Science and Religion: Escape From The Center of (Robert) Sungenis

geocentrism_350pxw

Geocentrism: adding epicycles.

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Mr. Robert Sungenis and anyone who missed the memo about the sun being the reason they call this the “solar” system.

     I’d like to tell you a story, my fine, young readers. It’s a story that’s over two thousand years in the making, and one that needs to be told. You see, we as a race are nearing a fork in the road of our development, between enlightenment and ignorance. This fork in the road means that those of us who honestly care where we are going, need to be diligent enough to tell these stories repeatedly, so that others don’t forget all that we’ve learned. I tell you this story, because I love each and every one of you. But, I digress…

Claudius Ptolemy: 90 - 168 AD.

Claudius Ptolemy: 90 – 168 AD.

     In the last years of the third century BC, Greek mathematician Appolonius of Perga posited a geometric model that would explain the movements of the planets as they tracked across the sky. Observed from the Earth, planets such as Mars seemed to move in one direction for a while, then stop, move backwards a bit, then return to their original direction of motion. What Appolonius proposed, was that these objects moved in what came to be known as “epicycles” as they tracked across the night sky. Appolonius’s epicycles were subsequently expanded upon and adopted by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD, and became part of the Ptolemaic system of astronomy. (Ptolemy’s model was even turned into an ancient analog computer of sorts, in what is now known as the “Antikythera Mechanism.”) The Ptolemaic system would hold sway as scientific dogma for the next fifteen hundred years.

Nicholaus Copernicus: 1473 - 1543

Nicolaus Copernicus: 1473 – 1543

     Flash forward, to the year 1542. A man lies dying from apoplexy and paralysis. His name, is Nicolaus Copernicus. For the past few decades, Copernicus had been working on the problem of the Ptolemaic model, trying to answer various questions about its inability to make more accurate predictions of the motions of the planets. At the same time, the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation were spreading throughout Europe, challenging the long-held authority of the Roman Catholic church over what exactly the “truths of existence” were.

     Copernicus wasn’t an idiot. He knew that his observations and conclusions about how the heavenly bodies moved across the sky, would contradict church dogma. So, he waited until just before his death in 1543 to publish his observations in a book, “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.” (“On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres”) In this daring treatise, Copernicus posited that the sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the planetary system, and that the planets orbited the sun in circular paths.

Tycho Brahe: 1546 - 1601

Tycho Brahe: 1546 – 1601

     Three years later, another pioneer in the field of astronomy was born. Tycho Brahe was a headstrong young man, who even lost part of the bridge of his nose in a sword duel (in the dark!) with a fellow Danish nobleman, over a mathematical formula. Tycho was serious. Even more so, he was all about accuracy. Because of this, Tycho began to make meticulous measurements of the planets’ motions, using a device called a “quadrant.”

Johannes Kepler: 1571 - 1630

Johannes Kepler: 1571 – 1630

     By 1600, Brahe had compiled a massive amount of data. It was at this time, that 29-year-old Johannes Kepler met Brahe near Prague, at Benatky nad Jizerou, and became his assistant. Brahe didn’t entirely trust Kepler with his data. For that matter, he didn’t trust anyone with it, and guarded his data closely. He did, however, set his young protege a task; reckon out the motion of the planet Mars. (“Here, kid. Take these measurements and figure it out.”) Kepler already had his own view of the world around him, and since he wasn’t a Catholic, wasn’t as worried about crossing the “powers-that-be” as Copernicus had been.

     Tycho Brahe died in 1601. Immediately following Brahe’s demise, Kepler purloined his vast collection of observational data, and eventually published his conclusions in the “Astronomia nova” (“New Astronomy”) in 1609. “Astronomia nova” made compelling arguments for heliocentrism, and built on the Copernican model of planetary orbits, positing that instead of circular paths, the planets followed elliptical orbits around the sun.

Galileo Galilei: 1564 - 1642

Galileo Galilei: 1564 – 1642

     In the same year that Kepler published “Astronomia nova”, a 45-year-old Italian mathematician and astronomer, by the name of Galileo Galilei, built a device modeled after the “Dutch spyglass.” This device, which could magnify distant objects to about 3x, was the first practical telescope. Galileo turned his telescope skyward…and Galileo saw. Galileo sketched. Galileo discovered.

