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How Gauss Determined the Orbit of Ceres

How Gauss Determined the Orbit of Ceres

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Published by Damián Neri

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Published by: Damián Neri on Apr 28, 2010
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The following presentation of Carl Gauss’s determination of the orbit of the asteroidCeres, was commissioned by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., in October 1997, as part of an ongoing series of Pedagogical Exercises high-lighting the role of metaphor and paradox in creative reason, through study of the great discoveries of science. Intended for individual and classroom study, the weekly install- ments—now “chapters”—were later serial-ized in The New Federalist newspaper. They are collected here, in their entirety, for the first time, incorporating additions and revi- sions to both text and diagrams.Through the course of their presentation, it became necessary for the authors to review many crucial questions in the history of math- ematics, physics, and astronomy. All of theseissues were subsumed in the primary objective, the discovery of the orbit of Ceres. And, because they were written to challenge a lay audience to master unfamiliar and conceptu- ally dense material at the level of axiomatic assumptions, the installments were often pur- posefully provocative, proceeding by way of  contradictions and paradoxes. Nonetheless, the pace of the argument moves slowly, building its case by constant ref- erence to what has gone before. It is, therefore, a mountaintop you need not fear to climb!We begin, by way of a preface, with the following excerpted comments by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. The authors return to them in the concluding stretto.K
* * *
rom Euclid through Legendre,geometry depended upon axiomat-ic assumptions accepted as if they wereself-evident. On more careful inspec-tion, it should be evident, that these
 by Jonathan Tennenbaumand Bruce Director
How GaussDeterminedThe Orbit of Ceres
assumptions are not necessarily true.Furthermore, the interrelationshipamong those axiomatic assumptions, isleft entirely in obscurity. Most conspicu-ous, even today, generally acceptedclassroom mathematics relies upon theabsurd doctrine, that extension in spaceand time proceeds in perfect continuity,with no possibility of interruption, evenin the extremely small. Indeed, everyeffort to prove that assumption, such asthe notorious tautological hoax concoct-ed by the celebrated Leonhard Euler,
Positions of unknown planet (Ceres), observed byGiuseppe Piazzi on Jan. 2, Jan. 22,and Feb. 11, 1801, moving slowlycounter-clockwise against the‘sphere of the fixed stars.’ 
Carl F.Gauss
6was premised upon a geometry which preassumed perfectcontinuity, axiomatically. Similarly, the assumption thatextension in space and time must be unbounded, was shownto have been arbitrary, and, in fact, false.Bernhard Riemann’s argument, repeated in the con-cluding sentence of his dissertation “On the HypothesesWhich Underlie Geometry,” is, that, to arrive at a suitabledesign of geometry for physics, we must depart the realmof mathematics, for the realm of experimental physics.This is the key to solving the crucial problems of represen-tation of both living processes, and all processes which, likephysical economy and Classical musical composition, aredefined by the higher processes of the individual humancognitive processes. Moreover, since living processes, andcognitive processes, are efficient modes of existence withinthe universe as a whole, there could be no universal physicswhose fundamental laws were not coherent with that anti-entropic principle central to human cognition....By definition, any experimentally validated principleof (for example) physics, can be regarded as a dimen-sion of an “
-dimensional” physical-space-time geome-try. This is necessary, since the principle was validatedby measurement; that is to say, it was validated by mea-surement of 
This includes experimentallygrounded, axiomatic assumptions respecting space andtime. The question posed, is: How do these “
” dimen-sions interrelate, to yield an effect which is characteris-tic of that physical space-time? It was Riemann’sgenius, to recognize in the experimental applicationswhich Carl Gauss had made in applying his approachto bi-quadratic residues, to crucial measurements inastrophysics, geodesy, and geomagnetism, the key tocrucial implications of the approach to a general theoryof curved surfaces rooted in the generalization fromsuch measurements....
What Art Must Learn from Euclid
The crucial distinction between that science and artwhich was developed by Classical Greece, as distinctfrom the work of the Greeks’ Egyptian, anti-Mesopotamia, anti-Canaanite sponsors, is expressed mostclearly by Plato’s notion of 
The possibility of mod-ern science depends upon, the relatively perfected formof that Classical Greek notion of 
as that notion isdefined by Plato. This is exemplified by Plato’s Socraticmethod of hypothesis, upon which the possibility of Europe’s development depended absolutely. What ispassed down to modern times as Euclid’s geometry,embodies a crucial kind of demonstration of that princi-ple; Riemann’s accomplishment was, thus, to have cor-rected the errors of Euclid, by the same Socratic methodemployed to produce a geometry which had been, up toRiemann’s time, one of the great works of antiquity. Thishas crucial importance for rendering transparent theunderling principle of motivic thorough-composition inClassical polyphony. ...The set of definitions, axioms, and postulates deducedfrom implicitly underlying assumptions about space, isexemplary of the most elementary of the literate uses of the term
Specifically, this is a
hypoth-esis, as distinguished from higher forms, including
hypotheses. Once the hypothesis underlying aknown set of propositions is established, we may antici-pate a larger number of propositions than those originallyconsidered, which might also be consistent with thatdeductive hypothesis. The implicitly open-ended collec-tion of theorems which might satisfy that latter require-ment, may be named a
The commonly underlying principle of organizationinternal to each such type of deductive lattice, is
as that principle is integral to the notion of measurement.This notion of extension, is the notion of a type of exten-sion characteristic of the domain of the relevant choice of theorem-lattice. All scientific knowledge is premisedupon matters pertaining to a generalized notion of exten-sion. Hence, all rational thought, is intrinsically geomet-rical in character.In first approximation, all deductively consistent sys-tems may be described in terms of theorem-lattices. How-ever, as crucial features of Riemann’s discovery illustratemost clearly, the essence of human knowledge is
change of hypothesis, this in the sense in which the prob-lem of ontological paradox is featured in Plato’s
 Par- menides.
In short, the characteristic of human knowledge,and existence, is not expressible in the mode of deductivemathematics, but, rather, must be expressed as
from one hypothesis, to another. The standard for change,is to proceed from a relatively inferior, to superior hypo-thesis. The action of scientific-revolutionary change, froma relatively inferior, to relatively superior hypothesis, is thecharacteristic of human progress, human knowledge, andof the lawful composition of that universe, whose masterymankind expresses through increases in potential relativepopulation-density of our species.The process of revolutionary change occurs onlythrough the medium of metaphor, as the relevant princi-ple of contradiction has been stated, above. Just as Euclidwas necessary, that the work of descriptive geometry byGaspard Monge
 et al.,
the work of Gauss, and so forth,might make Riemann’s overturning Euclid feasible, so allhuman progress, all human knowledge is premised uponthat form of revolutionary change which appears as the
quality of solution to an ontological paradox.
 —Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., adapted from “Behind the Notes”
Summer 1997 (Vol.VI, No. 2)

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