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Open letter to science editors


KRONOS Vol IV, No. 3



To the Editor of KRONOS:

After reading Dwardu Cardona's paper "Let There be Light" (KRONOS,Vol. III, No. 3),1 found a problem with the author's conception of the role collective amnesia played in forming Creation myths. Explaining that mankind repressed painful memories of destruction and fear of god brought about by Saturn exploding as a nova, Cardona states: "Primitive man could not live under these conditions and his mind, in a collective attempt to retain its sanity, reversed the aspect of reality. Out of a demonic entity ... mankind manufactured for itself a benign god and one of the world's worst destructions was transmogrified into a credo of genetic Creation" (Ibid., p. 49). A different and tenable interpretation can be derived from the same data Cardona cites. I offer the following considerations:

1) According to Cardona, a consistent motif in Creation myth is the formation of a Celestial, Cosmic or Primordial Egg that eventually "broke into two halves" or "divided in two" ("Dividing in two" is unexplained) and gave forth a tremendous light. Cardona says Saturn, then possibly closer to Earth and with greater polar flattening than now, was the object myth calls the Cosmic Egg. This term appears to be a metaphor referring to some impressive phenomenon ancient man witnessed .

2) A typical nova increases many thousandfold from normal brightness, often in less than one day. Color changes occur. The increase in light is followed by a slower, fluctuating decline sometimes requiring years or even decades for return to normal. A nearby nova could hardly have failed to be an awesome visual experience for ancient man. Cardona indicates the Cosmic Egg "opened," emitted a light so great it was never forgotten, and, with reduced brightness, continued to shine as a sun of night. There is no difficulty imagining why the ancients perceived this as a supreme act of creation.

3) We do not know what actually happened during the period of the Creation, but Immanuel Velikovsky states: "... in the catastrophe of the Deluge, which I ascribe to Saturn exploding as a nova, the cosmic rays must have been very abundant to cause massive mutations among all species of life ..." (I. Velikovsky, "The Pitfalls of Radiocarbon Dating", in the Spring-Summer 1973 issue of Pensee, p. 13). Elsewhere Velikovsky says: "... we are led to the belief that evolution is ... initiated in catastrophes. Numerous catastrophes or bursts of effective radiation must have taken place ... in order to change so radically the living forms on earth ..." (I. Velikovsky, Earth in Upheaval, Pocket Book ed., 1977, p. 233).

Under these conditions spontaneous mutation could produce widespread anomalies in plant, insect and animal life within one human lifetime. If a nova caused the Earth to be bombarded with an enormous amount of high-energy radiation having the capacity to induce spontaneous mutation in all species, the Creation myth may not be a psychological reaction formation to universal disaster but rather the memory of a real process the generation of new lifeforms.

4) Since the time elapsed between Saturn's flare-up and the following disaster is unknown, we cannot state with assurance "Man was never to forget the glory but he did not wish to remember that the destruction which followed owed its cause to the manifestation of his god" (D. Cardona, op. cit., p. 49) (Emphasis added). If the author is suggesting ancient man believed the manifestation of the god of light brought about later catastrophe, he posits an association that may never have occurred to the ancients. It is equally plausible that if there was sufficient time between nova and catastrophe, man may have conceived the two events as different acts of a god not exclusively destructive.

It is meaningless to hypothesize "... reality was reversed and ... destruction ... transmogrified into a credo of genetic Creation" (Ibid., p. 49) if the credo was based on man's witness to and participation in an actual process of celestial and biological creation! In this context the myth is a record; subsequent elaboration does not vitiate its essence. People may repress terrifying memories of catastrophes and in later generations lose the ability to understand the past; however, we must establish what components of myth have been "... manufactured ..." (Ibid., p. 49) through repression and what are accounts of sensory experience. Myths of The Creation are inadequately explained by D. Cardona's conception of collective amnesia.

Richard T. Powell

Wilkinsburgh, Pa.


Cardona Replies:

Richard T. Powell brings up some very interesting points. His critique, however, suffers through a lack of knowledge concerning what transpired both before and after Saturn's flare-up. Needless to say, this fault should not be laid at his door because, to date, very little has yet been published on this vast subject. But allow me, first of all, to correct a misconception of his.

In his point #4, Powell labors under the impression that by "the destruction which followed" I was alluding to the catastrophe which followed next - (who knows how long?) after Saturn's flare-up. What was actually meant was the destruction which followed almost immediately after - (a matter of days) and due to Saturn's flare-up. This was made clear when I stated: "This cosmic disaster, moreover, was not without its repercussions on Earth and its inhabitants." The article in question did not delve into this destruction because that topic is reserved for a future series of articles. Logic, however, should have told the reader that had the Earth, as I postulated, really been a satellite of Saturn, it could not have escaped such a close nova-like explosion unscathed. Ancient man did not have to be an astronomer, nor much of a philosophical wizard, to realize that this destruction was caused directly by his god.