     He discovered that Saturn had rings. He discovered that Jupiter had moons of its own. He noted that Venus went through phases, much like the moon. Galileo published his findings in “Sidereus Nuncius” (“Starry Messenger”) in 1610, and in “Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo” (“Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”) in 1632. It was the latter book, which directly challenged established church dogmas, that would result in Galileo being tried for heresy by the Inquisition, and placed under house arrest until his death in 1642. The damage, however, had been done. The great man, Galileo Galilei, had dealt the death blow to the Ptolemaic system of geocentrism…or so it seemed.

Sir Issac Newton: 1642 - 1727

Sir Issac Newton: 1642 – 1727

     In the centuries after Galileo turned his telescope to the sky, science has made advances that Galileo would have found astounding. Issac Newton refined Galileo’s work, developing a new system of mathematics (Calculus) to explain the motions of the planets, as well as the reasons why they move the way that they do. His “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”) was a virtual watershed in the fields of mathematics, physics and astronomy.

     During the 1800’s, the sky was indeed the “greatest show on Earth.” Before the age of motion pictures, radio and television, people found entertainment and wonder in simply gazing up at the sky, identifying the stars and constellations, and acknowledging their place within the wider realm of existence…but then, that all changed.

     It is the year 2014. A recent poll by the National Science Foundation finds that 1 in 4 people in America don’t know that the sun is at the center of the solar system. America ranks 25th in science and math scoring of high-school students worldwide. (China, Finland and South Korea rank in the top three.) This spring, mail-order Ph.D. documentary producer and Holocaust denier, Robert Sungenis, is releasing a film based upon his book, “Galileo Was Wrong The Church Was Right”, titled “The Principle.” Sungenis is an adherent of the Ptolemaic model of geocentrism; the same model that was proven to be wrong almost 500 years ago.

     I can only hope that someone reads this story, and understands. I ache with the desire for someone to digest these words, and to be imbued with a child-like curiosity about science and the sky. Oh, God. If I had the money, I would gladly buy each and every one of you, my fine young readers, a brand new Celestron telescope, so that we could gaze together on the wonders of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the rings around Saturn and other “awesomesauce” out there in the night sky, if for no other reason than to honor Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and others for their hard work and sacrifices. Sacrifice, they did, all in the name of making our world a better and smarter place to be.

Space and Science: Alone, Are We

In the absence of new material, I thought I’d try reblogging a few articles…

The Cybersattva

     TLDR ADVISORY:This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     Ah, the title. The title, the title the title. See, whenever I compose one of these pieces, I endeavor to come up with a catchy title, in the hopes of snaring those few extra readers by virtue of the title’s interesting nature. In this case, I drew upon the downwards, backside-up-speak of the venerable Yoda. Depending upon both the order of these three small words and the placement of punctuation marks, the title can become a question…or a statement. As to how these three words should read, that all depends on who you ask.

     There seem to be not one, not two, but three major schools of thought on the subject of whether we are alone in the universe. The fundamental, religious types will tell you that, since God created the heavens and…

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Space and Science: Alone, Are We

"BILLIONS, upon BILLIONS..."(Carl Sagan)

“BILLIONS, upon BILLIONS…”
(Carl Sagan)

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     Ah, the title. The title, the title the title. See, whenever I compose one of these pieces, I endeavor to come up with a catchy title, in the hopes of snaring those few extra readers by virtue of the title’s interesting nature. In this case, I drew upon the downwards, backside-up-speak of the venerable Yoda. Depending upon both the order of these three small words and the placement of punctuation marks, the title can become a question…or a statement. As to how these three words should read, that all depends on who you ask.

