In "Gulliver's Travels" (1726) Jonathan Swift presented precise data concerning the moons of Mars ! After all they were discovered only in 1882, that is 156 years later! It seems Swift had some unusual source of information!!! ( UFO? ).

The Moons of Mars

In „Gulliver's Travels” (1726) Jonathan Swift presented precise data concerning the moons of Mars ! After all they were discovered only in 1882, that is 156 years later! It seems Swift had some unusual source of information!!! ( UFO? ).

This curious piece of information has been circulating for the last fifty (?) years. Even Martin Gardner (an American scientist with popularizatory leanings) in his book „Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” (1957) quotes it as the most astonishing guess of all time. Let's read what Gardner writes about a pseudo–scientific book by dr Samuel Velikovsky „Worlds in Collision” (1950):

It may be of interest to note in passing that Velikovsky make use of the close approach of Mars to explain what is perhaps the most astonishing guess of all the time. In "Gulliver's Travels", Swift mentions casually that the astronomers of Laputa discovered that Mars had two satellites. Mars DOES have two moons, but they were not spotted until 156 years later. It was 100 years until a telescope was made large enough even to see the moons ! Moreover, Swift's predication about their periods of revolution corresponds closely to their actual periods. One of the moons, Pho­bos, goes around Mars in the same direction the planet rotates, but only in one–third the time so that it appears to rise in the west and set in the east. This is the only known body in the universe that revolves around a central body FASTER than the central body rotates, yet this fact also is included in Swift's brief description ! In Velikovsky's opinion, Swift got his information from the ancient manuscripts he had chanced upon, and which were based on actual observations of the moons at a time when Mars was close to the earth. The doctor thanks this way why Greek my­thology had Mars' chariot drawn by two horses – the two horses, incidentally, for which the moon were later named.     “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science”, 1957

Now (just in case) let's dip into „Gulliver's Travels”:

They have likewise discovered two lesser Stars, or Satellites, which re­volve about Mars; whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary Planet exactly three of his Diameters, and the outermost five; the former revolves in the Space of ten hours, and the latter in Twenty–one and an Half; so that the Squares of their periodical Times, are very near in the same Proportion with the Cubs of their distance from the cen­ter of Mars; which evidently shows them to be gov­erned by the same Law of Gravitation, that influences the other heavenly Bodies.

And finally (to be completely fair) let's take any astronomy textbook and make the following table:



























A king's ransom to him who can discern any kind of accuracy in Swift's „astonishing guess”! To the contrary: – Swift turned out to be exceptionally inaccurate.

Of course there's nothing astonishing in Swift's remarks about the relationship between the period of revolution and the radius of the orbit. Swift wrote this in 1726 while Kepler discovered his Third Law as early as 1618. The only thing that Swift guessed was the number of moons, but... Jove's four moons and, of course, the Earth's single moon were already known in his time. Thus Swift could choose between 2 and 3 moons. He choose two, like anybody would in his place (what better fit for 1 and 4 ?).

Thus we are dealing with a pure fairy–tale !

Who set it in motion ? Probably Velikovsky in 1950. That Velikovsky didn't consult an astronomy textbook is understandable. But the others ? Why didn't Martin Gardner do it ?! It's simple:– nobody suspected that Velikovsky could be so nonchalant (or impudent?). Therefore, nobody suspected that a piece of information so easy to check could be false !

However, was it really easy to check ? It seems that not so easy after all. In the first place both an as­tronomy textbook (rarely read) and "Gulliver's Travels" (read even more rarely) should have been at hand, and additionally... one should have had the habit of checking information.

Credulity and naivety still exist, even with respect to much more important matters. So all mistifica­tion–makers still have great perpectives.

The Daeniken–like literature brings a lot of this kind of news. It's quite possible that ALL of it is either distorted or simply false. For example: I read somewhere about a primaeval building made of giant stone blocks so precisely polished that it was impossible to squeeze a razor between them. I sus­pect that on the spot it would turn out that between them there would be room even for a hand.

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Who invented the car ? Why, that's obvious:

A very interesting invention of the kind was made in Russia. In the years 1751–52, Leontij Sham­shoorienov, a moujik from the Nizgorod district, constructed a “self–propelling cart" set into motion by the strength of two men.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia

Who invented the electric light–bulb ? That's no problem, either:

The light–bulb was invented by a Russian scientist, A.N. Lodygin, who for the first time used it to light the streets of Petersburg. [...] A junior lieutnant of the Russian fleet, A.M. Chotinskij, while on a service trip to the USA demonstrated Lodygin's light–bulb (which he had taken with him) to T.Edison. Edison made use of Lodygin technical ideas, introduced some construction changes in his light–bulb, and patented it in 1879.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia