- (MATHEMATICS) The statement that
one quantity is less than or greater than another. The symbol > represents
"is greater than", and < stands for "is less than".
An example is 2x + 4 > 12, which is equivalent to 12 < 2x
+ 4. Inequalities of this type may be handled in a somewhat similar
way to equations; thus, in the case above, x > 4.
- (ASTRONOMY) Any irregularity
in an object's orbital motion that can't be explained as a result of
the mutual gravitational attraction between the body and its primary.
Inequalities in a planet's movement around the Sun, for example, are
due mainly to perturbations by
The great inequality, also known as Laplace's
period, is a slight rocking of both Jupiter
and Saturn, as they trek around the ecliptic.
Each oscillation takes some 840 to 960 years (the precise figure isn't
known) and is mostly caused by the near 5:2 resonance
of their orbits: Jupiter makes five complete trips around the Sun for
every two (or thereabouts) of Saturn.
The lunar equality stems from several factors, which
include the perturbing effects of the Sun
and other planets, tidal forces,
and the non-spherical shapes of Earth and the Moon.