Sunday, March 10, 2013

What's It All About -- The Vortex Visonary "Controversy"

I was over at Bad Astronomy checking up on the comet I haven't been able to see due to storm clouds in our area, and I stumbled upon one of the classic "scientific debunkings" of our time.

At issue: a YouTube video. Well, two of them, actually. One showed the video artist's rendering of his interpretation of the motion of the sun and planets in the solar system -- a helical motion or a vortex, he said, not the stately clockwork of Copernicus, et al; the other depicted the motion of the helical solar system in orbit around the galactic center.

My, the Scientific Outrage!!!™

Over a couple of videos? Really? What was going on?

Well, it appears these videos have been seen by plenty many people. 700,000 and change in the case of the Solar System video; 150,000 in the case of the galaxy video. They are darned nice. Very well done, by someone who clearly has high caliber video animations skills.

And these videos have led to questioning the Standard Model of the Solar System, the heliocentric model of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo, Newton and the rest, who, after long cogitation on the mighty problem of the motion of the spheres came to the startling conclusion that the Sun must reside at the center of the Solar System and the planets must make stately progress around the Sun year by year.  Like clockwork.

Indeed, the clockwork model of the Solar System is still with us, though long ago rejected in the planetary sciences, because we always see the Solar System depicted thus:
The Wikipedia solar system diagram at several scales

In the Standard Diagram, the sun is stationary at the center of the planetary system, the planets "circle" the sun in a counter clockwise direction, and the whole is enveloped in spherical ball of comets called the Oort Cloud.

The video artist attempted to demonstrate that essentially none of this is true or factual. First of all, the Solar System is not horizontal like a dinner plate with reference to the galactic plane, it is tilted at a severe angle -- which he depicts at ninety degrees in the solar system video, sixty degrees in the galaxy video. The sun is not stationary but is moving quite rapidly in orbit around the galactic center, and thus the planets cannot and do not orbit in neat (and ever-so-tight) little ellipses, very nearly circular, as is always depicted in Solar System diagrams. Their orbital motion is helical around a moving target, if you will. All of which has long been known to planetary science, but it is rarely depicted, partly because diagramming it is difficult (though Sky and Telescope Magazine somehow manages to do so every month in its sky charts)  and partly because doing so can mess with people's innate understanding or what they've been taught about the way things are.

The dinner plate/clockwork diagram has sufficed for hundreds of years, anyway, so why upset the apple cart? We're just getting past the notion that the interiors of the Outer Planets are "icy," after all.

Where the video artist commits heresy, however, (at least as stated by Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy) is in his depiction of the sun leading the planets in their helical journey through space, and in his outrageous claim that heliocentrism is itself in error.

Heresy! Burn him!

How many people, after all, went to the stake because they believed in heliocentrism? Well, at least one.

So clearly, anyone who would dispute this fundamental of planetary science after such sacrifice should go to the stake himself. Burn him!!!

This tendency for scientists to become overwrought when their supposed fundamental beliefs are challenged, especially by untrained and probably unwashed people outside the field, has long been one of the least appealing behaviors of those in scientific practice. It suggests a violent streak on the one hand, and very tightly closed minds on the other, both of which, unfortunately, strongly resemble the mindsets of deeply religious and even cultic Believers.

As he explains in his blogpost responding to his Bad Astronomy thrashing, what he calls "heliocentrism" is the Standard Diagram, which literally everyone learns is the way the Solar System works, and it's wrong. Simply wrong.

That is not the way the Solar System works. True enough. Every planetary scientist will acknowledge as much. Well, they would, except many of them won't in this case, not because they don't know the difference between the Diagram and the reality, but because an upstart outsider has made point -- rather stunningly and beautifully, too -- that they themselves feel little or no obligation to bother with from their own scientific perspective.

As many commenters say to the debunkers, "If the artist's rendering of the actual motion of the Solar System is so very 'wrong,' why don't you depict it correctly?" This they will not do, no way, no how. Not their job. Their rejoinder is, "Why doesn't the artist get it right in the first place? Harrumph!" As they flounce off to their enervating projects -- not necessarily what they want to do, but what they have to do to maintain standing in the field. Harrumph! Indeed.

How dare he?!

