Laplace, Pierre Simon de (1749–1827)
The Solar System, Laplace said, originated out of a gradually cooling cloud of gas, with the planets most remote from the center condensing first. This theory had a strong influence on subsequent speculation about the nature of our neighboring worlds. It implied that the inner worlds were younger and that, in particular, cloud-covered Venus might be an immature version of the Earth – a virgin world. By contrast, planets further from the Sun, such as Mars, would have formed later and therefore could be expected to be more highly evolved. Laplace's theory also suggested that planets are a natural consequence of the evolution of stars, so that many stars ought to have planetary retinues. It therefore provided powerful support for the doctrine of pluralism. After reading Mécanique Céleste, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have questioned Laplace on his neglect to mention God. In contrast to Newton's view on the subject, Laplace replied: "Sir, I have no need of that hypothesis."
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