Neptune, Deepsixing, Doctoring, & ScAm

2005 November 15

[Revised 2007 & 2010-2011]

The Case of the Pilfered Thesis

Below is a photographic copy of the original PRE-DOCTORED fax of Scientific American's already multi-embarrassment-fleeced version of the letter which DR dumb-trustingly and waaay over-generously and over-amiably approved for the 2005 April ScAm letters column.
[And DR's fax-transmissal record is provided perpendicularly on the left, since it connects to yet further ScAm guile.]


for ScAm's post-agreement alterations (etc!) even of this ultra-censored text

— in order to set-up a counter-attack by its author(s) which (besides being scientifically dim) triumphantly pointed out the falsity of something DR had not said, but which had simply been interpolated by ScAm itself….
DR foolishly supposed from occasional past (1979, 1990) productive interaction with Scientific American (though see elsewhere here for a flock of ScAm's less creditable priors) — plus generally amiable relations with its 2004 authors — that it could be trusted not to blatantly cheat. (What follows should warn others not to repeat the evidently-punishable crime of presuming square dealing by ScAm.) One might call this episode a sort-of achievement by ScAm: to have (despite repeated gentle DR efforts [detailed below] at correcting problems) turned a friendly situation into a charged one. But: do those determined upon censorship — and accustomed by power to getting away with it — ever really care?

Clumsily consistent with the Scientific American integrity detailed below is the journal's latest ploy [as of 2007]: doctoring its own publishing record, to continue hiding from its readers DR's embarrassing long-term priority with ScAm's 2004 Dec cover's announcement (“Stealing a Planet”). As of 2007/8/26 (and possibly long before), the web version of ScAm's pilfered Neptune-pilferage claim (“The Case of the Pilfered Planet”) had but one alteration from the original: the bibliography has censored-out the listing of DIO 9.1 [1999], which appeared at the end of the original article. All other biblio-citations remained intact.
Note added 2007/11/13: On 2007/8/28, DIO Editor Dennis Duke emailed ScAm, inquiring why the sole deleted bibliographical source was DIO 9.1: “at the end of the printed version of the article ‘The Case of the Pilfered Planet’ (Dec 2004) there are six references listed as ‘More to Explore’. In the online version of the same article, the 5th of the 6 references, an article titled British Neptune-Disaster File Recovered [DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 (pp.3-25)] is omitted. Any particular reason?”
No reply. I.e., yet another hiding-incident. And arrogance-incident.

In 2007 November, right after DR posted here the above photo of the ScAm-doctored document — as well as the ScAm lead writer's private acknowledgement of who had solved the Neptune case — all the article's original biblio-citations were deleted. (Very unfair to the enlightening website of Nick Kollerstrom, who has worked tirelessly to make known the full record of the Neptune affair.) Which ploy only adds to ScAm's record of doctoring, sinuousness, and obstruction — just to evade openly owning up to its prior doctoring and partiality.]
By its bibliographic tampering, ScAm is additionally attempting to hide this DIO posting's unanswerable textual revelation of its blatantly defensive post-agreement tampering with the language of the DR letter it published in its 2005 April issue.
Readers who are wondering why ScAm doesn't want them to know of the DIO website will not have to read far here to be enlightened. As ever, the series of getting-in-ever-deeper coverup-dodges are dumber & sneakier than the original sin being hidden.

[Mention of ScAm's web-post-doctoring its own article was mentioned on DR's biography on pseudo-populist Wikipedia until an anonymous lover of ScAm on 2007/10/25 flagged it as “gibberish” and then (knowing that wouldn't work) re-attacked it 1 minute later as “unencyclopedic”. To obscure the desire for deletion of this undeniably accurate embarrassment, the ENTIRE Neptune section of the bio was selectively deleted on 2008/3/10 along with virtually all citations of DIO (which action included suppressing linkage to the present article), alleging — without citing one instance of DIO error — that DIO is NotReliable, despite the fact that in the history-of-astronomy field (where the Toppe Journal is amusingly klutzy), DIO is the MOST technically reliable and eminent-scientist-backed journal. (But also the most politically unreliable — which is the whole trouble.) This punitive action was carried out by a Wiki Administrator “Vsmith” who has an energetic, ready-fire-aim proclivity (religious duty? job?) to stamp out establishment-embarrassing material (see also Wikipedia-history of Carl Sagan's Wiki bio) and extortionist-threat (e.g., DR-bio's history at 2008/7/26) on the typically honest pretext that the section belonged under Neptune. (He of course didn't move it there. Just deleted it. Besides his biases, goofy errors, and obvious non-expertise in the relevant science, Vsmith's actions against DIO have with impunity broken several standard Wikipedia rules. Check the [repeatedly goon-harrassed] DR bio's Wikipedia-history under the cited dates, among others.)
Gotta find some excuse to hide ScAm's sins. All consistent with webScAm's non-citation practice towards DR: censorship of censorship of censorship of …. ScAm's persistent bob-weave approach shows that, to kill off this embarrassment, it will try anything. Except honesty.
(Look forward to further hounding of DIO on Wikipedia by establishment-plants, who appear to roam and control that site at will whenever something awful needs to be hidden from the public. The DR bio is obviously being held hostage to persuade DIO to back off. But the extortion-to-hide-scandals is itself an even worse scandal. You'd have thought that establishmentarians might have reckoned (at the outset) what the odds were that DIO would stay more quiet about big offenses than small.)
A subtext point to keep in mind throughout here:
Establishments are used to fighting rebels that are less competent than themselves. (Usually far less when the challenge is from kooks. But the only kookery in the HAD mix is co-founder Gingerich's religious fundamentalism.) What makes DIO so maddeningly dangerous in their eyes is that this accustomed advantage is (at best) of no help in dealing with DIO, whose board members are centrists on scientific issues and highly expert in the areas they explore.
This situation explains exactly why its fumbling popsci-establishment opposites must use dirty tactics to “win” its occasional fights with DIO. When you're wrong and unbrilliant, nothing but cheating can be effective.]

Evenhandedness in Slickmagdom: Nothing New Here:
On 1979/2/7, DR conversed with Scientific American Editor Dennis Flanagan. (Who was so adamant-grumpy that DR exceptionally told him so.) The discussion concerned the upcoming ScAm 240.3:90-93 [1979 March] attack by Owen Gingerich, Noel Swerdlow, & Victor Thoren upon Ptolemy-skeptic Robert Newton, an eminent, brilliant, and highly original physicist (a pioneer in, e.g., the discovery of the Earth's spin-rate variability), chief of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab's Space Sciences Division. DR soon found that Flanagan was absolutely determined to publish this attack without ever consulting the other side.
[This is a typical example of the persistent and pernicious influence of the Owen Gingerich clique, upon free, amiable, and unprejudiced discourse in this field. (One can only guess at the number of enmities generated [by such influences and attendant temptations & corruption] between scholars who would otherwise be friends and mutually enlightening colleagues.) Similarly, DR has repeatedly had initial-encounters with archons who already have a strong pre-opinion about DR without ever having previously talked with him or read any of his works. Numerous other scholars (e.g., W.Luyten, F.Ronne) have had the same ignorantly-arrived-at, cultslander-based status in archondum.]
(DR had only learned by accident of the upcoming anti-RRN ScAm attack, via Martin Gardner [1978/11/30] — who was spreading neutral ScAm's word that [by today utterly-vindicated] R.Newton was a crank. Coming from admirers of O.Gingerich [god-hugger and long-time apologist-flack for astrologer-faker-plagiarist C.Ptolemy]: it doesn't get much funnier.) Paul Hoffman, author of the SciAm article that eventually appeared, claimed [1979/1/16] to DR that he was depending more on Noel Swerdlow [hardly a mathematical whiz] than O.Gingerich [ditto], for whom Swerdlow had expressed contempt to Hoffman. But in conversation with DR, Gingerich was the 1st person DF mentioned having consulted with [DF then hesitated — as if he wished he hadn't said that], when asked why he was so convinced of Newton's worthlessness. He scorned RN as one of those who thinks “everyone else is wrong [and] I'm right.” (Which actually turned out to be just as accurate as his charges against Ptolemy.) This is how being a lone pioneer is evaluated by semi-numerate archons, who can't do much math beyond counting heads (and whose journals' scrupulousness is satisfied by acquiring its needed cynosure-crutch Trustworthy-Guroos at academic-society-banquets). Note Flanagan's typical slick-popsci-mag approach to judging a scientific issue: personalities and supposed “authorities” [who's-whose-guroos?] not evidence. Why indeed should DF bother to interview RN, when DF was (1979/2/7) rock-sure of himself upfront: Flanagan said he didn't like pipsqueaks who tear down giants, adding that Ptolemy might not be a giant, but Robert “Newton is a pipsqueak.”
(One of a variety of repulsive “Muffia” & Gingerich-circle slanders of RN. DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡1 §C7 [p.8] has a much fuller sampling of the kind of MuffiaMud that circulated years before DIO was launched (a chronology proving that [contrary to persistent propaganda-mythology] DIO isn't the source of the field's seemingly incurable nastiness).
E.g., “incompetent”, “crank”, “Velikovskian”, “crazy”, “disreputable”, “insults the intelligence of the most naïve reader”. Also, Swerdlow [top Muffioso-sycup-to-Neugebauer] to R.Newton [1983/6/2]: “out-and-out lie”, “con-man”; see DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡3 §D [pp.19-21]. For contrast, see DR's friendly [unanswered] 1981 letter to Swerdlow [despite prior bad relations that had followed Swerdlow's dementedly vicious 1979 American Scholar 48:523f attack on RRN, and DR's private astonished shredding of it], attempting to build bridges DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡3 n.7 [p.21]. Also DR 1976-1977 letters to Science, and DR's well-intended [& prescient] 1980 advice to Hoskin: DIO 1.2 [1991] n.2 & n.8 [pp.96&97], resp.)
On the wildly false science and false history at the heart of the Ptolemy-apology Scientific American published, see DR in American Journal of Physics 55.3:235-239 [1987] n.12 and in the long-JHA-suppressed analysis finally published at DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡3 §E3 [p.38]: see especially the concluding parenthesis!