That's the basic attitude on display. It's highly evocative of the attitude of Ptolemyists  toward Galileans back in the day. "Everyone knew" the geocentric model proposed by Ptolemy was correct, and these snotty upstarts putting the sun in the center were simply out of touch and out of their league. How dare they?! 

In this case, though, the issue is a relatively minor one of definition of terms and accuracy of animation,  not "fundamentals."

So the big deal that is being made of it is somewhat, shall we say, manufactured?

DjSadhu is objecting to the diagram of the Solar System that everyone learns. He is calling it "heliocentric" -- which it is -- and is objecting to "heliocentrism" as depicted in the diagram. His alternative vision, as illustrated in his animations, are far closer to the reality than the heliocentric diagram is, but they are still not quite right according to findings of scientists -- oh, and good luck finding those findings, given the difficulty of public access to scientific papers thanks to the lock JSTOR still has on so much of it.

The main objection to DjSadhu's animations that Phil Plait brings up at Bad Astronomy (once you figure out what he's really objecting to) is the fact that some of Sadhu's insight about what the real motions of the sun and planets are and what it really looks like comes from the work of Pallathadka Keshava Bhat. Bhat was less a scientist than he was a spiritualist, and that is anathema among real scientists. Obviously, the man knew nothing.

Therefore, DjSadhu's animations are teh suxor. Even though they are gorgeous, and even though they more accurately depict the motions of the sun and planets than the Standard Dinner Plate Diagram, they suck and cannot be redeemed for they are based on the ravings of a heretical madman.

Unfortunately that is the way too many arrogant and egotistical scientists approach challenges from "outside."

On the whole, I thought Phil Plait's debunking of DjSadhu's animations was pretty hilarious and typical. His objections were least of all on substance, because for the most part Sadhu got the (helical motion) substance pretty much right. Plait's objections revolve mostly on matters of definition of terms, perceived insults and lack of decorum, and minor adjustments to his helical models of motion (which he inflates into massive errors). There is no basic objection to the helical model itself. The objection is mostly over who is proposing and describing it.

DjSadhu is objecting to the dinner plate model of the solar system and its motions and he is illustrating an alternative model -- which is more accurate, despite its errors. Neither Plait nor any of his supporters acknowledge that the dinner plate model is fundamentally wrong, though they do acknowledge that a helix is a more accurate description of planetary motion.

What would be useful at this point would be for planetary scientists to work with computer animators to illustrate what they believe is the correct understanding of the helical motion of the planets and solar system. 

But I won't hold my breath.


  1. Contrary to your statement that "[Phil Plait's] objections were least of all on substance", his objections describe demonstrably false assertions made by DjSadhu about astronomy. The most ludicrous is that the planets trail the Sun through space. He also misunderstands (and badly)the heliocentric model that he is criticizing, to the point of saying that it predicts that solar conjunctions of planets further from the Sun than the Earth should occur at least once a year. Actually, it predicts that Mars's solar conjunctions should occur every 26 months, which is the interval that is actually observed. See my videos "Vortex" Solar System Refuted by Jupiter Solar Conjunction ( and Solar Conjunctions in DjSadhu's "Vortex" Solar System (Solar Conjunctions in DjSadhu's "Vortex" Solar System).

  2. Thanks for the link to your refutation.

    In fact, I think the argument about the actual movement of the solar system -- which Plait isn't engaging in, since he accepts the basic premise of helical movement -- is useful (just don't let the planets trail the sun!)

    Eventually, the abandonment of the "dinner plate" (heliocentric) model of solar system movement can lead to advances in astronomy and potentially cosmology.

    Djsadhu's errors are plain enough, but his main point about what he calls the "vortex," stands despite refutations.

    The helical model is simply a more accurate depiction of the movement of the solar system through galactic space than the "dinner plate" model -- which I notice no one is really defending except perhaps on the basis of tradition.

    Just as it is grossly inaccurate to assert that the cores of the giant planets are composed of "ices," which you'll still find in some astronomy texts, so the "ball bearings on a dinner plate" model of solar system movement is inaccurate and less useful to understanding than the helical model.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hi Ché!

    Thanks for writing this article! I'm glad that you managed to look past the errors and see the point of my videos, even after reading Phil's piece. Most of his readers are stuck in the "it's all wrong" mode, and are unable to see anything but the errors.

