KRONOS Vol X, No. 1
MULHOLLAND: "A CELESTIAL MECHANICIAN WHOSE NAME IS ALMOST
SYNONYMOUS WITH HIGH PRECISION"
IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY AND LYNN E. ROSE
Copyright (c) 1984 by Lynn E. Rose and the Estate of Elisheva Velikovsky
[What follows is a section from the not-yet-published book, The Sins of the
Sons: A Critique of Velikovsky's A.A.A.S. Critics, by Velikovsky and Rose. The brief
remarks in Part One of this section are by Velikovsky; Part Two is by Rose.
The extensive quotations from the 1974 A.A.A.S. Symposium that appear in
Part Two were transcribed by Rose from tapes of the proceedings. The occasional
editorial changes in brackets are for ease of reading; the substance is unaffected.]
Part One (Im. V.)
Dr. Derral Mulholland, a specialist in celestial mechanics, while discounting my
work as a true historical reconstruction, agreed with me that celestial mechanics built
only on gravitation and inertia is incomplete. "The celestial mechanics of 1974 is a
living, vital science that admits of non-gravitational effects, of electromagnetic
interactions, . . ." He asserted that the knowledge that electromagnetic phenomena
participate in the working of the solar system was, from the beginning of the century,
in the sight of the astronomers. Einstein, however, in the summer of 1954 expressed
himself in writing to me very clearly to the effect that my introduction of
electromagnetism into celestial mechanics was the cause of the great opposition I
Mulholland admitted that if "a planet-sized object were to pass close by the
Earth" then practically all of the phenomena described in Worlds in Collision would be
the "unavoidable consequences of the laws of motion as we presently know them".
According to Mulholland, "giant tidal waves would be raised, there would be global
earthquakes, the north pole would change direction. The day, the month, the seasons,
the year would all change."
He granted that the verdict on Worlds in Collision depends greatly on
historical evidence. He selected from several thousand data and references only one -
the change of the latitude of Babylon - and dismissed it without informing himself and
his listeners that the source is Johannes Kepler, who quoted an Arab astronomer,
Arzachel, who used Ptolemy in his calculations. Mulholland failed to recognize the
significance of ancient sundials and water clocks found in Egypt.
Mulholland made no mention of the paleontological and geological evidence
collected in Earth in Upheaval.
* * *
Part Two (L. E. R. )
Even before King introduced Mulholland as "a celestial mechanician whose
name is almost synonymous with high precision", Mulholland himself had rendered
those words somewhat hollow. By the end of the day's proceedings, they had become
Mulholland's first entry into the lists was a foretaste of what was to come. It
was early in the morning session, during the question period that followed Storer's
paper. A member of the audience directed a question to Storer.
I wonder if Dr. Storer, offhand, could give me just two examples in which a
brilliant new idea now accepted as fact was welcomed by the scientific community.
Storer mentioned Einstein's work as a possible example, but neither the
questioner nor Storer nor Mulholland seemed to find that answer very persuasive.
Mulholland tried to answer for himself.
I would like to reply to the last question. I think, [laughter] I think two
examples that can be brought to answer that question are the discovery of mass
concentrations on the Moon and the internal heat in the Moon, which have both
thrown the discussions of the history, the evolution of the Moon, into a state of
extreme excitement, and [have] totally rejuvenated the entire subject. [applause]
After a final question to Storer and Storer's answer, Velikovsky was
I wish to ask Professor Mulholland whether he knows who was the first to
claim, in time, a steep thermal gradient under the surface of the Moon?
I wish also to ask whether there is an explanation for the mascons on the
Moon, beside the explanation that the Moon was close to some heavy, gravitating
body that pulled out some mass towards the surface? [applause]
And besides, would you consider these two observations as fundamental
Can you answer that briefly?
Yes. [delayed applause] I regret to say I do not, in fact, know who might have
first suggested the Moon was hot inside. I will acknowledge definitely that Dr.
Velikovsky did say so, many years ago.
And I must blushingly admit that he has put a finger on a weak point in my
statement, because what I gave as the response a few moments ago were observational
determinations rather than theoretical structures. [applause]
I think we refuted it ... [remainder inaudible] ....
It was later in the morning session that King introduced Mulholland as "a
celestial mechanician whose name is almost synonymous with high precision". Before
reading his paper, however, Mulholland made a preliminary observation.
