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Open letter to science editors

 

KRONOS Vol VIII, No. 1

Vox Populi

HALLEY'S COMET IN COLLISION?

To the Editor of KRONOS:

The orbit of Halley's Comet has been projected back to 1404 B.C. using modern observations from 40 B.C. to 1910 A.D. as a base. The results were reported by Dr. D. K. Yeomans of Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences Meeting in Pittsburgh, October 13-16, 1981. (See "The long-term motion of comet Halley", Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. (1981) 197, p p. 633-646.)

The simulation indicated that in 1404 B.C. Halley's would have passed very close to the Earth. So close, in fact, that the computer program could not tell on which side of Earth the passage would have occurred. Because the program was not set up to model close interactions, the simulation was terminated in 1404 B.C.

In discussion afterwards, Yeomans shied away from discussing the near-collision aspects of his work and became quite uncomfortable when a questioner compared the 1404 B.C. passage with Worlds in Collision. Yeomans preferred, instead, to discuss the final passage in terms of the associated one month uncertainty in the date of its crossing Earth's orbit. In other words, the uncertainty in the position of the comet at a given time can also be interpreted in terms of uncertainty in time given the position. If Halley's missed Earth by a month, the passage would not have been particularly spectacular. The next closest passage by Earth was 5.7 million km, or about 15 times the lunar distance, at which time the tail was as long as 100@ of longitude.

The 1404 B.C. date is not necessarily relevant to the major events in Worlds in Collision for two reasons. Since the date is based on the present length of the year, it does not incorporate a 360 day year that Velikovsky believed existed between the 15th and 8th centuries B.C. Also, Halley's is not massive enough to disturb the Earth as Velikovsky describes.

What is interesting about this incident is how a scientist reacted when his work was cast in a Velikovskian perspective. What is also interesting is that none of the reports from this meeting seen by this writer mentioned Yeomans' work. The over-riding concern at this meeting was the impact of government budget cuts on space exploration.

C. Leroy Ellenberger

Landover, MD

Editor's Note : Also see KRONOS VII:4, pp. 52-53. - LMG


THE KONDRATIEFF WAVE

To the Editor of KRONOS:

On pages 143-145 of Mankind in Amnesia (section titled "The Recurrent Scourge"), Velikovsky makes several mentions of a fifty-two year cycle in the affairs of man; but nowhere in his index do I find a reference to the Kondratieff Wave which, oddly enough, is what he is describing. The Kondratieff Wave was observed in American economics by a Russian during the regime of Stalin; he paid for it by dying in Siberia. It describes a fifty-two year cycle of boom and bust in American economics, and, as a side note, also describes a cycle of war and peace. More information about this cycle may be found in The Kondratieff Wave by Shuman and Rosenau, copyright 1974. It contains one glaring error in that it attributes a Presidential election year to 1982. Perhaps Immanuel Velikovsky deserves the title "Psychiatrist to the Human Race". We need one.

Gordon Serjak

North Miami, FL


Editorial Postscript:

While the "Kondratieff cycle" is a fascinating subject it has only been observed during the last 180 years; thus its 50 year period may only be coincidental with respect to Velikovsky's theories. Jay W. Forrester of M.I.T. has shown that the cycle "can arise from the physical structure connecting consumer goods sectors and the capital sectors. A sufficient cause for a fifty-year fluctuation lies in the movement of people between sectors, the long time to change production capacity of capital sectors, the way capital sectors provide their own input capital as a factor of production, the need to develop excess capacity to catch up on deferred demand, and the psychological and speculative forces of expectations that can cause overexpansion in the capital sectors." Besides the Schuman and Rosenau book mentioned by Mr. Serjak, more on Kondratieff can be found in the following:

Jay W. Forrester, "A new view of business cycle dynamics", The Journal of Portfolio Management (Fall 1976), pp. 22-32.

Raymond S. Hartman, "History's Clue to the Future?" Nation's Business (August 1974), pp. 45-46.

Alfred L. Malabre, Jr., "Anniversary of Crash Sparks New Interest In a 50-Year Theory", The Wall Street Journal (October 12, 1979), pp. 1, 34.

W. W. Rostow, "Caught by Kondratieff", The Wall Street Journal (March 8, 1977), Editorial page.

CLE


SEA LEVEL, THE 360-DAY YEAR, AND DR. FERMOR

To the Editor of KRONOS:

When Velikovsky proposed that the length of the year changed from 360 to 365 1/4 days in the 8th/7th century B. C., he did not specify how this change occurred, i.e., whether by increasing the spin rate alone, by increasing the orbit alone, or by a combination of the two.

