Electric                    Astral               Pre-historical
Universe              Catastrophism        Reconstruction


     Mikamar
           Publishing
 

Articles & Products Supporting the Pre-historical Reconstruction and Plasma Cosmology
 home       features       science/philosophy       wholesale store       used books        contact

Site Section Links

Introduction Material
Articles
The Third Story
Features

Cosmology, Origins
The Nature of Time
Nature of Time video
The Nature of Space
The Neutrino Aether
Nature of Force Fields
Relativity Theory

Geophysical Material
Origin of Modern Geology
Niagara Falls Issues
Climate Change Model
Climate Change Questions

Philosophy Material
Philosophy Links

Reconstruction &
Mythology Material
Modern Mythology Material
Language/Symbol Development
1994 Velikovsky Symposium
Horus Journals TOC
Kronos Journals TOC
Pensee Journals TOC
Velikovskian Journals TOC
Selected Velikovskian Article

Miscellaneous Material
Modern Mythology
State of Religious Diversity
PDF Download Files
Open letter to science editors

 

KRONOS Vol X, No. 1

STILL FACING MANY PROBLEMS (PART I)

C. LEROY ELLENBERGER

INTRODUCTION:

The last chapter of Worlds in Collision is titled "Facing Many Problems". After 34 years many problems still remain. From time to time I have included a short list of problems in contributions to Velikovskian publications in the hope of stimulating discussion. These lists have included such problems as:

  • What third-body trajectories would not set the Moon free during close encounters with Earth?
  • How does Venus possibly being a "child of Saturn" alter the sequence of planetary orbits and the conservation of angular momentum?
  • Exactly how could Earth have executed a tippe top-like geographical inversion as implied by Worlds in Collision?
  • How could Mars engage in so many close encounters and still end up with two small satellites whose orbits look as though they have not been disturbed for millions of years?
  • If Jupiter was involved in cosmic catastrophes within the memory of mankind, how could its Galilean satellites have developed their observed resonances which are conventionally thought to have required at least one billion years to develop?
  • If orbits can be modified as quickly as indicated by Velikovsky, then why have not the orbits of the planets assumed a new Bode-type configuration since the demise of the planet posited by Ovenden whose former presence at the asteroid belt is reflected in the present orbits?

Over the past four years I have come to appreciate that, even if Velikovsky were right, there are good physical reasons why astronomers and other scientists have opposed him so tenaciously. Unfortunately, many of these reasons, often based on information developed since Velikovsky wrote his books, have never been discussed in Velikovskian forums or have never been discussed in a fully informed manner. Examples of the former include the Worzel Ash, ice cores, and plate tectonics. Examples of the latter include tree rings, ice age dynamics, geomagnetism, and cosmic electricity.

Most often, spokesmen for mainstream science such as Sagan, Asimov, Gardner, and Oberg have not expressed their criticisms using valid arguments but, rather, tend to substitute polemic, ridicule, and caricature for serious discussion. The resulting performances are riddled with errors and are received by Velikovskian partisans with diminished credibility. Their fixation on Velikovsky's text to the exclusion of later researchers in Pensee and KRONOS has also been a source of frustration. As a result, focus has been shifted away from substantive criticism in depth with more cogent criticisms having gotten side-tracked.

Whether the events described in Worlds in Collision can happen or did happen is a key issue. There is an enormous difference between showing that Velikovsky's scenario is not forbidden by Newtonian dynamics, on the one hand, as Robert W. Bass did in Pensee IVR VIII in 1974, and showing how it actually could have happened, on the other. Bass did not conceal the enormity of this gulf; it is simply very difficult for the layperson and non-specialist to appreciate the full meaning of what Bass did say back in 1974.

This article will investigate a wide range of topics bearing on Velikovsky's hypothesis. They will include wild motions and orbital changes, the Worzel Ash, tree rings, ice cores, sea level changes, axial tilts, geographic reversals, rotational despin-respin, cosmic electricity and the electric star model, planetary alignments and radio reception, geomagnetism, the cooling of Venus, radiohalos, plate tectonics, and ice age dynamics.

WILD MOTIONS:

One of the first criticisms of Worlds in Collision was that the orbital changes violated the laws of celestial mechanics. Several papers in Pensee dealt with this issue, showing this was not necessarily so, but that there were unresolved problems, especially with circularization and energy disposal. Regarding the latter, the pre-Exodus orbits of Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter possess a lot more energy than the present ones, which implies that during the transition a huge amount of energy had to be dissipated, far more than ordinary physics can explain.

Writing in Pensee IVR VIII in 1974 (p.15), Robert W. Bass suggested that "wild motions" might allow the orbital changes described in Worlds in Collision. In April 1978, Bass addressed a conference in Glasgow on "The Celestial Dynamics of 'Worlds in Collision' ", an exposition which was substantially repeated in 1980 at KRONOS' San Jose Seminar (with an apology for having misstated Juergens' model in 1978). Despite the promise of unlocking the secrets of how Worlds in Collision might have happened, several items have become apparent which lessen the impact of Bass' presentation.

