meyer; Jack Wisdom (2007). "Tidal Heating in Enceladus". Icarus. 188 (2): 535–539. Bibcode:2007Icar..188..535M. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.03.001.
  13. ^ Jennifer Meyer; Jack Wisdom (2008). "Tidal Evolution of Mimas, Enceladus, and Dione". Icarus. 193 (1): 213–223. Bibcode:2008Icar..193..213M. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.09.008.
  14. ^ Jack Wisdom; Matthew Holman (1991). "Symplectic maps for the n-body problem". Astronomical Journal. 102: 1528–1538. Bibcode:1991AJ....102.1528W. doi:10.1086/115978.
  15. ^ Wisdom, Jack (2003). "Swimming in spacetime: motion by cyclic changes in body shape". Science. 299 (5614): 1865–1869. Bibcode:2003Sci...299.1865W. doi:10.1126/science.1081406. PMID 12610230.
  16. ^ Andersen, P. H. (1988), "Jack Wisdom received the 1987 Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.", Physics Today, 41 (11): 99–104, Bibcode:1988PhT....41k.102A, doi:10.1063/1.2811630