Powell also assumes that the "credo of genetic Creation" was based on man being a witness to "an actual process of celestial and biological creation". A "celestial creation" man did witness but, here, Powell may not realize all that is involved.(1)

As for biological "creation," Powell bases this on Velikovsky's assertion that the cosmic rays released by Saturn's explosion caused massive mutations among all species of life, and that thus man was able to witness the "creation" of new life forms. But the same cosmic rays would also have resulted in the extinction of some species. Sudden massed deaths, had man really witnessed them, would also have impressed him. And extinction would have preceded mutation since the latter would have required the passage of at least one generation for its effects to become evident. Sudden extinction would more readily have been linked to the flare-up; the latter mutations might not, by man, have been linked to Saturn at all. In any case, I do not see how Powell can base his argument on this assertion of Velikovsky when no evidence has yet been presented to substantiate it.

It is also a grave mistake to think of Saturn's flare-up as a "typical nova". Had Saturn's explosion really been such, the Earth and its inhabitants would probably not have survived. It is for this very reason that, throughout my article, Saturn's disruption is referred to as "nova-like".

But to the major point: Creation vs destruction. - It is true that "a different and tenable interpretation can be derived from the same data" that I cited. But only because, due to the nature of my paper. not all of the data were presented. And those data which were, were not presented in full.

The article in question, it must be understood, is part of a larger work yet to be published. In the larger work, needless to say, much more is explained.

That Saturn's flare-up was seen by ancient man as a "supreme act of creation," the myths leave no doubt and here Powell is entirely correct. I myself stated: "This occurrence, in some ways drastic but visually glorious, posterity branded as The Creation." But I also stated that "man, who could not have existed during the first 'creation' of the Earth, was a living witness to some of its subsequent destructions and re-Creations" (emphasis this time). The world and man both existed prior to Saturn's flare-up so that even The Creation was essentially a re-Creation. In fact, in no myth has ancient man ever deluded himself into thinking that the Earth was created out of nothing. A myth of creatio ex nihilo does not exist. In every myth of Creation, ancient man more than hinted at a pre-existing something - usually water and chaos. In effect, even at The Creation, the world was "created" from the wreck of a preceding one.

Now of the destruction which preceded, but also accompanied, The Creation, the myths tell us but little. It seems, however, there was an earlier time when the older myths could have told us much more. The myths we can lay claim to, from all corners of the world, have all, in one way or another, been expurgated. But not entirely. Imbedded in them, we can still discover the odd unexpurgated clue.

A good example comes to us through the very first verse of the very first chapter of the Book of Genesis. There it is stated that "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In Hebrew, the name translated as "God" is "Elohim". I have already shown that Elohim (or El, or Eloah) was one of the ancient names of Saturn. The word translated as "created" is "bara" but this word has the etymological meaning of "forcing into shape". The word also contains a connotation of violence.(2) The idea contained here, therefore, is that Elohim/Saturn forced the Earth into shape violently. It seems then that Creation did not unravel itself peacefully.

Among those races which did not preserve their ancestral memories in writing but, rather, in oral traditions, the myths, if of a less philosophical bent, seem to have remained somewhat purer. Thus, the cosmogonic myths of the Battak tribes of Sumatra make The Creation synonymous with destruction. States G. H. Luquet:

"Under various forms, all more or less determined, the idea is that the creation of the world was a disadvantage for a being already in existence, who reacted with a violent agitation which destroyed the earth."(3)

In other words, the Earth was "created" by being destroyed.

We could, of course, add considerably to the list as, in the larger work already alluded to, we already have. But in this short response, space does not permit. Let it suffice that the "Creation" of the Earth through Saturn's flare-up could not have been accomplished without destruction. Man remembered that destruction - as he remembered the light which preceded and heralded it but when it was all over, when his world was again at peace, when he saw that the land and the sky had changed, he thanked god for the new creation. But in later years, as stated in my article, man did not want to remember the accompanying destruction and the proof of this lies in the laconicism with which this destruction is described, where it is described at all, in the extant myths of Creation.(4)


1. For the first phase of this "celestial creation," see the author's forthcoming article "The Rings of Saturn".

2. H. S. Bellamy, Moons, Myths and Man, (London, 1949 edition), p. 148. (NOTE: The old argument that the Hebrew verb bara connotated the idea of creatio ex nihilo has now long been invalidated. In fact, it is not even correct to say that bara means "to create". See, for instance, A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, (Chicago, 1942), pp. 76 ff. Heidel, however, seems to be incorrect when he states that bara contains the idea of an effortless production, Ibid., p. 77. Despite the above, Heidel also continues to argue in favor of creatio ex nihilo. But this argument has now also been invalidated by numerous other scholars.)

3. G. H. Luquet, "Oceanic Mythology," in the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, (London, 1972), p. 466.

4. Exceptions, of course, exist - primarily among the myths of India and the New World. But even there, the destruction is described as separate from Creation, one closing a World Age, the other commencing one. Thus, in effect, even with these peoples, we see an effort to separate the destructive element of the event from its accompanying creative one. Myths which describe Creation as a form of destruction, comparable to the Battak myth cited above, are few indeed. In our continuing series on the Saturnian phenomenon, we hope to be able to enumerate a few more. Concerning Mullen's contention that Creation and the Deluge were one and the same - see Pensee, Winter 1973, pp. 14-15 - we shall also write elsewhere.