Before I am asked the question, I would like to point out that I first read Dr.
Velikovsky's work in 1950 in Collier's magazine, when I was sixteen years old, and I
have read that same work [sic] three times since, the most recent yet this year .
I found it very entertaining when I was sixteen, incidentally, and I still do.
Mulholland's recollection of what he read in his teens(1) does not display much "high
precision": what Collier's actually printed was the equivalent of six large,
magazine-sized pages that were "Excerpted and Adapted by John Lear from Worlds in Collision
by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky". Velikovsky objected to the way Collier's treated his
book, since he had agreed only to serialization, not to condensation, and the planned
third installment of the condensation was never printed. Worlds in Collision itself
contains some four hundred pages.
[(1). Actually, Mulholland was at the time neither "sixteen", as he says here, nor "about
13", as he said in a letter to Velikovsky on November 22, 1973: he was in fact fifteen.
Mulholland's confusion about his own age is of no importance, except as background
for Velikovsky's reference in the Evening Session to Mulholland's having read
Velikovsky's work when he was "fourteen".]
Mulholland's paper was entitled, "Movements of Celestial Bodies Velikovsky's
Fatal Flaw", and opened with this summary of Velikovsky's theory:
"Within the folkmemory of man, Venus and Mars erupted into the sky and rushed
close by Earth and each other several times, creating unimaginable destruction. The
Earth stopped turning, the poles shifted, the year and month changed. Civilizations
were destroyed. Finally, the two giant comets settled down into their present harmless
orbits and became peaceable planets, leaving behind a legacy of fear codified into
No one yet has been able to discover where Mulholland got this bit of fiction
about Mars being a giant comet that erupted within our "folkmemory" and then
became a planet. Neither Collier's nor Worlds in Collision nor, as far as I know, any
other source, by Velikovsky or by anyone else, has ever said such a thing.
Although the conclusion of Mulholland's paper is that dynamics "absolutely
denies" Velikovsky's theory, Mulholland begins his discussion by making some major
concessions (see Velikovsky's "Afterword" in KRONOS III:2 (Velikovsky and
Establishment Science), pages 20-21). Mulholland says:
"If it is the function of science to explain man's relation to his universe, then these are
questions of serious significance and should be dealt with seriously. Velikovsky's
challenge is not one to be decided on a basis of belief or unbelief. He does not say
'trust me', he says 'this conclusion is suggested by the observations'. He strives, it
seems to me, to build physically plausible solutions that involve testable ideas. He is
not a mystic. He doesn't use little green men with three ears; he uses real planets. It is
not sufficient to reply that the idea is absurd. Indeed, it is not safe; there are too many
examples of absurd ideas come true.
"Are the explanations plausible? From at least one vantage point, yes indeed. If
a planet-sized object were to pass close by the Earth, then giant tides would be raised,
there would be global earthquakes, the north pole would change direction. The day,
the month, the seasons, the year would all change. There is no faith here; these are
unavoidable consequences of the laws of motion as we presently know them. We must
accept that the dynamical aspects of Velikovsky's visions of hell on Earth are largely
acceptable. This is not to admit that they happened, for there remain three questions
that need to be resolved. Does our knowledge of the laws of motion permit or deny the
possibility of encounters between the known planets? Are Velikovsky's interpretations
of certain information the best available ones? Are there uncited observational data that
confirm or refute the hypothesis of repeated cosmic catastrophe? We must try to
answer these questions on the basis of the reality of causes and the record of events.
We must guard against appeals to faith, in support either of orthodoxy or novelty. If
we adhere to these principles, then dynamics offers perhaps the most clearcut
contradiction to the evil influences of Venus and Mars.
"In saying this, I would remind that the celestial mechanics of Newton and
Newcomb are no longer the ultimate measure. The celestial mechanics of 1974 is a
living, vital science that admits of non-gravitational effects, of electromagnetic
interactions, of flexible bodies, and of statistical descriptions of some types of
occurrences involving large numbers of bodies."
Every one of Mulholland's concessions is important, because most of
Velikovsky's previous critics have refused to make them, and indeed have attacked
Velikovsky on these very grounds.
Mulholland then turns to his own arguments against Velikovsky, and these we
will now examine.
