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Open letter to science editors
THE BIRTH OF VENUS FROM JUPITER[ *Formerly titled "A Rejoinder to Motz," reprinted in part from Yale Scientific
Magazine, Apr., 1967.]
The Circumstances under which Venus erupted from Jupiter
The basic erroneous assumption by Motz is in ascribing to me the concept of a "volcanic
eruption" of Venus from Jupiter .... that I claim Venus erupted from Jupiter in a volcanic process is
wrong - and it is decisive for the argument. Not only did I not claim this, but in the paper under
review ["Venus - a Youthful Planet"] I stress that a cometary body could not have such an origin.
Thus the entirety of Motz' argument on this score, and only with corrected figures, could apply to the
early version of Professor Vsekhsviatsky's theory of the origin of comets by volcanic eruption from
Jupiter, but not to my concept.
In Worlds in Collision I started the story with the protoplanet Venus already on a stretched
elliptical orbit around the sun, approaching the Earth. In the book I wrote: "I intend to go further
back into the past and piece together the story of some earlier cosmic upheavals. This will be the
subject of another volume. There I hope to be able to tell a little more of the circumstances preceding
the birth of Venus from the body of Jupiter . . ." (from the Epilogue). "The collision between the
major planets, which is the theme of the sequel to Worlds in Collision, brought about the birth of
comets . . . At least one of these comets in historical times became a planet (Venus)" (p. 373). Also,
in the paper under review, I wrote: "In such near collisions, eruptive forces could exceed escape
Thus, although I have not yet discussed the origin of Venus from Jupiter in any detail, I have
already revealed where the escape energy came from. All calculations by Motz on a volcanic eruption
and the necessary thermal state of Jupiter are not applicable. However, it was found recently that
Jupiter emits almost three times as much energy as it theoretically should if, as generally assumed,
it were an inert planet obtaining its energy solely from solar radiation. It is certainly in a very active
state, and it was lately termed "a star" and the Sun-Jupiter system "a binary" by G. Kuiper and others.
In my paper under review, I quote the noted British cosmologist, R. A. Lyttleton, from his
Man's View of the Universe, to the effect that Venus (and the other terrestrial planets) must have
been born from Jupiter by disruption. In the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society for
1960, Lyttleton, after pointing to insurmountable physical handicaps in both the nebular and the tidal
theory of the origin of the solar system, demonstrates mathematically the very process that I
reconstructed from the annals of the past. Lyttleton writes:
Copyright © 1967 by Immanuel Velikovsky.
"Break-up of a rotating planet: As a planet increases in mass by accretion, the range
from which it can draw in material increases rapidly, and the rotary effect of the added matter
will also increase, and instability be approached . . . A large gaseous planet at low density
could obviously be thoroughly stable and yet on cooling to liquid or solid state find itself
endowed with more angular momentum than it could store ... Indeed, in any theory that can
account for the rapid rotation of the planets, there must be some mechanism by which a planet
is able to rid itself from any excess of angular momentum in order to reach a final state of
stability. It is here that the fission process enters to accomplish this very thing. An unstable
planet would undergo division into two main pieces thrown apart with hyperbolic speed of
Lyttleton claims that in the past, though remote, Jupiter reached such a state of imbalance and
threw out a portion that not only escaped the gravitational attraction of the remaining mass of Jupiter,
but went all the way out of the solar system and that only a minor portion of the escaped mass was
retained in the solar system, and from it Venus and other terrestrial planets were formed on orbits that
slowly rounded up. Motz shows no awareness of Lyttleton's computations. Neither does he think
of the fact that magnetic dipole effects increase at a cube rate with the decrease in distance and may
become very powerful.
Although I left the origin of Venus from Jupiter (400 times more massive) for discussion in
a sequel volume to Worlds in Collision, I nevertheless disclosed to my readers that the energy came
from the near collision of major planets, Jupiter and Saturn. I wish to spell out here the main
consequences of this encounter, even if in the shortest possible recounting, with no references
supplied, the claimed events appear startling. But I am provoked by Motz' surmise as to what is and
what is not in the historical record.
