Schedule Oct 19, 2011
Baron von Munchhausen and the Cat: Swimming in Curved Space
Joseph Avron, Technion

Cats fall on their feet, but Baron von Munchhausen could not have pulled himself by pulling on his hair. Why can cats rotate without angular momentum while the Baron can not translate without momentum? The naive and correct answer is that this follows from Newton law on the center of mass motion. However, it turns out that the notion of center of mass is subtle and special to Euclidean space. As pointed out by J. Wisdom, the Baron can swim in empty curved space. The swimming is geometric and related to Berry's phase.

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