Show 548: Thomas Levenson on “The Hunt for Vulcan”

Thomas Levenson on “The Hunt for Vulcan”

It was believed for decades that our Solar System had an extra planet, closer to the Sun than Mercury: the planet Vulcan. The planet doesn’t exist, of course, but it took quite a while to figure that out. Why is that? What does this episode say about science and how it works? Is this a laughable mistake or a blunder in the history of science, or was science doing its job?

Today we’ll be speaking with Thomas Levenson, whose new book, ‘The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe‘, addresses these questions while telling the compelling story of the “discovery” of a false planet.

Thomas Levenson is a professor at MIT and head of its science writing program. He is the author of several books, including ‘Einstein in Berlin’ and ‘Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist.’ He has also made ten feature-length documentaries (including a two-hour Nova program on Einstein) for which he has won numerous awards.

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