Mulholland's initial arguments are against Velikovsky's sources and against
Velikovsky's use of those sources. In spite of the concessions that he has made,
Mulholland's verdict about whether Velikovsky's evidence provides "reasonable proof"
for his claims is: "Absolutely not." Mulholland might better have applied that verdict to
his own evidence and arguments.
"The objectionable feature of the tomb of Senmut seems to be that it shows the
southern sky as seen from the southern hemisphere." Absolutely not. The problem is,
rather, that the Senmut ceiling seems to suggest Orion following Sirius across the sky.
That is not what would be seen from the southern hemisphere. But it is what would
have been seen from Egypt either before a simple reversal of the direction of Earth's
rotation or before a 180-degree flip of the axis of rotation, with the rotation remaining
right-handed. Mulholland has no comprehension of such matters.*
[*Footnote:Also see the Forum section - "Senmut's Ceiling and the Earth as Tippe
Top" - in KRONOS VII:2, pages 86ff. - LMG]
Mulholland seems puzzled as to why people with accurate sundials and
accurate water clocks would be unable to distinguish three days of darkness from ten
days of darkness. In the interest of "high precision", it should be noted that the shrine
of el-Arish speaks of nine days, not ten days, and that the rabbinical sources speak of
seven days, rather than the three days of the Bible; it is the difference between seven
days and nine days that Velikovsky calls "negligible". (See Worlds in Collision, page
59.) Mulholland chooses to forget that the Darkness was a time of interplanetary
cataclysm, and that even those who possessed such water clocks (assuming that they
didn't spill!) might not have been able to use them. Other things, such as survival, were
much more important at the time. Mulholland also seems to be unaware that sundials,
no matter how accurate, are not of much use in the dark.
There were many interplanetary near-collisions, and the surviving reports must
be assigned to the proper cataclysm. Mulholland does not realize this, and tries to
force-fit all such reports to one and the same time. He finds that when this is done,
there are "geometric inconsistencies". Of course there are. Mulholland is putting round
pegs in square holes and then complaining about the fit.
In the same way, Mulholland forces together all changes in celestial orientation,
obliquity, and latitude, as if they pertained to the same event. Yet Velikovsky
recognizes a number of interplanetary near collisions, including several different such
events within the "century of perturbations" that ended in -687. The shadow clock of
Faijum discussed by Velikovsky has been dated to the Libyan Dynasty, which means
that it is very likely from the eighth century, perhaps late in the eighth century.* The
water clock of Thebes, on the other hand, is from the reign of Amenhotep III of the
Theban or Eighteenth Dynasty. Amenhotep III reigned in the first half of the ninth
century. There is no basis whatsoever for Mulholland's assumption that these two
clocks reflect the same state of the cosmos, or that they were both rendered obsolete
by the same cataclysm.
[* The date given here for the Libyan Dynasty, as well as the one for the reign of
Amenhotep III, is based upon Velikovsky's revised chronology. - LMG]
Nor does the latitude of Babylon have any necessary connection either with the
shadow clock or with the water clock. Velikovsky repeated the point that had been
noticed by others - including Ptolemy, Arzachel, and Kepler - that the reported ratio of
daylight and night on the day of summer solstice at Babylon (if it was not merely an
approximation) would make more sense either with Babylon at a higher latitude or
with a greater obliquity for Earth. (See Worlds in Collision, page 316.) There is no
contradiction whatsoever between Velikovsky's remarks about Babylon and his
remarks about the various clocks. (By the way, the Babylonian ratio was reported by
the Babylonians themselves, and is not the invention of any later writers; Mulholland's
efforts to dismiss the matter by making jokes about "Kepler's LSD trips" will not
All that Velikovsky concludes about the Faijum shadow clock is that it should
be studied. Mulholland's report that "Faijum is implied to have shifted southward" is
pure fantasy on Mulholland's part; nothing of the sort is said or implied by Velikovsky.
Equally fantastic is Mulholland's claim that Velikovsky's interpretation of the water
clock "requires that Thebes have moved 1000 kilometers northward while the other
near-eastern cities moved southward". Velikovsky does say that the water clock
suggests either that Thebes had a lower latitude then or that Earth's obliquity was
lower, but the catastrophe that rendered the water clock obsolete was earlier than the
catastrophe that rendered the shadow clock obsolete, and was also earlier than the
catastrophe that changed the summer solstice ratio of daylight to night at Babylon to
its present value. It is a pity that Mulholland could not or would not figure these things
Mulholland claims that ancient astronomical data show no change in the length
of the day, or of the month, or of the year. The record absolutely denies this.
