A tale of two theories
Most have heard of at least one scientific theory about the Cosmos: the Big Bang, Star formation, a Supernova perhaps. Many popular topics within astrophysics have no doubt made their way to the general population. Interestingly, there is actually very limited ability for scientists to witness these dramatic occurrences as they happen. In this way, astrophysics is largely a theoretical science. As a theoretical science, it is extensively dependent upon rhetoric to convey new theories within the field. Limited by brief observations of space, an astrophysicist can only alter a widely accepted theory with the use of rhetoric and computer simulations. Author Aimee Roundtree argues that astrophysics is largely dependent on “rhetorical choice insofar as it calls for reasoned deliberations, awareness of audience, and purposeful selection of supporting evidence” (Roundtree 2). A modern illustration of this dependence on rhetoric is the current debate regarding planet formation. Within the past few decades, the discovery of thousands of exoplanets has called current theories of planet formation into question – bringing to life a new debate within astrophysics. Although this debate clearly places two theories at odds, the rhetoric of both sides is still very similar. This modern debate of planet formation is largely a rhetorical debate, and as such, shows the field of astrophysics is beginning to embrace the ideals of humanistic philosophers.