After reading the 2004 December Scientific American (pp.92f) story on the Brit grab of Neptune's discovery from the French (article billed on cover as “Stealing a Planet” — DR's hitherto-lonely contention since 1966), DR initially reacted amiably, and kept trying to do so.

OK, OK — pretty naïve (considering the events described above and below). But DR had had several friendly and competent interactions with Scientific American over the years (able physicist Jearl Walker: SciAm 1979 May; photography expert Paul Wallich: SciAm 1990 March & June). Thus, even knowing that ScAm inexplicably took DR-slander-pump-prime O.Gingerich's judgements seriously, DR volunteered to try assisting the accuracy of the Neptune-affair history being purveyed — and hoped to continue (as for years through, e.g., chats with Nick Kollerstrom) to offer occasional observations, which might help sharpen the Neptune history. E.g., DR soon after mused aloud on this site:

  • If on 1846/6/25, Astronomer Royal Geo. Airy wrote to W.Whewell, confident of the planet's existence (see R.Smith's key find: Isis 1989) yet only 2 weeks later wrote to J.Challis (7/9) that there was merely “a shadow of reason” to believe in it, who can have been responsible for such (sudden-onset) Airy doubt? Likely answer: Brit “discoverer” J.C.Adams, in non-extant communication (possibly through Challis) between those dates.

  • DR notes that the just-cited Airy-Whewell 1846/6/25 letter proves that the present RGO Neptune file is incomplete, since this revealing and vital first Airy-reaction to Leverrier's announcement is not now in the voluminous RGO Neptune file.
    [Note added 2010: See further unevadable sharpening-thoughts just below, and further down at “Difficulties”.]

    Though DR inclines to the suspicion that the party responsible for this particular blank was Airy himself, nonetheless, such large oddities (not to mention long-accepted tampering) in the record of the 'til-lately-deepsixed RGO Neptune file has pushed DR finally to mention a few other lacunae (even while he recognizes that some or all may be utterly accidental):
    [1] A note written by the high RGO official who stole the Neptune file for 3 decades, denying possession of the RGO file — a document said to have been found with that very file! Since vanished.
    [2] Was it coincidental (again: perhaps it was) that, of the 501pp sent to NOAO (Tucson) and to DIO's Myles Standish and DR in 1999, the only two pages now known to have been missing were the two biggest hitherto-unknown-revelation pages in the entire RGO-Neptune file?
    [a] The devastating and incendiary p.2-heart of Airy's 3-page 1846/12/8 letter to A.Sedgwick, a letter which DIO had repeatedly pointed to (e.g., DIO 2.3 [1992] p.118 n.12; DIO 7.1 [1997] ‡5 §A5 [p.25]) as having been suspiciously missing — both of two copies, for over a century. (Later recovered by Nick Kollerstrom and Adam Perkins upon DR's specific 1999/7/7 inquiry to seek after the omitted portion of the 12/8 letter. All scientific historians should be ever-grateful to both Kollerstrom and Perkins for this crucial find & preservation.) [Note: relatively tame pp.1&3 of the 1846/12/8 letter are in the NOAO xerox-set, but not p.2 — as DR & Myles Standish discussed soon after our copies' arrivals.]
    [b] Airy's 1845/9/29 note (summarizing a letter to Arago) revealing that he had learned of Leverrier's Uranus researches on 1845/9/22. (The fact that Airy created a separate memo on the letter suggests that he [like DR] considered it of importance in the Neptune affair. It may or may not be meaningful that neither document has yet been recovered in the RGO archives. More revealing: despite the double entry into his private records.) So Adams could have been warned of an urgent planet-race months before the hitherto-incomplete historical record has previously suggested. (Details at DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 §§H3f [pp.18f].) Note that Airy made no mention of this information in his famous public “Account” at the Royal Astron Soc 1846/11/13.
    [Though the 1845/9/29 document is not in the 501pp xerox-set, it was faxed separately to DR thanks to the integrity and helpfulness of Elaine MacAuliffe and CTIO-NOAO.
    Given the memo's apparent disappearance since, I urge Adam and Nick to search (in the RGO file called “Mixed Correspondence” by Airy) for the original of the full 1845/9/29 letter, of which the now-missing Neptune-file note was merely a summary.]


    Though the 2004 Scientific American Neptune-theft article's bibliography cited several academic papers on the Neptune affair from years back, the entire science-historian community knows that, of these, only DIO's publications on the Neptune affair (1992-1999) have regarded it as a case of stealing a planet (or a half-share thereof) from the French. Our language (no less ambiguous than come-lately Scientific American's 2004 December cover) left zero doubt regarding our position that Brit astronomers had tried to rob the actual discoverer, Leverrier:
    “claimjump”, “robbery”, & “theft”; “scheming to grab Leverrier's planet for England”. (See DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §C3 [p.124] & §D2 [p.126]; DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 §B3 [p.6] & §I1 [p.21].) So we are naturally pleased to find our summation right on Scientific American's 2004 December cover.
    [ScAm has since been asked to rectify its initial oops-omission to note DIO's unshared 20th-century priority with ScAm's 21st-century cover-billed thesis. So ScAm's repeated failure to acknowledge the truth must now be regarded as deliberate.
    And said deliberateness obviously bolsters a suspicion that it was no accident that ScAm kept the text secret from DIO (and Nick?!) until after the article went to press.]
    DR prediction [posted 2006/6/21]: if, despite such dedicated efforts, it ever becomes inconveniently difficult to separate poisona-non-grata DR from prime credit for the finally-triumphant truth that Leverrier was claim-jumped, then history-of-astronomy's ever-personal Farces of Dorkness will find it necessary to attempt un-vindicating it by Orwellianly flipping and denying the theft ever occurred — and this process can be expected to evolve in the usual semi-numerate pop-sci forums, which the gullible public so readily confuses with serious academic publications….
    Basis of this prediction? Simple: DR has become ever-more intensely loathed by certain (mathematically-challenged) archons who resent the accuracy and undeterability of his decades of occasional accounts of science-institution fraud (especially their own!), reportages which keep occurring no matter the tonnage of mud or gigagaggles of archonbrain-kissing hitmen-wannabees hurled against him. (None of the foregoing is guesswork: DR has repeatedly [over decades] been informed from the inside that black-balling is conscious & systematic.) So one can positively count upon the reliability of these archons' [a] irrational royally-affronted-vindictiveness; and [b] rational determination to devalue DR's fraud-findings by personal attacks and by attempting to deny academic recognitions (after all, these might imply said findings' credibility: see discussion at DIO 1.2 [1991] §D4 & especially n.57 [p.109]).
    [Despite DR's obvious beneficent intent, institutions have generally reacted with varying degrees of never-forget unforgiving-shun-resentment — even while expecting swift-forgiveness-impunity (for various tyrannical sins) as their own royal due.]
    As DR always asks in this connexion: who is being hurt by such churlishness? Certainly not DR, who continues as ever to enjoy (between progressive pure researches) cutlassing his jolly swathe through academic pretensions.

