What is a Lagrangian Point?

A Lagrange Point (or L-Point) is a physics term for a location where the forces of two large bodies (e.g., the Earth and the Sun) perfectly balance their effect on a third (e.g., the Moon or a GPS satellite). You may remember the term future-oriented movie (and book) 2001: A Space Odyssey (where TMA-2 was located).

There are only five L-Points. Each is unique and has characteristics (ESA, the European Space Agency has a nice page describing each of these in detail, with Flash animations). They provide a fun and interesting way to look at how Technology interacts with Life (M1) and the Business world (M2).

Equipotential map of five real-life Lagrange Points (Wikipedia Commons)
Equipotential map of five real-life Lagrange Points (Wikipedia Commons)

Point L1:

“The L1 point lies on the line defined by the two large masses M1 and M2, and between them. It is the most intuitively understood of the Lagrangian points… The Sun–Earth L1 is ideal for making observations of the Sun. Objects here are never shadowed by the Earth or the Moon.” This blog uses L1 to categorize issues and opportunities “in the spotlight” where technology interacts with M1 (Life) and M2 (Business).

Point L2:

“The L2 point lies on the line defined by the two large masses, beyond the smaller of the two… The Sun-Earth L2 is a good spot for space-based observatories.” (Because an object at L2 lies in the shadow, using the Earth to shield it from the sun.) This blog uses L2 to classify potential surprises or unexpected developments that may not be obvious because they are shadowed from M1 (Life) by M2 (Business factors).

Point L3:

“The L3 point lies on the line defined by the two large masses, beyond the larger of the two… L3 in the Sun–Earth system exists on the opposite side of the Sun… The Sun–Earth L3 point was a popular place to put a “Counter-Earth” in pulp science fiction and comic books…” This blog uses L3 to explore “What If” scenarios, i.e., how would use of technology change if history (life or business) turned out differently?

Points L4 and L5:

L4 vs. L5 Point vs. Orbita Path (asi.org)
L4 vs. L5 Point vs. Orbital path (asi.org)

The L4 and L5 points lie at the third corners of the two equilateral triangles in the plane of orbit whose common base is the line between the centers of the two masses, such that the point lies behind (L5) or ahead of (L4) the smaller mass with regard to its orbit around the larger mass. In this blog, I use L4 when looking ahead for opportunities that we can begin to exploit today. I use L5 to look back at lessons from the past relevant and useful today.

Using the Lagrangian Point of View

These five Lagrangian Points not only provide a fun way to explore technology from different points of view, they also serve as an homage to my original love and work in the aerospace field.

Note: All quoted text is sourced from Wikipedia and is used courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

5 points where tech balances between life and work