One of the most important items for Velikovskian studies concerns the applicability of wild motions to the resolution of the energy disposal problem in the sequence of planetary orbits. In Bass' words, "If, for instance, Jupiter, by reason of some resonance with a wild motion, were to move out one per cent, that would completely solve the supposed energy problem." This would be the long-awaited GOOD NEWS for Velikovsky which Irving Michelson, the only non-anti-Velikovsky speaker at the 1974 AAAS Symposium [see Pensee IVR VII, pp. 15-21 and VIII, p. 42], toyed with in the June 1975 Analog, pp. 65-76. But, it is a v-e-r-y big if.

Bass' statement certainly lacks rigor and specificity. For instance, as it stands, the proposition "solves" the energy problem at the expense of the angular momentum problem that Rose and Vaughan solved in Pensee IVR VIII. Moving Jupiter out one per cent would have increased its angular momentum by 23 geobasic units. According to Rose and Vaughan's tables, this is over twice the total angular momentum possessed by Venus, Earth, and Mars, the bodies which created the energy disposal problem with the rearrangements implied in Worlds in Collision. Whence cometh the additional angular momentum in "some resonance with a wild motion"? Bass' failure to address this elementary point does not augur well for secular catastrophism. And neither does his failure to comment on the foregoing remarks when he was asked repeatedly to do so in late 1983.

Actually, the energy problem would be solved by moving Jupiter out only one half per cent, not one per cent. This would consume essentially all the orbital angular momentum of Venus, Earth, and Mars - which is no solution, either - for, deprived of angular momentum, they would then fall into the Sun.

Although Hal Clement Stubbs, the science fiction writer, pointed out to me the angular momentum problem entailed in Bass' use of wild motions in 1979, the criticism did not register fully with me until over a year later when T. C. Van Flandern of the U. S. Naval Observatory told me about some recent analytical work. Significant work published before the Glasgow Conference and evidently overlooked by Bass appears to indicate that a wild motion is irrelevant for events in the solar system. The planets are too small compared to the mass of the Sun and they are too far apart. Paul E. Nacozy of the University of Texas has shown that for Jupiter and Saturn to be subject to a wild motion they would have to be about thirty times more massive [Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 6:1 (1974), p. 205; Astron. J. 81 (1976), pp. 787-791; and Celest. Mech. 16 (1977), pp. 77-86] .

Although Nacozy works only with the Jupiter-Saturn-Sun system, he indicates that his results are applicable to the entire system by analogy. Citing analytical results since 1974 [e.g., P. J. Message in V. Szebehely and B. D. Tapley (eds.), Long-Time Predictions in Dynamics (NATO, Adv. Study Inst. Sem. 1976) shows that no secular terms exist in the planets' semi-major axis to any order], he emphasizes that nothing known about the solar system indicates the possibility of wild motion, but also that such possibility, though remote, cannot be excluded for "some solutions in the neighborhood of the Jupiter-Saturn-Sun system". This latter qualification does not apply to the actual solar system, but to one close to identical in phase space.*

[* The possibility that the outer planets are recent arrivals to their present orbits, as is implicit in many of the speculations associated with the origin of proto-Venus and the Saturn myths, has been seriously challenged recently by new work on the stability of the solar system. Using new methods published last year [Celest. Mech. 31,1983, pp. 213-240 and Ibid., pp. 241-291 ], Andrea Milani and Anna M. Nobili of the University of Pisa have discovered surprising dynamical features among the outer planets. They find "that the outer Solar System is made up of two main subsystems, Sun-Jupiter-Saturn and Sun-Uranus-Neptune, exchanging angular momentum over a period of 1.1 Myr [1,100,000 yr]. The dynamical mechanism responsible for locking the two subsystems together is a libration of the angle between Jupiter's and Uranus' perihelion around 180 deg with the same period of 1.1 Myr" [A. Milani and A. M. Nobili, "Resonance locking between Jupiter and Uranus", Nature 310 (30 August 1984), pp. 753-755 ] . Such resonances usually indicate long-term stability of the system. They would not be expected to exist in a system on the order of 10,000 years old and, de Grazia and Milton's Solaria Binaria ( 1984) notwithstanding, the theory required to establish an electromagnetic rationale for the essentially instantaneous imposition of such resonances is not developed sufficiently enough to warrant a proper quantitative evaluation.

At Glasgow (and San Jose), Bass also discussed the work of Hatch and Steinhauer presented in D. W. Patten's The Long Day of Joshua (Seattle, 1973), on a 2:1 Earth-Mars resonance supposedly "based on computer simulations". This description is misleading because it creates a false impression about the rigor of the celestial dynamics in that book. Reading Bass, one might easily conclude that Hatch and Steinhauer used a computer to simulate successive near collisions of Earth and Mars in a continuous simulation of complete orbits using an N-body-type program, thereby demonstrating the stability of the resonance orbits. This conclusion would be false, however, as I learned from correspondence with D. W. Patten.

