The Two-Body Problem: Going from Six Variables to One.

Rhett Allain
14 min readFeb 10, 2023
Photo: Rhett Allain. The two-body problem.

Suppose you have two objects interacting with a central force — where by “central force” we mean that the potential energy only depends on the relative position of the two objects. This two-body problem could be a a binary star system or two masses connected by springs. It doesn’t matter as long as the force acting on the two masses only acts along a line connecting them.

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Rhett Allain

Physics faculty, science blogger of all things geek. Technical Consultant for CBS MacGyver and MythBusters. WIRED blogger.