Velikovsky called attention to that record during the debate, and I will let Velikovsky's
own remarks stand as the answer to Mulholland. But first let us dispose of the rest of
For dynamical evidence of an unchanging solar system, Mulholland cites a
suggestion that angular momentum per unit mass is a function of mass, not only for
planets but for asteroids. Mulholland's claims about this are far more categorical than
are those of the investigators themselves, who treat the whole business as somewhat
speculative. And well they might, for this function has about as many exceptions as
does Bode's Law (which, of course, is neither a law nor Bode's). Nearly all of the
asteroids are too small to have their sizes and shapes observed, even when their
rotation rates are known. So assumptions about their albedos or reflectivities are
made, assumptions about their densities are made, and assumptions about their shapes
are made. They are all assumed to have the same albedo and density, and to be
homogeneous spheres. From these arbitrary assumptions the sizes and masses are
inferred. These matters are then taken as established, and the resulting functions are
plotted on a logarithmic graph, along with similar functions for the planets, the Earth-Moon system,
and so on. Even then it is not clear how to draw a line through the
"data"points. One proposed line misses Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, Neptune, and
the Sun, and another proposed line misses all the asteroids, Mercury, Venus, Earth,
Neptune, and the Sun. It is difficult to see how a function with so much arbitrariness
and so much uncertainty and so many exceptions can be a "law". So far, these
proposed functions seem more fortuitous than lawlike. As Velikovsky says in the
"Afterword" (KRONOS III:2, page 21), they are a "weak reed" upon which to base a
refutation of catastrophism.
Mulholland does admit "that the rotation of Mars is a small embarrassment
here". But he tries to argue that Mercury and Venus are not really exceptions because
their rotations have been captured by the Sun and by Earth, respectively. These matters
have been discussed in detail in my article on "The Rotational Resonances of Mercury
and Venus", KRONOS II:1, pages 16-27. Suffice it to say here that Mulholland is
quite mistaken in his suggestion that those resonances constitute a problem for
The rest of Mulholland's objections have to do with the fact that he does not
understand how the solar system could have arrived at its present state if there were
near-collisions within the historical past. Perhaps his understanding would be improved
if he would carefully read Velikovsky's own discussions of these matters as well as
some of the supporting literature, rather than just repeat the same old tired dogmas of
Mulholland repeatedly claimed, both in his paper and in the discussions, that
contemporary celestial mechanics takes into account electromagnetic factors. But
when it came down to specifics, he was overly eager to reject such factors, and was
not even aware of relevant developments within his own field.
When Velikovsky mentioned the discovery by Danjon that Earth's rotation rate
was temporarily changed following a solar flare, Mulholland denied it: "it needs to be
said that Danjon was wrong about that, that the data do not show any such effect."
Mulholland was also totally hostile towards Michelson's willingness to allow electrical
effects in celestial mechanics. Both examples will be examined.
The evening session had begun with Michelson's paper, "Mechanics Bear
Witness". Although Michelson approached the Symposium as a neutral and did not
speak even a single word in Velikovsky's defense against the charges that Storer,
Huber, Mulholland, and Sagan had hurled at him, there were nevertheless a number of
points in Michelson's paper that had a bearing on some of the subjects under debate.
(Michelson's paper has been published in Pensee IVR VII, pages 15-21.)
Michelson's aim was to examine "some questions of ELECTRO-mechanics,
particularly as these relate to Earth rotation". He began by noting that:
"The orthodox assumption in astronomy that stars and planets cannot carry appreciable
net electric charges has been widely abandoned during the past twenty years or more."
In particular, the Sun could have quite a large electrical charge, and the planets
could also have charges.
"If we assign negative electric charges both to Sun and Earth, the resulting
electrostatic repulsion force effectively reduces the magnitude of the Sun's
gravitational influence. Required adjustment of the solar gravitational constant may be
accommodated as a modification of the solar mass value alone, leaving the Newtonian
In other words, the orbital changes that would result from a charged Sun and
charged planets could be accommodated by making a slight change in our estimate of
the Sun's mass, a change that would still fall within the range of uncertainty for that
estimate anyway. The orbital formulas now in use would not have to be revised at all.