After reading The Long Day of Joshua in 1978, I wrote to Patten on September 15 asking eleven questions in a two page letter which he answered generously and in detail in a twelve page reply on the 23rd. To question ten, "Have computer simulations through at least two successive catastrophes confirmed any scenario described in Day?', the answer was "No". From this I surmise that, while a computer may have been used to model individual encounters, the possible occurrence of successive events was not demonstrated on the computer and the stability of the resonance orbits in this case - contrary to Bass' implication - was assumed, not demonstrated.

THE HABITABLE ZONE

Bass, quite properly I believe, lauded Rose and Vaughan's paper in Pensee IVR VIII, "Velikovsky and the Sequence of Planetary Orbits", reprinted in Velikovsky Reconsidered (New York, 1976). In reply to the oft raised criticism that the scenario in Worlds in Collision was astronomically impossible because it violated the conservation of angular momentum, they presented three sets of orbital sequences conforming to Velikovsky's scenario in which angular momentum was conserved without increasing orbital energy. They also acknowledged and discussed two problems attending their work, namely energy disposal and eccentricity damping, or circularization. However, to my knowledge, no critical discussion has been published on this important work. This may be unfortunate because their solution of the angular momentum problem begins with a most distressing situation for Earth which is not highlighted in the paper and consequently is easily overlooked by the non-specialist.

In Rose and Vaughan's first stage, Earth's average distance from the Sun is less than Venus' present distance from the Sun. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine how an Earth so close to the Sun - as it must have been immediately prior to the Exodus - could be hospitable to life. At one time the continuously habitable zone of the Sun was thought to extend from 0.7 AU to 1.3 AU. However, in 1977 Michael H. Hart, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, reduced the continuously habitable zone to a narrow range extending from 0.95 AU to 1.01 AU [Icarus 33 (1978), p. 23; Icarus 37 (1979), p.351; and Science 198 (1977), p. 1035; see also Science News (Jan. 29, 1977), p. 68 and (Feb. 24, 1979), p. 121; summarized in R. Breuer, Contact with the Stars (San Francisco, 1982), pp. 27-32] .

To appreciate the precarious position of the Earth today, it should be borne in mind that without the atmosphere the average temperature would be well below the freezing point of water, just as it is on the Moon. If Earth actually was so close to the Sun as 0.7 AU and climate was roughly comparable to now, then the Sun's output would necessarily have to have doubled since that time in order to maintain nearly constant conditions on Earth. Such a drastic change in a star like the Sun is unaccounted for by present theory.

Unless it can be explained how Earth thrived so close to the Sun, the value of these "truly heroic preliminary investigations", as Bass once described them, is severely undermined. Confronting a problem as serious as this, together with eccentricity damping and energy disposal, makes it difficult to see Rose and Vaughan's door for the wall. A discouraging aspect of investigating Velikovsky's scenario is that solving one problem often entails either creating or confronting an even greater problem, thus no final solution is achieved. A prime example of this is Ragnar Forshufvud's outstanding work on the circularization of Venus' orbit [KRONOS VII:2 (1982), pp. 3-28] . His model requires that Saturn once was much closer to the Sun than now and about twice as massive. Half of Saturn's mass formed a rotating cloud around the Sun as the result of a nova-like explosion which provided aerodynamic drag to circularize Venus' orbit. To his credit, Forshufvud points out his unsolved problems (p. 5) and it should be mentioned that conventional theory on novas and binary stars contains many unsolved problems as well.

WORZEL ASH:

If global, cosmic catastrophes, such as Velikovsky described, occurred as recently as 3500 and 2700 years ago, evidence for them would be expected to be plentiful and obvious. At the 1980 KRONOS seminar in Princeton, Lynn Rose ventured that Velikovsky "either showed that those collisions happened or he did not and we ought to be able to investigate that sort of question on the basis of the evidence". Velikovsky believed he had identified such evidence. This does not appear to be the case, however, for the widely-heralded Worzel Ash [ I. Velikovsky in Am. Beh. Sci., Sept. 1963, p. 53, reprinted in The Velikovsky Affair (1966), p.242; Pensee IVR VI, p.22, reprinted in Velikovsky Reconsidered (1976), p.168; Yale Scien.Mag., April 1967, p. 22; Earth in Upheaval (1977), "Author's Note", p. xx; KRONOS V:4 ( 1980), pp.23-24; and Stargazers and Gravediggers (1983), p.194] . Contrary to what Velikovsky maintained, it is neither global in extent nor cometary in origin. It is limited in extent and unquestionably volcanic in origin. These findings have been known since 1973 when they were published by F. A. Bowles, et al. ["Investigation of Deep-Sea Volcanic Ash Layers from Equatorial Pacific Cores", Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 84 (July 1973), pp. 2371-2388].