To the Editor of KRONOS:

As a former student of Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle, I must protest Roger Wescott's interpretation of their theory of linguistic change (KRONOS IV:I, p. 4). Wescott says "... transformational linguists have preferred to formulate diachronic change primarily in terms of alteration of the laws that generate language rather than in terms of alteration of the surface features resulting from those laws." He uses this as an analogy to make more plausible the notion that physical laws could be changed by catastrophe.

Chomsky and Halle are careful to make a distinction between the rules of particular languages, which are learned by a child on the basis of the language he hears around him, and the rules of "universal grammar," which are overall constraints on the nature of language, given innately as part of our genetic heritage. When language changes, this is treated as a change in the language-particular rules, an event no more or less significant than cultural change. For there to be a change in universal grammar, on the other hand, Chomsky and Halle would have to posit an actual genetic change in the human species, a far more significant event for which language provides no evidence, so far as I know (though recent writings of Julian Jaynes and Carl Sagan (!) seem to claim such an event).

But even a change in the genetic inheritance of the human species hardly suggests the plausibility of changes in physical laws; the analogy is totally without grounds. Moreover, the physical changes which Wescott proposes to support his analogy, concerning various stellar objects, are simply examples for which present physics cannot provide satisfactory description - not cases where the laws of physics have changed.

Ray Jackendoff

Professor of Linguistics
Brandeis University

Dr. Wescott Replies:

In his "protest" against my reference to transformational theory, Professor Jackendoff identifies himself as "a former student of Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle." As it happens, I am a former colleague of theirs in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, since Transformational linguists are known to be far more communicative with their students than with their colleagues, I will readily concede the likelihood that he knows transformational theory better than I do.

On the other hand, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, in rejecting my transformational analogy, he is deliberately setting up a straw man. For I did not state - nor even, I believe, imply - that the changes in linguistic laws postulated by Transformationalists affect the "universal grammar" of language in general. In each case, what they do determine is the specific surface features of a specific language at a specific historic period. All that I did was call attention to an analogy between such microcosmic changes in language law and possible macrocosmic changes in physical law. Dr. Jackendoff reinterprets the analogy as an equation and then refutes the equation.

His final point is that to suggest the possibility "of changes in physical laws ... is totally without grounds." One ground, of course, is the fact that, in the field of cosmology, adherents of the oscillating universe model actually do postulate a change not only in the distribution of matter but of the laws of physics after each successive cosmic implosion (i.e., about once every 80 billion years!). These theorists, however, do not assert their views as proved but only as plausible. And I do not assert change in any macrocosmic law as demonstrated but only as possible. More precisely, what I am arguing against is the uniformitarian doctrine that major planetary changes not only did not occur but could not have occurred in recent times. Such dogma, I think, is an unjustifiable obstacle to continued investigation and further discovery.


To the Editor of KRONOS:

In KRONOS IV:2, C;. R. Talbott(1) claims that he has proven that "a massive, molten body quantitatively, a mass equivalent to Venus and having the Venus surface area, and molten at between 1500K and 2000K will transfer heat internally by flowing magma, and will radiate its heat in such a way that in exactly 3500 years its temperature is expected to be exactly 750K, which by measurement it is." (Emphasis as stated.) Considering two bold assumptions made by the author, I would call the result a coincidence.

First, the author assumes the temperature at the surface to be representative for the temperature throughout the whole body, which can not be literally true, as at the same time, he assumes that heat is transferred internally by flowing magma, which will solidify at 900 1400 degrees Kelvin. We can try to save the theory by saying that the temperature of the interior is higher, although the mean temperature decline of the interior equals that of the surface. But in another contribution, Juergens(2) points out that solid silicates will not float on their liquids. Cold magma would tend to sink, thus circulation would go on until solidification took place. Consequently, Venus would now be solid all through but, after the solidification, the cooling at the surface would go much quicker, because the convection mechanism would be out of gear.

Another bold assumption which works the other way - is that the atmosphere of Venus works as a heat sink with a temperature of 200 - 300 degrees Kelvin. Now, there seems to be a plug in the heat sink, because the atmosphere does not radiate energy to its environment. The atmosphere at the cloud tops is cold, well below zero degrees centigrade, and the net radiation the difference between emission and absorption from the planet must be small (Sagan even states that it is zero, ref. 3). Thus, the 9.1018W that Venus, according to the model, radiates to its own atmosphere, has nowhere to go, except for the small part of it that is radiated back. The truth is that the atmosphere of Venus, far from being an efficient heat sink, works as a rather good insulator.

In each atmosphere where radiation is hampered by dust, and forced convection is the main heat-transportation factor, we can expect to find a vertical temperature gradient, for the simple reason that gas that expands will cool, while gas that is compressed will heat up. The remarkably strong winds in the atmosphere of Venus will cause forced convection, or vertical movement of gas. Rising gas will expand, while descending gas will be compressed. Although the result is a temperature difference, the second law of thermodynamics is not violated - this law applies only to closed systems, and an atmosphere with forced convection, absorbing and emitting radiation, is not a closed system.

