Tales from the cosmos: the Sherlock Holmes method – El Tiempo

The public statue of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

A new member of the Baskervilles has tragically passed away as part of a terrible curse that befalls this community. The puzzling deaths are preceded by the heartbreaking howl of a hellhound that terrorizes the family in Devon, England. Solving the plot is the task entrusted to the best private detective of all time, the famous Sherlock Holmes.

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The events described above are part of the novel The Baskerville Investigator, which I remember with particular enthusiasm since it was the first that fell into my hands and made me discover the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, one of the characters created by Arthur Ignatius Conan, related Doyle.

In all 56 stories and four novels of Sherlock Holmes, it is evident that his simple but effective method is to follow clues and patiently wait for one to lead to another until the riddle is solved. and let the riddle be solved; a deductive method based on fine observation and judicious prospecting.

In many of his adventures, Holmes demonstrates a profound knowledge of astronomy, especially with regard to the properties and apparent movements of bodies in the celestial dome where the reflection and the sun are allies, for he notes the moment when they occurred, for example facts in context. with a felony

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The famous detective’s astronomical relationships and his skills in astronomy are the result of his creator’s interest in these subjects, which he was able to deepen with the support of his great friend, the Saxon naval officer and astronomer Alfred Drayson, who worked at the Greenwich Observatory. Another of Conan Doyle’s references was the astronomer Simon Newcomb, who is generally considered the preeminent figure of the late 19th century.

It is believed that Conan Doyle, in his search for traits for the characters in his stories, incorporated the lives of two astronomers, Drayson and Newcomb, into his stories, giving a prominent role to astronomy and its methods of research .

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A century later, it is astronomers who now refer to the so-called Sherlock Holmes method to indicate that they are looking for clues that will lead them to find those responsible. This is the case of studies of black holes, looking for traces of the kind they have on their environment. To look at the stars, as Sherlock Holmes did when he followed the adulterated footsteps of a criminal with his magnifying glass, is to find evidence of the presence of the angry hole without seeing it directly.

Using the detective’s magnifying glass to uncover evidence as soon as it is visible also applies to searching for galaxies or distant stars in the universe using a so-called gravitational telescope, a predicted lens by common relativity, by which light from distant objects is more or less bent. less of a mass object between us and such. objects, magnifying the light source so that it can be easily recognized.

Long live Sherlock Holmes and the deductive methods and arguments that lead us to find answers to the deepest mysteries of the universe.

doctorate in astrophysics
Raised Observatory of the Francoist University

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