    DIO's series of papers on the Neptune case (1992, 1994, 1997, 1999) exhaustively detailed evidences showing that (before the planet's discovery) Adams had only shaky confidence in his later-hyped&immortalized “Hyp.1” elliptical solution, despite his subsequent contrary pretenses, e.g., ScAm p.98. Adams' dishonesty (well known to Airy) is also obvious from Adams' later insult to Airy's competence in claiming that he hadn't replied to Airy's 1845/11/5 polite inquiry regarding Adams' work: Adams later claimed that the Astronomer Royal's question was “trivial”. Yet a very important documentary find of 2004 May (due to Craig Waff) shows that Adams had in fact started a reply. So the most likely reason he never sent it is, again, DIO's cohering thesis throughout: Adams was paralysed by the incompleteness & shakiness of his work during the 1845 late autumn. Recall that some of Adams' groundwork math for his 1845 “October 21” Hyp.1 bears the date 1845/12/16.

    Rx for Adams-Neptune Legend: 1 Half-Pwanet Before Bedtime
    It's unfortunate that Scientific American's important and valuable article on Neptune wasn't refereed by anyone of the DIO group (e.g., CalTech-JPL's Myles Standish), who might have caught several problems, such as:
    Successive-approximation is not equivalent to perturbation-theory (p.97); residuals & perturbations are not (except in an ideal problem) the same thing (idem); nor was perturbation-theory a new field by the mid-19th century (pp.97&99).
    The Neptune & Pluto predictions are utterly different (reality-grounded perturbation-math vs 100% luck).
    DR is an astronomer 1st and historian 2nd.
    In 1846 July, Challis possessed a Berlin Starchart of Hour 22 [E&E 1800.0], including (as did all Berlin Starcharts) 1° overlap with the adjacent hours; Neptune was at the time retrograding in this region of sky. (See DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 n.72 [p.136].)
    NOAO made the 1st back-up copy of the RGO Neptune file (thanks to Elaine MacAuliffe & Nick Suntzeff of NOAO's Cerro Tololo Observatory). [How could THIS crucial credit get omitted?!]
    The 1st astronomer to detect RGO tampering with the official record was not DR but Cambridge Observatory's David W. Dewhirst on 1966/12/21. (David gently noted Airy's suppression of “a possible shadow of”; but the deliberate nature of Airy's crucial deception is positively proven at DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §B2 [p.119 & n.15].)
    The Adams 1845/9 orbit found in Challis' files is probably genuine, since it virtually matches a proximately-dated document in Adams' papers (ibid §F2 [pp.131-132]), but its serious difference (partly caused by Adams' subsequently-self-paralysing 1845 sign-error miscomputation) from the later-promoted Hyp.1 was not cited in standard histories until DIO (idem).
    Adams' 1846/9/2 extrapolation-solution was not mere tinkering (SciAm p.99), but was his final (fatefully-wrong) stab at a predicted longitude (315°20'), as DR discovered and revealed in 1969 in Sky&Telescope. This point — shockingly missed in the ScAm 2005 April contra-DR letter — is pivotal for understanding the truth behind the Adams myth: the entire purpose for Adams' formerly-mysterious delay was his need time-consumingly to develop two solutions (based on using two different assumed mean distances in his math) upon which to found his extrapolated final 1845/9/2 solution.
    As for Adams-apologists' sympathy-ploy of trying to undo his failure by partly getting-him-off on an Asperger's-Syndrome autism-plea! (On such, see DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 §B8 [p.7].) Has popular science writing really descended to going down this sort of road? Has the prospect of the big-sleep for the Adams myth really reached this (revealing) level of desperation? If only Airy's sharp pen were still alive; one can just imagine the seething scorn:
    Kitty got baby's tongue? — nurse, give him half a pwanet & a remote-diagnosis kiss to make him well….
    Those who are promoting such an alibi-route for Adams fail to note that Sheehan, who originated the interesting idea that Adams may've been autistic, nonetheless creditably holds that as a matter of justice, Leverrier should receive the credit for Neptune's discovery.

  • Finally, while psychological analyses of Adams are unquestionably of serious historical interest, they are needless for explaining Adams' crucial uncertainties (about his results' trustworthiness), which were mathematically quite understandable — as noted in the previous paragraph. Airy & Challis also dithered. So, as we rhetorically ask elsewhere: were all three men psychologically askew? Contagiously-likewise? Or Occam-defying-differently?

  • If Adams had been too shy to transmit results, that would be one thing. However:
    [1] He was not too shy to present to the RAS a paper (on a subject other than Neptune) on 1846/4/8 (DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §D1 [p.126]), right during the period when his alleged weirdness is most especially required for explaining-away his Neptune-silence.
    [2] He had the brass publicly to attempt (ibid §D6 [p.127] — see esp. n.40) giving a Brit name to Neptune, once a Frenchman had discovered it!
    [3] Only 2 weeks after learning of Neptune's existence, Adams published his valuable mathematical determination of its real elements, yet (idem) it took him 6 weeks to get around to publishing the elements he had supposedly obtained-predicted in 1845.
    So the whole psycho-Adams alibi (which DR publicly warned against as early as 1969: Sky&Telescope 38 pp.180-182) is an irrelevant joke. (And there is no need to go this counter-Occam route, since a simpler, more plausible, and documentable mathematical cause of his silence is at hand.) In other words, it's ideal fodder for pop-sci coverstorydum. (But, again: it is to the credit of Scientific American and its authors that, despite getting into such saleably-human-interest material, their 2004 article nonetheless unambiguously concluded for Leverrier's priority.)

