Jack Wisdom

Physicist, Academic

1953 –


Who is Jack Wisdom?

Jack Wisdom is a Professor of Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his B.S. from Rice University in 1976 and his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1981. His research interests are the dynamics of the Solar System.

Wisdom pioneered the study of chaos in the solar system. His 1981 dissertation demonstrated for the first time the theoretical reason for the clearing of the Kirkwood gaps in the asteroid belt. His work has also brought to light the chaotic rotation of Hyperion, chaos in the orbital evolution of Pluto, and the chaotic obliquity of Mars which has important implications for the past Martian climate.

Work with colleague Gerald Sussman using a specially-built computer demonstrated that the solar system as a whole is chaotic on a timescale of about four million years, confirming results from Jacques Laskar. This work was responsible for "shattering the long-held view of the clockwork motion of the planets."

More recently, Wisdom's work has shed light on the complex evolution of the Moon and the tidal heating and dynamics of Enceladus.

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Jan 28, 1953
  • United States of America
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Rice University

on July 23, 2013


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