This criticism is not intended to be destructive. In the theoretical discussion, we may easily overlook one or two factors that should not be neglected, but discussion is essential to progress. By following the discussion around the theoretical problems connected with Venus, I have come to the conclusion that certain modifications must be made in Velikovsky's reconstruction. I have found a hypothesis that not only solves the energy problem of the "ejection" of Venus, but also makes the temperature problem irrelevant. An article presenting this hypothesis has just been offered by me to the SIS Review. (4)

Ragnar Forshufvud
Karlskoga, Sweden


1. G. R. Talbott, "The Cabots, the Lowells and the Temperature of Venus", KRONOS IV:2 (Winter 1978), p. 9.

2. R. E. Juergens, "On Morrison: Some Further Remarks", KRONOS IV:2 (Winter 1978), p. 76.

3. C. Sagan, "An Analysis of Worlds in Collision". Quoted in "San Francisco, February 25, 1974", Pensée, Vol. 4. No. 2 (Spring 1974), p. 37.

4. R. Forshufvud, "A Solution to the Jupiter Puzzle" (unpublished).

Dr. Talbott Replies:

(1) The assumption was not made that the entire body's mass, and the entire surface area are at the same temperature. What is asserted is the following: The mixed mean temperature of the body is represented at its surface, and this is another cup of tea. No one believes that the entire surface area of Venus, square centimeter by square centimeter,* is at exactly 750K. Similarly, no one believes that the entire internal mass of Venus is at one common temperature, cubic centimeter by cubic centimeter. Within Venus, there will be found large volumes of molten material, and solid portions as well. It is of course obvious that if the entire mass were at 750K in each volume element, the entire mass would be solid. The mixed mean temperature can be 750K both within the planet and at its surface, with mass elements both above and below this temperature.

[Footnote: * Editor's Note: On Dec. 21, the Soviet Venera 12 landing craft settled on Venus' haze-wrapped sunlit side. On Dec. 25, Venera 11 touched down about 800 kilometers from its twin. Both landers indicated a surface pressure of 88 atmospheres. However, Venera 12 reported a temperature of 860F "during the last minutes before touchdown" while Venera 11 registered a "post-landing temperature" of 835F - a differential of 25F in less than 500 miles of distance (see Science News, Vol. 115, 1/6/79, p. 4).

(2) The atmosphere of Venus can work as a heat sink, provided that this atmosphere is a black body from the perspective of the interior, that is, from the ground surface looking "up". The absorbed heat energy does indeed encounter a "plug", to use Mr. Forshufvud's term. The plug is the energy used in photochemical reactions in the thick atmosphere, many of which are endothermic. The atmosphere from the outside, with its dramatically high albedo, is a good reflector; which explains the astronomical observations which are sound, and with which I have no quarrel.

(3) To call the correlation of the Stefan-Boltzmann Law with the mass and surface area of Venus, together with Dr. Velikovsky's 3500 year time scale, all leading to the measured surface temperature of Venus, a "coincidence" is to cite a possibility with a probability approaching zero.

(4) Finally, I do not recognize any need to "try to save the theory", nor do I recognize any discussion in my paper of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. My model deduces a one degree Kelvin temperature drop in fifteen years. It does so quantitatively, not by ambiguous argument. Let's see how much heat is dissipated in fifteen years, under the deduced condition:

q1 = Kb (7504 - 2004) = 5.73x10-12 (3.1480x1011)
q1 = 1.8038 watts/cm2
q2 = Kb (7494 - 2004) = 5.73x10-12 (3.1312x1011)
q2 = 1.7942 watts/cm2

The choice of a 200K sink temperature is based upon measurements in that range at some 150Km above the surface. With a temperature gradient from 200K to 750K, there has to be radiative transfer, model or no model. We shall average q1 and q2 arithmetically and multiply the average by the number of seconds in fifteen years to obtain some idea of how much heat energy was radiated away in that interval:

Dt = 4.7304 x 108 seconds
q = 1.7990 watt/cm2
Q = 8.5100x108 watt seconds/cm2
A = 4.60x1018 cm2 (Venus area)
Qt = QxA = 3.9146x1027 watt seconds
Cp = 0.8 (watt second) / (gram Kelvin)
M = 4.87x1027 grams (Venus mass)
DT = (Qt) / (M Cp) = 1.0 Kelvin temperature drop

The heat transfer algorithm programmed for KRONOS (IV:2) is an accepted and precise operating procedure which can be verified experimentally and analytically. Attacks on this algorithm are not justified. The argument that huge and undemonstrated amounts of flux would have to be leaving Venus if this model is correct is not supportable. There must be 1.799x104 watts/meter2 flux at the Venus surface if one believes in the measurements of surface temperature, in measurements of temperatures above the surface, and in the Stefan-Boltzmann law. It is very naive to argue that this energy must simply pass out at the cloud tops. Such an argument totally ignores photochemistry and the kinetic energy of atmospheric gases in turbulent motion. It is also naive to identify a measurement of radiant energy (from a vertically directed sensor) equivalent in magnitude, or even in composition, to 2% of the incident cloud top solar energy with radiant energy directly from the sun.

