The Instigator
SperoAmicus
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Pro (for)
Winning
69 Points

The Earth Revolves Around the Sun

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,894 times Debate No: 1081
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (25)

 

SperoAmicus

Con

It simply cannot be proven that the Earth revolves the Sun. We may chart the projectories of what we perceive the movement of the Earth and the Sun and the other planets to be. But from Earth, we are locked into a fixed point of perception, so that we cannot properly identify the movement of objects, except in relation to ourselves.

Hence, we can tell that the distance between the Earth and the Sun increases or decreases in certain patterns, but from this, we may only infer that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and we cannot matter-of-factly prove it. We cannot actually tell whether it is the Earth or the Sun which is moving.

Moreover, there are no direct external clues. When you move your hand you can observe the motion of the air which your hand moves through. But when the earth supposedly moves, there is nothing immediately surrounding the Earth which reacts to the motion. Hence, there are no indicators of movement.

The only evidence which we have to indicate that the Earth revolves around the sun is a projectory of planetary movements. But there could be other causes for these movements which do not involve the centrality of the Sun.

((Note: Flexing the debate muscle, of course I know the Earth revolves around the sun.))
beem0r

Pro

An interesting topic, though I doubt that you've thought about it thoroughly.

First, I give you an analogy to show how scientifically preposterous this notion is:
"The earth orbits around a small pebble."

Hopefully, you've figured out by now that I just lied to you. Assuming that our theories of gravitation are in fact correct (we're not debating gravity, so I'm assuming, reasonably, that you are not challenging it), the earth simply does not have enough gravitational potential to make something as massive as the sun orbit around it at the relative velocity between the two.

Also, space shuttles for the win. I'm not sure if we HAVE made observations from far out in space of the earth-sun movement relationship, but in this 3rd person view, it would be entirely possible to disprove the... uh... terracentric model of the solar system.

So yes, you CAN be proven wrong. Whether by applying known science or by making observations from a third person view. Probably more ways, but two is enough for now.

Of course this depends on what level of evidence you consider 'proof.' It can be said that we don't know anything at all due to the fact that we could have been mistaken about our own observations. If that was your case, though, I expect that you would have already stated that.

I'll leave it at that for now. I await your reply.
Debate Round No. 1
SperoAmicus

Con

You make two claims. The first is an appeal to gravity, the force about which scientists are about the most ignorant. The second, an appeal to vision from space, supposedly at a vantage point from which the motion of the planets can be better observed.

But firstly, while gravity may account for the planetary movements, it would do so even if the Earth were fixed. It's entirely possible that, while all of the other planets in the solar system revolve around the Sun, the sun itself revolves around the Earth, tugging all of the planets with it. Gravity would account for the movement, but it doesn't neccessarily dictate which object it is that is moving.

Secondly, the vantage point from the space shuttle is still caught up in the movements its supposedly observing. The moon is simply not far enough away to clearly observe whether it is the sun or the moon which is moving.

Hence, you have proven the following:

Things move because of gravity.
We can see them move from the space shuttle.

You have not, however, given adequate cause to identify which object it is that is moving: The Earth or the Sun.
beem0r

Pro

//You make two claims.

Aye

//The first is an appeal to gravity, the force about which scientists are about the most ignorant.

Whether scientists are ignorant to some extent or not, gravitational theories of today are capable of astounding accuracy. On the macro-scale, not once has data been observed that does not follow quite closely with gravitational theories.

//The second, an appeal to vision from space, supposedly at a vantage point from which the motion of the planets can be better observed.

Aye.

//But firstly, while gravity may account for the planetary movements, it would do so even if the Earth were fixed. It's entirely possible that, while all of the other planets in the solar system revolve around the Sun, the sun itself revolves around the Earth, tugging all of the planets with it. Gravity would account for the movement, but it doesn't neccessarily dictate which object it is that is moving.

I find your lack of understanding disturbing. The reason for celestial objects orbiting one another is centripetal acceleration. This acceleration is directly proportional to the mass of the object that is in orbit.

In this case, gravity is the force causing the overwhelming bulk of the centripetal aceleration. We'll call the acceleration that gravity would predict 'A'. Acceleration A, while quite an accurate number for what would be required for the earth to be pulled around the sun at current speed and orbit, would not be NEARLY enough acceleration to keep something as massive as the sun in orbit at that same relative speed and distance.

//Secondly, the vantage point from the space shuttle is still caught up in the movements its supposedly observing. The moon is simply not far enough away to clearly observe whether it is the sun or the moon which is moving.

Ah, but I never set a specific distance from which the arrangements be observed. Pretend, now, that I said 'from a nearby solar system.'

