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Open letter to science editors

 

The Moon
by C. J. RANSOM

[* This article is a section from Dr. Ransom's forthcoming book, The Age of Velikovsky. For further details, see The Book Case elsewhere in this issue.]

The Moon, because of its proximity to the Earth, was also involved in the catastrophic events of the past as described by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision. The observations of the ancients suggest that the Moon was affected by the passages of both Venus and Mars. Velikovsky, believing that he had reconstructed an accurate account of what the ancients actually observed, made a number of suggestions concerning evidence of these encounters to be found on the Moon.

All of these suggestions were made before the first manned lunar landing, and many of them before anyone thought seriously of going to the Moon.{1} Velikovsky maintained that remanent magnetism would be found in the lunar rocks, that there would be a measurable outflow of heat from the interior to the surface, and that an excess of argon would be found in lunar materials. Additional observations involved dating results by certain dating methods, bubbles formed at the surface, moonquakes, traces of carbides, and areas of localized radioactivity. Each of these ideas defied prevailing opinion about the Earth's natural satellite.

Remanent Magnetism

A remanent magnetic field is a field induced in a rocky material by an external magnetic field and left in it after the external field has decayed or been removed. When the temperature of molten rock drops below its Curie temperature,* while the rock is in the presence of an external magnetic field, certain molecules which have been lined up by the field are frozen into alignment. After cooling reaches the Curie temperature, the external field can be completely removed, and the frozen-in magnetism will be retained almost indefinitely. Hence, proper measurements can give an indication of the direction and strength of the external magnetic field at the time of cooling.

[* If ferromagnetic materials are raised above a certain critical temperature called the Curie temperature, the magnetic alignment is disturbed and the materials become paramagnetic. The Curie temperature for iron is 1043K.]

Several months before the first manned lunar landing, Nature published a note stating that no remanent magnetism was expected in the lunar rocks.{2} Velikovsky held the opposite view. He felt that if the Moon had been involved in catastrophes during historical times and earlier, some of its melted rocks would have cooled below their Curie temperatures while still immersed in magnetic fields. Therefore, he suggested that the orientation of the rock samples, with respect to the lunar cardinal points, be marked. However, this was not done, since remanent magnetism was not expected under accepted theories.

Researchers were quite surprised when they discovered remanent magnetism in the first rocks returned to Earth from the Moon. Diverse theories for the origin of the effect were suggested. They were based on postulates which included an internal lunar field, a time in the past when the Moon and the Earth were close together, fields in the transporting spacecraft, and fields in the laboratory.{3} It was eventually concluded that the magnetism actually was indigenous to the Moon and not an artifact due to the environment or handling of the rocks after they were picked up from the lunar surface.

In a letter sent to Harold Urey, Nobel laureate and geochemist, friends of Velikovsky mentioned that the latter had expected such a finding. Urey, in reply, said that conventional scientists had expected everything that Velikovsky had suggested.{4}

Urey's statement is incompatible with those of other scientists, and even contradicts his own later remarks. In May, 1973, Urey coauthored an article with E. K. Runcorn, opening with this sentence: "One of the most unexpected discoveries of the Apollo program has been that the returned rocks, both crystalline and breccia, possess a stable remanent magnetic field."{5}

In an unsigned Nature article (1974) about the changing views of the Moon's magnetism, Fuller's review of the subject was mentioned. It is stated in this article that it is "historically quite correct to suggest," as does Fuller, that before the manned lunar landings "the Moon was generally regarded as 'magnetically uninteresting'." Furthermore, it is recalled that most measurements made during the ten years before the landing indicated that the Moon was magnetically inert, and this was "a result entirely in accord with preconceived ideas about the nature of magnetism in planetary bodies in general and about the nature of the Moon in particular."{6}

By the time the Fourth Lunar Science Conference convened in 1973, the problem still existed. One report stated: "How the lunar rocks came to be magnetized, however, is not easily explained." And later: "It is very hard to rationalize the existence of this field." (The field in this case being the one required to produce the remanent magnetism.){7}

The dynamo theory is often called upon to explain the origin of a magnetic field on the Moon. This is the same theory used to explain the Earth's present magnetic field. It should be remembered that even the experts do not agree that the dynamo process has properly been explained. Therefore, when one reads a statement concerning the dynamo theory, e.g., "if the moon had an internal magnetic field produced in the same way as the earth's," it should be kept in mind that we do not really know how the Earth's is produced. Even invoking this theory, however, has resulted in the suggestion that "a lunar dynamo is not a tenable explanation for the magnetic remanence observed on the moon."{8}

In 1976, Gold and Soter even proposed that the magnetism in the lunar rocks was created by cometary impacts on the Moon.{9} The fields on Mercury and Mars were also attributed to encounters of this nature.

