It has the look and feel of a fast-paced and riveting science documentary.
The trailer opens with actress Kate Mulgrew (who starred as Capt. Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager) intoning, "Everything we think we know about our universe is wrong." That's followed by heavyweight clips of physicists Michio Kaku and Lawrence Krauss.
Kaku tells us, "There is a crisis in cosmology," and Krauss says, "All of these things are rather strange, and we don't know why they are occurring right now."
And then, about 1:17 into the trailer, comes the bombshell: The film's maker, Robert Sungenis, tells us, "You can go on some websites of NASA and see that they've started to take down stuff that might hint to a geocentric [Earth-centered] universe."
The film, which the trailer promises will be out sometime this spring, is called The Principle. Besides promoting the filmmaker's geocentric point of view, it seems to be aimed at making a broader point about man's special place in a divinely created universe.
(Sungenis, who writes the blog Galileo Was Wrong, also has a history of anti-Semitic writings and Holocaust denial, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
None of this sits well with Krauss, who is well-known for his writings and lectures. He tweeted early Tuesday: "For all who asked: Some clips of me apparently were mined for movie on geocentricism. So stupid does disservice to word nonsense. Ignore it."
In a post later in Slate.com's Future Tense blog, titled "I Have No Idea How I Ended Up In That Stupid Geocentrism Documentary," the physicist elaborates:
"The notion that anyone in the 21st century could take seriously the notion that the sun orbits the Earth, or that the Earth is the center of the universe, is almost unbelievable. I say almost, because one of the trials and tribulations of being a scientist with some element of popular celebrity is that I get bombarded regularly by all sorts of claims, and have become painfully aware that ideas as old as the notion that the Earth is flat never seem to die out completely."
Kaku, who is a perennial in science documentaries, has not commented.
And, as for actress Mulgrew, astronomer Phil Plait, also writing for Slate, wonders aloud:
"About the trailer, yes, it's narrated by Kate Mulgrew, aka Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager. Some people are lamenting this, wondering if she's a geocentrist. I doubt it, and you can't necessarily judge an actor for the work they do. Mitch Pileggi (from The X-Files) narrated an episode of Exploring the Unknown debunking the Apollo Moon hoax, yet he also narrated Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? So you can't jump to any conclusions here."
But, really, an Earth-centered universe?
If you thought Aristarchus of Samos, 15th century mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus and (a century later) Galileo put an end to all that, you'd be wrong. Still, it's hard to tell just how many people we're talking about.
What we do know is that when asked whether the Earth revolves around the Sun or the other way around, 1 in 4 Americans got the wrong answer in a recent survey compiled by the National Science Foundation.
Update at 5:50 p.m. ET: Mulgrew: 'I Am Not A Geocentrist'
Actress Mulgrew writes on her Facebook page Tuesday afternoon:
"I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused. Kate Mulgrew"