Bowles, et al. summarized the situation thus: "In 1959 Worzel identified an extensive subbottom reflection in the eastern equatorial Pacific as a layer of white volcanic ash. The ash reportedly extended from about 11 deg N. to 12 deg S., causing considerable speculation as to its possible global significance (Ewing and others, 1959). Later, Nayudu (1964) [Marine Geology 1, pp.194-212] expressed doubt that the 'Worzel Ash' was indeed a single, continuous layer. Following Worzel's discovery, numerous cores were taken offshore of Central and South America. . . . Most of these cores contain more than one ash layer. Our investigation deals with the identification, correlation, and distribution of these ash layers" (p. 2371). Subsequently, D. Ninkovich and N. J. Shakleton examined and discussed the Worzel Ash [Earth and Planet. Sci. Lett. 27 (1975), pp.20-30], confirming and extending the work of Bowles, et al. Regarding the relevance of the Worzel Ash to Worlds in Collision, it had always nagged at me that Velikovsky described falls of red ash and layers of red clay on the floor of the Pacific, but the Worzel Ash is white. Even had it been cometary in origin, it did not seem to be related directly to the events described by Velikovsky. The fate of the Worzel Ash so concerned Johan B. Kloosterman, editor of Catastrophist Geology, that in the December 1976 issue (Vol. 1, No. 2) he asked: "What has happened to Worzel's deep-sea ash?" (pp.18-19). The answer appeared in the June 1977 issue (Vol.2, No. l ), "Worzel's deep-sea ash is volcanic" (pp. 3-6).* It is noted in passing that, at this time, Velikovsky's editorial assistant subscribed to Catastrophist Geology, yet somehow this up-date on the Worzel Ash failed to be reflected in Velikovsky's publications.

[* This pair of articles was treated in a rather peculiar manner in the "Focus" section of SISR 1:5 (1977), p. 22, and SISR 11:2 (1977), p. 51, with the promise of support for Velikovsky touted self-assuredly in the first and the bad news ignored inexplicably in the second. Is this the posture to be expected from an organ whose avowed "aim is to bring a rational and objective approach to [Velikovsky's] theories. . ."?

Then, almost three years later - in an almost perverse ironic twist - the SIS "discovered" Bowles, et al. and Kloosterman's second article for the "Horizons" column in SISR IV:4 (1980), p. 83, when they reviewed KRONOS V:4 containing Velikovsky's "The Ocean". They thought "a little updating with respect to the more recent sources would have been desirable, particularly as regards Worzel's deep-sea ash". And when the new introduction to Earth in Upheaval was reprinted in SISR V: 1 (1980/81), pp. 28-30, the Catastrophist Geology material was cited by the editor in the footnote to Worzel. The editorial continuity, not to mention regularity, of the SISR leaves much to be desired.]

The fate of the Worzel Ash in light of Velikovsky's steadfast reliance on the original 1959 announcement concerned me enough after a discussion with David Griffard in July 1983 on the physical evidence supporting Worlds in Collision that, before discovering the Catastrophist Geology and SISR material, I corresponded with D. B. Ericson at Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory. To my inquiry regarding the current status of Worzel's Ash, Ericson replied on 28 August, "Dr. Worzel's training was in pure [physics]; not in geology or petrology. Consequently, he was at a disadvantage when it came to the diagnosis of sediment cores on ship board. However, as often happens [his] lack of knowledge and experience did not hold him back from announcing with confidence that the 'Worzel Layer' was of cometary or cosmic origin; as such the layer became somewhat of a sensation in the popular press. This was before any of the material had been [brought] back to Lamont. On looking at a [sample] from the layer with a microscope, I realized that the Worzel layer, as well as numerous other thinner layers in the cores, recorded nothing more than [explosive] vulcanism somewhere in the Andes. Result: Embarrassment at Lamont and the desire to hush the whole affair."

TREE RINGS:

Earth in Upheaval is a brief in favor of global, cosmic catastrophes to explain the geological record; but it does not make its case for all geological epochs to the exclusion of alternate explanations. In other words, while Velikovsky was very likely correct in ascribing extinctions to global, cosmic catastrophes in remote times and even as recently as the Pleistocene, global, cosmic catastrophes are not necessary to explain the evidence for very recent catastrophes cited in the chapters ''Thirty-five centuries ago", "Klimasturz", and "Ruins of the East".

The Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) was a period of prolonged solar inactivity during which time sunspots virtually disappeared and the corona was no longer observed during solar eclipses. On Earth, this was the time of the "Little Ice Age" when the Baltic Sea froze in the winter and the Thames River froze over five times more often than previously, a time marked by crop failures and associated political unrest and a halt in the population growth in both Europe and China. Long periods of cold weather, in which the mean annual temperature in the northern temperate latitudes is about 1 deg C lower than "normal", occur in coincidence with periods of solar inactivity, and at no other time, in what is considered to be the last 4000 years.

