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No. 71: Sep-Oct 1990

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The solar system. The recent advent and fast rise in popularity of chaos theory is destroying some favorite, long-sworn-to notions of astronomers. One in particular is solar-system stability. Could any of the planets pop out of their orbits and embark upon wild and unpredictable trajectories? "We can't rule it out," stated J. Wisdom, an MIT planetary scientist. (Freedman, David H.; "Gravity's Revenge," Discover, 11:54, May 1990.)

Comment. Well, OK, there is a tiny theoretical chance that such an event might occur in the future, but it certainly never happened in the past. To admit such a possibility would open that Pandora's Box of vigorously suppressed catastrophic scenarios.

Reference. More information on solarsystem instability may be found in ABB1 in the catalog: The Sun and Solar System Debris. Ordering details here.

The universe as-a-whole. The disovery of the Great Wall of galaxies (SF#67) and the regular clumping of galactic matter (SF#69) has greatly surprised astronomers, who have been emphasizing how uniformly distributed galactic matter should -- according to theory, at least. Now, D.C. Koo, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, says, "The regularity is just mind-boggling." M. Davis, an astrophysicist at Berkeley, admits that if the distribution of galaxies is truly so regular, "...it is safe to say we understand less than zero about the early universe." (Wilford, John Noble; "Unexpected Order in Universe Confuses Scientists," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, May 28, 1990. Cr. E.D. Fegert.)

From Science Frontiers #71, SEP-OCT 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987