Whatever the eventual explanation, large amounts of paper have been consumed in printing explanations of something that was not generally expected from theories other than Velikovsky's.

Thermal Gradient

Because of the cosmic violence that the Moon was subjected to in historical times, Velikovsky suggested that heat should still be flowing strongly from the interior to the surface. This was not the generally held view, although one Russian measurement from space indicated this possibility.{10} Urey, at best, tended toward exaggeration when he insisted that this, too, was what everybody expected.{11} Urey's own theory of the origin of the Moon, which lunar research has now shown to be invalid, would not necessarily indicate this either. Some theorists expected a slight heat flow due to internal radioactivity, but the measured heat flow is much greater than expected even from this process.

Argon

Velikovsky's work led him to believe that Argon must be an important component of the atmosphere of Mars.* Assuming this conclusion to be valid, he reasoned that interactions of the Moon with Mars could have left argon in excessive amounts on the Moon; and this would then yield anomalously high ages for samples dated by the potassium-argon method.

In fact, this very problem did arise concerning the lunar samples. It has since been relegated to near-obscurity, but investigators were initially shocked at the "unexpected" excess argon.

[* On argon in the Martian atmosphere, see KRONOS, Vol 1, No. 3 (Fall-1975), pp. 88-90.]

The first manned lunar landing was in July of 1969. By September of the same year, reports indicating that argon was creating problems in dating the last major activity on the Moon were already appearing in print. It was found that the breccias and fines held extremely large quantities of rare gases. It was conceded that "the age determined from K-Ar (potassium-argon) dating is both intrinsically and experimentally uncertain."{12}

Later, it was noted, in connection with a sample designated as a type C breccia, that "this material contained very large quantities of both 36Ar and 40Ar and consequently it has not been possible to calculate a realistic age for the sample. . ."{13} Remarks about "embarrassingly high" (more than 7 billion years) K-Ar ages were published.{14}

Eventually came recognition of a new puzzle about the Moon the origin of the Argon 40. Some evidence seemed to indicate that at least portions of the rare gases "appear to be surface-correlated in the soil fragments" -- the greater the ratio of surface area to volume for a given sample, the greater would be its "excess" of argon as a fraction of its total mass.

It was suggested that the most likely origin of these absorbed, or trapped gases, was the solar wind or solar cosmic rays; however, it was also noted that in some cases the "ratios of elements in the sample differ significantly from the solar values. . ." Funkhouser and his colleagues stated: "The large amounts of rare gases found in the soil and breccia indicate that the solar atmosphere is trapped in the lunar soil, as no other source of such large amounts of gas is known."{15} So, although its composition was incorrect, the solar wind shouldered the blame by default.

The solar-wind theory, however, was short lived. By July, 1970, the solar wind had become only a secondary aid in explanations dealing with an excess of rare gases on the Moon. Scientists tended to veer toward the suggestion that the Argon 40 was a result of potassium decay inside the Moon. The Argon 40 supposedly had diffused outward, escaped into the tenuous lunar atmosphere, and then been driven back into the soils by the force of collisions with particles in the solar wind.

Measurements have indicated that Argon 40 varies in concentration in the thin lunar atmosphere. It is recognized that some of the trapped Argon 40 is gas from the lunar "atmosphere". But, the original source of most of the Argon 40 on the Moon can still be debated. It is noteworthy that "the ratios (40Ar/36Ar) vary in such a way as to suggest that Ar 40 was more abundant in the ancient lunar atmosphere than it is now."{16}

The greater abundance of Argon 40, suggested for the past, is consistent with Velikovsky's reconstruction of the recent history of the Solar System.

Age of the Moon

It may seem that the previously discussed characteristics of the Moon are individually ignored, though Velikovsky accurately anticipated each of them. Actually, they are not individually ignored; they are collectively ignored because of interpretations of other lunar data related to the age of the Moon.