In conclusion, I wish to correct an inferred misuse of the algorithm. That algorithm must be followed exactly. In the first step, transfer is governed by the fourth power temperature law of Stefan and Boltzmann. A resulting wattage is then multiplied by a small time increment to obtain heat energy loss. This loss, divided by the product of mass and specific heat, yields the drop in temperature of the mass as a consequence of anterior radiation. The drop in temperature must be found after the radiation is computed. This drop is linear only in a very small time interval. Notice that the cooling curve is not linear because the total heat loss and hence the total temperature drop are not linear in time. The bottom line is that it is fallacious to start with the temperature corrector, plug in an independent temperature drop, "derive" a heat loss and then divide by time for "exiting flux". KRONOS (IV:2) is correct. This is but an amplification.

How The Mean Temperature of a Body Can Characterize Its Surface

Let me indicate at the outset that my principal reason for believing that Velikovsky is correct about the history of Venus is historical. Those who have tried to ignore this aspect of the evidence have had to do so at the expense of rationality. The recorded and oral traditions are overwhelming. What I accomplished in my small contribution was to show that Velikovsky's hypothesis is quantitatively respectable; I did prove, and it cannot be argued away, that a body having the mass of Venus and its surface area, characterized by a reasonable specific heat for earth-like materials, and in a largely molten state 3500 years ago, provided that there is ample convective turbulence during the cooling process, will radiate its heat in such a way that in that 3500 year period it shall have cooled to circa 750 Kelvin; that is, to its present actually measured temperature.

Nearly without exception the scientific critics have assumed that this cannot be true because the entire system would have reached a solid state at 750 Kelvin. First of all, this is picayune because during the history of its early and "hottest" career, when most of the heat would be radiated away, the majority of the mass would be in a plastic or fluid state. The critics are considering only the present temperature, and attacking the convective means from that point of view only. Secondly, it is just not true that a mass with a mixed mean temperature which can characterize its surface would be totally solid if that average temperature is 750K. Naturally I can give an example, and naturally it is just an invented one to make my point, but it is also reasonable and physically possible. Indeed, it can be constructed experimentally.

If 12% of the entire mass of Venus is molten today at 1500 Kelvin, with 40% of its mass in crustal rises at altitudes such that the mean mass there is at 525 Kelvin, with 48% of the entire planet mass at a mean temperature of 750 Kelvin, then the mixed mean temperature of the planet is 750 Kelvin. It is not entirely solid. Moreover, there would be, in that case, sufficient turbulence (and I can define that exactly if it becomes necessary) to maintain a surface temperature which, on the average, would be 750 Kelvin in magnitude. I hope that it will not be argued that Venus is not like that; if it is not, then some such proportions will be found, proportions which will maintain the mechanism. The probability of my demonstration in Volume IV, No. 2 of KRONOS being a "mere coincidence" is just about zero.

Frederic Jueneman Replies:

With regard to Ragnar Forshufvud's criticism of George Talbott's handling of a forced convection thermal model of the planet Venus, one might be moved to say: In a universe of infinite permutations, for every accident of an incident there is an equal and opposite coincidence. However, in developing an approach to a problem, one might construct an hypothesis by either taking an accumulation of such coincidences to prove an apparent rule or else presume that this aggregation is an array of exceptions to an inferred rule. But in isolated instances where the alternatives are few, one might be constrained to make bold assumptions.

Forshufvud credited Talbott with two bold assumptions that seemed to result in a coincidence. The problem is much more complex than what was delineated by Talbott, which he made quite clear, and while Forshufvud found the evidences unsatisfactory he might have reconsidered the model forwarded by Talbott. In preparing such a model for computer analysis it is more practicable to assume a homogeneous planet. If one did not make this preliminary assumption then the number of variables could easily escalate to where one would have to handle a high order tensor analysis, and the problem would no longer rest merely with the model. Nevertheless, in reality, we are dealing with a heterogeneous planet that has a unique thermal history.

If we are given the single postulate that Venus was once in a blazing molten state, then we can consider some of the variations in the subsequent stages of its cooling. Since it is inhomogeneous it would not be unreasonable to expect that some of the more dramatic events would have taken place during the first 1500 years of this cooling. The planet's interior would become segregated into phase transition zones, each of which would have its own latent heat or thermal characteristic, separating the thermal history of each zone on a somewhat independent vector. Forced convection, with resultant vulcanism, would be the dominant mode, but as cooling progressed the conductive mode would take an increasing share of the load.

Since solidification and crystallization of the assumed silicate-based magmas of Venus would take place in discrete incremental zones, depending upon the mineral composition of each zone or mass concentrations of erratic boluses which lie outside such zones, we have a rather complicated picture of the thermal events taking place in the interior of Venus. (To avoid further argument on what might be considered an additional postulate, I don't believe that a planet the size and mass of Venus can be seriously considered anything other than heterogeneous.) What this means is that the interior of Venus, during the first 1500 years of the cooling period at the very least, was heavily interlaced with magma tubes in process of carrying most of the less dense material and much of the internal heat to the surface. This is why there would be a steep cooling gradient during this early phase of the thermal history of Venus. Also, extreme volcanic activity would be the result of this magmatic eructation on the surface, with the outgassing of considerable carbon dioxide and other volatiles by thermal decomposition of the proto-rocks, not to mention enormous quantities of particulate matter as dust and smoke.