Dr. John H. Fermor has suggested that Hindu records of synodic periods for Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn support the increased spin rate alternative.(1) The present synodic periods, which are consistently higher, can be made to match them, if the present periods are adjusted for a 360-day year consisting of 24.35-hour days. For example, Venus' synodic period of 583.92 days adjusts to 575.53 days compared with the 575/576 days in the Hindu records, while Saturn's 378.09 becomes 372.66 compared with the Hindu 373 days.

This very interesting observation carries drastic consequences for the world's sea levels. If the length of the year increased as Velikovsky proposed, solely as a result of an increased rotation rate, then sea level would have risen 118 meters at the equator and fallen 237 meters at the poles.(2) The sea level change as a function of latitude is as follows:

Latitude, deg. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
D Sea level, m 118 108 77 30 -28 -90 -148 -195 -226 -237

Thus, sea level in the British Isles would have dropped between 90 m and 148 m from Lands End in the south to the Shetland Islands in the north. While Crete would have experienced a minimal effect (1.5 m) because it straddles the null point, sea level at Athens would have dropped 16 m. These changes assume that the solid Earth is so rigid that it would not adjust to the faster rotation at anywhere near the rate at which the ocean would.

If such drastic sea level changes occurred so recently, records of and evidence for them ought to be obvious and plentiful. This does not appear to be the case. Any change in the length of the year is probably due to other effects. In future attempts to explain such changes, obvious effects such as the sea level should not be ignored.

Actually, Fermor's suggestion may be irrelevant to Velikovsky's scenario because the Hindu synodic periods have Earth and Mars on their present orbits. Therefore, no interaction between the two can have subsequently affected the Earth's rotation. As Neugebauer has pointed out, those periods are the present synodic periods expressed, for ease of computation, in units that are three-hundred-sixtieths of the present year.(3)

C. Leroy Ellenberger

Landover, MD

NOTES:

1. Geoffrey Gammon, "Dr. J. H. Fermor speaks on Velikovsky's 360-day year", SIS Review IV:2/3 (winter 1979/80), p. 40.

2. Victor J. Slabinski, "Change in Sea Level with Change in Earth Spin Rate", unpublished calculations dated October 8, 1981. From the equation of the sea-level equipotential for an all-water Earth, Dr. Slabinski derived the expression for sea level change (Dr) in meters as a function of rotation rate (w) and latitude (b) as follows: Dr = 24,780 m (@w/w) (1/3 - sin2b). With w365 = 7.2921 x 10-5 radians/sec and w360 = 7.1875 x 10-5 radians/sec, then Dr = 355.2 m (1/3 - sin2b). For clarity's sake, Dw/w = [(7.2921 - 7.1875)/7.2921]. At latitude 35.264, sin2b = 1/3 and sea level change is zero. The equation is based on the sidereal day of 86,164 seconds, or 23.93 hours and a prior day of 24.28 hours. To illustrate how sensitive sea level is to the change in spin rate, Dr. Fermor's prior 24.35 hour day (which derived from the mean solar day of 86,400s) compared to the present sidereal day implies a 141 m rise at the equator and a 282 m drop at the pole.

3. Otto Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity (2nd ed., Providence, 1957), p. 173. Also, the Hindu astronomers divided the present lunar month into thirtieths. Lynn Rose's directing me to this reference is appreciated.

Note Added in Proof:

Just recently, Michael G. Reade has presented a more detailed examination of these Hindu records in "An Introduction to the Evidence of the Panchasiddhantika", SISR V:2 (1980/81), p p. 50-54. With some support, Reade discounts the idea that if these Hindu records of synodic periods "were actually only angles (or 'longitudes'), and not periods of time, then there would be no reason to connect them in any way with the spin rate of the Earth". Unfortunately, Reade also fails to relate these putative spin rate changes to physical consequences. It is to be hoped that future work will correct this oversight.

An article indispensable to this discussion is L. E. Rose and R. C. Vaughan's "Velikovsky and the Sequence of Planetary Orbits", Penseé IVR VIII, p p. 27-34 (reprinted in Velikovsky Reconsidered, pp. 110-132). The authors present three sets of orbital sequences in Tables 1, 2, and 3. The present work on sea level change as a function of spin rate invalidates Table 1 because it posits a day length of 27.5 modern-hours during the period when the, year is said to have contained 360 days. A change in the length of day from 27.5 to 23.93 hours would raise equatorial sea level 1,071 meters. Tables 2 and 3 are viable because they do not posit spin rate changes for Earth.

In conclusion, it would appear that the sensitivity of sea level to changes in spin rate, coupled with the demonstrable relative rigidity of Earth's crust, rules out rotational effects playing a role in the change from a 360 to a 365 day year. Despite Velikovsky's citation of these Hindu records in Worlds in Collision, they are, in retrospect, irrelevant to the thesis that the length of the year changed from 360 to 365 days in the eighth/seventh century B.C. as a result of interactions between Earth and Mars.

CLE

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