According to conventional thinking, nothing important has happened to the Moon in several billion years; hence, some conclude that it does not matter how many individual lunar discoveries Velikovsky predicted, since these features, however surprising, could not have been acquired recently.

Two things make this conclusion questionable. First, the age of the Moon is often confused with the time that something last happened there. Second, the dating methods and the interpretation of the results are assumed to be unassailably accurate. As we shall see, there is good reason to re-evaluate the basic assumptions of radioactive dating.

Velikovsky has never ventured to conjecture about the actual age of the Moon. Two accepted dating methods (uranium-lead and rubidium-strontium) give such an age (accurate or not) for the Moon. Approximately the same "age" is indicated by still a third method supposedly capable of determining when something catastrophic last happened there. Collectively, then, results of these dating methods are misinterpreted as three independent demonstrations that nothing has happened on the Moon for at least three and half billion years.*

[* In the 19th century, the great Lord Kelvin "had three arguments for the age of the earth: the first argument was based on the supposed age of the sun, the second was based on the time required for the earth to cool to its present temperature from a molten state, and the third was based on the secular acceleration of the moon and the accompanying slowing of the earth's rotation caused by the friction of the tides. All three methods employed unproved assumptions and very shaky estimates; nevertheless they conveniently agreed on the age of the earth" (Am. J. Phys. 44, May 1976, p. 495 - emphasis added). Many geologists, when confronted by Kelvin's arguments, brought their figures into agreement with his, and while "it was not a case of 'fudging,' it still took a lot of lively imagination for all those different scientists using different dubious methods to come up with the same erroneous result" (Ibid., p. 496).]

The methods most commonly applied to lunar dating involve determinations of uranium-lead, rubidium-strontium, and potassium-argon ratios. The last, however, is the only method which yields an estimate of the time since a sample was last heated or shocked. Should heating or shock occur, all of the decay product - argon - may escape, and the radioactive timer may then be turned back, or reset, to zero.

Conversely, a later addition of argon can make a sample appear older. This problem has been encountered on the Earth. Hypothetical ages of millions of years have been "found" for materials with known ages of mere hundreds of years.{17} York, for one, has admitted that the excess argon on the Moon "complicated" the potassium-argon method, but claimed that if you assume the "correction" factors to be correct, then all three methods give about the same ages.{18}

Consequently, there is only one method for determining the elapsed time since the last catastrophe on the Moon, and this method is given credence only because it gives results similar to two methods which putatively give the age of the Moon. Unfortunately, in addition to the general problems associated with radioactive dating, the two other methods also have specific problems similar to that mentioned about potassium-argon dating.

If the abundance ratio of the elements in question is changed, a different age is indicated. Such a change can be effected by either decreasing or increasing the abundance of one of the elements with respect to the other. For example, if a sample is heated, some fraction of one of the elements may vaporize and escape into the environment.

Were a sample containing uranium and lead heated to a temperature where the lead would vaporize, some of the lead would leave the sample, to recondense elsewhere. At the site of condensation, there would be a deposit of lead without apparent uranium antecedents. A sample from such a deposit would appear much older than it actually was. Lead, with no associated uranium (or thorium) is called parentless lead.

Parentless lead has been found on the Moon.{19} This has been attributed to "an important thermal episode" on the Moon about 850 million years ago. This is still a long way from the recent; however, the date is not guaranteed, and it is also a long way from three and a half billion years, the figure generally invoked as the time when the Moon was last significantly active. Apparently, statements to the effect that there is no evidence for anything important happening on the Moon for more than three billion years are based on ignorance of such findings and selective acceptance of laboratory results.

Wright has discussed the vaporization problem with respect to the rubidium-strontium dating technique.{20} He noted that the vapor-pressures of rubidium and strontium differ greatly. The high temperatures reached during the long lunar days easily surpass that at which rubidium would vaporize and migrate to cooler places. Therefore, even normal conditions on the Moon necessarily make dating the formation of the Moon by this method highly questionable.

In fact, all lunar dating techniques are so questionable that the collective rejection of Velikovsky's correct predictions about the Moon is entirely untenable. One questionable method of dating the last major lunar event is not enough to refute a theory which successfully anticipated several important discoveries that were totally unexpected by uniformitarian thinkers.

