I get email, too…

Obligatory. (Also, I’m running on little sleep… so, beware.)

So, as an astronomer, I get all kinds of email with people’s pet theories on how the universe works. And it baffles me as to why anyone would think that the “astronomy elite” would be trying to cover up, “the truth” over something that, at the end of the day, doesn’t affect our daily lives. And I try to be as nice and understanding and as optimistic as I can about people in general, but what do you do with this?

The Accretion theory and all its misconceived variations positing, gas and dust gravitationally attracted and became our solar system, are having serious difficulties proving their basic concepts and are flagrantly violating the laws of physics trying to explain the improvable.


First off, it sounds like some long-run on sentence at the beginning of a scientific treaty from the 1600s. Sorry dude, but that’s a little old fashioned. Also, problems with accretion, are you sure? It’s pretty straightforward. Gravity makes stuff attract. Small stuff falls onto big stuff in a certain way. Accretion. (My theorist friends are going to KILL me for that…)

Accretion is a failed and rehashed theory of The Cartesian Hypothesis which was conceived by Reno Descartes (1644) and was successively mimicked by Swedenborg, Kant, La Place, Chamberlain and Moulton, Carl von Weizsacker, Whipple, Kuiper, Safronoff, the Astronomy elite and by the Astronomy Establishment.

Elite Establishment what-now? I demand a raise.

Please read “The Formation Of Our Solar system” … it’s a modified, Fission Heliocentric theory, proposing that all of our solar system burst from our Sun. It logically explains how from extreme temperature Atoms were laid bare, of their electrons, causing the bare nuclei to collided and produce the energy to initiate a tremendous pressure to cause the formation of water, atmosphere and our solar system from material produced and provided by our Sun, 300 million yrs. before it matured into a 27 million degree F. dwarf star.

Logically but without evidence is not impressive. There is lots of lots of evidence of how planets and stars form by accretion. Oh, and the sun is a G dwarf at 6000 degrees Celsius (11,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Also, dude, you just used Fahrenheit. I’m going to at least be elitist about that.

Here are some of the unanswerable Accretion questions. 1. The laws of Physics clearly state gas is molecularly [sic] structured to expand indefinitely, how can gas be attracted by gravity or condense into solid particles?

Gas has mass. Masses attract through gravity. See Newton (1687).

2. Why weren’t the “rotating discs” thrown out into space instead of accreting?

So, here is the picture of what he* is talking about. Stars form by collapsing gas clouds which spin faster as they contract. (Think, figure-skater pulling in arms.) The quickly spinning gas forms a disk, within which smaller disks form around accreting planetesimals. Disks effectively transport matter into the star or planet while conserving angular momentum, thus NOT breaking any fundamental laws of physics. Not to mention, forming stars do throw off a lot of material as well.

Cartoon models FTW!

3. How could Venus’s and the moon’s surfaces have been formed all at the same time 4.5 billion years ago?

Similarly sized things accreting at the same time. But I guess that doesn’t work if you go with Statement 1. Which you shouldn’t.

6. How was the planetary matter separated from the solar gases?

I’m skipping some stuff because there is a lot. Has he ever heard Sagan’s phrase, “We are star stuff”?

(Right click to get the entire text here.)

I don’t think any of us actually respond to these emails, though the ones with fun photoshopped pictures of the Sun spewing forth planets and such do get put up in the main office for a chuckle. Sometimes, however, I can’t laugh at all when such a “theory” comes along with a rant about how “no one listens to me!” and other such troubling indicators of mental illness. Instead, I just feel awful and helpless, because those people, reaching out to astronomers, are looking in the wrong place for what they need.

However, excluding those cases, what is the motivation? Emailing astronomy department listservs is not going to get such authors the recognition they want. Maybe, just maybe, if no one accepts your ideas, then there’s more for you to learn before you try to overturn all of physics? Just saying, a little humility goes a long way, and there is nothing more humbling than the complexity, simplicity, and entirety of the universe. Shoulders of giants, people, shoulders of giants…

* The author’s name is male. I’m not just assuming. Also, I consider “dude” gender-neutral.

And, as I’m writing this, I got another one, personally addressed to me. Gah!

5 comments for “I get email, too…

  1. January 23, 2011 at 12:25

    F**king accretion, how does that work?

    Also, Reno Descartes sounds like a Cajun pulp fiction detective.

    • Nicole
      January 26, 2011 at 21:43

      Oh my goodness… how did I miss that typo! :-D

  2. January 23, 2011 at 14:52

    I recall a time when I first left college and became the Planetarium Educator for the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Less than 2 weeks in and I’m running a show called Dinosaur Chronicles and a lady and her child comes up to me after the show and essentially called me Satan for showing a program that called into question the age of the earth and such. She was a homeschooler and it would seem that all the basic scientific evidence about evolution is all wrong. Who knew?

  3. Peter Tibbles
    January 26, 2011 at 17:07

    Anyone who uses Farenheit is suspect immediately.

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