  • An oddity: little evidence within the inevitably biographically-inclined popular ScAm article is cited to support the planet-theft theory; but the main, central technical proof of it (the fact that the Adams 1846 Summer ephemeris done for Challis' search was based upon a circular [non-elliptical] orbit) is generously cited (p.98) to DIO 9.1.
    [Unfortunately, the DR letter published in 2005 Apr ScAm pp.14&16 does not contain our URL [] (as requested in the 2nd of DR's two near-simultaneous faxed agreements [2005/2/11 16:45 & 16:50 EST] to the letter's publication), though the authors' URL is cited in the original paper. Nor does it cite the page of DIO where appears the 1846/10/15 letter DR cites, though this citation does exist in the edited-down version of DR's letter that was faxed by ScAm on 2005/2/8, asking DR's agreement to publish it. The ScAm faxed version: “One of our key discoveries (DIO 9.1, page 16, 1999) in the long-hidden Neptune file…”. Why after agreeing on a text, would ScAm eliminate the citation of DIO 9.1 p.16? And why fail to give DIO's ultra-short URL? — which would take far less space than the website URL which was (quite justly) given in ScAm 2004 Dec for one of the original article's co-authors. (Is someone embarrassed to acknowledge that ScAm's 2004 cover-promoted story was DIO 9.1's cover story 5 years earlier?) And one is rather mystified by features of the appended 2005 Apr S“K”W letter, which Nick K mentioned by the way during our lengthy and productive 2005/3/25 chat he had never seen — so we will call it the SW letter for the nonce. (At least until learning who else might not have seen it before publication?) The letter [a]  contends that Adams was not sorry that he'd “hastily” made a large mis-extrapolation! — and [b] implies that Adams' huge 1846/9/2 shift of predicted-place, following a year-long series of other hugely varying solutions (DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 n.20 [p.8]) and indecisiveness (partly brought-on by an 1845 math-error-scare), had no connexion to Challis' understandable confusion and ambiguity about where primarily to concentrate his search for Neptune. The further SW suggestion that Challis mightn't have known of Adams' final solution is contra everything Nick Kollerstrom's valuable researches have learned (see our grateful citations of these, e.g., DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 preface [p.4] & §H6 [p.19]), as Nick agrees — and astonishedly confirmed 2005/3/25 — regarding the VERY close Adams-Challis friendship As to whether Challis' telescopic sky-sweeps' aim responded to the new solution: though other at-least partial explanations are quite possible (and are noted at DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §B7 [p.122]), the nearest sweeps Challis ever made to Adams' 1846/9/2 final-prediction place were made on 1846/9/5-18. Perhaps more important and certainly less arguable: given Adams' widely varying solutions, Challis' already sprawling sweep-project must have seemed ever more daunting & confusing after yet another disparate new solution appeared on 1846/9/2 (a solution he may [idem] have received hints of, prior to that date) — indeed, Challis may well have been driven by Adams' oscillations to finally begin privately paying more attention to Leverrier's published solution. (The Cambridge Observatory archives contain verbatim copies of Leverrier's 1846/6/1 & 8/31 solutions — in Challis' hand: DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡ n.47 [p.13] & n.27 [p.122], resp.) After no-observations on 1846/9/19&20, Challis' sweeps moved exclusively (1846/9/21-29) to much nearer Leverrier's predicted place (DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §B8 [p.122]. Note ibid n.27 vs n.30 on when Challis learned of L's final orbit.) Challis said (ibid n.30 [p.123]) he then followed L's suggestion to look for the planet's disk, which he evidently (ibid n.28 [pp.122-123]) succeeded in discerning when he unquestionably encountered Neptune during the next-last of his final search-evening's sweeps (1846/9/29). Moreover: before recovery of the RGO Neptune file and DIO's discovery in it of Adams' 1846/10/15 letter to Airy — a letter obviously and quite rightly regretting (“I rather hastily concluded”: DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 §G3 [p.16]) his large 1846/9/2 ultimo mis-prediction of Neptune's place, Nick Kollerstrom (in explicit & understandable disbelief that so central an item could have escaped all previous historians for over a century) repeatedly worried DR by phone, regarding DR's then lone but now (SciAm 2004 Dec p.99) undisputed contention since 1969 that Adams' extrapolated 315°20' mean longitude really meant that Adams' final solution — which DR calls “Hyp.X” (the “X” abbreviating Extrapolated) — could be THAT far off in true heliocentric longitude, the planet actually being at 327° at the time! (See DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 Table 1.) The answer is: Yes, it was that far off — because this final solution's predicted orbital-eccentricity was explicitly stated by Adams to be trivial (Adams' 1846/9/2 letter: Mem. R.A.S. [M16] vol.16 p.407), thus mean and true longitudes are the same.
    [Two potential explanations for previous failure to highlight Hyp.X:
    [1] Most prior historians knew so little orbit-theory that the just-italicized point was unknown to them.
    [2] The theory DR prefers instead is that the original 1846 public reference(M16:456) to the matter was not clear since 1846/9/2 was not there mentioned in sufficient proximity to the remark about “hastily”. Four decades ago, DR correctly induced [a] that the reference was to the 1846/9/2 Hyp.X orbit, and [b] that this was of vital import to understanding Adams' procedure and misdirection (and Challis' confusion), prominently publishing his views in 1969. Yet still (until the new millennium) no other historian but Nick (and now Wikipedia's account, happily) realized Hyp.X's centrality to the case and finality to Adams' pre-discovery inductions.
    Which brings us to the ultra-weirdness of the SW 2005/4 ScAm reply to DR: now acting as if Hyp.X and “hastily” were known all along, since they were in the 1846/11/13 account M16:456. No: nobody but DR previously noticed anything — perhaps (again: the merciful explanation) because of unclarity. It was the now-undeniably explicit connexion of Adams' newly-recovered 1846/10/15 letter to his 9/2 letter's extrapolated Hyp.X that made this a new key find — rendering the relation to Hyp.X now crystal clear.
    Note: The SW letter appears to imply that DR was not aware of the 1846 public M16:456 reference to Hyp.X and to “hastily”. Such an implication is refuted (and the unclarity consideration and its possible longtime history-retarding effect speculatively discussed) at DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 n.60 & §G2 [p.16]. DR finds it bizarre though (in the history of astronomy field) not surprising that, after his central 1969-announced induction — from the not-quite-clear-enough 1846 published record — of Hyp.X's import&error was ignored for decades, he should now be publicly accused of not knowing about that very record. (Analogous injustice to Brad Washburn: DIO 9.3 [1999] ‡6 §C8 [p.123].) DR looks forward to more of same in the book which some of the ScAm authors are presumably preparing.]