And all we would have to do is get sufficiently far away from all the planets, we'd notice that we were nearly stationary with respect to the sun, whereas the earth would seem to be moving around the sun, with all the other planets.

Also,

Each body in our solar system is taking some path through space. It can be described as V + A, where V is the path the solar system as a whole is taking and A is the local path within the solar system, which is largely based on gravity. The paths that we would come up with using modern theory would give the sun very little A, since on average it has just as much local gravitational pull on one side as the other, whereas the earth would have a significant A, due to the fact that the bulk of the gravitational pull is always on one specific side of it - the side where the sun is. Therefore we can say that the sun is fairly stationary and the earth is fairly not. That is, if we're not deciding to reject valid theory, theory for which this would be the first major contradictory observation.

As I see it, you have 2 choices:

Either

Accept a current framework that gives a model of the solar system with _staggering_ accuracy and has no real reason to be discarded.

Or

Discard said framework, supposing some unknown force that _just so happens_ to make the other framework look really accurate, except that it's completely wrong about what's at the center of our solar system.

And actually, there's a third choice:

You could continue to not recognize the inability for the sun to orbit around the earth under the current framework. This is the only choice where you would have no possibility of being right.

Choice A has what I would say has 99.9...9% likelihood, choice B would have the rest. And no, that doesn't make B worth consideration.
Debate Round No. 2
SperoAmicus

Con

Thanks for the argument, Beem0r.

However, I do find your reasoning to be circular.

You assert...
>I find your lack of understanding disturbing. The reason for celestial objects orbiting one another is centripetal acceleration. This acceleration is directly proportional to the mass of the object that is in orbit.

>In this case, gravity is the force causing the overwhelming bulk of the centripetal aceleration. We'll call the acceleration that gravity would predict 'A'. Acceleration A, while quite an accurate number for what would be required for the earth to be pulled around the sun at current speed and orbit, would not be NEARLY enough acceleration to keep something as massive as the sun in orbit at that same relative speed and distance.

The problem, however, is that the bulk of our understanding of gravity and of the related centripetal acceleration comes from our observations of planetary movements. You are therefore arguing that:

We derive G from observing M. Therefore G explains M.

That is circular and self-fulfilling reasoning. And applying scientific definitions to the application of this reasoning only conceals the basic fallacies of the underlying logic.

Nor does a lack of counter-evidence equate to a proof. We have only the circumstantial evidence that one and the other seem to explain each other.

If this any of this is a strawman, I'd ask you to spell out your logical argument in a simple skeletal framework and demonstrate sound argument that your position is correct.

As to your second argument...
>Ah, but I never set a specific distance from which the arrangements be observed. Pretend, now, that I said 'from a nearby solar system.'

>And all we would have to do is get sufficiently far away from all the planets, we'd notice that we were nearly stationary with respect to the sun, whereas the earth would seem to be moving around the sun, with all the other planets.

Assuming, of course, that we could get so far away and continue to observe real-time movements for long enough periods of time to observe motion. From outside the solar system, where of course the SPACE SHUTTLE has not travelled, we cannot videograph the entire solar system for the very lengthy period of time it would take to adequately observe the movements. Consequently, we have only still-photographs, which is not enough to clarify the movements.

Finally, you assert...
>Each body in our solar system is taking some path through space. It can be described as V + A, where V is the path the solar system as a whole is taking and A is the local path within the solar system, which is largely based on gravity. The paths that we would come up with using modern theory would give the sun very little A, since on average it has just as much local gravitational pull on one side as the other, whereas the earth would have a significant A, due to the fact that the bulk of the gravitational pull is always on one specific side of it - the side where the sun is. Therefore we can say that the sun is fairly stationary and the earth is fairly not. That is, if we're not deciding to reject valid theory, theory for which this would be the first major contradictory observation.

But this is again an appeal to gravitational forces, the full affects of which are primarily observed through cosmological planetary movements. Using an appeal to gravity, which is derived from observation, to explain those observations, is circular.

The fact remains that while observations may indicate that everything would be explained by the rotation of the Earth around the sun, there is actually nothing more than circumstantial evidence to support this.

As to your choices...
>Discard said framework, supposing some unknown force that _just so happens_ to make the other framework look really accurate, except that it's completely wrong about what's at the center of our solar system.

I have not actually proposed an alternative, except to hint at a Tychonic model of the solar system (which, outside this debate, I of course reject). I will hypothesize a model now... this is only an example of another model which might explain the evidence.

