Neil deGrasse Tyson explores the creation of planetary rings on Saturn
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Today, science moves at astronomical speeds. What was held as fact can be blown out of the water by some new, advanced piece of technology not a year later. The COVID-19 vaccine is a case one example: in one of the shortest periods in human history, scientists came together and solved what would on a regular level take decades of research.
However, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned astrophysicist, said this statement is completely mistaken.
He compared Isaac Newton’s theories of motion and gravity with Albert Einstein’s own theories on motion and gravity, and how they paved the way to a better understanding of the universe.
Newton is widely recognised as one of the greatest mathematicians and most influential scientists of all time.
In 1686, he presented his groundbreaking Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis: His laws of gravity and motion.
These were considered gospel for hundreds of years.
But then Einstein came along some 200 years later and changed the way they were used.
DeGrasse Tyson, speaking during an event hosted by the New York Times in 2017, explained how Uranus’ discovery threw Newton’s law into disaster as the planet’s orbit didn’t follow its exact calculations.
It led to scientists applying the idea that a hidden planet was somewhere near, influencing Uranus’ orbit.
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This eventually led to Johann Gottfried Galle’s discovery of Neptune at the Berlin Observatory in 1846.
But there was another problem: Newton’s laws also failed the orbit of Mercury, so scientists repeated their methods and began to look for a hidden planet known as Planet Vulcan.
The search quickly proved fruitless.
DeGrasse Tyson explained: “Einstein comes along, he comes up with his theory of motion and his theory of gravity – the special and general theory of relativity – out of those two theories, which are corrections to Newton’s laws in these extreme regimes.
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“If you’re near the Sun – the Sun has very strong gravity – Newton’s laws begin to fail, and no one knew this.
“You look at Einstein’s laws, and he says, ‘Mercury’s orbits will not follow Newton’s laws, it will follow this other path’.
“And it exactly explained the deviations of Mercury.”
He said it proved how the instance proved that scientists, since Newton’s law, changed how they worked.
Now, when researchers establish a determined result from an experiment, and it is verified and checked three times over, it will never later be shown to be false.
Instead, a deeper understanding will be added to the original findings.
Mr deGrasse Tyson added: “Einstein’s theories of motion and gravity, if you put in low speeds and low gravity in the equations, they become Newton’s equations.
“So Newton’s universe is a subset, accurately described, of a larger universe that Einstein has described.”
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