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The challenging history of other Earths

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2023

Christopher M. Graney*
Affiliation:
Specola Vaticana, Castel Gandolfo, Italy

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of recent historical research regarding scientifically-informed challenges to the idea that the stars are other suns orbited by other inhabited earths – an idea that came to be known as ‘the Plurality of Worlds’. Johannes Kepler in the 17th century, Jacques Cassini in the 18th and William Whewell in the 19th each argued against ‘pluralism’ based on what in their respective times was solid science. Nevertheless, pluralism remained popular despite these and other scientific challenges. This history will be of interest to the astronomical community so that it is better positioned to avoid difficulties should the historical trajectory of pluralism continue, especially as it persists in the popular imagination.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

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