Science: In the Beginning

Among modern astronomers, an old theory of the origin of the solar system was back in fashion. German Philosopher Immanuel Kant had speculated in 1755 that the sun and its planets were formed by condensation out of a gaseous cloud. For a while astronomers supported Kant, but later his "nebula hypothesis" lost scientific favor. More modern astronomers, notably Sir James Jeans, have conceded that the sun may have been formed that way, but not the planets. To explain the planets, Jeans suggested that another star must have grazed the sun, pulling out a...

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