Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing 'Hoax'

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing 'Hoax'

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing 'Hoax'

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing 'Hoax'

Synopsis

In the first volume in Wiley's exciting new Bad Science series, Plait sets the scientific record straight, clearing up the misconceptions relating to our Earth, Moon and night sky. Bad Astronomy explains the real science behind the various space hoaxes and frauds that have become the hallmark of bad astronomy in the media. Not only does Plait reveal the principles that actually make the universe work, he takes the reader down the commonsense path of understanding such basics as the flow of water down a drain to how starlight moves through the vacuum of space. Here is a fascinating and enlightening exploration for amateurs and experts alike.

Excerpt

I love bad science fiction shows. Angry Red Planet, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, ufo, all those old tv shows and movies in black and white or living color. I grew up on them. I’d stay up late watching tv, sometimes long after my folks would normally let me. I remember clearly coming home from third grade and asking my mom for permission to watch Lost in Space. I worshipped that show, Robot, Dr. Smith, Jupiter 2, and all. I wanted to wear a velour, multicolored V neck sweater, I had a crush on Judy Robinson—the whole nine yards.

Sure, I liked the good ones too. Five Million Years to Earth and The Day the Earth Stood Still were favorites of mine back then, and they still are. But the important thing to me wasn’t that they were good or bad, or even if they made sense—I remember an Italian flick about a voyage to Venus that might have been written by Salvador Dali on acid. What was important was that they had aliens and rocket ships.

I would spend long hours as a child pretending to ride a rocket to other planets. I always knew I’d be a scientist, and I was pretty sure I wanted to be an astronomer. Those movies didn’t discourage me because of their bad science; they inspired me. I didn’t care that it’s silly to try to blast a conventional chemical rocket to another star, or that you can’t hear sounds in space. All I cared about was getting out there, and if I could do it by watching ridiculous movies, then so be it. I would have given anything—everything— to be able to step on board a spaceship and be able to see a binary star up close, or cruise through a nebula, or go out through the plane of our Galaxy and see it hanging in the sky, faint, ominous . . .

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