Indeed, Alpine glacier advances in the 14th and 8th centuries B.C., as with the Maunder Minimum, occurred at times of reduced solar activity as inferred from C-14 studies [see John Gribbin, "The Inconstant Sun", KRONOS V:3 (1980), pp. 55-70 and John A. Eddy, "Historical and Arboreal Evidence for a Changing Sun" in J. A. Eddy (ed.), The New Solar Physics. AAAS Selected Symposium 17 (Boulder, CO: 1978), pp. 11-33] . The climatic and related evidence cited by Velikovsky is consistent with variations in solar activity.

A. E. Douglass, an astronomer at the turn of the century, founded the study of tree rings, or dendrochronology, in his quest to discover clues to the history of the Sun in trees. Using Giant Redwoods (Sequoia) of California, Douglass developed a continuous sequence of rings going back to the end of the 14th century B.C. Thus, while not long enough to embrace the Earth-Venus events, it covers the Earth-Mars period. A graph of Douglass' Sequoia annual ring width data for the period 843 B.C. to 600 B.C. was published recently by Robert Jastrow [Science Digest Special No. 4 (Sept./Oct. 1980), pp. 94-95] . Comparing the period of the Maunder Minimum with the 70 year period 755 B.C. to 685 B.C. does not reveal any striking difference between the two zig-zag graphs.

While Velikovsky cited Douglass for the ring width sequence in the "Tree Rings" section of the "Klimasturz" chapter in Earth in Upheaval and accepted its approximate accuracy, he was unaccountably skeptical of the absolute accuracy of Douglass' data. However, the sequence is based on carefully selected, overlapping, usually multiple cores which show no sign of climatic distress which produce zero ring years and multiple ring years. As witness to Douglass' carefulness, in order to clarify the only questionable ring in the set, the ring for A.D. 1580, he went back the next year to collect additional cores, satisfying himself that the questionable ring was really an annual one. As witness to Douglass' analytical ability, he detected the 11 year solar cycle in the Sequoia rings and discovered what later became known as the Maunder Minimum several years before Maunder.

Although it is true that many trees under certain conditions can produce zero or multiple rings in a year, the Sequoia and bristlecone pine from selected micro-habitats are found not to exhibit such abnormal growth patterns as a general rule. Essentially what is required is a tree from hill side slopes or porous soils where tree growth depends mainly on the water immediately available from rain and snow. Microanalytical and x-ray techniques can detect a false ring and suggestions of the absence of an annual ring [V. LaMarche, "Climatic clues from tree rings", New Scientist (3 April 1975), pp. 8-11] . Douglass learned that the outer boundary of a true end-of-season ring is always sharp and clear-cut, whereas the edge of a midseason ring is fuzzy [J. H. Rush, "Tree Rings and Sun Spots", Sci. Am. (Jan. 1952), pp.54-58]. In the absence of specific criticism of the Sequoia sequence, the presumption of its being accurate and continuous ought to be entertained, if not granted.

While trees might be expected to survive the mild catastrophes of the 8th-7th centuries B.C., the general impression has been that no flora survived the catastrophes of the mid-second millennium. However, just as Earth in Upheaval was being completed, it was discovered in 1954 that bristlecone pine rings go back further than Sequoias, beyond 3000 B.C. Curiously, whereas Velikovsky could quote S. K. Runcorn from the September 1955 Scientific American about the reality of geomagnetic reversals, not a word is devoted even to the possibility that a tree ring record extends back beyond the Exodus. By 1956 it was known for a fact that some bristlecone pine trees were over 4000 years old [E. Schulman, Nat. Geo. Mag. (Mar. 1958), pp. 355-372] .

In the early days of bristlecone pine work only one sequence existed and its documentation was not available in public sources. Consequently, the validity of this chronology was subject to doubt and its accuracy and reliability were scrutinized critically in mid-1973 by H. C. Sorensen [Pensee IVR IV, pp. 15-18] whose analysis appeared devastating - so much so that his main points were presented by me in KRONOS VII:4 (1982), p. 82.

The crux of Sorensen's attack was that the sequence of specimens was not continuous enough to overlap reliably; the samples contained too large a proportion of complacent (uniform width) rings to crossmatch reliably; and the use of radiocarbon dating to place isolated samples involved circular reasoning. Sorensen's article seems to have been premature, for in late 1973 a paper by V. C. LaMarche and T. P. Harlan ["Accuracy of Tree Ring Dating of Bristlecone Pine for Calibration of the Radiocarbon Time Scale", J. Geophys. Res. 78 (1973), pp. 8849-8858] appeared, effectively refuting every one of Sorensen's points. I am unaware of any catastrophist acknowledging this work by LaMarche and Harlan.