    Yet, incredibly, one now finds SW's ScAm 2005 Apr p.16 letter implying (as in the original ScAm 2004 Dec article p.99) that Adams' huge 1846/9/2 Hyp.X mis-prediction is of little import — but this time on distinctly different grounds from Dec!…
    In any case, THE key point is still being missed here (DR thought it adequately explained in either version of his published 2004-5 letter to ScAm, and more extensively at DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 n.20 [p.8]): because of the mathematical constraint of needing to assume a mean distance from the outset of such perturbational induction, Adams was aware that his two famous solutions of that laborious type (“Hypothesis 1” & “Hypothesis 2”) were merely done on the way to an ultimate correct solution (which HE HIMSELF recognized Hyps.1&2 did not constitute in-themselves: see DIO loc cit). Therefore, his extrapolation from the two Hypotheses was his attempt to find the latter — i.e., it was his best, [in-the-event-]final estimate of the place of Neptune. Given the long years of DR-Kollerstrom communications, it is strange that this was misunderstood in the original ScAm 2004 Dec highly-edited article (one can be quite certain that this was not the doing of a scholar of Nick Kollerstrom's astronomical background) — thus DR's letter to ScAm attempting to straighten out the point. It is disappointing now to see (in response) an attempt at a whole new, quite distinct denigration of the import of Adams' final solution. Said denigration was assisted by post-agreement tampering with the already-shortened version of DR's letter, faxed to DR by ScAm on 2005/2/8: the faxed version was faithful to the DR 2004/12/29 original's language: “Adams' regretful October 15, 1846, letter of explanation”. But this has been altered (before 2005 Apr publication) to read (emph added here): “Adams' October 15, 1846, letter [to Airy] declaring regret…”. The revised version deftly sets-up the ScAm-published reply-to-straw-man SW denial that Adams was “expressing regret” (emph added).
    The bizarre upshot is an apparent attempt to claim that DR has inserted a word (“regret”) that indeed does not explicitly exist in the Adams letter. But DR never said it did.
    A few bottom lines follow, regarding
    [1] ScAm's fateful post-agreement strawman-setup liberty with DR's prose, and
    [2] the odd SW reply it assisted.
    [A] It is remarkable that anyone would attempt to portray a forthcoming, sympathetic, and undeniably central 4-decade pioneer contributor (to our mutual ultimate revolution in the Neptune history) as unreliable by alleging that there is no regret whatever in a letter that excused (as “hastily”-done) a solution that was over 10 times further off the mark than Adams' competitor, Leverrier.
    [B] Given the exclusively unappreciative nature (compare to DR) of the published rendition of SW's letter, an uncautious reader might well assume that the opening sentence of DR's letter (commending SKW's article for acknowledging [on their p.98] the DR discovery which is THE shocking & solid scientific justification for ScAm's sensational 2004 Dec cover-language: “Stealing a Planet”) refers to the same point which SW's letter is trying to deny. No, they are quite separate points, which would have been clear to researchers, had not ScAm eliminated the DR letter's critical page-citation — after we had agreed upon an already much-shortened text. (Future contributors to Scientific American cannot say they haven't been warned.) The DR letter's opening reference was not to the pseudo-issue of Adams' 1846/9/2 regretful-alibi, but rather to DR's 1988 discovery and 1992 revelation (DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §G9 [pp.136-137]; DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 §E [p.13] & Table 1 [p.14]) that Adams was so unconfident of his allegedly immortal allegedly-1845 highly elliptical Hyp.1 orbit, that he guided Cambridge's sky-search using just a circular orbit even as late as mid-1846, after Leverrier had already published (1846/6/1) virtually the same circular elements and limits (DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 §E3 [p.13]) — this, though Adams-advocates have always promoted his undated-ms (DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §H1 [p.137]) “1845 Oct” perturbation-math-based elliptical orbit (eccentricity 0.12) [“Hypothesis 1”] as THE justification of his priority-claim.
    [C] The 2004 Dec ScAm article failed to note such items as:
    [a] DIO was 1st to out (1992-1994) the insider-thief of the Royal Greenwich Observatory Neptune file.
    [b] When that file was found a few years later (in the then-recently-deceased thief's home), it was DIO that wrote the letter of appeal that led a cooperative and successful effort (incl. CalTech, New York Times, Science, NOAO) to ensure the creation of three back-up safety copies of the recovered file (the three were sent: to NOAO's library, to Myles Standish of CalTech & DIO, and to DR), before it went back into the hands of England, the nation which had so long secreted and filtered the file. (Details: DIO 9.1 [1999] p.4.) It tells one something about the state of pop-science publication that DIO's extensive rôle (before, during, and after this recovery) has never been made public (outside of our own journal) by any popular outlet other than the leading newspaper of Germany, Süddeutsche Zeitung …. (See also Nick Kollerstrom's invaluable British website.) And, except for the detailed 2000 German coverage: for five years (1999-2004) not a word appeared anywhere in popsci arenas on the novel, detailed, and competently rendered 1999 revelations (much assisted by Nick Kollerstrom and Adam Perkins) of DIO 9.1. But, in a pop arena that takes seriously the scientific judgements (and sometimes the personal falsehoods against DR) of the semi-numerate JHA-circle (to whom it is so primally important that all DR output be regarded as worthless), what else would one expect? I.e., it matters intensely to certain archons that DR become the Leverrier among Neptune historians: the pioneer discoverer of the essential truth of the Neptune affair, whose rôle and credit must be demoted in favor of a more politically-acceptable legend.
    As DIO has occasionally noted (e.g., DIO 1.2 [1991] §D4 [pp.108-109]), some historians are prone to learn nothing from their own field.
    [Illustration from another controversy: physicist R.Newton's analytical work on Ptolemy was condemned, and he was shunned for decades by hist.astr. archons — allegedly for sensationalism, because he said Ptolemy had faked data. That RN was “something of a pariah in the history of science community” has been acknowledged by Owen Gingerich (the most politically-connected detractor and shunner of RN&DR: JHA 21:364f [1990]), a revelation quoted and discussed at DIO 1.2 [1991] n.90. RN was said to have used uppity LANGUAGE when he called data-faking a “crime”. Today, the head of the H.A.D. does not defend the past ostracism of RN (now safely deceased) and acknowledges that R.Newton's past fraud-charge is now vindicated. Progress? No. Virtually in the same breath (2005/9/16), he attempts (selectively and anachronistically) to justify hist-astr archonal shunning of (still unsafely non-deceased) DR — i.e., total non-dealing with his his substantive analyses — because of (non-court) jester DR's uppity LANGUAGE.]
    The truth that DR pioneered the demotion of the Brit claim to Neptune is nonetheless well known to all scholars ever involved in the area: Robert Smith, David Dewhirst, Ian Ridpath, Richard Baum, as well as the majority of ScAm's own authors — e.g., the ScAm article's senior author Wm.Sheehan to DR 2000/4/17, reacting to receipt of DIO 9.1 [1999] (the very issue which ScAm's web-site has now suppressed its originally-published bibliographical citation of!): “The latest DIO caught up with me today…. I at once sat down and devoured the latest revelations on Neptune. You are to be commended for your dogged determination in finally getting to the bottom of this lurid but infinitely fascinating affair…. congratulations on your brilliant work.”
    [D] Keep in mind that ALL pre-Rawlins histories of the Neptune affair (if they discussed predictive precision) gave readers the false impression that Adams' Neptune-prediction was pinpoint: correct to ordmag 1°. The ScAm article and letter might be interpreted as attempting to continue some degree of that fiction, by flexibly and invincibly maintaining that Adams' crucial ultimate solution (1846/9/2) doesn't really count…. (E.g., the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says that Adams' solution missed by only 2°27', not telling the reader that this is accomplished by choosing the closest among four possibilities: either mean or true longitude for either of Adams' last solutions: Hyp.2 or Hyp.X. Again, this is why post-discovery discoveries are not to be encouraged.) One of the main points stressed in DIO's Neptune papers is the danger of post-discovery selectivity. (E.g., DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §H9 [p.64]. This factor in itself should disallow post-discovery discoveries.) It is psychologically understandable that Adams did this himself, but should historians be doing it for him? The post-discovery-selectivity point is echoed (p.99) in SKW's generally very intelligent article. (The article goes on to add that historians are also prone to selectively enhance their predictions' success. The point is undeniably true, but one wonders if the author of the comment had a specific historian in mind…. As for DR's attitude in this regard, see DIO 1.1 [1991] ‡3 §C [p.29].)
    Regardless, one cannot let a few presumably-ephemeral illogicalities, disproportions, etc, divert one from the prime non-ephemeral point regarding SKW's continuing dedicated work: an essential truth of the Neptune affair — the injustice long done to Leverrier — has now finally been made widely known, thanks to the interest, historical training, & literary skills of Nick Kollerstrom and his colleagues. Not to mention their and Scientific American's revolutionary daring in prominently re-writing big history. Scholars should be extremely grateful for all of that. Especially DR.]

    The full text of DR's 2004/12/29 letter to ScAm is provided below [with some citations and 2005 comments bracketed in]. Note that DIO's tiny URL [] was eliminated in Scientific American's condensation. (And when DR re-inserted it, it was again eliminated. Why do some institutions so nakedly prefer that DIO be as little-read as possible?)
    [Some details here are especially revealing. On 2005/2/11, DR first noticed (in his fax-In-Bin) ScAm's 2/8 fax of its proposed edited-letter; he over-immediately (it being late on a Friday) faxed his OK of it (16:45 EST) — but then soon after discerned that DIO's URL (which was in the original 2004/12/29 letter) had been edited-out by ScAm. So DR swiftly, 5 minutes later, at 16:50 EST, re-faxed the same sheet but with “Correction” written in caps (and underlined) at the top, and a note also in caps now added in the page's middle (atop the proposed letter's text), reading: “ URL should go in text or address”, with arrows to suggested places there. Now, here's where it gets unambiguously revealing: when DR spoke to ScAm's Geo.Musser on 2005/5/25, GM said the only copy he had before him was the fax without the correction. Thus, since both copies had arrived virtually together on 2/11, someone at ScAm had deliberately set aside the 2nd fax and retained the 1st, in order to be able to pseudo-document a justification that non-citation of DIO's URL had been assented-to.]
    With almost amusingly ironic perversity, the resulting published 2005 Apr letters exchange neatly pretended that Scientific American's effectively-unrefereed and variously flawed article was more reliable than DR. We note that all the full original 12/29 letter's information on the ScAm article's non-priority and its several undeniable errors (of fact and of science) were suppressed. (But, at the end of the 2005 April letters section, Scientific American posed [p.16] as willing corrector of any&all slips: “In ‘The Case of the Pilfered Planet,’ Isaac Newton's early home should have been given as Lincolnshire, England.”) These remarkable errors might have been just a passing embarrassment if a few small words had openly corrected them. Instead, their deliberate suppression (out of fear that its readers would realize the quality and well-informedness of ScAm refereeing) has made them a non-small embarrassment.
    Originally, DR had tacitly assented to the omissions (of his thesis-priority, ScAm's goofs, etc): partly out of gratitude for the considerable pluses of the 2004 Dec article; partly because setting straight one item was better than none (but folks with problems about acknowledging errors always figure that none is better than one); partly because the surviving historical point (once explained) seemed unarguable by anyone who knew science (or psychology! — so, who really wrote the reply?); and partly because of ScAm's 2005/2/8 space-problem plea, to which DR was naturally pre-sympathetic. Our readers must decide what ScAm's actual priorities were.
    Now to the original 2004/12/29 letter:

    To Scientific American letters, from DR, 2004/12/29:

    As the scholar you have accurately credited (p.98) as discoverer of the prime scientific justification [DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §G9 p.137] for the startling conclusion of SciAm's 2004 Dec “Pilfered-Planet” Neptune story, I have some reactions to submit regarding the article.

    Several modern authors are mentioned (p.94) as having challenged the formerly conventional rendition of the Neptune saga; but it is not made clear that the sole one of them who has been contending (for the last 1/3 century) that Britain swiped Neptune from France [the SciAm article's titular thesis] is myself.

    The overkill evidence behind that contention (as well as my related correspondence & publications since the 1960s) is available at the website of my journal DIO, The International Journal of Scientific History:
    (PDFs of all volumes are freely downloadable therefrom.)