1) All Planets revolve around the Sun except the Earth because of the Sun's gravity.
2) The location of the Earth is fixed for reasons we do not yet understand.
3) The Sun's own gravity pulls it in rotation around the Earth, dragging the other planets along with it.
4) Hence, the Earth might be the center of the solar system.
beem0r

Pro

//The problem, however, is that the bulk of our understanding of gravity and of the related centripetal acceleration comes from our observations of planetary movements. You are therefore arguing that:
//We derive G from observing M. Therefore G explains M.
//That is circular and self-fulfilling reasoning. And applying scientific definitions to the application of this reasoning only conceals the basic fallacies of the underlying logic.

False. We understand how centripetal acceleration works separate from planetary motion. Centripetal acceleration is simply the inward acceleration needed for an object to follow a certain path. Not only can we come to the equations we have mathematically, but they also work no matter where we apply them (car races, a guy spinning a lasso around his head, etc.).

However, I did largely bring up the other planets and their respective orbits around the sun as evidence of our current theories of gravity being correct. This is because the movement is planetary bodies is governed almost exclusively by gravity. While no other applications are problematic for gravity either, there are other forces at work, and I like to keep it simple. Or at least as simple as possible.

Irregardless, using the relative movements between the sun and other planets is still valid. Whether or not the sun orbits us or vice versa, we can still accurately describe the relative motions of the sun and other planets, based on the fact that we can observe both. Using this information, we could construct an orbit for each planet (or moon, etc.). These orbits would be observed data, not theoretical data based on gravitational theory, but it just so happens that gravitational theory very accurately describes the exact same orbits we observe.

However, if the sun orbits us, then gravity does not explain _any_ of the orbits very well.

//Nor does a lack of counter-evidence equate to a proof. We have only the circumstantial evidence that one and the other seem to explain each other.

No, but an abundance of extremely accurate applications does. Gravitational theory is proven to work just about as much as any scientific theory ever will be.

//If this any of this is a strawman, I'd ask you to spell out your logical argument in a simple skeletal framework and demonstrate sound argument that your position is correct.

Done. In case you didn't catch it, I wasn't using gravity and centripetal acceleration to mutually prove each other, like you said I was.

//Assuming, of course, that we could get so far away and continue to observe real-time movements for long enough periods of time to observe motion. From outside the solar system, where of course the SPACE SHUTTLE has not travelled, we cannot videograph the entire solar system for the very lengthy period of time it would take to adequately observe the movements. Consequently, we have only still-photographs, which is not enough to clarify the movements.

Perhaps we cannot right now, but I see no reason why it isn't possible. That statement was more to show that you _can_ be disproven by direct observation of the alternative, since it seemed like you were asserting that it was impossible to ever possibly know. That might have been a straw man on my part, but it wasn't the bulk of my argument either.

I'll reply to your new theory.
//1) All Planets revolve around the Sun except the Earth because of the Sun's gravity.

No arguments there.

//2) The location of the Earth is fixed for reasons we do not yet understand.

Based on relativity, there is no such thing as 'fixed' position, since being fixed in position with respect to one thing necessarily means moving with respect to some others. If you meant "The location of the earth with respect to our solar system is fixed for reasons we do not yet understand," please see my entire 3rd point from the last post.

//3) The Sun's own gravity pulls it in rotation around the Earth, dragging the other planets along with it.

No. As I already stated, the gravitational forces between the sun and earth are not _nearly_ strong enough to move the sun around the earth. I'll explain it clearer:

The gravitational _force_ between two objects is constant.
Let's say the force between earth and sun at the current distance is 1.
Let's also say the mass of earth is 1 and the sun is 100 (would be much more).
The earth would accelerate at 1 unit distance/time squared. The sun would accelerate at 1/100 unit distance/time squared.

Now I'll explain the math of centripetal acceleration. The acceleration needed to make something make an orbit of radius r while traveling at v velocity is

a = v^2/r

Since the orbit being described would mathematically be the same whether A was orbiting B or B was orbiting A, the speed and radius of the orbit would be the same either way. They would also require the same acceleration, though as I just showed, the sun would have considerably less gravitational acceleration to accomplish this. It would need some new force to also pull it toward the earth, though this force would have to also not affect the other planets at all. Actually it would have to, because the planets right now take only their orbital paths. The magical force would have to also give each planetary body besides the magical earth the orbit of the sun as well. What I mean by this is that the normal, explained, observed orbit would not automatically travel with the sun as it moves, requiring at times much more or much less force between them to keep the orbits we see. If the orbit of the planet (besides earth) is A and the orbit of the sun around the earth is B, each planet would somehow need to be following path A+B.

//4) Hence, the Earth might be the center of the solar system.

Hence, the Earth is not the center of the solar system.
Fixed.

It's possible to argue any science in a similar way. By discarding accurate theories for baseless what-if's, there appears to be some chance that there are in fact leprechauns, with pots of gold, at the end of every rainbow. Such tactics do not belong in debate unless you have good reason to discard theories and something to actually base your what-if's on besides your own imagination.

