The discovery of Pluto

Sergio Meira S.C.O. meira at RUF.RICE.EDU
Sun Apr 20 07:47:40 UTC 1997

On Sat, 19 Apr 1997, Dave wrote:
 [The Discovery of Pluto]
> Was made by astronomers observing the "erratic" flight pattern of Neptune
> and Uranus.  Something that the astronomers hadn't seen until then was
> causing these planets to waver in their orbit slightly.  So they said
> "maybe something is out there," they looked, and found something.  They
> found a planet, wandering right where they predicted that it would be.
> They called it Pluto

Hmmm... Actually, Pluto's mass is far inferior to what it should have
been for the irregularities in the orbit of Uranus and Neptune to be what
they are. In fact, Pluto is *not* a good explanation for the problems
that astronomers had; another one was needed (some people even still
believe there's a tenth planet responsible for the orbital irregularities
of the outer planets, and that Clyde Tombaugh's discovery of Pluto was a
coincidence...). A better example would actually be the discovery of
Neptune, based on Adam's and Leverrier's predictions concerning the
irregularities in the orbit of Uranus (that had already been noted by
Herschell himself, I believe).

> So is that kind of science Ad-Hockery, or hand-waving?  They postulated
> something, then they found it.
> (somebody show me gravity too, not a representation of it, nor a "display
> of its effects")  We have the calculation of the acceleration of a
> falling object(at sea level), -4.9t^2 also, which is a formalization of what
> happens.  If something falls on the moon, and accelerates to the (ground)
> at a different rate, should we formulate a new theory of gravity?

No. And if subjects are postverbal rather than preverbal, there is no
need to postulate a new theory of linguistics. However, if the

> Does life happen in equations, or are they merely some sort of human
> adaptation and effort to describe the world in which we live?
> Many researchers follow different approaches, and these approaches don't
> even look at the same range of data.  We all know what I'm talking about
> here.  To assume that one can't learn from the other is rather arrogant,
> in my opinion. (this goes both ways).
> How can we find out/describe what the acquisition of a language is, when we
> don't have a hard-and-fast, cut-and-dried, analysis of what ADULT language is?
> Dave

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