In the near-collision with Jupiter, Saturn, of much larger mass than at present, was disrupted;
the historical and folkloristic material on this subject fills a volume of the promised work on the
earlier catastrophes, one of which was the Deluge (see Preface to Worlds in Collision). Jupiter swept
up the dispersed material and later – it could have been hundreds or thousands of years later –
underwent fission. "With increasing size, [Jupiter's] power to draw in material would increase, and
its resulting speed of rotation would do so too, and eventually could render it unstable as a single
mass because of centrifugal force. It can only get out of this embarrassing condition by breaking into
two very unequal pieces . . ." - I quote Lyttleton once more. All this took place in much more recent
times than Lyttleton assumes, but in circumstances which he envisions. He demonstrated that only
by cleavage could Venus - and other inner planets - [have] been born and the solar system organized;
McCrea, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, documented that no planet could have been
organized inside of the Jovian orbit from the original nebular material.
So much for the eruption of Venus from Jupiter. In a memorandum submitted by me in
September, 1963, to the Space Board of the National Academy of Sciences, through its Chairman,
Professor H. H. Hess (a copy to Dr. Homer Newell of NASA), I suggested that "precise calculations
should be made to the effect of the magnetic field permeating the solar system on the motion of the
planet [Jupiter] which is surrounded by a magnetosphere [emitting radiation] of an intensity
presumably 10" times that of the terrestrial magnetosphere. This is basic to the impending re-evaluation of electromagnetic effects in celestial mechanics."
In April 1964, Dr. A. G. Smith announced that the decametric radio signals coming from
Jupiter, from certain delineated areas, were retarded by 1.3 seconds, which was interpreted as a
rotational slowing down of the giant planet itself, against all the rules of celestial mechanics. The
energy, in ergs, involved would stagger the imagination. Jupiter possesses more than half of the
angular momentum of the solar system, the Sun, however, less than one fiftieth of that momentum.
Dr. K. L. Franklin, one of the discoverers of the radio noises from Jupiter (1955) – claimed by me
a few years earlier wrote in July 1964 (Scientific American) that the observed slow-down of Jupiter's
speed of rotation (loss of angular momentum) may have been "caused by a cataclysmic event in the
planet ... We look forward to more surprises when space probes begin to tune in to Jupiter from
Jupiter was also thought to be a cold body, with an ice mantle ten thousand miles thick. But
thermal radiation (at decimeter wavelengths) from Jupiter indicates that it is not cold, but hot. How
hot, is not yet definitely established. D. McNally of the University of London Observatory writes in
Scientific Progress (April 1965) that at a wavelength of 70 cm the temperature of the planet is "about
50,000°K or about 90,000°F. He commented on this unexpected find: "50,000°K is an order of
magnitude greater than the temperature of the solar photosphere." The detected polarization suggests
the presence of a strong magnetic field, "so that radiation at [this] decimeter wavelength would be
non-thermal." K. L. Franklin writes: "Since this [90,000°F] was higher than the temperatures of most
of the hottest stars, it was obvious that Jupiter's shortwave radiations must be generated by some
energy source other than the planet's heat."
Venus, escaping from Jupiter, must have carried with it some of the intense magnetic field of
its parent body. This magnetic field helped Venus to disrupt the Earth's rotation (Worlds in Collision,
p. 386) and achieve for itself a circular orbit; but in the process the magnetic field, acting as a brake,
Angular momentum is indestructible, but it is transferable to other bodies and can also be
dissipated into the interplanetary medium by means of electric currents and magnetic interactions.
The Sun's attraction is much greater than Earth's attraction on Venus, and this is why the Sun
captured the protoplanet ejected by Jupiter and placed it on an orbit, first elongated, and then, after
repeated collisions with Jupiter, Earth and Mars, circular.