One dating method not yet mentioned is that based on "thermoluminescence". If carefully applied, and if the quality of the material is suitable, this technique can give an estimate of the time that has passed since the material was last heated or shocked. Even the normal variation in temperatures on the lunar surface is enough to affect material to a depth of around six inches. Therefore, samples must be taken from cores collected at greater depths in the lunar soil. Methods of extracting cores may affect test results, thereby rendering them inconclusive. However, some tests do indicate that a disturbance may have occurred on the Moon on the order of ten thousand years ago.{21} The exact nature, cause, and extent of this event are not known.

Bubbles

Velikovsky made several other suggestions about the Moon, but these are not so uniquely associated with his cosmological theory. Certain aspects of the lunar surface have been seriously considered by others. The domes on the Moon are a case in point.

It has been proposed that some of these domes may have resulted from outgassing and bubbling on the lunar surface when it was heated. Many of these domes have been observed on the Moon, although their origin is still in doubt. Two small domes are shown in a NASA photograph of the Alphonsus and Fra Mauro area.{22} Another Apollo photograph reveals a "smooth dome" in the center of crater Behaim.{23}

Several scientists have discussed the formation of craters on the Moon by a bubbling effect. Sukhanov stated that a number of craters evidently had this type of origin.{24} Ronea proposed that craters range from impact craters, through impact craters changed by volcanism, to completely volcanic craters.{25} Mills discussed a process called fluidization, whereby craters are formed by an upward flow of gas or liquid.{26} This process requires less heating than the volcanic model.

Velikovsky had claimed that the existing domes would be found to have been caused by bubbling and, although the domes were known to exist, he was in good company in offering his explanation for the domes (unburst bubbles) and certain craters (burst bubbles).

Juergens discussed an alternate proposal for the origin of some of the craters, but he noted that the concept that some craters are burst bubbles is of entirely peripheral importance to the ideas presented in Worlds in Collision.{27}

Whatever the origin of the craters, there appears to be no question that the Moon once had "a heat problem". "Evidently the part of the moon we have access to has been completely melted at one time or another."{28} In discussing the heating of the outermost layers of the Moon (hundreds of kilometers in depth), the Lunar Sample Analysis Planning Team noted that "the source of heat for such an event is poorly understood." This heating "is thought to have occurred during or immediately after the formation of that body, chiefly because of the difficulty of accounting for extensive near-surface melting at a later time" (emphasis added).{29}

The same team has also discussed the chemical content of the lunar rocks and a possible explanation for the distribution and percentage of the various components. It was duly noted, however, that their "solution of the chemical problem creates a difficulty in the area of heat generation." Calculations based upon uniformitarian models indicate a particular type of cooling distribution, and "temperatures would not rise again in a sub-crustal layer or zone unless some external source of energy was involved."

Moonquakes

Velikovsky also suggested that moonquakes would still be frequent as the lunar body continued to recover from the recent violence in the Solar System. However, he said only that quakes would be numerous and did not suggest that they would be of great magnitude; indeed, the quakes are exceedingly small, and most would not be detectable on the Earth. Their magnitudes are easily within the limits expected by Y. Nakamura and others.{30} Some are, however, attributed to the release of strain, and the origin of some of that strain would have been due to the encounters described in Worlds in Collision.

Carbides

If, in addition to the Earth, hydrocarbons also rained on the Moon from the proto-planet Venus, during close encounters with that body, Velikovsky reasoned that remnants of this material would later have been heated, possibly forming carbides. In fact, both hydrocarbons and carbides have been found on the Moon.{31} While the amounts detected were relatively small, the actual sources of this material are still open to debate.

Radioactivity

Velikovsky suggested that electrical discharges between planets and the Moon were powerful enough to have produced localized hotspots of radioactivity. In particular, he anticipated that one hot-spot should be in the vicinity of Aristarchus. It has been shown that lightning discharges in the Earth's atmosphere produce radioactive carbon, so it is reasonable to assume that stronger discharges can produce other radioactive materials.

Localized hot-spots of radioactivity have been found on the Moon, and one of these locations is indeed the region of Aristarchus. Gamma ray spectrometer measurements made by Apollo 15 and 16 instruments indicated that the Aristarchus region was one of three locations showing enhanced radioactivity. In addition, the alpha-particle spectrometer on Apollo 15 detected a high count rate in this region. The alpha spectrometer was designed to detect radon decay and identify regions of "unusual activity".{32} After considering various possibilities, the investigators attributed the alpha-particle activity to increased emanation of radon-222.

