Thursday, April 26, 2012

No, Dummy, the Sun Revolves Around the Earth.

(revised 4/27/2012)

It seems that everywhere I turn, people argue that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  Typically, it seems to come from highbrowed "boneheads," people parroting these "boneheads," or an instructor teaching about the Solar System.  Who is right, and who is wrong?  It might seem like all of them are correct, but actually this isn't true.  Unless they're talking about the model of the Solar System or addressing something in the context of astronomy - because of the "inherent" context involved, it is incorrect for them to state that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

The reason I say "inherent" is because when introducing the subject of astronomy and describing the model of the Solar System (as part of the subject), it is necessary to explain that the Earth is revolving around the Sun.  If this is done, then it can be considered inherent for the audience - but only in that context.  The reason I refer to the highbrow types in question as "boneheads" is not necessarily because they are boneheads per se, but rather because what I mean is that they are just omitting the essential "in the model of our Solar System" part.

In general, though, we do not live in a model, or a single context.  Reality is that the Sun revolves around the Earth; not the other way around - at least that's the way I see it.  Science is about observations and what you can make of them, and - of course - seeing something is one way to make an observation.  On a clear day, I have observed the same thing over and over, which is this: the Sun has always risen from the east and settled in the west, every time I checked.  The only thing I can make out of this is that the Sun is revolving around the Earth, not that the Earth is revolving around the Sun.

For anyone who isn't (or doesn't recognize that they are) an Earth dweller, allow me to put this into perspective; you see, I am an Earth dweller...at least that's what I've been told by others who seem to be under the impression that they too are Earth dwellers, anyways.  As an Earth dweller, my frame of reference corresponds to the point on the surface of the Earth where I happen to be, and that's where I can make my observations.  I've always been able to make that same observation about the Sun, along with the utilization of a compass, maps, and landmarks, no matter what point I happened to be on the surface of the Earth.

Reality is that our frame of reference as Earth dwellers for this kind of situation is the Earth, not the Sun - because we're not dwelling on the Sun. The Earth, more specifically: the Earth's surface, is what I have in common with other Earth dwellers.  So, when we Earth dwellers are communicating with each other, unless another frame of reference is specified, the Earth and the frame of reference it provides is the one we ought to be using by default.  It doesn't make sense not to do so; we should be utilizing the things from our common environment to bridge gaps and allow us to be consistent with each other, not engaging in acts that generate confusion (e.g., what do the words sunrise or sunset mean to Earth dwellers, if they're told that the Earth revolves around the Sun without specifying the context?).

Even "rocket scientists" use the Earth as a frame of reference.  They must; otherwise, they'll end up with undesired outcomes.  You see, their job is to blast rockets off the Earth's (not the Sun's) surface; from the perspective of the Solar System, these rockets are sitting on launch pads on the surface of a planet that's rotating and orbiting the Sun; before they blast off, these rockets are still spinning, or waving, because they're on the surface of the Earth.  There are actually 3 spins involved with the rocket; one spin is the Earth orbiting the Sun, the second is the rotation of the point on the surface of the Earth (i.e., the launch pad), and the third is the direction the rocket is pointing.  There are also 3 wave patterns involved with the rocket; one is the distance from the Sun, the second is the angular position with the Sun relative to the Earth's center, and the third is vertical to the plane of the Solar System as a result of the Earth being tilted on its spinning axis.

Now, will any Earth dweller looking at a rocket sitting on a launch pad be able to observe any of these spinning or rotating motions?  No, they won't.  Once these rockets blast off, then the "rocket scientists" have to start taking into account these spinning and waving motions, if they want to transition from the Earth's frame of reference to the Solar System frame of reference; because in this frame of reference, these motions would be observed.  The reason that the model of the Solar System was conjured up by and for the field of astronomy is because of the way it is helpful and useful for analyzing and studying the Solar System.  For "rocket scientists," it simplifies part of their tasks.  My point is not that science is wrong, because I don't believe that it is wrong; my point is that we need to know how to communicate properly, understand what we're talking about, and know why something is right or wrong.  This example I discuss is not the only case; there are other situations where similar types of communication problems occur as well.

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