    To my knowledge I was the first one to even attempt to create a video of our motion through the galaxy - I could not find any existing animation, and only partial diagrams and data.

    Yes, there are errors - I even got two orbits switched in the first video. You can debate forever about the 60 degree angle (is the whole system tilted by 60 degrees or is the angle the result of us moving up in an angle?)But it's kind of sad that this prevent people from seeing the points I was trying to make:
    We move trough space at an incredible speed (I was surprised to find out how many people did not know that). Because of that, the orbits are not elliptical or circular, but helical. This helical pattern is everywhere in life, in my humble opinion that is no coincidence.

    I'm currently processing all the criticism (and new information) for a revised version of the galaxy video. I'm sure that there will be another 'shit storm' because of it.

    My goal is NOT to go head-to-head with the scientific community and endlessly debate details. My goal is to have people look up at the stars a bit more often and feel part of a huge moving, spinning, living Universe.


  5. And also:

    DjSadhu is objecting to the diagram of the Solar System that everyone learns. He is calling it "heliocentric" -- which it is -- and is objecting to "heliocentrism" as depicted in the diagram. His alternative vision, as illustrated in his animations, are far closer to the reality than the heliocentric diagram is

    You're actually the first to completely get it, you managed to put it into words better than I can.
    My problem is indeed with the "diagrams", because for the average person the standard diagrams create the illusion of a stationary system, with an Earth that returns to its starting point after one year... a pointless marry-go-round.
    And that may be the biggest point I was trying to get across: contrary to what the diagrams may have you believe (intentionally or not), we are on a JOURNEY, there's progress!
    That is the main difference between a circular orbit and a helix: progress.

    Thanks for getting it.

  6. Hello DJ,

    I thought what you were trying to accomplish was pretty darned special, as so far as I know, no one in the field of planetary science or cosmology has bothered to do it, or if they have, they haven't put it out for public inspection like you did.

    Planetary scientists understand the actual movements of the stars and planets through space in great detail, and yet when it comes to describing them for laypeople, they rely almost exclusively on the static solar system diagrams we're all so familiar with and which you sought to break free of.

    There may have been detail errors in your attempts, but the premise was right, and it seems to me that if you continue to work out the details of your project, you'll get to something truly superb and even welcome in the planetary science community.

    The attacks on your work were harsh, and I thought they were out of line under the circumstances. Don't listen to the haters, but if planetary scientists offer to assist it could be an exciting collaboration.

    Keep at it! It's a very worthwhile journey.


  7. The links given at the end of this post will show that scientists have been quite clear about the Sun's motion for the last 80 years. I give those links in the description of my video "What is the Sun's True Motion?" (, where you can also see references supporting other statements that I make here.

    Dj's claim to be unaware of prior videos showing the Sun's motion is not credible, since he embeds Kurdistan Planetarium's video from 2008 in his blog (

    In summary, only scientifically illiterates who expect astronomy to be spoon-fed to them in the form of glitzy videos will give credence to Dj's suspicion that astronomers have been keeping knowledge of the Sun's movement from the public. Phil Plait's critique is on target, and given that Dj is promoting the demonstrably false model dreamed up by a nutcase (P. Keshava Bhat) who can't even quote Newton's Laws accurately, the harshness of that critique is fully deserved.

    ***,Pre-DjSadhu sources on Movement of Sun and Earth around Galaxy: ***

    May, 1932



    October 26, 1998

    June 17, 2005

    Spring 2007

    Dec 2, 2008 (Kurdistan Planetarium, "Earth Rotation & Revolution around a moving Sun ")

    Apr. 16, 2009 (VERY GOOD!)

    18 June 2010

    Aug 23, 2010
    Science 360: 2012 Truth - Galactic Plane Alignment (Good, re: Sun's sinusoidal motion perpendicular to Galactic Plane)

    Oct 24, 2010
    The Difficulties of Interstellar Travel, or How the Hell do I Calculate the Way Home?

    1. My goodness... !

      Look, as I say, planetary scientists have been quite aware of the actual motions of the sun and planets for many years, but when describing them to lay people, they have used what I call "the dinner plate diagram" for hundreds of years, and they still use it. That diagram, as you no doubt know, does not accurately describe the motions of the sun and planets, nor is it meant to. It is a sketch model for the uninitiated.

