Nautilus

Why Rotation Makes No Sense Sometimes

What is orbital rotation? The basic picture is clear enough: One body is at rest, while the other follows some circular or elliptical path around it. The trouble is just to figure out which body is which. If you’re standing on the surface of the earth, it appears that the sun slowly orbits around you once per year. (Of course, it also looks as if the entire sky rotates around you once per day, because the earth rotates on its axis. But we are thinking about the motion of the sun relative to the rest of the sky, which happens on a yearly cycle.) But on the surface of the sun, it would presumably also look as if the earth orbits around you once per year. Figuring out which of these reflected the true motions of the solar system, as opposed to merely apparent motions, was once a matter of heated controversy.

Seventeenth-century physicist Galileo Galilei, for instance, was convicted of heresy for

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da Nautilus

Nautilus14 min letti
The Botanist Who Defied Stalin: His dream of feeding the world died in prison. His dream of a seed bank lives on.
In 1913, 26-year-old Russian biologist Nikolai Vavilov went to the John Innes Horticultural Institute to study at the feet of legendary geneticist William Bateson. While there, Vavilov attended lectures at nearby Cambridge University, and could often
Nautilus7 min lettiPsychology
Why People Feel Like Victims: Getting to the core of today’s social acrimony.
In a polarized nation, victimhood is a badge of honor. It gives people strength. “The victim has become among the most important identity positions in American politics,” wrote Robert B. Horwitz, a communications professor at the University of Califo
Nautilus6 min lettiEarth Sciences
The Largest Cells on Earth: Deep in the ocean abyss, xenophyophores are worlds unto themselves.
Imagine you’re a scientist, sitting in the cold dark belly of a ship above an ocean abyss. Your eyes are fixed on a panel of screens as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) descends miles below your feet. First the ROV travels through the productive sun