Radon-222 has a half-life of 3.8 days and is a daughter of radium-226, which has a half-life of 1620 years. Juergens has pointed out that "if the radium were produced by an electric discharge to the Aristarchus site some 2700 years ago, more than 25 percent of it would still be there, emitting radon-222."{33}

REFERENCES

1. These claims are found in Worlds in Collision (1950) and in the following documents: memos submitted to Prof. H. H. Hess, Chairman, Space Science Board, National Academy of Sciences, dated March 14, 1967 and May 19, 1969; a letter to Hess, dated July 2, 1969; an article written at the invitation of the editors of the New York Times and published in the Early City Edition ("Man Walks on Moon") of July 21, 1969 (but omitted in the Late City Edition); a letter to Prof. A. W. Burgstahler, Chemistry Department, University of Kansas, postmarked July 23, 1969; and a transcript of a passage from a lecture at Guyot Hall, Princeton University, October 21, 1969, given in memory of Hess (deceased August 25, 1969). Correspondence with Hess was reprinted in Pensee 11 (Fall-1972), pp. 22-29.
2. Nature, 221 (1969), p. 415,
3. Strangway, et al., Science, 167 (1970), p. 690
4. Letter from Urey to Cosmos and Chronos, 1971.
5. S. K. Runcorn and H. Urey, Science, 180 (1973), p. 636.
6. Nature, 249 (1974), p. 209.
7. E. H. Levy, Science, 178 (1972), p. 52.
8. Science, 181 (1973), p. 615.
9. T. Gold and S. Soter, Planetary and Space Science, 24 (1976), p. 45.
10. V. D. Krotikov and V. S. Troitskii, Sov. Ast AJ, 7, No. 6 (1964), p. 822. Krotikov and Troitskii detected a heat flow from the interior of the Moon. This was not based on any theory, but was a result of measurement. This result does not seem to have been widely accepted, possibly because it was not explainable by the then popular theories.
11. Urey letter to Cosmos and Chronos.
12. Lunar Sample Preliminary Examination Team, Science, 165 (1969), p. 1211.
13. R. K. Wanless, et al., Science, 167 (1970), p. 479.
14. D. Heymann, it al, Science, 167, Jan 30, 1970.
15. J. G. Funkhouser, et al., Science, 167 (1970), p. 561.
16. Science, 181 (1973), p. 615 - 4th Lunar Conf.
17. J. G. Funkhouser and J. J. Naughton, J. of Geophys. Res., 73 (1968), p. 4601.
18. D. York, Pensee I (May-1972), p. 18.
19. Leon T. Silver, Transactions, Am.-Geophys. Union, 52 (19 7 1), p. 5 34.
20. R. C. Wright, Pensee I (May-1972), p. 20.
21. Work by R. Walker, et al., Washington University, St. Louis.
22. Aviation Week and Space Technology (May 15, 1972), p. 15. The explanation assumed at the time was that they were pre-existing structures that were flooded by mare basalt flow. No theory was given for what created structures that would cause domes when flowed upon by lava.
23. NASA SP, 246, p. 16.
24. L. A. Sukhanov, NASA T-r-F689 (1973), P. 266.
25. L. B. Ronca, Icarus, 5 (1966), p. 515.
26. A. A. Mills, Nature, 224 (1969), p. 863.
27. Ralph Juergens, Pensee IX (Fall-1974) and Pensee X (Winter-1974-75).
28. This statement was from an article prepared by the Lunar Sample Analysis Planning Team, Science, 181 (1973), p. 615.
29. Ibid.
30. Y. Nakamura, private communication.
31. LSPET, Science, 165 (1969), p. 1224; C. Ponnamparuma, et al, Science, 167 (1970), p. 760; B. Bagy, et al., Science, 167 (1970), p. 170; G. Eglington, et al, Nature, 226, pp.251-252, April 18, 1970.
32. P. Gorenstein and P. Bjorkholm, Science, 179 (1973), p. 792.
33. R. E. Juergens, Pensee VIII (Summer-1 974), p. 45.

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