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Rod in a train: a mechanical problem of H.Whitney, or Much Ado About Nothing

А Шень Alexander Shen 1
1 ESCAPE - Systèmes complexes, automates et pavages
LIRMM - Laboratoire d'Informatique de Robotique et de Microélectronique de Montpellier
Abstract : In 1941 a mechanical problem about a rod in a moving train (there is a initial position such that rod does not touch the floor while train is moving) was published by R.Courant and H.Robbins in their popular book "What is mathematics?" and attributed to H.Whitney. Many mathematicians, including G.E.Littlewood, A.Broman, T.Poston, I.Stewart, V.Arnold, commented on this problem and its solution based on a continuity argument, and created a lot of confusion. In this paper we follow these developments and discuss at what extent the objections were justified. (In Russian)
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Contributor : Alexander Shen <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 3:25:03 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 21, 2021 - 8:22:02 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, January 30, 2020 - 9:23:40 PM


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  • HAL Id : lirmm-02337639, version 1
  • ARXIV : 1907.01598



А Шень, Alexander Shen. Rod in a train: a mechanical problem of H.Whitney, or Much Ado About Nothing. 2019. ⟨lirmm-02337639⟩



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