The solidification of the surface, or lithosphere, would begin by means of isostatic nucleation as soon as the underlying magma could support a lesser dense overburden, and ever larger "continents" would then appear. Today the entire surface may be indeed solidified, but extensive vulcanism is also expected which would maintain an appreciable dust loading of the atmosphere. And it is this insulating dust strata in the dense lower atmosphere which would prevent the more rapid cooling of the surface once it had solidified. Thus an equilibrium would be established which would not differ markedly from the idealized Maxwellian equation, despite the heterogeneity of the planet.

That an equilibrium of sorts has been achieved, moreover, is indicated by the approximately 6 kph winds which waft over the surface. Such gentle breezes, although quite hot, have insufficient kinetic energy to create and maintain the observed dust loading of the lower atmosphere, unless in certain circumstances there is a fly-ash in evidence, the density of which approaches that of the atmosphere itself.

To make a bold assumption of my own, the character of the Cytherean atmosphere is far more involved than the "simple weather machine" it is assumed to be. Based on Talbott's model, the cloud structure, and the observation of dust loading deep in the atmosphere of Venus, it is expected that highly differentiated stratification would present a phase transition analog of the hot planet below. The lower dust-laden atmospheric strata would operate primarily in the conduction mode, slowly carrying heat to the next level thermal interface, where it would contribute its energy to the kinetics of the 400 kph jetstreams, supplying the driving force for these energetic winds. This stratum interfaces and exchanges its energy with the upper cloud layers, where the more vertical forced convection mode is dominant, and this in turn interfaces with the outer atmosphere and space.

The fact that we don't see a net differential between solar insolation and reflection and that of irradiation from the planet is not a fault of observation but of instrumentation. The net energy excess derived by Forshufvud from Talbott's model is a mathematical artifice, as a one degree drop in present day planetary temperature extended over a 15 year period would correspond to a much more modest net energy loss over that same interval of time. Our instruments aboard Pioneer-Venus Orbiter are not sensitive enough to make such differentiation without extended data collection which may exceed the life expectancy of the spacecraft. Therefore no plug in the atmospheric heat sink need exist.

The beauty of an hypothesis usually rests in its simplicity. Unfortunately in the real world a theory couched in idealized models may come close but leaves something to be desired, but perhaps this is as it should be because it leaves some of the work for the rest of us. However, frequently additional efforts are imbued with the perceptions of the individual researcher, and the original concept then becomes subject to revisionism, rendering it either obsolete or irrelevant. This latter is equivalent to cutting the Gordian knot rather than unlacing the mobius-like involutions. In this instance the temperature problem of Venus is most relevant, and Forshufvud's dismissal of it with the mere motion of an Alexandrian stroke denoting the promise of a new hypothesis does not change anything. (What, one might ask rhetorically, would happen to this "certain modification" if Forshufvud's submission to the SIS Review were rejected?)

As one who supplements a livelihood by writing speculative science, I respectfully suggest from out of my own experience that when alternatives are offered often the options are limited. And Forshufvud's inexhaustive criticism of Talbott's model has only shown an inappreciation of those options which are available within the intrinsic model. Saying that "discussion is essential to progress," are merely watch-words when the only alternative vaguely offered is one's own.

Dr. Earl Milton Replies:

In his letter to KRONOS, Ragnar Forshufvud claims that, for Venus, the difference between emitted radiation and absorbed sunlight must be small. Besides assumptions and theoretical claims, I find little support in the literature for that statement.

The radiant energy leaving Venus should be a composite of reflected sunlight and absorbed sunlight which is re-radiated by Venus at longer wavelength, plus any self-emission which arises if Venus has any energy input independent of insolation. At wavelengths shorter than 1.6-mm reflected sunlight dominates the spectrum of Venus, while thermal emission from Venus' cloud top dominates the radiation emitted at wavelengths greater than 7-mm.(1) Since microwave radiometers measuring at centimetre wavelengths indicate that Venus' surface is very hot the Venus probes confirm this, yielding temperature measurements of the order of 750K(2) the region in between 1.6-mm and 7-mm becomes crucial in determining the heat balance for Venus, because radiant energy emitted by Venus' hot surface is, in theory, a maximum near wavelength 3.8-mm.

Unfortunately this region of great interest in determining Venus' energy status is difficult to observe both from Earth and from space. In this region there are only small gaps free of absorption by molecules of water and carbon dioxide in the terrestrial atmosphere(3); the most reliable infrared measurements of Venus cover wavelengths shorter than 2.4-mm(4,5) and longer than 7-mm.(6,7,8)

In the Venerean atmosphere, above the clouds, carbon dioxide is the only major constituent with significant infrared absorption.(9) The cloud tops are 67 kilometres above Venus' hot surface. Venera 9 and 10 showed the clouds bottom sharply at 49 km.(10) From measurements made by several spacecraft, Venus' atmosphere at this altitude has the pressure of about I bar and a temperature close to 325K.(11) At the cloud base and higher there is little to distinguish between the atmospheres of Venus and Earth except for gas composition!