      Dj tried animations based on his best understanding of the actual motions of the sun and planets. He acknowledges he got some of the details wrong, but his intent was to shatter the dinner plate model. He could see it was so deep in error as to be grossly deceiving.

      Your own links prove his (actual) case, not Plait's insults and denunciations.

  8. You said,

    "Look, as I say, planetary scientists have been quite aware of the actual motions of the sun and planets for many years, but when describing them to lay people, they have used what I call "the dinner plate diagram" for hundreds of years, and they still use it."

    Not true. Almost every one of those links was directed to lay people. Which demolishes Dj's suspicion that astronomers have been keeping knowledge of the Sun's movement from the public.

    "Dj tried animations based on his best understanding of the actual motions of the sun and planets."

    False. He based them on Bhat's model, the key claim of which is that the planets trail behind the Sun at all times. Over a year ago, in his response to Plait, Dj bragged that he could prove that that claim is true, and that he would upload a video that would so. He's never presented that "proof".

    After learning that that claim is demonstrably false (see, he changed his story, and now says that his two videos show different models, and that only the second one show's Bhat's model. I can find no place where he said that until months after replying to Plait. You'll notice that he doesn't say that in his posts to you, either.

    Some of the above is documented in this new video of mine that might interest you:

    Alternative-Science Fans! Take the "Eclipses of Jupiter's Moons" Challenge!


    1. Apologetics tend to avoid or obscure the point of the objection.

      In this case, it seems that the objection you and Plait and some others are focused on is not djsadhu's illustrations or their faults but the fact that he gained his insights from a non-astronomer named Bhat who is considered anathema among the astronomical community.

      I just did a quick Google image search of solar system illustrations. Of course thousands come up, but among the first few hundred or so, there was only one that depicted the movements of the earth and planets around the sun as a helix; all the rest showed what I call "the dinner plate model." The one that depicted a helix was from a post that dealt with djsadhu's gif of what he called the vortex model. All the rest depicted the model of a stationary sun around which the planets orbit in a flat plane, the model that has been standard for hundreds of years but which does not and cannot accurately depict the motions of sun and planets.

      For my own amusement, I also checked to see whether the interiors of the giant planets were still depicted as having "ices" around their cores, and sure enough, some illustrations still do, even though the idea is patently absurd (and the lengths some researchers will go to justify the presence of "ice" under such extreme pressures and temperatures border on the hilarious.)

      The one Google image result that showed the helical model of the Solar System came from a site that was critical of djsadhu's model, critical not so much of his illustrations, which the author concedes may be imperfect, but are close enough, as it is of the source of djsadhu's insight, the Bhat examination of the processes of the Solar System, which apparently is considered heretical and threatening within the astronomical and cosmological community.

      In other words, the objection is not so much about Sadhu's illustrations which, while flawed, are not that far off the mark, but about someone most people have never heard of or read and who is only tangentially referred to by djsadhu as his inspiration to consider and illustrate the actual movements of the sun and planets and to relate those movements to "life."

      He wasn't inspired by a scientific paper, in other words. He was inspired by an obscure East Indian philosopher. And as one, the sciences rise up in highest dudgeon: This shall not stand!

      And so it is with Rhys Taylor's critique posted at Universe Today. The objection once again is not about the "vortex" or helical illustrations djsadhu has done, it's about Bhat.

      But Bhat is not the real issue. He never was.

      The issue is that a non-scientist, djsadhu, and a few others are attempting to deal with matters that they are neither qualified nor authorized to question.

      What I've long said is that it would be better for science to recognize the validity of djsadhu's complaint about the standard model of the solar system and to revise that model (which should be simple enough given the fact that Sadhu, a non-scientist, could do it) to more accurately reflect the motions of sun and planets. Just do it and quit complaining about Sadhu and his illustrations. Even Rhys Taylor is able to do something comparable to Sadhu and shows motions almost exactly as Sadhu does -- with the exception, of course, that he unnecessarily overlays the "dinner plate" model on the helical motions he's depicting -- out of a need to defend tradition? I don't know, but it isn't necessary.