The original bristlecone pine sequence by Ferguson was allegedly over 8200 years long. Using their own set of bristlecone pine cores, LaMarche and Harlan independently confirmed Ferguson's sequence exactly (except for two rings at 2141 B.C. and 2680 B.C.) for the most recent 5400 years, back to 3435 B.C. The greatest disturbance, not disruption, in their data was caused by frost damage in 2035 B.C. If the bristlecone pine methodology were as fraught with problems as Sorensen maintained, such a high degree of corroboration between Ferguson and LaMarche and Harlan would hardly be expected.* In the absence of a refutation of LaMarche and Harlan, the validity and accuracy of the bristlecone pine chronology ought to be considered, if not accepted. At the least, the bristlecone pine thrived during the devastation and darkness alleged to have attended the Exodus.

[* Considering Sorensen's concern about false rings in bristlecone pine, had he not overlooked a certain 1969 monograph, perhaps Sorensen's analysis might have had a different slant. On false rings, Harold C. Fritts informs us: "The almost complete absence of intra-annual late wood bands or false rings in bristlecone pine is additional evidence that changes in midsummer climate do not markedly influence the structure of the current season's ring. . . . The occurrence of multiplicity in young trees at low elevations led Libby . . . to improperly infer that discrepancies between tree-ring and radiocarbon dates in high-elevation bristlecone pine may be attributed to frequent double rings. All studies that have been conducted in the White Mountains indicate that distinct double rings rarely occur" [H. C. Fritts, Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California: Growth and Ring-Width Characteristics (Tucson, AZ: 1969), p. 32].

Regarding missing rings, Sorensen overstated their influence since rings missing in a particular core can often be found in an adjacent core [C. W. Ferguson, Science 159 (23 February 1968), pp. 839-846 (840)] .]

ICE CORES:

In addition to long-term tree ring sequences, there exists another heretofore generally ignored long-term stratigraphy that bears witness to the times covered by Worlds in Collision. This record resides in the ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic which contain a seasonal fluctuation in the oxygen isotopes in the water comprising the ice. In 1977, in response to a letter of mine in SISR II:2, R. G. A. Dolby submitted a draft article in which he proposed that cometary material ought "to be visible at the appropriate depth in the cores recently collected" [SISR II:2 (1977), p. 31] .

Most attention has focused on Greenland ice cores because the copious snowfall produces thick annual layers of ice which maintain their seasonal identity far longer than the thinner ice layers in Antarctica [New Scientist ( 19 May 1983), pp. 477-483] . On most of the Greenland ice sheet the annual ice accumulation is such that annual layers can be counted many thousands of years backward in time, the only limitation being the obliteration of the annual layers near the bottom by diffusion of the water molecules in the solid ice. In his book The Burning of Troy ( 1984), Alfred de Grazia's treatment of this point is disingenuous, to say the least. He credits the cores with measureable annual character for only "hundreds of years" (p. 106) in direct contradiction to his references 2 and 6 and after I had corrected him on this and other points [Ellenberger to de Grazia, March 16, 1984], at least one of which was amended.

Water contains atoms of stable oxygen with an atomic number of either 16 or 18. The warmer the reservoir from which water evaporates, the greater the proportion of oxygen-18 in the atmospheric moisture. On its travel to the polar regions, a precipitating air mass is generally cooled more in winter than in summer which lowers the proportion of oxygen-18 in winter snow. Thus, ice produced from summer snow would be enriched in the heavy oxygen isotope compared to ice formed from winter snow [New Scientist (19 May 1983), p. 478] . This is the essence of what is called the oxygen isotope, or delta (18O), profile.

Cores have been extracted from Greenland at four main sites: Camp Century, Crete, Milcent, and Dye 3. Annual layer thickness decreases from about 19 cm in 2000 year old ice to about 2 cm in 10,000 year old ice due to plastic thinning of the annual layers as they sink deeper. The core is cut into thin sections either 5 cm or 2.5 cm thick such that six to twelve or so sections make up a peak-to-peak cycle in oxygen-18 concentration for recent ice. At greater depth, the section thickness is adjusted according to the estimated annual layer thickness calculated by a steady-state two-dimensional flow model [C. U. Hammer, et al., "Dating of Greenland Ice Cores by Flow Models, Isotopes, Volcanic Debris and Continental Dust", J. Glaciology 20 (1978), pp. 3-26] .

Until recently, no core complete from surface to base existed because of damage produced in extracting it. There now is a core from Dye 3, 2035 meters long covering 90,000 years, that is completely intact and it is possible in principle to count annual summer peaks in oxygen-18 absolutely for the top 10,000 years, equivalent to 1773 meters of ice. At the time this Dye 3 core was announced [W. Dansgaard, et al., "A New Greenland Deep Ice Core", Science 218 (24 Dec. 1982), pp.1273-1277], the count extended 3600 years B.P. Since the acidity of the ice follows an annual cycle, the oxygen isotope cycles can be compared with the acidity cycles. Nitrate ion also produces a natural seasonal cycle.

As a test of Velikovsky's scenario of historical, cosmic catastrophes, the initial expectation was that the ice would preserve a series of conspicuous dust layers of cometary origin at the proper level. Such dust layers are not in evidence, but other signs of catastrophism could take the place of the missing dust.

