The Accidental Discovery of Pluto

The Accidental Discovery of Pluto - The power of Newton's...

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The Accidental Discovery of Pluto Later, similar calculations on supposed perturbations of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune suggested the presence of yet another planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. Eventually, in 1930, a new planet Pluto was discovered, but we now know that the calculations in this case were also in error because of an incorrect assumption about the mass of the new planet. It is now believed that the supposed deviations in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus were errors in measurement because the actual properties of Pluto would not have accounted for the supposed perturbations. Thus, the discovery of Pluto was a kind of accident. Effects Beyond Newtonian Perturbations
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Unformatted text preview: The power of Newton's theory became apparent as detailed calculations accounted more and more precisely for the orbits of the planets. Any deviations from the expected behavior soon became viewed as evidence for unseen masses in the Solar System. However, later observations of anomalies in the orbit of Mercury could not be accounted for by the gravitational perturbation of a new planet (the hypothetical new planet, which turned out not to exist, was called Vulcan ). As we discuss in the next section, early in this century this forced the replacement of Newton's Law of Gravitation with Einstein's Theory of General Relativity ....
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