The Sciences

New Survey: 1 in 4 Americans Believe the Sun Revolves Around the Earth

ImaGeo iconImaGeoBy Tom YulsmanFeb 18, 2014 3:00 AM

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You read that right. According to a new survey sponsored by the National Science Foundation, about a quarter of American adults evidently have been left behind by the Copernican revolution. Which began almost half a millennium ago and ended 200 years later. That would be in the 1700's. (A quick aside: When I first posted this short piece, I was in such a state of absolute disbelief that I wrote a headline saying that 1 in 4 Americans believe that the Earth revolves around the sun.) Okay, just for the record . . . The heliocentric model was advanced by Nicolas Copernicus back in the 1500's. Before then, the Ptolemaic view of the universe held that the Earth was at the center of everything. It was a model that didn't die easily. Galileo Galilei conducted observations of Venus with his telescope that gave strong support to the sun-centered model of Copernicus. Later, Isaac Newton figured out gravity (or at least the big picture), which explained the force that caused the planets, including Earth, to revolve around the sun. Case closed. I have to say that I can't believe I'm writing this. Suffice it to say that if you have a batty uncle or some such who hasn't yet heard of the Copernican revolution, show him the video above of Venus transiting in front of the sun, as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. I don't know whether that will be helpful. But it could be a start.

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