The reversed rotation of Venus (detected 1962) contradicts Motz' argument about
conservation of angular momentum if the planet originated in the accepted way. For a long time
Motz refused to accept this finding (our correspondence and debate at Princeton University, March
2, 1965). This reversed rotation, as it is pointed out in my paper, could result from any one of three
phenomena: Venus was born separately from the other planets; it was captured by the Sun; it was
disturbed in its motion by other celestial bodies and fields. Each of these phenomena took place,
according to Worlds in Collision. None of them is acceptable to Motz: thus he has a problem.
Furthermore, the "resonance" rotation of Venus, turning at every passage the same face to
the Earth (1966), clearly points to earlier contacts [or some electromagnetic interrelationship not yet
fully understood] of these two bodies. T. J. Gordon, formerly chief engineer for the upper stage of
the Saturn rocket, writes in Ideas in Conflict (St. Martin's Press, 1966) p. 37: "This type of resonant
motion resists outside disturbances; once locked, the motion tends to remain locked. When did the
earth capture Venus' rotation?"
None of the Keplerian laws was violated in the events as I described them. However, celestial
mechanics can no longer continue to neglect situations like that of the Jovian satellites plowing
through the magnetic field of their primary.
Having shown that Motz' argument against the origin of Venus from Jupiter does not hold,
and having only touched upon his argument against the protoplanet Venus' further fate, I leave it to
Ralph Juergens to continue.
* * *
RALPH E. JUERGENS
The Resolution of Conflicting Orbits
Professor Motz' error in attributing to Dr. Velikovsky the notion that Venus erupted from
Jupiter in "a kind of volcanic process" leads him to equate kinetic energy of escape with the explosion
energy of some thermal event and inevitably turns up all sorts of unacceptable conditions; examples
are "impossibly high" temperatures and ejected matter leaving Jupiter "as a stream of very hot gas
[which] could never have contracted gravitationally to form a body such as Venus." Because of this
erroneous first assumption, all such problems are spurious.
Incidentally, Motz advances a point that is invalid even in the context of his own argument.
He equates the kinetic energy required to eject a great mass at high velocity with radiant energy. On
this basis he concludes that at the moment of eruption Jupiter should have appeared "as bright as a
nova." Clearly, however, if the energy were dissipated as radiation it would not be available as the
mechanical energy needed to eject Venus.
Professor Motz reads into Velikovsky the idea that after Venus erupted from Jupiter, the
motions of Venus were governed by the Earth; "otherwise the multiple close encounters between the
Earth and Venus . . . could not have occurred." This is not so. Accepted laws of motion in
gravitational fields actually yield predictions that celestial bodies on conflicting orbits will perturb one
another repeatedly and from time to time, unless the orbits become separated through lesser
perturbations, must suffer close encounters. At each encounter, or near-collision, both orbits may
be altered radically, especially if both bodies are in the same weight class (Earth and Venus), but
unless such alterations actually separate the orbits, further encounters are inevitable sooner or later.
Venus, on an elliptical solar orbit after escaping from Jupiter, would return at each revolution
to a point on Jupiter's orbit near the place of birth. There would be some chance of a re-encounter
with Jupiter at this point (see Worlds in Collision, p. 160), as well as at a second point of orbital
intersection (if we assume that Venus reached aphelion outside the orbit of Jupiter). In the meantime,
if the perihelion point of the protoplanet's orbit were inside the orbit of the Earth, and if the
protoplanet's orbit were in the plane of the planetary system (as would be entirely likely for a body
spun off by fission from the equatorial regions of Jupiter), there would be two chances for an
encounter between Venus and the Earth for each revolution of Venus. Certainly the Earth would not
be at these points of potential conflict each time Venus passed by, but occasionally, depending upon
the characteristics of the two orbits, collisions would be unavoidable (especially considering the long
train of debris associated with the protoplanet Venus).