Extreme acidity peaks are produced by major volcanic eruptions which inject volcanic acid gases into the stratosphere. These gases travel to the high latitudes, being converted to acid enroute, and are incorporated in the ice through snowfall. This deposition can be detected either as elevated specific conductivities measured on melted ice samples, or as elevated acidities revealed by an electric current through the solid ice. Every major, known, historically-dated eruption since A.D. 536 is attested in Greenland ice cores at the correct level [C. U. Hammer, et al., "Greenland ice sheet evidence of post-glacial volcanism and its climatic impact", Nature 288 (20 Nov. 1980), pp. 230-235 and R. B. Stothers, "Mystery cloud of AD 536", Nature 307 (26 Jan. 1984), pp. 344-345] . Although volcanic ash and dust layers can be detected in ice, these originate mostly from high latitude eruptions. Dust from equatorial eruptions, Krakatoa (1883) and Tambora (1815), for example, settled out of the air before the ejecta reached Greenland.

Velikovsky believed the catastrophes described in Worlds in Collision, especially those which occurred in the second millennium, left evidence that is recognizable. If, as Velikovsky repeatedly stated, ". . . all volcanoes vomit[ed] lava . . ." at the time of the Exodus [Worlds in Collision, pp. 96-7; see also pp. 127, 152 and 298], then unequivocal evidence for such activity would be expected to be found in the Greenland ice cores, but it is not. Volcanic acid fallout in Greenland, identified with ancient eruptions in the Velikovskian time frame, is comparable in amount to that associated with single, recent volcanic eruptions. This is not what would be expected if catastrophes of the magnitude envisioned by Velikovsky actually happened. In fact, according to the Greenland ice cores, major eruptions have been four times more frequent in the past 2000 years than in the preceding 2000 years.

This situation is diametrically opposite to de Grazia's uninformed surmise in The Burning of Troy that the mid-second millennium catastrophes were "certainly over twenty times as heavy as the past 300-year record shows, perhaps a hundred times greater, perhaps much more . . ."(p. 63). Strangely and unaccountably, devastation of this magnitude did not register in the Greenland ice cap as de Grazia's own reference 6 [Hammer, et al. ( 1980)] amply demonstrates. Nevertheless, as though to assert belief over the facts of the physical world, de Grazia states, "No stratigraphic column, whether geologic or archaeological, can fail to show evidence of natural destruction dating from the middle of the second millennium" (p. 63).

Since ice formed from compacted snow can be distinguished from that formed from melted snow, even if melting washed away a telltale layer, the melting would be evident, but it is not. As Dolby pointed out, dust from a cosmic catastrophe would be expected to take several years to settle, so even were there an initial melting and wash out, the later settling dust would be captured. In addition, the cores from different drill sites correlate precisely with each other, indicating uniform conditions from site to site, contrary to de Grazia's misrepresentation of this point in The Burning of Troy. * Large scale melting, had it occurred, would not be expected to produce the same relative effect at all sites.

[* In The Burning of Troy, de Grazia writes: "Not even the Laki (Iceland) eruption of 1783 correlates. This immense disaster registered high at the Crete drill site in acid fall-out but at best feebly at the Dye 3 and Milcent drill sites. The incongruity demands a satisfactory explanation" (p. 106). The incongruity resides solely in his blustering fulminations. A perfect, or even good, correlation is not necessarily to be expected because the southerly sites would get less add fall-out than the northerly ones; and with Icelandic eruptions the prevailing wind pattern may influence the fall-out in Greenland drastically. This is not ignorance or obfuscation; just simple meteorology. However, the 1783 eruption of Laki did core leave a layer of extremely high specific conductivity in north and south Greenland [C. U. Hammer, et al., J. Glaciology 20 ( 1978), p. 10 and C. U. Hammer, Nature 270 ( 1977), pp. 482-486] . De Grazia's apparent confusion on this point evidently stems from a hasty misreading of Fig. 7 in his reference 1 in J. Glaciology wherein oxygen isotope profiles, not the acidity, for 1783, are not uniform, with Crete having the most pronounced peak.]

The cores give all the appearance of preserving a well-behaved seasonal pattern of snowfall for at least the past 10,000 years. The deposition of ice before A.D. 536 appears to be a simple continuation backwards of the deposition which occurred after A.D. 536, looking just as it would be expected to look according to model calculations based on unexceptional assumptions. So far, the only ice core date for the eruption of Thera, 1390 50 B.C., comes from the Camp Century acidity record based on model calculations. While this date awaits confirmation and refinement from the absolute dating of the Dye 3 core, there is nothing in the core to suggest that the 1390 B.C. date is subject to drastic revision. The reason Dansgaard, et al. did not pin down this date, considering the annual layers had been counted back far enough, is that the acidity measurements are being done separately and had not progressed apace with the oxygen isotope work [Dansgaard to Ellenberger, October 7, 1983] .

