Science: Whence the Planets?

Ever since man perceived that the solar system is a cohort of planets revolving around a central sun, at different distances but in the same direction and in almost the same plane, he has wondered how it all started. Pierre Laplace, French mathematician (1749-1827), devised the celebrated "nebular hypothesis": that the solar system was originally a diffuse, whirling, gaseous mass. As this nebular mass became smaller and denser, it whirled faster, until centrifugal force threw off a ring of gas. The process was repeated, each gas ring coalescing into a planet and the sun finally settling down to its present calm...

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