3-15-1. George Howard Darwin to H. Poincaré

28 Feb. 1899

Newnham Grange—Cambridge

Dear Monsieur Poincaré,

You have, I believe, already received an intimation that the University of Cambridge proposes to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Sir George Stokes’ tenure of his professorship on the 1st of June next.11 1 Poincaré was not part of the French delegation to the Stokes Jubilee, which included Gaston Darboux for the Sorbonne, Alfred Cornu for the École polytechnique, Henri Becquerel for the Paris Academy of Science and the École polytechnique, Émile Borel for the École normale supérieure, and Henri Deslandres for the French Society of physics (Stokes 1900, vii–ix).

The Philosophical Society of Cambridge proposes to commemorate this occasion also by the collection of a special volume of papers on Physical Astronomical and Mathematical subjects. I have been asked by a committee of the Society to inform you that we should feel highly honored if you would be willing to make a contribution to our proposed volume.22 2 Poincaré (1899b), on which see Darwin to Poincaré, 25.05.1899 (§ 3-15-4).

I have looked at your criticism of my paper on Periodic orbits, although I have not yet thoroughly mastered it.33 3 See Darwin (1897), and Poincaré’s evaluation (Poincaré 1899a, 352). I entirely admit the justice of your remark that the figure of 8 orbits and the A orbits are not continuous. Indeed I had (thanks to Mr Hough) arrived at the same conclusion from another point of view before I saw your book.44 4 Sydney Samuel Hough (1870–1923), assistant to David Gill at the Cape Observatory. See Hough (1901), cf. Darwin’s remarks on the occasion of Poincaré’s Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society (Darwin (1900, 414), and Barrow-Green (1997, 196).

I am trying now to make good the hiatus, but find myself so much interrupted by other work that I am not able to get on as quickly as I should like to do.55 5 Darwin will write again to Poincaré on the subject of periodic orbits, on 20.03.1899 (§ 3-15-3).

I remain, Yours very sincerely,

G. H. Darwin

ALS 4p. Collection particulière, Paris 75017.

Time-stamp: "14.09.2016 17:58"


  • J. E. Barrow-Green (1997) Poincaré and the Three Body Problem. AMS/LMS, Providence. Cited by: footnote 4.
  • Cambridge Philosophical Society (Ed.) (1900) Memoirs Presented to the Cambridge Philosophical Society on the Occasion of the Jubilee of Sir George Gabriel Stokes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 1.
  • G. H. Darwin (1897) Periodic orbits. Acta mathematica 21, pp. 101–242. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 3.
  • G. H. Darwin (1900) Presentation of the Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society to M. Henri Poincaré. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 60, pp. 406–415. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 4.
  • S. S. Hough (1901) On certain discontinuities connected with periodic orbits. Acta mathematica 24, pp. 257–288. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 4.
  • H. Poincaré (1899a) Les méthodes nouvelles de la mécanique céleste, Volume 3. Gauthier-Villars, Paris. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 3.
  • H. Poincaré (1899b) Sur les groupes continus. Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 18, pp. 220–255. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 2.