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Re: VMs: RE: Re: Kircher's Moon

In a message dated 4/8/2003 9:49:19 PM Eastern Standard Time, bgrant@xxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Kant also had an "a priori" proof
that there could only be seven planets - does anyone know if that is true?

It may have been Hegel rather than Kant.  Eric Temple Bell wrote a paragraph or so on this "proof" in his book _Men of Mathematics_,  in the chapter on Gauss, which was reprinted in Newman's four-volume collection _The World of Mathematics_, volume 1.  Your local library can probably locate one or the other.  Warning: Bell is like Fletcher Pratt or Harold Lamb, never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

You do not have to be able to see ("resolve") individual stars in a galaxy to make out its spiral structure, as the spiral arms are outlined by visible clouds of gas and dust that are much larger than individual stars.  Hence Rosse could make out the spiral structure while the first telescope capable of resolving individual stars in the Andromeda and other galaxies was the 100-inch Hooker telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory (now Hale Observatory) which was built in the 20th Century.

Around 1920 Henrietta Leavitt (sp?) studying photographs of the Magellanic Clouds (which are galaxies much closer than Andromeda but visible only in the Southern Hemisphere whereas Mount Wilson is near Los Angeles) spotted that certain stars known as "Cepheid variables" had a definite relationship between their period and their brightness.  In the 1920's Harlow Shapley took Leavitt's observation and used it to find the distance to Andromeda and other galaxies by looking for Cepheid variables.

Soon after, Hubble, using Shapley's distances, discovered the "Hubble Bubble", i.e. the fact that the universe appears to be expanding in a definite manner (the further away the galaxy is, the faster it is rushing away from us.)  Now for an oddity: Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity predicted that the universe would be expanding in the manner that Hubble a decade later observed.  However at the time Einstein published nothing was known about any expansion of the universe, so Einstein added a fudge factor to the General Theory of Relativity so that it could predict a static universe that was neither expanding nor contracting.  Hubble's observations showed that Einstein's theory was better than his nerve!

Now it is claimed that some culture knew, hundreds of years before the invention of the telescope circa 1609, that Saturn had rings.  (This claim is quoted in Velikovsky's _Worlds in Collision_, but be warned that Velikovsky was a crackpot who makes Newbold look conservative and even timid).  Some critic of Velikovsky suggested the following hypothesis:  someone polished a shield or a brass bowl or something into a good enough replica of a telescope mirror that s/he was able to make out an image of Saturn good enough to show the rings. 

Perhaps someone did the same thing to Andromeda or some other nearby galaxy and spotted a suggestion of a spiral structure, which became the basis for the illustration of "Kircher's Moon" which began this thread.

All this contributes to the discussion is the suggestion that the interpretation of Kircher's Moon as a spiral galaxy MIGHT not say anything about the date of the VMS.  Sorry to waste everyone's time.

           - James A. Landau