Swift Prediction

1726 saw the appearance of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, a fictional work containing the following passage:

"They [the Laputians] have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary planet exactly three of its diameters, and the outermost five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one and a half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the center of Mars, which evidently shows them to be governed by the same law of gravitation that influences the other heavenly bodies."

Incredibly, Swift accurately described the two moons of Mars -- more than 150 years before they were discovered.

[For the record, Swift described Phobos' orbital period as 10 hours (very close to the actual figure of 7.6) and Deimos' period as 21.5 (close to the actual 30.2).]

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