A Toilet-Like Vortex of Bad Astronomy
Bad is getting science wrong. Worse is getting science wrong because of mystical woo. Worstest is having that bad science go viral. The video discussed below has been featured on big sites like Kottke.org and I Love Charts, which shows how fast this stuff can spread.
In the case of the “solar system as a vortex” videos, we have reached the darkest, worstest timeline. But science is here to help. Phil Plait has debunked this in gloriously gory detail, so please, please go read that. And stop sharing this bad science. Share this instead.
First of all, that’s a helix, not a vortex. But that doesn’t matter. The planets do not trail behind the sun. It’s simply not based in reality. You can easily test this just by keeping track of the planets in the sky, and tens of thousands of people have done this throughout history.
In a second video, the creator shows the planets orbiting a moving sun like a rotating drill bit. This is not the case. The solar system is indeed tipped 60˚ with respect to the galaxy. But sometimes planets are ahead of the sun and sometimes they are behind the sun. Also, the solar system does bob up and down across the galactic plane, but only once every 64 million years (this is due to the disk’s internal gravity, because it’s made of stuff). Much like a wobbling top, the Earth will “wobble” in its rotation around every 26,000 years (Google “procession” for more), but this has nothing to do with the claims of the video (although it is why the North Star won’t always be in the north).
Much like how if I am walking forward at 3 mph on a train going 70 mph, I am not going 73 mph. I am going 3 mph, just in a different frame of reference. The speed of our solar wind pushing outward on intergalactic space is much higher than the speed we are traveling around the galaxy, and there’s no reason to think that all that out there is going to affect us in here.
DJ Sadhu, who sadly spins lies rather than records, explains why someone would want to make all this up on his site. Enter at your own risk. Basically it’s an appeal for a model that doesn’t have us returning to the same place every year. That might sound spiritually superior, but it’s also BS. TIme moves forward, the planets and the sun move in predictable, well-studied patterns, and regardless of our position in the galaxy, the years are ours to make different. And we do a pretty good job of that without videos like this.
It kind of sucks that all it takes to spread BS is a few weeks with 3D animation software and an internet connection, but hey … it can be a force for good as much as it is bad. Now commence getting this post a bazillion notes, or else the vortex will get us all.
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