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Open letter to science editors

 

KRONOS Vol IX, No. 2

Vox Populi

"SURVIVAL"

To the Editor of KRONOS:

The law of "survival of the fittest" has been rightly recognized as a tautology by Charles Fort and Tom Bethel. At the time I first read the latter's exposition in Harper's in February 1976, the argument impressed me as irrefutable. I have not changed my mind on this, but have come to realize that it is a trivial one. Bethel argues that, because fitness is defined in terms of survival, the statement can be reformulated to read "survival of the survivors". It is true that this statement can be rendered meaningless if we read it in the sense "survivors are those who survive", but this is not how it was understood by its originators. Although evolutionists may have looked upon "survival of the fittest" as an elegant summing up of the new Darwinian dispensation, in its essence it was never anything more than an expression of the empirical observation that it is the law of survival that governs the structure and behavior of living creatures.

For us this is self-evident - it has in fact become axiomatic for the sociobiologists; but historically the discovery of the concept of "survival" as the supreme law of nature was a crucial advance for the science of biology. It turns out that the concept tells us nothing about how living things evolve, though it indicates in the broadest terms why they undergo changes through time - change is necessary for survival. To the further question of why these changes are almost invariably in the direction of increasing complexity (on this the geological record is unequivocal), we can answer simply that increasing complexity was advantageous to survival. This statement is no longer tautological because we can measure complexity independently. We have still said nothing of the actual mechanism of the transformation of life on this planet through the aeons of geological history. That is a different problem. But if we are indeed descended from "survivors of survivors", we at least have some clues.

Jan N. Sammer

Princeton, New Jersey

[For additional relevant reading material, the reader is referred to KRONOS I:4, pp.98-113; KRONOS VII:4, pp.1-39; KRONOS VIII:2, pp.81-84; KRONOS VIII:3, pp.31-44; KRONOS VIII:4, pp.38-53; KRONOS IX:l, pp.103-108.-LMG]


JUERGENS, ALFVEN, AND THE ELECTRIC SUN

To the Editor of KRONOS:

In two recent KRONOS articles,(1,2) Ralph Juergens' theory of an electrically powered Sun has been presented. According to Juergens, a large electric current is flowing from the Sun out into space. Juergens assumed the current to be approximately 4 x 1016 amperes.

I should like to call attention to a work by Hannes Alfven(3) where he describes the electric current system in interplanetary space. According to Alfven, there is a current sheet near the equatorial plane of the Sun. The current circuit is closed by other currents passing through the polar regions of the Sun. The total current in the current sheet is 3 x 109amperes. This value is derived simply from Maxwell's fourth equation and from measurements of the interplanetary magnetic field.

Juergens criticized Alfven for certain fundamental assumptions that the latter made. But is there any reason to believe that Juergens was right and Alfven wrong about the solar current? Would a current, 7 orders of magnitude larger than that calculated by Alfven, pass through the solar system without being noticed, e.g., by detecting its magnetic field? Maxwell's fourth equation says

curl H(bar) = I(bar) + partial(Dbar) / partial(t)

where H(bar) is the magnetic field vector, I(bar) is the current density vector, and D(bar) is the displacement vector. Theoretically, H could be zero if the two right-hand terms outbalance each other completely, but this is most unlikely, especially as current density cannot be expected to be equal in all directions. Uniformly distributed currents, Alfven says, are typical of what he calls "the pseudo-plasma approach". In a real plasma, currents produce filaments or flow in thin sheets.

The magnetic field around the Sun has been measured up to a solar latitude of 16 deg. north by Pioneer 11. The results were reported to confirm the existence of the current sheet.(4)

Velikovsky's reconstruction does not depend on the validity of Juergens' solar model. In an editorial comment in Pensee, where Juergens presented his theory in 1972, it was stated that: "While Velikovsky urges discussions of this sort, he does not, of course, feel that final answers have been found, and retains reservations about Juergens' conclusions."(5)

Ragnar Forshufvud

Karlskoga, Sweden

REFERENCES

1. KRONOS VIII:1, p. 3-16.
2. KRONOS VIII:2, pp. 47-62.
3. H. Alfven: "Electric Current Structure of the Magnetosphere" in Hultqvist and Stenflo (eds.): Physics of the Hot Plasma in the Magnetosphere (N.Y., 1975).
4. Aviation Week & Space Technology, Dec. 13, 1976, pp. 27-28.
5. Pensee IVR 11, p. 4.

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