Heavenly Errors by Neil F. Comins

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Synopsis

One of the great paradoxes of modern times is that the more scientists understand the natural world, the more we discover that our everyday beliefs about it are wrong. Astronomy, in particular, is one of the most misunderstood scientific disciplines.

With the participation of thousands of undergraduate students, Neil F. Comins has identified and classified, by origin and topic, over 1,700 commonly held misconceptions. Heavenly Errors provides access to all of them and explores many, including:

• Black holes suck in everything around them.

• The Sun shines by burning gas.

• Comets have tails trailing behind them.

• The Moon alone causes tides.

• Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is the hottest planet.

In the course of correcting these errors, he explains that some occur through the prevalence of pseudosciences such as astrology and UFO-logy and some enter the public conscience through the "bad astronomy" of Star Trek, Star Wars, and other science-fiction movies.. Perhaps most important, Professor Comins presents the reader with the methods for identifying and replacing incorrect ideas -- tools with which to probe erroneous notions so that we can begin to question for ourselves... and to think more like scientists.

 

About Neil F. Comins

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Neil F. Comins is the author of "What if the Moon Didn't Exist?" He has contributed numerous articles to "Astronomy" magazine and has appeared on radio and television. He is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Maine.
 
Published September 5, 2001 by Columbia University Press. 288 pages
Genres: Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Columbia Univ., $27.95 (288p) ISBN 0-231-11644-6Exhorting readers to "abandon common sense," Comins (What if the Moon Didn't Exist?) proceeds to reveal that there are actually 13 (not 12) zodiacal constellations, that the powers-that-be cannot possibly send us into a black hole for misbehaving an...

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