The fate of incident sunlight is not known. At Venus, insolation is about 3.2 x 1017 watt. Light of intensity equivalent to one percent of insolation has been detected below the clouds in the wavelength interval 0.5 to 0.8-mm.(12) A recent news release notes that both atmospheric probes from Pioneer Venus 2, which ventured into the night side of Venus' lower atmosphere, detected illumination using light meters. The source of this night side glow is unexplained; clearly it is not sunlight. This observation opens to question the equation of any of Venus' surface illumination with sunlight. The cloud layer is, after all, 18 kilometres thick! As expected, the night side brightness of Venus above the clouds is less than 10-4 of the dayside brightness.(13)

It seems likely that insolation only affects Venus in the upper clouds and in the atmosphere above them. The infrared temperatures of these regions show the expected diurnal variation of a sun-driven heat engine.(14)

Below the clouds, insolation may play no role. The feeble light detected is, itself, clearly insufficient to produce the extreme temperatures noted at Venus' surface. This light must be a secondary effect produced by the process which releases energy at (or near) Venus' surface.

While it is usual to assume that a small fraction of incident sunlight reaching Venus' surface combines with an opaque Venerean atmosphere in the infrared to produce a high surface temperature, this "greenhouse model" somehow persists despite the serious objection that the infrared opacity is only partial.(15) Tomasko notes that the most plausible alternative to the greenhouse is a model where the planet has a high surface temperature (from internal heat), or where the surface is heated by atmospheric circulation.(16) Tomasko discounts the former because the Earth's surface is not similarly heated, while the latter is contradicted by wind measurements made by the Venera probes.(17)

Since the infrared opacity of Venus' clouds is not demonstrated, except by default, Talbott's model of a hot Venus cannot be ruled out. In fact, the data show that, below 60 kilometres (altitude), the lapse rate in the Venerean atmosphere is close to adiabatic.(18) One corollary of this maximum lapse rate is the absence of significant circulation in Venus' lower atmosphere. Heating from below, with radiation loss upward, correctly explains the conditions noted in the lower Venerean atmosphere. A slowly cooling planet would exhibit this behaviour.

But, until the infrared radiation from Venus is measured from space with much more precision than presently available spectra provide, the question of thermal balance is an open question. Though I will be proposing another solution to the problem of Venus' hot surface in the near future, I cannot emphasize too strongly that the cooling planet solution cannot be ruled out from the data.


1. Pratt, W.K. Laser Communication Systems, Wiley, New York (1969); see Chapter Six, "Background Radiation", especially pp. 122ff.
2. Tomasko, M.G., et al. "The Thermal Balance of the Atmosphere of Venus", Space Science Review 20 (1977), see p. 390.
3. Allen, C.W. Astrophysical Quantities, Athlone, London (1963), sec.57 "Long Wave Absorption of Atmospheric Gases", pp. 125ff.
4. Moroz, V.I. "The Infrared Spectrum of Venus (1-2.5m)", Soviet Astronomy A.J. 7 (1), pp. 109-115 (July-August 1963); "New Observations of the Infrared Spectrum of Venus ( l= 1.2-3.8m)", op. cit., 8 (4), 566-572 (Jan.-Feb. 1965).
5. Sinton, W.M. "Infrared Observations of Venus", Société Royale des Science de Liège, Memoires VII Fasc. Unique, 300-310 (1962).
6. Murray, B.C., et al. "Infrared Photometric Mapping of Venus through the 8 to 14 Micron Atmospheric Window", Journal of Geophysical Research 68, 4813-4818 (15 August 1963).
7. Ainsworth, J.E. and Herman, J.R. "An Analysis of the Venus Thermal Infrared Temperature Maps", op. cit. 83 (A7), 3113-3124 (I July 1978).
8. Gillett, F.C., et al. "The absolute Spectrum of Venus from 2.8 to 14 Microns", Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 25, 594-5 (July 1968).
9. Above the Venus clouds the CO2 content of Venus' atmosphere is about 13000 metre-atmospheres, an amount about 5000 times the total CO2 content of Earth's atmosphere.
10. See the review by Hunter, D.M., et al. "Current Knowledge of Venus", Space Science Review 20, 265-282 (1977), #3 - The Clouds and Lower Atmosphere, p. 271.
11. This pressure is comparable with Earth's surface pressure and the temperature is only 10% above Earth's surface temperature.
12. Tomasko, M.G., et al. (1977), p. 396; also Schubert, G., et al. "Dynamics, Winds, Circulation and Turbulence in the Atmosphere of Venus", op. cit., 357-387, see p. 373.
13. See Moroz (1965), p. 573.
14. Ainsworth (1978), p. 3123.
15. See Rasool, S.I. and Jastrow, R., "The Atmospheres of Mars, Venus, and Jupiter" in Life Sciences and Space Research II, North Holland, Amsterdam (1964). They indicate that even if water is an important absorber in Venus' atmosphere the combination of water and carbon dioxide still leaves significant infrared windows (p. 21); Tomasko, et al. (1977) note on page 397 that carbon dioxide has several major windows in the infrared 34-mm, 6-9-mm, and above 20-mm. The clouds, whose composition is not unquestioned, are generally invoked to fill the obvious windows.
16. Ibid, p. 339.
17. Schubert (1977), p. 361.
18. See Tomasko (1977), p. 343. Below 30 km a slightly super adiabatic lapse rate may be due to incorrect modelling of the atmosphere. Note that on Earth atmospheric circulation lowers the lapse rate noticeably.

