The concept behind optimal space trajectories (e.g. the cheapest way to get into orbit) came to us from the Bernoulli brothers. In the seventeenth century, James and John Bernoulli amused and challenged each other by inventing mathematical puzzles for the other to solve. It was typical sibling rivalry carried to extremes. The game reached its zenith when one of the brothers proposed what is now called the “Brachistochrone problem.” (Consider it the brontosaurus of mathematics.) The name derives from the Greek roots that appear in brachiopod and chronology, so it translates to the “shortest time” problem.


Roller Coaster Fast Path Related Optimization Problem Quick Path Brachistochrone Problem 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

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