Michelson's overall conclusion was that Velikovsky's "contentions are certainly
not at variance with classical mechanics". It is no wonder that Mulholland was eager to
try to discredit Michelson.
Toward the end of his paper, Michelson had presented his "curious and
tantalizing" finding that the energy required to turn the rotational axis of Earth through
180 degrees "happens to correspond closely to modern estimates of the energy of a
single moderately strong geomagnetic storm". As soon as Michelson finished,
Mulholland was on the attack.
I would like to point out, with respect to this last calculation here, which
produced such remarkable results, in a correspondence between the energy required to
flip the Earth over and the energy expended in a solar flare of great magnitude
[Michelson had of course spoken of a geomagnetic storm, not a solar flare], it falls a
little short when one realizes that the Earth as seen from the Sun, represents rather less
than ten to the minus eighth power of the total space into which the energy of that flare
is expelled. Therefore, the 10^23 ergs results in less than 10^15 ergs at the Earth.
I'll let that go. I'll let that go.
In Science, March 15, 1974, page 1062, Robert Gillette implied that Michelson
dismissed Mulholland's question because he had no answer. Michelson thereupon
wrote a letter to Science, calling attention to the fact that Gillette had
"omitted mention of the irrelevance of the outburst from the floor to which I
responded 'I'll let that go.' Those who heard my presentation as symposium panelists
were aware that it deserved no other reply; your readers are entitled to know a bit
more, having been given what Gillette told them."
Michelson then explained that he had pointed out
that the energy required to turn the Earth's magnetic dipole through 180 deg
(interchanging positions of north and south poles) happened to be equal to that of a
moderately strong geomagnetic storm."
Mulholland's remarks about the tiny fraction of a solar flare that reaches Earth
were thus completely beside the point. The final part of Michelson's letter was as
"In the discussion period someone who wanted to voice an 'objection' talked about the
energy of a solar flare and the spatial attenuation at Earth's distance from the Sun -
declaring that one of my numbers was therefore very wrong. The relevance of solar
flare energy to the geomagnetic storm energy confined to the geomagnetic cavity
surrounding the Earth is about as small as the Sun's distance from the Earth is large. At
most, we can say that the sudden influx of charged particles from the Sun triggers
geomagnetic storms - their energy is to the energy of the storm as the detonator energy
is to the energy released by the bomb it activates.
"There had already been all too much acrimony, backbiting, and anger
expressed in the Symposium - and too many long-winded replies to comments from the
floor. For me to launch into a lecture explaining the difference between the Sun's solar
flare and the Earth's geomagnetic storms to one who either knew it already or would
never know it, while all others present wanted to get on to more meaningful discussion
of real questions raised by my presentation, seemed inappropriate. I hoped that most
others present knew this was my meaning in refusing to enter into heated or lengthy
dialogue with an individual whose zealous opposition to Velikovsky outran his
Gillette's article was in print within about two weeks of the Symposium.
Michelson's letter was dated March 20, 1974. Some three months later, just after
Pensee had published the letter (Pensee IVR VII, page 43), the Letters Editor of
Science suddenly wrote to Michelson that the letter would not be printed in Science
because it had already been published elsewhere (KARLIK to MICHELSON, June 25,
1974). At that point, Science received a petition (dated June 19, 1974, but apparently
mailed later) signed by thirty-five concerned scientists, urging them either to refute
Michelson's complaint or else to publish the letter: On July 2, 1974, Karlik telephoned
Michelson's office to say that they had changed their minds and were going to publish
the letter after all. The letter was promptly published in Science on July 19, 1974,
pages 207-208. It is not difficult to guess what caused the sudden change of mind.
About half-way through the evening session, Velikovsky had an opportunity to
reply to some of Mulholland's charges, especially the claim that the records do not
indicate orbital changes in ancient times. Velikovsky's remarks here are also applicable
to Huber, who had likewise denied the ancient records of catastrophes.