     There seem to be not one, not two, but three major schools of thought on the subject of whether we are alone in the universe. The fundamental, religious types will tell you that, since God created the heavens and the Earth, and created us in His image to be upon the Earth, then surely we are at the center of his creation and must be alone in the universe. (I shudder whenever I get this response, because one would think that this school of thought would, and should have died out at the same time that Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the solar system was proven as being correct. In point of fact, we’re not even at the center of anything universe-wise! In our own Milky Way galaxy, we actually reside about halfway out, on one of it’s spiral arms. If we were in the galactic center, we’d be devoured by the super-massive black hole that’s there. (1))

     The hopeful romantics out there, a group which includes various conspiracy theorists, MUFON, some that are involved with SETI and others who “believe”, will reply that it is a foregone conclusion; we are not alone, and the truth is out there! The third school of thought, held by those with a pragmatic bent on scientific observation, will tell you that the possibility, while being rather remote, cannot be entirely dismissed due to the myriad of unknown variables in the universe. It is along these lines that I want to proceed and discuss with you, my fine young readers, a few of the variables that the scientific community considers when contemplating this ages-old question.

     First of all, let’s look at what we know about our own home, this “third rock” from the sun (maybe I should have also titled this article “Things You Might Not Have Known”);

  •      We’re in what’s referred to as the “habitable”, or “Goldilocks” zone, a comfortable distance from our star where things like liquid water can form, given the right atmospheric pressure and conditions. (2)
  •      Speaking of atmospheric pressure, we have an atmosphere comprised of mostly Nitrogen, Oxygen and Argon, with other trace gasses thrown in for good measure. Because of the mass of our home planet, a comfortable 5.97219 × 1024 kilograms, there’s an equally comfortable 101.325 kPa (kiloPascals) of air pressure exerted. If our planet had considerably less mass, things would be a lot different!
  •      Our planet has a hot, two-stage core comprised of iron and nickel, which rotates. This “geodynamo” provides our planet with its geomagnetic field, which protects us from otherwise harmful solar radiation. This geomagnetic field also prevents our atmosphere from being stripped away by solar winds, which is a good thing for us. (We like to breathe, don’t we? Most of us are pretty good at it!) It is thought that this is what happened to the Martian atmosphere long ago, as geological processes like plate tectonics and core spin ground to a halt. (3)
  •      Our planet is part of a system of planets which orbit a single star, a relatively small G-type main-sequence star known as a “yellow dwarf”. While most other stars in the observable galaxy are part of binary and ternary star systems, our yellow dwarf seems to be in the small minority of systems with only a single star. (4)
  •      Our blue marble spins on an axis, at about a 23° tilt, which gives us our seasons. We spin around once every 24 hours, which gives us our days and ensures that most of the planet is equally bathed in life-giving sunlight. (The polar regions get far more or far less sunlight at certain times of the year, also due to the axial tilt, and the manner in which we orbit the sun.)

     In other words, the conditions here are like Baby Bear’s porridge; just right. Any closer to the sun, and we would bake. Any farther, and we would freeze. If our core stopped spinning, then our magnetosphere would collapse, and that nice, breathable atmosphere would be whisked away by the solar winds. If our planet did not spin, then half of the planet would always be hot, the other half, always cold. This would change only gradually, over the 365-day period of orbit around the sun.  There are several conditions that have to be just right, for life to not only develop, but to thrive.

     Here’s another thing to consider; when we talk about “life on other planets”, people’s minds always jump to the idea of “little green men”, “the greys” and other concepts of sentient, developed lifeforms. What about the smallest forms of life, microbial life? What about plant life? There could very well be life on other planets, just not the kind of life that people are expecting!

     Now ask yourself; what is the likelihood of there being an extra-solar system somewhere out there, with a single sun, with a planet in its habitable zone possessing a two-stage metallic core, which spins on an axis and has the right mass, and an atmosphere at just the right pressure, that liquid water can exist with some modicum of stability? Out of all of the exoplanets discovered so far by the Kepler mission, how many of them meet these criteria?

     It’s easy to dismiss or to take for granted, the several things that make our home a home. At the end of the day however, they all still figure in to the equation. Given all of this, coupled with the vast distances between the stars, is the idea of “contact” a likelihood? Are we alone / alone are we / alone we are  / we are alone…?