Levinson, Mercury, Leverrier discussed on Stuff To Blow Your Mind


He changes his focus briefly to focus on the curious case of another planet in the solar system. See I mentioned earlier that we known about the first six planets in the solar system since ancient times, but in the nineteenth century astronomers were still dealing with a relatively recent addition, and think about how weird this is like two at a time for the first time in thousands of years that we knew about another planet, and that planet was. How do we say this planet same on the podcast? Robert, do. We just say Uranus. Uranus is is more fun. It's more humorous, I often I often say you're at us, though then almost sounds like a urine Est.. Urine, EST, it's a professional urinate. In many respects, it's an unfortunately named planet. Yeah, it may be could have been worse. I don't know if this would be worse or not, so it was discovered in seventeen eighty one. Uranus sorry, that was the first time it was seen by human, and it was by the German born. British astronomer William Herschel, who found the planet during a survey of the stars, and he wanted to call it not uranus or Uranus but George CDs or the Star of George after King, George the third of England. And I'm glad that named got scrapped in favor of a much more dignified mythological anus reference. Yeah, even even with the anus right in there it It has more of a ring to it than than this Georgia. Dome sits. Business. Why we know how horrible that would be to name a planet, after just like a human king, kings suck. Yes, absolutely. I mean kings. They have all these other things. Let's at least leave their names off of the planet. Yeah, sticks him. Ethical references please, but anyway like Mercury Uranus was the. Fear Mysterious Right Uranus also wobbled in its orbit. It's pather on the sun was different from what we would predict given. The gravitational influences that we knew about. So leverrier took this mystery, and he turned it into one of the great success stories in the history of any scientific theory. He conjured a planet out of the void, and his assumptions were really simple, so he took the known laws of physics. He took Newton's laws and he asked you know given these laws. What could make Uranus as orbit as irregular as we observe and the answer he came up with was well another planet. He calculated how big that other planet would have to be and where exactly it would have to be in relation to Uranus and then he put that prediction to the test. He groped down his predictions in a letter to a German astronomer, named Johann gala and asked him to look for this eighth planet with his instruments and using leverrier as predictions gala found the. The Planet Neptune after only about an hour of looking for it within one degree of exactly where Lavera had predicted and I should also note that in English. Astronomer named John C Adams also calculated the position of the planet that would come to be known as Neptune independently around the same time, but in both cases there they're essentially using the math to determine where. This this unknown planet would be in. It confirmed that there is a course planet there and yeah, and this is like the classic case of like Win Win. A scientific theory works best writing when scientific theory tells you how things work in a way that allows you to extrapolate from what you know to what you predict. You should find in the future, and then you go out and look and find exactly. Yeah, you find exactly what you predicted, so this is like a great win for Newton's theories, right? The prediction is a huge success led to leverrier, being given all kinds of medals and honorary appointments, and he was eventually made the. The head of the Astronomical Observatory in Paris he plucked Neptune out of space, armed with nothing, but the power of Newton's laws, and so then after this leverrier decides to go back to his old subject, he turns his attention back to mercury in the problem of Mercury's a i. think everybody can see where we go here right? Yeah, so you can guess what the temptation might be. Leverrier had just achieved awesome fame by predicting a previously undiscovered planet. What if there was another so he came up with the prediction for something with mass very close to the sun inside the orbit, of Mercury, maybe another asteroid belt or another planet. It, would be something with mass that could cause Mercury's orbit to wobble in the way he had measured so precisely when making his tables, and then here's the real kicker just like Neptune. This inner planet was also discovered Oh so here I want to rely on the work of a of an author named Thomas Levenson from a book called the hunt for Volkan from Random House in two, thousand sixteen, and in an interview with nat go. Levinson describes the first sighting of the planet at. The pit, which was by an amateur, French astronomer named Edmond Modesto less. Carbo on March twenty, six, eighteen, fifty nine, so you've got the. He's this country doctor he was a country doctor by trade, and he's got an observatory in a stone barn in his backyard. Yeah, this is often the case. When we're talking about astronomy from this area, we're getting into the realm of the gentlemen scientists. Yes, yeah, he's sort of like. He Dabbles maybe so one day in eighteen, fifty, nine less Carbo took a break in between seeing patients. He went out to his telescope to observe the Sun. And And Levinson says quote as he trains his telescope on the Sun He sees a round object on the face of the Sun. He Times it as it moves steadily across, the sun records the. That another patient arrives, so he checks out. That patient then comes back to the born. This round dot is still crossing the son. He tracks it continuously taking notes on its path until it finally goes over the other edge of the sun, and so after making this observation less. Carbo he reads about Lavar prediction, and he gets all excited, and he writes a letter leverrier describing what he saw. saw crossing the disk of the sun, so leverrier had predicted this planet would be in there, and then let's go. Both saw it and apparently leverrier was at a New Year's Eve party when he got the letter and he just left and he's like Oh. Boy Any. He went out to less carbos house, which was a trip, that Levinson said involved a train ride in a twelve mile walk. So. He was obviously excited I. Mean You Find One Planet? You kind of get hooked on it right? Right of find another. So leverrier confirmed the observation, and this inner planet gotTa name came to be known as Volkan. That's a good name because Volkan in logical senses is close to the Fort. Yes, the forgot exactly. He's the hypothesis type figure. He's down there with the fires beating the steel, and this triggered a period of what Levinson called the Volkan. Mania suddenly astronomers all over the world or trying to find Vulcan in quite a few reported finding it. It, like during an eclipse in eighteen, Seventy, eight Levinson tells the story that Thomas Edison happened to be in the path of totality for for a solar eclipse in Wyoming and he was there to try out an infrared radiation sensor he had created, which actually did not work in the end but he so he's out there for the eclipse, and he ends up coming across a pair of Vulcan hunters who were using? Using the eclipse to try to spot the planet, because obviously, if you think about this, it's hard to see a planet that's close to the sun under normal circumstances, but if you wait for a solar eclipse in the moon blocks out the light of the sun, suddenly you can look up there and see okay. Is there anything there? The to Vulcan hunters here in the story where Simon Newcomb and James Craig Watson and there report. Report does that Newcombe could not find the planet. He looks for Vulcan during the eclipse. It didn't see anything but Watson said he saw it. He said a star was near the sun, which had never been documented before it was not on any of his charts, and it had to be the planet. Vulcan, an article for Nautilus. Levinson writes about Watson citing quote Watson saw very close to the limb of the sun a ruddy. Ruddy Star just where Vulcan ought to have been so the Discovery Vulcan was reported in the New York Times in papers around the world was huge and exciting news, and they're even cases where like doubters and skeptics about where sort of pooh-poohed and made fun of, but if you know your solar system now, you might be wondering okay, so what happened. Yeah, we didn't memorize that one in school. Right so yeah happened to Vulcan Vulcan. Vulcan mania, well, of course, many others simply failed to find the planet. Other people look for it and never saw what the people who found. It said they saw what really killed..

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