Now on this let me say: calendars were changed repeatedly. Professor
Mulholland, to whom I did not answer [in the morning] on his paper because it's too
much to answer, yet he raised several question[s], like [the] question [of] whether the
clocks could be transferred, Egyptian clocks that were found and do not represent the
proper time, and whether it could be that Egypt changed its position by [one] thousand
kilometers, and so on.
No, it is not just geographical change of the poles. It is more the astronomical
change of the pole, and the astronomical change of the pole would cause this situation.
And we have in Babylonian texts thousands of tablets - tens of thousands of
tablets - dealing with astronomical subjects. When in 612 B.C. the library of King
Ashurbanipal of Assyria - he was already dead - was burned by [an] onslaught of
Medes, Scythians, and Chaldeans, the palace was destroyed; the library was saved,
because the tablets were burned to stone.
When Caesar caused the destruction of the library of Alexandria, and
Alexander caused - before this - the destruction of the library of Petropolis [meaning
"Persepolis"], they were burned, because here were hides, and here were papyri.But
the clay tablets turned to stone, and they are in [the] British Museum.
And nothing what is before 700 B.C. is acceptable to astronomers. At Brown
University, Professor Neugebauer, who wrote several important books on the subject,
just offers not to occupy ourselves with those tablets, because - despite very advanced
mathematics, no mythology invested in proofs - the phenomena there described could
not be justified by the present state of the world: the length of the month, the length of
the year, the length of the seasons, the time of the vernal equinox.
And by the way, in a textbook on astronomy - [the] so-called Mul Apin; one
[of the] tablets deal[s] with the planetary motions and the other with the Earth - you
read about changes in the time of the equinox. [The] equinox at one occasion was
transferred - [the] vernal equinox - by 30.4 days; at another occasion [it] was
transferred by nine days. And this is not only there.
And when we find about the ratio of [the] longest day in the year to the
shortest day of the year, and we find it in Babylon, we do not accept these values
because they are impossible. Three to one [Velikovsky meant to say either 3:2 or else
2:1 ], there is no such thing. But the very same thing in Egypt. Neugebauer wonders
here [about Babylon]; ten years later he writes another article, about Egypt, wonders
for the second time, not remembering that he wonders already once about Babylon on
the very same subject. [laughter]
Well, this is the situation. It is [a] very composite structure. It is not given to so
simple [a] thing as to say: Well, people have traveled maybe to the southern
hemisphere and saw the southern stars that were represented in the ceiling of Senmut,
who was [the] architect of Queen Hatshepsut of the Nineteenth [meaning
"Eighteenth"] Dynasty, and as I reconstructed in Ages in Chaos, [a] contemporary of
King Solomon. Now, it was not [a] contemporary ceiling, but it was something very
holy for them. They kept it from the past.
What happened? It is not just, as Professor Mulholland said, they went to the
south, they saw the southern sky. No, the Egyptian sources, many of them, say, about
the catastrophe, when the north and south changed places.
And in [the] eighth century, when [a] second series of catastrophe[s] took
place, you have thousands of sources, references, to the change of the position of the
terrestrial axis in relation to the sky.
So it is not so simple to explain everything: the ancient[s] did not know
anything, they did not care, half a day does not count. No such thing.
The "half a day" is in reference to those who, like Mulholland and Huber, claim
that the month was always 29 1/2 days and that references to thirty-day months from
the fourteenth to ninth centuries are just inaccuracies or approximations. Velikovsky
When America was discovered in 1492 and later the Mayan calendars were studied, it
was found that they are more exact than the Gregorian calendar that was introduced in
Europe and this which we follow still - ninety years after the discovery of America, and
Mayans were already at that time much closer to the true figures than we are today.
So how to put on the ancient[s] this kind of accusation? Who knows? They did
not care, six day [s] in a year! [laughter] What is on the ceiling, this was just traveling.
The clock does not show right, maybe it was transferred from one place to another.
But somebody has to read my books carefully in order to read it [the clock] .
And despite the fact that Professor Mulholland started [by] saying that he read
my book first when he was fourteen years old [see above] - but I question whether he
really remembers what he read [laughter], because he starts his paper by saying that
Venus and Mars were described by me as two comets. Who read my book would not
make this statement.
A little later, the discussion again shifted to Mulholland, when Velikovsky
mentioned the findings of Danjon and Schatzmann:
Now, Professor Mulholland comes from [the] Observatory of Paris, where he
spends most of the time, and to where I sent him some material when I found that he is
there. . . .