Leroy Ellenberger Replies:

Considering the mistakes in thermodynamics and heat transfer in Mr. Forshufvud's letter, the value of his opinion that George Talbott's result is coincidental is highly questionable. In fact, nothing of merit is offered to support the alleged coincidence.

The first sentence in paragraph two indicates a lack of understanding of what a "mixed mean temperature" is, thus nullifying his first objection. The appeal to Juergens' comments is faulty because even Juergens posits a viscous scum floating despite buoyancy considerations.(1) Concerning the paragraph's last sentence, conceding solidification for the sake of argument, surface cooling could not then proceed faster because the dominant heat transfer regime would be conduction which would be slower than convection through volcanism.

In paragraph three, there appears to be a confusion between directional and net heat transfer rates plus an equivocation between zero and small. The atmosphere will radiate energy to space at any temperature above 3K. Since the cloud tops are 240 K (-33C), this implies an emission rate of 9.0xl016W. The clouds absorb 7.8x1016W from the Sun, assuming an albedo of 0.75. On this basis, the clouds radiate 15% more energy than they absorb. If this difference is real, it represents a measure of the internal heat, net of any dissipation by endothermic photo-chemical reactions functioning as a sink. Whether this net 15% is actual, small or zero depends on the availability of better data with which to make additional and/or more detailed calculations.

It should also be pointed out that Mr. Forshufvud could have used a less abstruse source for his third reference. The Pensee quote contains no explicit statement that the difference between emission and absorption is zero. Quite the contrary, it is not much more than an example of verbal obscurantism, a Saganesque infelicity. Interestingly enough, the two such similar statements by Sagan(2) and Morrison(3) are phrased in such a way that together they imply an internal source of heat!(4)

The fourth paragraph, an apparent attempt to supplant radiation by forced convection, is misconceived because the atmosphere below the clouds is essentially dust free,(5) while the opacity is yet to be determined.(6) Nothing in the Talbott paper denies the existence of forced convection in the atmosphere. In the model, radiation from the surface to the bottom of the clouds, coupled with forced convection in the crust, is assumed to dominate forced convection in the atmosphere below the clouds.

The description of Hadley cell circulation does not refute the claim that the second law of thermodynamics would be violated. The claim does not apply to Hadley cells, as a careful reading would show, but to the notion, assuming sunlight did not reach the surface, that solar energy deposited in the cold clouds can be transported to the hot surface by convection.(7) Since heat can only flow from hot to cold regions, such a process would violate the second law.

Regarding the relevance of the Talbott model, the predicted internal flux of 8.3x1018W, based on an area of 4.6x1018cm2, exceeds the potential flux of 1.2x1016W indicated above by a factor of about 700. Therefore, we may conclude that the model does not match present conditions. However, this does not mean that it is inapplicable to the time during which most of the presumed cooling occurred. Since the actual temperature 3500 years ago is precisely unknown, there is room for accommodation.

Despite this present inaccuracy, the Talbott model is a laudable achievement, filling a void in the sparse quantitative Velikovsky literature, but it is not intended to replace detailed models of planetary evolution. It was developed as part of a refutation of Sagan's Appendix 3 to show that a planetary mass in 3500 years would not cool to 79K as Sagan purported to show. The Talbott model, simple though it is [N.B., in model building simplicity is a virtue], is at least a quantum step improvement over any predecessor. It is the first quantitative model of Venus' cooling using realistic physical mechanisms in a rigorous manner. Since models are only approximations to reality, a perfect fit is not to be expected. As a product of Newton's hypothetico-deductive method in which empirical phenomena are explained by relating them deductively to a small number of general principles, its predictive accuracy cannot be cavalierly ascribed to coincidence. Because the Talbott model incorporates the actual physical and thermal properties of Venus, its thermodynamic specificity, subject to its assumptions, is not to be taken lightly.

The intent of the Forshufvud letter may not have been destructive, but considering its profusion of errors, any constructive intent is lost. This is reinforced by the casual dismissal of the temperature problem by merely referring to an unpublished paper that "solves the energy problem of the 'ejection' of Venus..." Such a statement in any constructive context requires some minimal elaboration. If proto-Venus were expelled about 5000 years ago from Jupiter's core, which is considered to be 30,000K,(8) Venus' thermal history would be more than trivial. Using the Talbott model it can be calculated that Venus would cool from 30,000K to 2,000K in about 200 years; the physics and the chronology demand elucidation and reconciliation.


1. KRONOS IV:2 (Winter 1978), p. 76.
2. D. Goldsmith, Ed., Scientists Confront Velikovsky (Ithaca, N.Y., 1977), p. 80.
3. Ibid, p. 159.
4. S. Mage, Velikovsky and His Critics (Grand Haven, MI., 1978), p. 25.
5. Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 1, 1979, p. 40.
6. Ibid, p. 40.
7. KRONOS IV:2 (Winter 1978), p. 31.
8. Scientific American, Vol. 233, No. 3 (Sept. 1975), p. 121. 86

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