By Neil Schlager
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Extra resources for Science in Dispute
Thanks to the atmosphere and the sheer size of Earth’s land mass, the risk that falling space debris poses to anyone is extremely small. ASTRONOMY AND SPACE EXPLORATION Viewpoint: No, evidence shows that no one has ever been killed by space debris, and satellites and space vessels have very rarely sustained serious damage from impacts in orbit. 20 The Story of Chicken Little Most of us remember the children’s story about Chicken Little who ran around shouting, “The sky is falling! ” In truth, Chicken Little had mistaken a simple acorn to be a sign of impending catastrophe.
Comet impacts, a strange substance that existed only far out in space and slowed the planet, or mathematical and observational errors were all considered. Then in the mid-1820s Uranus began to speed up, further confusing the issue. A new theory began to gain some popularity. Perhaps Uranus was being affected by another undiscovered planet. One of the first to seriously consider finding this imaginary planet was an English clergyman, Thomas Hussey, who had a keen interest in astronomy. In 1834 he suggested that someone could calculate the position of this unseen planet, but since such mathematical endeavor was beyond his knowledge, he approached England’s foremost astronomer, George Airy, but Airy dismissed the idea and Hussey made no further attempt to promote it.
1989): 395–422. Standage, Tom. The Neptune File: Planet Detectives and the Discovery of Worlds Unseen. London: Penguin Press, 2000. , and Patrick Moore. Out of the Darkness: The Planet Pluto. Guildford and London: Lutterworth Press, 1980. Whyte, A. J. The Planet Pluto. Toronto: Pergamon Press, 1980. EARTH SCIENCE Did life on Earth begin in the “little warm pond”? Viewpoint: Yes, the theory that life began in the “little warm pond” has supporting evidence from a number of experiments, and competing theories are more problematic.