Professor Andre Danjon, director of that observatory, as I mentioned in the
morning session, created a, well, sensation - sensation of disbelief, if you wish - when
in the summer of 1960 at the annual meeting of the Geophysical Union, that happened
to be at Helsinki, he announced that after a flare of the Sun that rotation of the Earth
lost something like [a] few milliseconds, which strangely the day thereafter started
again to accelerate by microseconds. And this happened more than once .
[The] idea came from Harvard - Menzel - maybe [it is a] thermal phenomenon.
No. Professor Schatzmann, collaborator with Danjon, published like Danjon in
Comptes rendue de l'Academie de France, a calculation that it could not be a thermal
effect; it must be an electromagnetic effect.
In his reply, Mulholland explained that he was not at Danjon's observatory, but at
Meudon. (Nevertheless, the letterhead of the stationery on which Mulholland wrote to
Velikovsky reads "Observatoire de Paris"; the "Meudon" is underneath in smaller
type.) Mulholland also claimed "that Danjon was wrong about that, that the data do
not show any such effect". Mulholland then referred to the pole of rotation, the pole of
figure, and the magnetic pole, and said:
"And I have the vague impression, reading Dr. Velikovsky's books from time to time,
that there is not always a distinction made between these things."
Perhaps it is Mulholland who confuses these things, for he goes on to say:
"I would simply like to make the point here that a change in the rotational pole will not
affect how a clock works. And therefore the evidence that he adduces in Worlds in
Collision for a shift of the pole does not concern this pole at all, but rather the
This is nonsense. The water clock from Thebes was built to show, among other
things, the length of daylight and darkness on the summer solstice. A change in the
inclination or obliquity of the rotational pole will indeed affect how such a clock
works. It will render such a clock obsolete! Velikovsky once again replied to
"First I wish to say that Danjon was not proven wrong. Just [the] most recent literature
proves him right, confirmed again, and quite a few articles on this score were in the
last few months printed. This is number one. . . .
"Here - Professor Michelson gives me the reference - Gribbin and Plagemann,
"Discontinuous Change in Earth's Spin Rate following a Great Solar Storm of August
1972", Nature, 243, pages 26-27. So it's very recent. So he was not disproven, but
. . .
"Now I had no chance to read all your paper that you gave me so kindly this
afternoon. There [are] many things that I would like to make remarks about. But now,
I notice, for example, the question of changes in latitude. These changes in latitudes
[are] not necessar[il] y changing because of the geographical shift, but in [the]
inclination of the terrestrial axis. "And I never confused [the] magnetic axis and the
axis of the spheroid, which the Earth is, or the axis of the rotation. Never. I wish to be
shown a point where I confused. I know my work to that extent."
Needless to say, Mulholland's "vague impression" was just that, and he did not
have any examples to cite in response to Velikovsky's challenge.
Velikovsky then pursued his critique of the uniformitarian claims of Mulholland
and Huber and others that the ancient records do not indicate any catastrophic
Historical sources, unanimously - not that there's just here or there some
fantasy, some myth, some legend, some prayer - but all of it. If you don't read
Babylonian, which means Akkadian, if you don't read Mexican, if you don't read even
Latin, but maybe you read Old Testament. And if you don't have Old Testament, next
time, in a motel, find one [laughter, applause], open the pages at least twice, better
chance than fifty-fifty, that there would be [a] story of catastrophes. [laughter]
What they were filling all those pages? [laughter] What were filling those
astronomers of Babylonia thousands of tablets with observations if nothing was
necessary to observe? Something was on their minds. Something was very important.
Why they were building these temples to the planets? Why they were bringing sacrifice,
human sacrifice, to those planets? I asked this [in] the morning. This [is a] question
that need[s] to be thought through, not just brushed away. . . .
We live in the scientific age of uniformitarianism, where anything that is not
observed today could not [have] happened also in the past. This is our rule; according
to this we study and learn and believe.
Mulholland's final performance was an effort to challenge Velikovsky's
inference that Venus has been cooling down and very probably is still slowly cooling.
Now, as for the question of the hot Venus. Present measurements show that
Venus does not emit more heat than it receives. Furthermore, Venus is not cooling off,
as Dr. Velikovsky has claimed in Pensee, Volume II, Number 2 [that is, IVR I] .