In any event, it's been fun.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by WiseOne 6 years ago
WiseOne
There are of course other ways to prove that the earth moves around the sun by simple observation.

If one agrees that the other planets in our solar system all revolve around either the sun or the earth, we can emmidiately disprove that they move around the earth due to epi-cycles. (When a planet looks like it is moving backwards in its orbit due to earth's point of view). It is possible to calculate (by observation alone) where the centre of the other planets orbit lies. Following, if one agrees that all planets behave similarly, the earth must revolve around the sun.

Also,

From observation alone, one can triangulate the position of earth relative to the sun (or vise versa) by simply using the 'unmoving' stars as a point of reference. (it is for this reason that at different times of the year we can see different stars), as the sun blocks our point of view. If it were the other way around, we would be able to see all the star at all times. (From different vantage points on earth).
Posted by lazarus_long 6 years ago
lazarus_long
BeemOr - you're right, of course, in that in commonly-used terms, the Earth orbits the Sun. I was simply trying to point out that, strictly speaking, this is not the correct way to describe any two-body situation. Whether or not the Sun orbits the Earth or the Earth orbits the Sun would actually be completely impossible to determine through observation IF those were the only two bodies we could see. We could, of course, show from the laws of physics what was going on, but IF those were the only two bodies involved it would make no practical difference whatsoever which one we chose to used as the "fixed" reference.

Obviously, the Earth-Sun system is not an isolated two-body system; we have other objects which can readily be used as reference, and can easily see that for any practical purposes we should say that the Earth orbits the Sun.

However, just to better understand the situation, consider what would happen if you did have only a two body system, but one in which the two bodies in question were of exactly the same mass. How would you describe the motion of the two, if the situation was one in which the bodies were clearly in stable "orbits"?
Posted by Mangani 6 years ago
Mangani
I think there is a fundamental lack of understanding of elementary science in the case of "con". "Pro" has not "proven" his point- as it is impossible to do so without profound knowledge of several branches of science, but his arguments in favor of recognizing those laws and understanding the elementary aspects behind those laws "make" his point by a landslide.
Posted by beem0r 6 years ago
beem0r
For simplification, you're probably only considering these 2 bodies - the earth and the sun. I will too, but:

Since the center of mass is much closer to the sun, the sun is making a much smaller orbit. Thus, the sun does not orbit around the earth in any way, whereas the earth's orbit goes all the way around the sun. I wouldn't say in any way that the sun orbits the earth. It's like drawing two concentric circles on a page and not knowing which goes around the other, or saying that they both do.

Also, I did say that a 3rd person observation from space would easily prove heliocentricity. I didn't know that we actually HAD photos from that far out, thanks for the info.
Posted by lazarus_long 6 years ago
lazarus_long
Ummmm....well, actually, they ARE orbiting each other. In any two-body orbital situation, the two bodies involved actually both "orbit" their common center of mass. We normally say that the "Earth orbits the Sun" because, as is the case with most such situations, one of the bodies involved is very much more massive than the other, such that the "common center of mass" is very close to the center of mass of the more massive object and in any case is definitely within it. A better example is the Earth-Moon system, in which, while the Earth IS far more massive than the moon, it is not so much more massive that the Earth's center of mass and the center of mass of the Earth-Moon system cannot be readily distinguished. The Earth DOES "orbit" this common center of mass, which results in a noticeable "wobble" in the position of the center of mass of the Earth with respect to, say, its orbital path about the sun.

But the "Pro" side clearly wins this one, no matter what.

I am, though, a little surprised that you didn't bring up one of the most telling, and most recent, pieces of evidence supporting the notion that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It's very simple - we've seen it! Don't forget that several spacecraft has been sent out to and beyond the limits of the Solar System, and at least one (Voyager 2) was directed to look back to the home world and photograph it on several separate occasions. We have direct photographic evidence that our Earth revolves around the Sun!
Posted by spencetheguy 6 years ago
spencetheguy
it is called newtons universal gravitaional law, einsteins theory of relativity and satalites, and we have observed similar solar systems around other stars.
Posted by beem0r 6 years ago
beem0r
They are both moving, but they are not both orbiting one another. The sun is largely only moving in the direction the solar system as a whole is moving. While it does have acceleration due to gravity, it ends up evening out in the long term. The earth however, is constantly being affected by local acceleration--acceleration massive enough to make it move with respect to the entire solar system.
Posted by longjonsilver 6 years ago
longjonsilver
Not to relevant to the debate, but I thought I would make one correction.

Both the earth and the sun are moving. Their movements are not mutually exclusive.
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