The first such event, as the historical record assembled by Dr. Velikovsky suggests, might
involve passage so close as to swing both bodies (Earth and Venus) into new orbits around the Sun,
but orbits still intersecting. Two encounters, such as those described in Worlds in Collision between
Venus and the Earth, might well be required to resolve the conflict. The historical record indicates
that such a resolution came about, but it also led to an entanglement of the orbits of Venus and Mars -
again resolved, but at the cost of further orbital conflict between Mars and the Earth.
Contrary to the suggestion of Professor Motz, it is not "clear that if Venus had behaved in
accordance with Dr. Velikovsky's description, [the Keplerian] law of areas could never have been
obeyed." An altering of orbits in close encounters necessarily involves exchanges of orbital angular
momentum; if not dissipated electrically or magnetically into the interplanetary medium, the total
angular momentum of the near-colliding systems (Earth with its magnetosphere and Venus with its
train and any attendant magnetic fields) must be conserved. Nothing in Velikovsky's thesis suggests
Discussing the conservation of orbital energy, Motz claims that only an object as massive as
the sun and about as close to Venus as the sun could have accomplished the feat of changing its total
mechanical energy by 50%" and thereby settle Venus on its present orbit. What he neglects to point
out is that a much less massive body (Earth), much closer to Venus, (near-collision), and having
several opportunities (repeated encounters), could do the same. Since Motz mentions mass and
distance, the implication is that he considers only gravitational forces to be capable of transferring
orbital energy from one object to another. In this connection, then, he might well have pointed out
that if Venus passed as close as 117,000 miles from the Earth, the gravitational attraction between
the two planets would be equal to the present attraction between the Sun and Venus. One cosmic
body reducing the orbital energy of another through gravitational perturbation must itself gain orbital
energy - other forms of energy aside - and this, too, is what the record suggests; the orbital energies
and orbital periods of both the Earth and Mars were increased before Venus was stabilized on its
Interestingly, Motz fails to criticize Velikovsky's assertions that the close approach of Venus
affected both the Earth's rotation and the direction of its axis in space. These are prominent themes
of Worlds in Collision and were the main targets of criticism by astronomers (C. Payne-Gaposchkin;
J. Stewart) in the 1950's. Subsequent discovery of the Earth's magnetosphere and the interplanetary
magnetic field, along with other considerations, such as the comparative ease with which the
terrestrial axis can be turned into new directions (T. Gold), muffled these criticisms. The claim that
Pluto was once a comet (F. Whipple) blunts criticism, based solely on the matter of mass, of the idea
that Venus was once a comet (protoplanet) another favorite theme of early critics (O. Struve; H.
Professor Motz now implies that Dr. Velikovsky's astonishingly accurate predictions are in
the nature of lucky guesses. What are the mathematical odds against Velikovsky's making so many
correct deductions from "false premises"?
Up to now every one of Velikovsky's predictions, when made, has been in sharp conflict with
accepted values. For example, when professional astronomers were in agreement that the
temperature of Venus is about 17°C, Velikovsky claimed that the planet had been incandescent only
a few thousand years ago, so that even today it is very far from a state of thermal equilibrium and
gives off heat. This prediction was clearly at odds with professional opinion, yet there was nothing
haphazard in Velikovsky's chain of deduction. Another example: confirmation came by accident when
radio telescopes chanced to tune in on Jupiter, but this fact cannot be distorted to make the prediction
itself a matter of luck. That most confirmations of Velikovsky's predictions have come "accidentally"
affirms only that scientists have not yet undertaken a systematic investigation of the thesis of Worlds
The new test suggested by Dr. Velikovsky – that accurate determinations of the temperature
of Venus be made for several synodical periods to see whether the claimed newcomer among the
planets is indeed losing its heat – would certainly be decisive. The results of such a program could
go a long way toward settling controversy over why Venus is hot.
In the meantime, I would suggest, perhaps as a project for a team of young specialists in
astronomy and cuneiform studies, that the astronomical tablets of ancient Babylon be programmed
for computer analysis that would yield the past orbital and rotational motions of the Earth-Moon
system and the orbital motions of the planets during a period in history when these bodies were most-feared gods.