    Adams' final 1846/9/2 extrapolation-solution for Neptune's position was not [as indicated at p.99] a minor afterthought. It was quite definite (315°20' longitude), quite wrong (off by over 10°), and thus quite crucial in causing Britain to lose the race to find Neptune. One of our key discoveries (DIO 9.1 p.16 [1999]) in the long-hidden, now-recovered Neptune file is his regretful 1846/10/15 letter of explanation to Astronomer Royal Geo. Airy for so hugely misdirecting the British search.
    [DR 2005/10/8: Is anyone denying that longitude 315°20' was indeed a misdirection? And huge compared to Leverrier's right-on hit? After losing a once-in-a-lifetime giant-planet prize to a competitor, who wouldn't feel regret about it?] This final longitude was linearly extrapolated from two perturbational-math solutions for slightly different mean distances, an intelligent approach but time-consuming, therefore closely related to later historians' misperception that Adams was psychologically paralysed. [DR 2005: Any Adams paralysis was simply from caution due to the complexity and fallibility of his math.]

    Thanks to you and to co-authors W.Sheehan, N.Kollerstrom, & C.Waff for long-needed revolutionary public enlightenment on this grandest of mathematical-astronomy legends.
    P.S. A few small corrections might be useful (if you have room for them):

    The astronomer who first detected censorial suppression in the Royal Greenwich Observatory's Neptune file was not myself but the Cambridge Observatory's David Dewhirst in 1966 (DIO 2.3 p.119 [1992]).

    The first photocopy-backup of that file was made not in Britain but at Cerro Tololo (Chile), thanks to NOAO's Elaine MacAuliffe & Nick Suntzeff, at the 1999/4/29 faxed behest of DIO backed by CalTech-JPL's Myles Standish, plus Science & the NYTimes Science Dep't (DIO 9.1 p.4).

    Though the extreme (1°) closeness of Leverrier's 1846 prediction of Neptune was slightly lucky, the prediction was legitimately grounded in real perturbations (Rawlins Mon. Not. Royal Astr. Soc 147:177-186 [1970]); by contrast, Pluto's 1930 discovery was totally unrelated to P.Lowell's 1915 perturbational math (a no-longer controversial point, first propounded to a wide public readership in Rawlins Sky&Telescope 1968 March pp.160-162).

    Perturbations are neither residuals nor approximations and were not a new field in the mid-19th century.

    DR's next amiable letter to ScAm originated from a 2005/5/25 chat with ScAm's Geo.Musser; DR said that he would try to avoid embarrassing anyone, and (going with the hopothesis [no typo] that the weird stuff so far might just have been accidental) kept well within the spirit of that assurance by avoiding explicit mention in his letter that: [i] ScAm had altered DR's eventually-published letter AFTER the ScAm-edited text had been agreed-to by mutual 2005/2/8&11 fax; and [ii] one of the article's titular co-authors had told DR that he'd never even seen the 2005 Apr ScAm letter his name was attached to.
    DR's new 6/13 letter temperately proposed: [a] to correct ScAm's omission of DIO's undeniable priority with ScAm's cover-cited story; as well as [b] to point out DIO's central 1999 rôle in ensuring the RGO Neptune file's preservation; and [c] to restore (as gently as possible) the pre-tampering original words of the foregoing 12/23 DR letter.

    To Geo. Musser, Scientific American, from DR 2005/6/13:

    Some clarifications regarding SciAm's 2004 December article on the post-discovery British grab of the lion's share of Neptune from Paris Observatory's U.Leverrier, the 1°-accurate and sole public predictor of Neptune's celestial longitude:

    Contra the impression one might get from the article's p.94, DIO is the sole forum that for years has been contending that Britain claim-jumped Leverrier. (See DIO 2.3 [1992] & DIO 9.1 [1999] at And we alone publicly named (vol.4 #2 [1994]) the official who hid the revealing British file on Neptune for over 3 decades until 1998. DIO, backed by E.M.Standish of CalTech, the N.Y.Times Science Dep't, and Science, caused safety-backup photocopying of this long-censored file in 1999 (before its return to Britain) at Cerro Tololo Observatory, by NOAO's Elaine MacAuliffe. British postdiscovery-claimant J.C.Adams' final solution (1846 Sept 2) was off the mark by 12°. The original of my 2005 April SciAm letter did not claim that Adams' 1846 Oct 15 letter to Astronomer Royal G.Airy explicitly stated regret when explaining this misdirection; but Adams said his final longitude-solution “hastily” concluded for c.315° (over 10 times further from Neptune's actual place than Leverrier), so who would doubt that Adams had regrets? Further, telescopic Neptune-hunter and close Adams-confidante J.Challis' confidence in Neptune's location (and very existence) was presumably depressed by this solution, since Adams had now produced disparate predictions ranging over 35°, from 350° to 315°. Thanks to you and to co-authors Sheehan, Kollerstrom, & Waff for long-needed revolutionary public enlightenment on this grandest of mathematical-astronomy legends.

    On 2005/6/21, Nick suggested that DIO's Neptune offprints be bound together, as a prime scholarly resource — especially for distribution at the forthcoming 2005 Sept HAD meeting. Note: in a pathetic though temperate conversation of 2005/8/17, ScAm's Geo.Musser had said that ScAm would publish nothing to clear up its post-agreed-upon-text alteration of DR's letter a re-write which undeniably had added an attackable DR “statement” that DR had never stated. (GM justified this refusal by claiming that he hadn't heard from the December article's senior author! Non-sequitur, anyone? [And note the implication that Sheehan had been informed of the situation.]) So DR then asked Musser to verify that co-author Nick Kollerstrom said he had neither seen the letter his name had been attached to, nor agreed with its central position (on Adams' final solution). Musser responded that he would see Nick at the upcoming Sept H.A.D. meeting. But GM later refused to correct anything — and ScAm instead foolishly committed itself ever more deeply into full, utterly unregenerate cover-up tactics.

    The text of p.70 of the 72pp DIO-Neptune offprints-booklet is appended below, in full, followed by its single footnote.

    Recent Misunderstandings

    Several unfortunate aspects of the generally welcome and useful 2004 December Scientific American article on the Neptune affair [invite] comment and correction.

    The article contains several obvious technical errors that would have been apprehended had the final edition been vetted by knowledgeable scholars such as Myles Standish (or anyone else on DIO) or Nick Kollerstrom. (Details at

    More vital: the notion that Adams' laboriously arrived-at final and very erroneous 1846/9/2 extrapolated solution for Neptune's longitude (315°20' — 12 degrees off the mark, vs Leverrier's mere 1° error) was just a minor afterthought is not the opinion of either Kollerstrom or myself though Nick's name was appended to a letter in the 2005 April Scientific American asserting this remarkable position.
    (See Art Levine's delicious satire on far less serious editorial license, quoted at DIO 6 [1996] ‡3 n.11 [p.39].)

    It is unfortunate that the author of this letter has still not understood that Adams' very purpose for carrying out two extremely laborious perturbational solutions was to discern a trend for extrapolation, since the math of the problem was so lengthy that he (like Leverrier) could not keep repeating and refining it forever, and so (like Leverrier) had to resort to [swift, simple] extrapolating from a finite number of [laborious] rigorous solutions. (See within [the offprint-booklet's p.4]: DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡ § [p.116].) Note: the Adams extrapolation-discussion's brevity is not a symptom of unimportance but simply of the fact that arithmetic-extrapolation from 2 data is easier than perturbation-math [utterly trivial]. DR's own letter (also appearing in the 2004 April SciAm) was altered after a version was agreed-upon via mutual fax (2005/2/8&11). This DR letter-for-publication had stated [see reproduction at start of this page]:
    “One of our key discoveries (DIO 9.1 page 16, 1999) in the long-hidden, now-recovered Neptune file is Adams's regretful October 15, 1846, letter of explanation to Astronomer Royal George Airy for [by the above-cited erroneous solution] so hugely misdirecting the British search.” The published version (alteration in boldface): “letter of explanation … declaring regret for so hugely misdirecting ….” This unauthorized re-write made it easy for the response-letter in the April Scientific American to attack an apparent DR claim of explicit Adams regret — which DR had in fact never made. This response (emph added) states: “there is nothing in the [1846/10/15] letter that can be interpreted as expressing regret ‘for so hugely misdirecting the British.’ ” (The letter goes on to suggest that Adams' final solution had no effect on Challis & questions whether Challis was even aware of it.) [Footnote occurred here. It is provided below, following the page's main body.]
    1. Does the author of this letter seriously contend that being 12° west of the actual planet wasn't important — given the thousands of stars that would have to be sifted during a sky-sweep sufficiently wide to succeed in spite of such a large misprediction?
    2. And what student of human behavior could possibly even entertain the notion — much less launch an adamant 2005 April public defense of it! — that the Adams 1846/10/15 letter's reference to having “rather hastily” concluded for 315°20' didn't arise out of regret at ending up so much farther off the mark than Leverrier?
    3. If the Adams final solution's import was so trifling as suggested, why would Adams even mention it at all to the Astronomer Royal [1846/10/15], much less offer the [post-discovery] alibi of over-hastiness?
    I.e., do people make excuses when they haven't gone wrong?
    [At the bottom of the offprints' p.70, appeared citations to our HTML-page cot.htm's provision of some pros&cons of ScAm's article. By-now obviously superfluous and-or obsolete, these are omitted here.]
    [Footnote at p.70: No wonder Challis was bewildered — as Adams' successive 1845-1846 solutions bounced about over a range of 35° (Is it any wonder that Challis finally began paying more attention to Leverrier's firm predicted place?) So who would suggest that Adams' final solution's shift of predicted longitude (by over 10° — yet again) had no effect (e.g., discouragement) upon Challis? And who — in light of Nick's valuable new findings on the closeness of Challis and Adams — would suggest that co-conspirator Challis (of all people on Earth!) wasn't in on this ultimo Adams solution?]

