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Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooked

  1. Sep 1, 2009 #1
    Hello folks...

    I am writing an article where I discuss discoveries in astronomy that were intially disregarded in rude or violent fashion.

    I have so far written about:

    Chandrasekhar and black holes
    Aristarchus and heliocentrism
    Galileo and heliocentrism
    Glen Penfield and the Chicxulub crater

    I am stuck for another one and would appreciate just a mention of a topic that I can explore. Preferably in an area of astronomy not covered.

    Your help would be eternally appreciated.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2009 #2

    Chronos

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    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Einstein and general relativity [expanding universe]
    Hubble and redshift [rejected by Einstein]
    Zwicky and dark matter [ignored for around 50 years]
    Dirac and neutrinos [also ignored for around 50 years]
     
  4. Sep 1, 2009 #3
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Thanks a tonne... before I start reading, which of the above would have been most profoundly disregarded? I am guessing zwicky because he was particularly loopy?
     
  5. Sep 2, 2009 #4
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke


    Nicolaus Copernicus and heliocentrism
    Giordano Bruno and heliocentrism

    Reference:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus" [Broken]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno" [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Sep 2, 2009 #5

    HallsofIvy

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    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Luis and Walter Alvarez's meteor extinction of the dinosaurs and, though I don't recall who originated it, plate techtonics.
     
  7. Sep 2, 2009 #6
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Thanks for your responses, however I hope that you can continue to offer more suggestions. I will be more specific about what I am after.

    The article I am writing is actually for comedy website http://www.cracked.com so I need an example of a backlash that was particularly rude or unsettling so that I can poke fun at the way established ideas in astronomy are hard to shake.

    Bruno would be a perfect example but I have already discussed Heliocentrism. Zwicky, Hubble and Dirac appear to me to have maintained their stride, unlike Chandra who was bitterly affected by the backlash he recieved upon announcing his discoveries, so it will be difficult to write an entry that evokes sympathy for them (which is also part of my goal).

    I discuss Alvarez when discusing Penfield's Chicxulub discovery (In fact he was one of the people who initially ignored Penfield) and Wegener (tectonic theory) is a bit too geologic for me, considering I am already discussing K/T, so something a bit more related to pure astronomy would be better.

    I will read a bit more about Hubble, but I do ask that you keep the suggestions coming, basically I need a brilliant astronomer with a brilliant discovery who was treated so badly that the reader will feel sympathy for them whilst also being amused by how established ideas, no matter how wrong, can be hard to change.

    Thanks!

    I am sorry if I sound unappreciative, I am not, I am just desperate to finish this article. I have been on such a roll, really enjoying myself, and I just want to get started again.
     
  8. Sep 3, 2009 #7

    Chronos

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    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Ernst Chladni, who proposed meteorites in 1800, now that was a laugher.

    C.J. Doppler, who propose a theory of redshift in 1842, but was ridiculed and bitterly opposed for decades because it did not fit the wildly popular Luminiferous Aether theory of that time. He was finally vindicated in 1868 when Huggins observed red and blue shifts in stellar spectra - fifteen years after Doppler died.

    And yes, Zwicky was quite the maverick in his time. Dirac was an eminent and respected scientist, Zwicky was basically thought to be a crackpot.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2009
  9. Sep 3, 2009 #8
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Thanks Chronos, this may be the break I was hoping for.
     
  10. Sep 3, 2009 #9
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    I've looked up various articles about Doppler online and I haven't really found much that I can use. I can't find enough detail about why his theory was resisted , nor the effect it had on him.

    (It appears being a teacher had more negative effect on him than opponents to his theory).

    I understand that he was ahead of his time by suggesting color shifts would aid in determining stellar properties such as distance, I just don't have enough information about why these ideas were initially resisted.

    I have read that it did clash with properties of the aether, I just can't locate what the clash was, nor how vocal the opposition was.

    Do you have any links
     
  11. Sep 4, 2009 #10

    Chronos

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  12. Sep 4, 2009 #11

    Nan

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    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    More recently:

    Panspermia! When Chandra and Hoyle presented this theory it was largely discounted by the academic community. Although still a theory, it is more widely accepted now.

    http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle" [Broken]

    Is Pluto a planet or not? There are still demonstrations against its reclassification.

    http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto" [Broken]

    The Mars craze of the 1800s is sorta a reverse of your intent. The discovery of 'canals' led to the popular idea there was intelligent life on Mars. A nice perspective of this history can be found here:

    http://http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mystique/history/1800.html" [Broken]

    John Dobson also provides a lot of juicy controversy. He was made an academic pariah, retreated and became a monk where he developed the now famous Dobsonian telescope. He was a proponent of a "recycling universe" in the '60s. His life and contribution to observational astronomy cannot be discounted.

    Hope this provides a little food for thought anyway. Best of luck!


    Personally, I'll be interested in your completed project. It sounds interesting and fun.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Sep 4, 2009 #12
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Continental drift was formulated by Alfred Wegener in 1912 but ridiculed until the 1960s. The idea that a planet could have a surface that moved was unthinkable.
     
  14. Sep 4, 2009 #13

    LeonhardEuler

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    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    This might be of interest to you. Johannes Kepler, who first proposed that the orbits of the planets are elliptical, rather than circular, also wrote a book called Somnium, in which he described a fictional trip to the moon. In the book his mother consults a demon to learn the secret of space travel. This resulted in his mother being put on trial for witchcraft.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler#Dioptrice.2C_Somnium_manuscript_and_other_work"

    It is not directly related to his major discovery, but I always thought this was a funny detail (she was acquitted).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  15. Sep 23, 2009 #14
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    I love Cracked.com lists!

    I'd also like to suggest Johannes Kepler. He was no stranger to tragedy for most of his adult life, losing wives and several children to diseases not uncommon to the time period. He was one of the very few that opted for Copernicus' heliocentric model as opposed to Ptolemy's widely accepted geocentrism, causing much controversy in the church due to his independent theological ways.

    Both an astrologer and mathematician, to me, Kepler's greatest 'discovery' or impact in the world of science was drawing a line between astrology and astronomy so that astronomy was interpreted as a physical science bound by mathematics.
     
  16. Sep 28, 2009 #15

    Wallace

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    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    You're probably on top of this, but if you're writing for cracked.com and referencing Zwicky, you simply HAVE to mention his most memorable description of one of his collaborators (can't remember which one) as 'a spherical bastard, because he's a bastard no matter which way you look at him'. Note you might want to check the exact wording, and possibly the chosen expletive was something else less PG, none the less it's a great quote!
     
  17. Sep 28, 2009 #16
    Re: Please suggest a ground-breaking discovery that was initially viciously overlooke

    Georges-Henri Lemaître (1894-1966) - The “primeval atom” theory of the origin of the universe. Vigorously denied by Einstein who told Lemaître that his mtahematics was fine but his physics was atrocious.

    George Gamow - First proposed the existence of the cosmic background radiation, even before Dickie at Princeton. Never got credit for the idea officially.
     
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