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David Merchant
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Planets With Four Suns May Be Not So Rare After All
While numerous two- and three-star systems containing planets have been discovered (with planet-harboring binary-star systems possibly outnumbering planet-harboring single star systems), four-star systems with planets were at first thought to be if not impo...

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Planets With Four Suns May Be Not So Rare After All
While numerous two- and three-star systems containing planets have been discovered (with planet-harboring binary-star systems possibly outnumbering planet-harboring single star systems), four-star systems with planets were at first thought to be if not impo...

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Asimov's Nightfall
Nightfall Begins Magazine editor John W. Campbell asked Isaac Asimov to write a story based on a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, published in chapter 1 of Nature, Addresses and Lectures : If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would m...

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Knowledge of mind and emotions should be taught in schools. On the basis of that understanding we can become healthy, happy individuals, families, communities and societies. But if the mind is not disciplined, mere knowledge will not be of much help. We need to use our intelligence to extend our basic compassionate nature, which gives rise to trust, the very basis of friendship—as human beings that’s we all need.

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The Solar System Is Not A Vortex...
I decided to do my own investigation into the infamous "our solar system is a vortex" viral gif/video. Phil Plait has famously rubbished this already, of course, but independent analysis is always good.

My conclusions are slightly different from Plait's. One of his major arguments is that the video shows the Sun moving in front of the planets. This, if true, would be nonsensical, but I'm not at all convinced that the video does show this. Secondly, he says that the planetary orbits should be inclined at 60 degrees with respect to the direction of motion of the Sun. While this is true, it does not actually make much difference to the end result.

Unfortunately, the (IMHO) somewhat minor inaccuracies of the video are not due to simplifications, but to fundamental misunderstandings. The author of the video likes this "vortex" model (an alternative model of the Solar System, which was written by someone who is an outright certifiable nutcase) because it shows the Solar System going on a "journey" through space; in reality there is no need for an alternative model because the planets make helical motions through space anyway. This is a point I think Plait neglected to mention.

The bottom line for me is that if you just saw the gif or even the first video, then no harm done because it's not really all that inaccurate. It's only if you dig a little deeper, and watch the second video, that you might encounter "theories" which are quite demonstrably, absolutely wrong.

I believe strongly in supporting alternative, or even fringe, theories, but when something as utterly nonsensical as this goes viral, I think we should try to explain to people why it's wrong. Especially when the theory was concocted by someone who thinks that CFCs aren't responsible for damaging the ozone layer. That's potentially far more dangerous than any alternative models of the Solar System.

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