    Apologist-Ignored Problems with Pushing Adams' Priority:
    (Some useful overlap with material provided elsewhere here.)
    [A] If Adams is discoverer, on what date did he make the discovery? He had nothing to do with the optical discovery in Berlin. He did not even remember (and his diary didn't either: DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 n.20 [p.8]) on what day he handed Airy Hyp.1 (the legendary 1st submitted solution, later Brit-pushed as proof of priority) — probably because he was at that exploratory point merely seeking Airy's experienced advice, not publication or sky-sweep: DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 n.48 [p.129].)
    [B] If we start counting unpublished papers as equivalent to published, we're inviting even more chicanery in academe than already exists anyway. (Biot put the point with ever-so-slightly more grace: DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §I11 [p.141].)
    [C] Adamsians routinely assume Adams' priority from the circumstance that he started his investigation well before Leverrier did. But his date of transmitting the work's conclusion (1846/9/2 vs Leverrier's 8/31) shows he FINISHED second. (Even if you ignore who published & who didn't.) Hmmm: do we determine the winner of a race at the starting gate or at the finish line?
    [D] As to Adams' alibi that haste had caused his seriously erroneous final prediction: before the discovery, when Adams on 1846/9/2 sent his final longitude prediction (315°20') to Airy, why didn't he say anything about alleged hastiness? He had had almost 2 weeks between his 1846/8/20 finish of Hyp.2 (and probably Hyp.1's curiously undated re-do) and his final 9/2 longitude prediction — plenty of time to complete the simple arithmetic of the extrapolation that resulted in 315°20'. If there was haste, it was only regarding transmission: on 9/2, he presumably had just gotten the Bad-News of Leverrier's 1846/8/31 announcement of his final predicted longitude (also based on simple estimation from a few quite unsimple, extremely laborious perturbational solutions). And then Adams still had 4 more weeks before reports of Galle's capture of Neptune reached Cambridge: nearly a month to un-do any errors that were actually due to haste. So Adams had a total of about 6 weeks between Hyp.1&2's completion and Galle's news — but corrected no “hasty” conclusions until after learning of the optical discovery at Berlin.
    [E] What follows is believed to be new as of 2010/10/25.

    Solving At Last the Exact Mechanics of J.C.Adams' Fatefully Erroneous Final Prediction of Neptune's Position:

    For detailed analyses of the 165y vicious-circle-coverup Neptune-discovery scandal, featuring the sensational DIO&Kollerstrom-recovered document that exploded 1 1/2 centuries of institutional suppression of the truth, see DIO 9.1 [1999] ‡1 [pp.3-25].

    Hyp.1's mean residual for 1843's Greenwich observations of Uranus was 6".84, suggesting an accelerative departure of prediction from reality which understandably troubled Adams' legendary perfectionism.
    [The 1843 data were later than had been used in Adams' perturbational work. Adams' use of them (at the end) much over-weights‡ their influence on the result.]
    So Adams adopted a smaller mean distance (for his theoretical perturber's orbit) to test Hyp.2, which resulted in mean residual 5".50 — a serious (roughly 20%) reduction in the gap between reality and theory.
    So here's where the rejectors of Hyp.X get fun and transparent: they're implicitly arguing that Adams was satisfied with a mere 20% reduction, rather than seeking a solution that would wipe out the remaining 80%. On no other basis could one argue that one must accept Hyp.2 (1846/9/2) as his ultimate prediction. Or to urge such acceptance for Hyp.1 (realizing that Hyp.2 gets no priority since sent to Airy 2d after Leverrier's 1846/8/31 public announcement) is to argue that Adams didn't even seek the 20% reduction! At this point, we're encountering not scholarship but special pleading.
    [And don't forget that Adams himself didn't trust Hyp.1 as late as mid-1846.]

    All this is not only contrary to common sense but is explicitly contradicted by Adams' own account.
    Adams instead (and this is the 1st time his exact extrapolatory arithmetic has been recontructed) trivially rounded the 1843 Hyp.1 residual from 6".84 to 7" (leaving the Hyp.2 residual at 5".50) and then performed an elementary 14:11 linear extrapolation (since 7"/5".5 = 14:11), resulting in the data of Hyp.X (idem p.4): [a] Virtually negligible eccentricity. (As noted above, null eccentricity corresponds to a circular orbit, where true and mean longitude are the same.) [b] Much smaller (more credible — and more accurate) mean distance ratio Uranus/perturber = 0.57. [c] Adams' final and seriously mistaken predicted mean and true longitude, 315°20'.
    Note that the 14:11 ratio finds both 0.57 and 315°20' EXACTLY.
    [Data given on Adams-to-Airy 1846/9/2 p.2:
    Mean distance ratios: Hyp.1 0.5; Hyp.2 0.515; difference = 0.015. Mean longitude: Hyp.1 325°08'; Hyp.1 323°02'; difference 2°06'.
    Assuming that Hyp.1's 1843 residuals were about 14/11 times bigger than Hyp.2's, Adams sought (via elementary-school arithmetic — which is all that's necessary when extrapolating from only two data) solutions that were 14/11 times further from those of Hyp.1 than from those of Hyp.2.
    He computed his final mean distance ratio by either or both of the following equations:

    0.5 + 0.015·14/3 = 0.57
    0.515 + 0.015·11/3 = 0.57.

    And he computed his final longitude by either or both of the following equations:

    325°08' − 2°.1·14/3 = 315°20'
    323°02' − 2°.1·11/3 = 315°20'.

    Each calculated result matches precisely the corresponding value Adams concluded for (1846/9/2 p.4) in his final pre-Galle-news communication: ratio 0.57 & longitude 315°20'.]
    The precise double-confirmation establishes the reality of Adam's arithmetic extrapolation-procedure beyond reasonable doubt.
    So: how can even DR-ducking Craig Waff (protected by letter-doctoring Scientific American and AAS-HAD's equally courageous DIO-shunning archondum — which has pointedly and predictably excluded Neptune-affair-solver DIO from its 2011/1/9 session on the discovery of Neptune) contend that this is not Adams' ultimate solution? — though establishing the basis for such extrapolation-induction is precisely why Adams had performed Hyp.2!
    If Hyp.X isn't his final predicted longitude, then: what is?
    Adams' final extant longitude missive to Airy says in so many words (1846/9/2 p.4) that he is “inclined to think” that 315°20' (12° west of the actual Neptune) is “not far from the truth” — this ultimo letter does not say the same for either Hyp.1's or Hyp.2's longitude. So: what are Waff & ScAm arguing about here? And why would they so forgially & uncordially persist in denial? — other than for purposes which have nothing to do with scholarship.
    Hyp.X is unquestionably the last of serial-predictor Adams' longitudes, so how can it be denied that it's the ultimo one? To deem Hyp.X a mere trivial after-thought is to completely misunderstand what Adams was doing. This whole issue was unambiguously put to rest nearly 2 decades ago at DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 n.5 [p.116].
    Leaving the matter as “controversial” (just to satisfy mundane political or book-promo priorities) won't be allowed here either, since Adams himself explicitly contradicts any notion that Hyp.1 — or even Hyp.2 (which was lodged too late for a priority-claim, anyway) — were his final predictions and explains the extrapolatory thinking (if not the precise math we have just recovered) that led to his 315°20' ultimate prediction: the culmination of his admirably dedicated years of exploratory labor (Adams to Airy 1846/9/2 pp.1-2, emph & caps added):
    “the investigation [Hyp.1] could scarcely be considered satisfactory while based on any thing arbitrary; and I therefore determined to repeat the calculation, making a different hypothesis [Hyp.2] as to the mean distance [reducing Hyp.1's mean distance by the factor 1/1.03 for Hyp.2]…. which appears to show that by still further diminishing the distance, the agreement between the theory and the late [1843] observations may be rendered COMPLETE” (and eccentricity nulled) — which reasoning produces (ibid p.4) the 315°20' final longitude prediction, just as now revealed in 2010 — and demonstrated above with complete precision.