      As for Bhat, the obsessive focus on discrediting him and his perspective -- when Sadhu's point is both simpler and more direct -- looks pretty silly. Bhat really shouldn't matter all that much, should he?

  9. My, my; you certainly do present a most entertaining and imaginative version of the facts.

    At the end of this post, I give links to two videos of mine in which I mentioned the Sun's orbit around the center of the Galaxy two years before DjSadhu uploaded his first video. I uploaded my video on the Galactic Equator to correct an error that I had found on debunkers' websites regarding "2012" claims. I had repeated that error in my own materials on the astronomy of 2012, so I (with the enthusiastic approval of one of the debunker sites) took pains to publish the fact that we had committed an error, and to correct both ourselves and the planetarium websites that had originally committed it.

    Now, as for your present post:

    As I've documented here previously, astronomers and educators already had published about the Sun's motion numerous times long before DjSadhu, in written materials and videos directed toward the layman. (Rhys Taylor's video recent video is superfluous--he could have just referred to materials that had been published before.) Therefore, and contrary to your and Dj's obsessive delusion, that motion is not some life-changing revelation that astronomers collude with TPTB in suppressing in order to keep us hopelessly working ourselves to death for TPTB's benefit. However, that delusion will naturally be maintained by people who expect astronomy to be spoon-fed to them in the form of pretty pictures that come up in quick Google searches.

    Your imaginative version of the facts omits some very important ones:

    1. DjSAdhu has repeatedly defamed real astronomers by insinuating that they promote a fraudulent Solar System model as part of an Establishment conspiracy.

    2. When he first uploaded his videos, and for almost a full year after uploading the first of them, Dj said, basing his claims upon Bhat's work, that the heliocentric model is "incorrect" and "impossible", and even boasted that he would soon upload a video proving proving that the Bhat model's key feature (planets always trail the Sun) is correct. So, Dj is the one who made a big deal of Bhat. All Plait and I did was report what Dj said. Dj threw Bhat under the bus only later.

    3. Dj has never made good on the boast mentioned in (2). His claims that the heliocentric model is "impossible" resulted from a combination of his willful ignorance of what that model actually says, and his ignorance of (or refusal to acknowledge) previous work that had described the Sun's motion fully, years or even decades before his videos.

    4. Dj still maintains many of the above-mentioned defamations and false claims on his websites.

    In summary, Dj is an incompetent "researcher" and a willfully ignorant conspiracy theorist who defames real scientists, then whines and takes refuge in the swamps of post-modern mental mush to avoid admitting that he was wrong.

    Bloggers who enable him aren't doing either him or anyone else any good.

    Here are the links to my videos. They were uploaded originally in 2010. Although neither now has the original upload date, note that the current upload of one on the Galactic Plane nevertheless precedes Dj's first video by two weeks.

    1B Motions of Earth 1

    The Galactic Equator isn't "Arbitrary" and it's not the "Plane"

    1. As I said, this is all much ado about Bhat.

      DJ has shown a great deal more modesty about his imperfect work than you have about yours (which by the way I have never impugned, nor has DJ as far as I know).

      How many times do you have to hear me say "planetary scientists have been quite aware of the actual motions of the sun and planets for many years" before it dawns on you that I'm not disputing the existence of this knowledge long before djsadhu created his video illustrations? Of course it was known within the astronomical and planetary science community. Of course it was.

      The problem was that this knowledge of helical motion was not generally shared with laypeople, as my reference to the illustrations currently available via Google Image search amply demonstrates. Among the first few hundred only one shows the helical model of motion, and it's there because of Sadhu's flawed illustrations, not yours.

      That doesn't mean there had never-ever been any mention of it to and among laypeople. Of course there had been. The point is that it was not -- and is not -- the standard illustration or description of Solar System and planetary motion... Is it?

      But even that isn't the real issue. The issue is that some East Indian mystic came up with a version of what was known and his version is considered heretical -- because it is not based on the science but on Bhat's mystical revelation.

      That's the real issue.

      As for Sadhu's scientific failings.... he's not a scientist. Never said he was. But given the viewcounts, his illustrations are sure popular.

      And the denunciations of them from scientists look more and more petty and vengeful.

      I'd just suggest that insight is good and should be treasured no matter where it comes from.