There's an appearance there that Venus is cooling off, but that appearance is quite
illusory, for the following reasons. He says:
"I offer the new proposition as another crucial test of my theory. Since 'Venus
gives off heat' . . ., the drop in [the] temperature...."
Well, I can pass over that and pass to the substantive part:
"In the 1920's E. Pettit and S. B. Nicholson measured the cloud surface
temperature and obtained ca. -250 degC for both sides. . . ." [This was a misprint in
Pensee IVR I for "ca. -25 degC".]
That's not true. C means Centigrade. What they found was -250 deg Kelvin,
which works out to -23 deg Centigrade. [Mulholland is wrong: -23C = 250 degK,
there is no minus Kelvin.]
[Laughter; many people talking at once]
There's something strange about what you said there, Derral.
Is this the same?
HUBER [ ? ]:
Plus, plus 250 degrees.
What? This is the same?
He blew that one.
250 deg Kelvin is absolute. He blew that one. There is no -250.
[There is no minus?] K, of course. [laughter, applause]
Yes. I'm sorry. . . . I'm sorry, -250 deg Fahrenheit. I'm sorry. That's - The last in the
string, he quotes Strong and Sinton in 1956 as indicating, quote, "approximately 40
deg C". That paper says "approximately -40 deg C".
So that over four measurements the total change is very small and not
monotonic. Se we are not dealing with a change. We are dealing with determination
errors, not Venus' heat decreasing.
Mulholland's "-250 deg Fahrenheit" is another error: he should have said 250
deg Kelvin, or else -9.4 deg Fahrenheit. In any case he is again belying King's
introduction of him as "a celestial mechanician whose name is almost synonymous with
high precision". The "last in the string" was the paper by Low and Gillett and Stein, not
the paper by Strong and Sinton. At least Mulholland is right about the "-40 deg C";
Pensee did omit the minus sign. But there were three measurements, not "four", and
the change would be at a rate of about fifteen degrees Centigrade per century, hardly
... [inaudible] ....
Yes, I, I marked that down wrong, that's right.
To this I wish to answer. Professor Mulholland is unaware that Pettit and
Nicholson, thirty-five years [it was actually about thirty years] after their original
publication, on the basis of the very same material, recalculated and published a new
report, in which they instead of -25 put -38 Centigrade for the [cloud] surface
temperature [for the day side; their figure was -33 (that is, warmer) for the night side]
of the Moon [meaning"Venus"].
And therefore, between the figures of Pettit and Nicholson of [1924-] 1928 and
the figures of Strong and Sinton of - what was it? - 1956, was quite a drop in the
Now, after Strong and Sinton, at that time I suggested that these experiments
should be made because [the] temperature from the clouds can be measured to great
exactness. However, it is necessary that the experiment should be done by the very
same experimenter, and from the very same latitude of Venus, and in the same
circumstances as to solar flares, and so on.
Now it so happened, and I suggested to measure eight years later the
temperature of the clouds again. Not that my suggestion was followed, but Low and
Gillett and a third author [Stein] - exactly eight years later, which is five synodical
periods of Venus - published a paper [the publications in question were separated by
eight years, or five synodical periods, but the actual measurements were separated by
about nine synodical periods], and they wrote enigmatically - [they] did not give the
figures but they wrote - strangely our figures are much lower than the figures of
Strong and Sinton. And we do not know the explanation. And I quoted it here .
[Pensee IVR I , page 51 ]
So I believe that [the] reason to repeat the experiments more carefully with this
special purpose is, well, well recommended.
It should be stressed that Velikovsky did not present the work of any of the
cited authors as providing any precise indication of the rate at which Venus is cooling
down. His purpose rather was to cite prima facie evidence of cooling, and to call for
further experiments that would be exact enough to determine the rate of any cooling.
Such experiments have not been conducted, mainly because the uniformitarian
establishment does not expect Venus to be cooling down. Nevertheless, there has been
serious, continuing study of these questions. (As someone once said, "We must try to
answer these questions on the basis of the reality of causes and the record of events.")
The readers are referred to the works of R. E. Juergens, C. J. Ransom, C. S. Sherrerd,
and G. R. Talbott - names that really are almost synonymous with high precision.