    As with several other DIO findings (e.g., DIO 11.1 [2002] ‡2 pref [p.10]; DIO 16 [2009] cover & ‡1 §A6 [p.5]), the foregoing 14:11 discovery happens to be due to an opposite.
    Yes, Craig Waff's discomfiture†† at DR's longtime domination of the Neptune case (on which DR has issued research results for the last 45y) has pushed Waff into stubborn willingness to misunderstand (or worse) Adams' very purpose in carrying out his two famous solutions.
    However, Waff's (seemingly) inexplicable intransigence also pushed DR — into seeking&tracing (2010/10/25) the exact route that resulted in Adams ultimately mis-concluding for longitude 315°20'.

    So we end by expressing yet again our gratitude to a DIO non-appreciator. Cheers.

    ††  Waff, though a valuable ferreter of documents on the Neptune case, clearly prefers not to debate DIO face-to-face. [Note added 2011. Following HAD members' mass-receipt of DIO's 2010/12/27 postcard on Waff's shunning of all the genuine experts of the Neptune math and history, Waff decided at the last minute to not show up for his own Seattle 2011/1/9 HAD-Neptune session!]
    Not even before a pre-cowed 2011/1/9 audience of his AAS-HAD sponsors, who are delighted that he avoided inviting DIO to his Seattle session on Neptune's discovery. (Is this the reaction of one who has genuine confidence in the position he was earlier happy to defend and re-defend — so long as he could count on Scientific American's censorial, brassily unrepentant and dirty-tricks protection?)
    Items that emphasize the incongruity here:
    DIO is solver of most of the mysteries of the Neptune Controversy. DIO is the top astronomy-history journal of the W.Hemisphere. Among the luminaries on DIO's small but (NB: un-threatenably) elite Board is CalTech-JPL's E.Myles Standish, the world's foremost expert on Solar System orbits (designer [since the early 1980s] of those used by NASA to aim its spacecraft), a field ever-so-slightly related to the Neptune Saga. DIO's publisher has carried out scholarly investigations of more historical science hoaxes and semi-hoaxes than anyone in history, publishing these through, e.g., Univ Cambridge, Univ Oslo, US Naval Inst Proceedings, Amer J Physics, Publ Astr Soc Pac, as well as in DIO, the best-refereed hist.astron journal on Earth.
    DIO is host of the Roy.Ast.Soc-funded gleanings from the RGO Neptune File, a prime source for understanding the Neptune scandal. The integrity of this file was in 1999 ensured by the DIO-organized joint intervention of, e.g, the New York Times Science Dep't, Science (AAAS), & DIO, etc. DIO 4.2 was 1st to publicly out the prominent official who stole & hid that file for over 30y. DIO's publisher is the source for the scientific case in Leverrier's favor in the Scientific American article by the 2011 symposium's crossexam-shy heads, Waff & Sheehan (though the article's math parts were mostly handled by Nick Kollerstrom, who will also not be in Seattle for political reasons). The HAD's promotion for the meeting stresses that 2011 is the 200th birthday of Leverrier, who was revealed in the 2004 Scientific American article as having priority: using as central math argument (p.98) a new finding correctly ascribed to DIO's publisher, D.Rawlins. DIO pioneered (alone for years, e.g., DIO 2.3 [1992]) the contention that Leverrier not Adams was Neptune's discoverer. So why has DIO been pointedly excluded from the upcoming 2011/1/9 AAS-HAD (Seattle) session on the discovery of Neptune?
    [The excuse will likely be something about concentrating on New phases (e.g., French reaction) of the Neptune drama. (DIO was naturally not asked if it had anything new. It does.) But how does this contrived dodge excuse [a] suppressing old scandals that would be new to the public since they've never yet been openly faced (the present shunning only adds to the list, of course); and [b] avoiding still-unresolved establishment-vs-DIO disagreements about the reasons for 1846-1998 Brit secrecy. Etc.
    Evidently, no one promoting benign alibis for that secrecy is anxious to be cross-examined face-to-face by DIO.
    Completely understandable.]

    The HAD Neptune session is chaired by Waff (who only just recently re-joined the HAD) & Sheehan (who also joined up in 2010 — a coincidence which suggests the possibility that a 3rd party either encouraged or thought-up the fake part of the 2011 Neptune section). Both may be politically safe but neither is even a full member of the AAS (as is DR) nor has ever published research papers on the math of planetary motion & perturbation theory. By contrast, DIO's Standish & DR have done so, and in the world's leading astronomical journals. And several other DIO board-members are experts at the relevant math.
    As already noted, DR has been researching the Neptune affair for nearly 1/2 a century, comparable to the summed parallel experiences of the entire panel.
    [Nick Kollerstrom (whose RAS-funded, laboriously scrupulous selection of key RGO Neptune File mss is on the DIO website) physically captured the most important long-hidden document in the entire controversy, revealing Astronomer Royal G.Airy's private rage at Adams' nerve in falsely attempting to blame Airy for Adams' own pre-discovery non-publication. (This is the letter that explains why the file was so long sequestered.) The letter's general content and import were correctly predicted at DIO 2.3 [1992] ‡9 §A6 [p.117], especially n.12 [p.118]; DIO 7.1 [1997] ‡5 §A5 [p.25].
    Nick too is banished from the panel for political reasons, though he was Waff & Sheehan's 2004 Scientific American co-author.]

    A likely prime motive is to protect the world press and thus the public from learning of the multitude of coverups (and coverups of them…) connected to the Neptune affair. The 2004 Dec ScAm story similarly ducked the obvious reason for the Brit Neptune File's theft from the 1960s to 1998 (DIO 9.1 [1999] cover & ‡1 [pp.3-25]) by a top Brit-astronomy official. Evidently, the HAD (regarding DR as untrustworthy) is hoping in 2011 Jan to control what the press hears on the subject. And hopes it can memory-hole that awful 2005 Jan embarrassment when it hoodwinked the press (Ken Chang, specifically) into believing that its allegedly “multi-refereed” Farnese-Globe crock was an air-tight, original, expert discovery — though very, VERY quietly HAD pulled all the publicity for it 3 months later when DIO's April-Fool's-Day satire on it showed that no referee or mogul had bothered to read it at all (before hyping it to the world) and that it was dense with scholarly errors.
    [Not a word of honest retraction, beyond an article by DIO's Editor giving counter-Hipparchan evidence but gently overlooking all the goofs that proved the quality of HAD-JHA refereeing. Recall that it was DR's criticism of overswift, superficial JHA refereeing that caused Editor-for-Life Hoskin to try banishing DR (1983 to date) from the field. Hard to beat the irony.]
    (The 2011 Seattle shunning is doubtless payback in part for DIO's having embarrassed those responsible: primarily HAD co-founder & toppe-gooroo, O.Gingerich.)

     Following DR's 1968 March Sky&Telescope article doubting the then-official Pluto mass of 0.91 Earth-masses [EM], a prominent study similarly used a method like Adams' to find from perturbations on Neptune a Pluto mass of 0.11EM±0.02EM, controlled by checking with Neptune's most recent residuals. DR later re-computed that paper's own data via equitable weighting and found instead 0.026EM±0.043EM (a result mailed out at the time), indicating that Pluto's mass was too negligible to be determinable via Neptune's residuals. Pluto is now known to be even smaller than all these values. DR's final estimate was 0.025EM (M.N.Royal Astr Soc 1973), based entirely upon Pluto's similarity to Neptunian satellite Triton (whose mass later turned out to have been over-estimated) — not at all upon perturbations, which were (see above at ±0.043EM) too insensitive to measure such a tiny planet's mass. DR's value was too high but the method was valid (Pluto's mass is indeed of the same order as that of Triton, which had been set much too high by astronomers in the 1970s), and DR's 0.025EM turned out to be the closest to the truth of any ever published before the true mass was directly determined by Cruikshank (1976) and Harrington (1978).