If the foregoing is true, then clearly the implications for Velikovsky's revised chronology are serious because in the revised chronology Thera would have erupted in the tenth century B.C. [I. M. Isaacson, KRONOS I:2 (1975), pp. 93-97 and L. M. Greenberg, Ibid., pp.97-99] . Concomitantly, were Thera down-dated to the tenth century, the ice core contains no evidence for significant volcanism in the 1300 years preceding Thera. Thus, there would be no evidence for intense mid second millennium volcanic activity at all.

Just as solar activity is recorded in tree rings, it is also reflected in polar ice cores. Beryllium- 10 production from nuclear reactions on nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere is dependent on solar activity. This isotope is superior to C-14 because its half life is about 300 times greater. It is now possible to measure the tiny amounts of Be- 10 in the ice to refine and extend our knowledge of past solar activity and also to check the previous results from C-14 studies [G. M. Raisbeck and F. Yiou, "10Be in polar ice cores as a record of solar activity", in R. O. Pepin, et al. (eds.), Proc. Conf. Ancient Sun (1980), pp. 185-190] . The Greenland ice cap contains a wealth of information which time, patience, and resources will eventually reveal. It is a record to be reckoned with.

To date, attempts in private to refute the Greenland ice evidence have not been convincing. The idea that the chaotic conditions attending the Exodus left no imprint in Greenland, or that such imprint blends in with the normal ice deposition before and after, cannot be taken seriously. The idea that during the Exodus the volcanoes capable of sending ejecta into the stratosphere did not erupt, so that volcanic acid did not reach Greenland, implicitly assumes - unreasonably - that Aleutian and Icelandic volcanoes were also quiet at that time. Handwaving about the six allotropic forms of ice and how their generation might conceal the record of Velikovskian conditions ignores the interlocking annual cycles of oxygen isotope, acidity, and nitrate profiles. Arguments based on conditions in Antarctica are irrelevant because snowfall there is insufficient to detect annual cycles back far enough.

One of the more puzzling reactions to the Greenland ice core data was provided by E. J. Bond, professor of philosophy at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario [see KRONOS V:4 (1980), pp.61-62] and ordinarily not lacking for perspicacity. In the July 1984 News Letter of the Canadian Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, Ian Johnson provides a synopsis of a talk delivered by Prof. Bond in April 1984 entitled "Truth, Evidence and the Interdisciplinary Character of Velikovsky's Hypotheses". Prof. Bond is reported to have referred to "the absence of an appropriately dated thick layer of ash in the Greenland ice cap" as a challenge to Velikovsky's reconstruction that "must be weighed against the overall success of Velikovsky's reconstruction and its coherent wholeness". In August 1983, Prof. Bond was sent a summary of the Greenland ice core work, "The Implications of Volcanic Acid Fallout in Greenland for Velikovskian Catastrophes", which had been excerpted and adapted from a letter which appeared in SIS Workshop 5:4, pp.11-13. It would appear that Prof. Bond has not appreciated the difference between volcanic ash and volcanic acid gases. It would also appear that Prof. Bond considers Velikovsky's hypothesis so firmly established that it is immune to the challenge presented by the crucial experiment presented by the Greenland ice cap.

De Grazia's analysis of the Greenland ice cores in Chapter 11 of his The Burning of Troy defies description for its presumptuousness, special pleading, and rank incompetence. The three comments above on how far back annual layers can be detected, the intensity of mid-second millennium catastrophes, and the correlation among cores from different sites barely begin to expose the deficiencies in his analysis. Clearly he recognizes the threat posed by the ice cores to his brand of secular catastrophism, dubbed "quantavolution", when he writes:". . . if the ice core were to demonstrate the regular passage of a long stretch of uneventful time, quantavolution would simply have to surrender its claims to serious scientific consideration" (p. 99). De Grazia considers himself one "of a small group of catastrophist scholars shuddering at the brink of the bore-hole" (p. 99). His resulting analysis gives every appearance of having been written by someone who, while "at the brink of the bore-hole", succumbed to snow blindness replete with its panoply of hallucinatory horrors. A future appendix will provide further elucidation of the inaccuracies propounded in defense of quantavolution under the guise of analyzing objectively the Greenland ice cores.

Some may object that the interpretation of the Greenland ice core stratigraphy is contaminated by uniformitarian principles. Such would be the case if logic and credulity were strained by interpreting an obviously chaotic-looking regime as being the result of uniformitarian processes, as Lyell did in the nineteenth century [see George Grinnell, KRONOS I:4 ( 1976), pp. 68-76] . However, it is quite another matter, in the absence of physical evidence, to strain logic and credulity by interpreting an obviously quiescent-looking regime such as the Greenland ice cores - as having experienced recent catastrophes, yet look precisely as they would be expected to look had no catastrophes occurred.

To assert the occurrence of global, cosmic catastrophes at the time and of the magnitude described by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision without reconciling them with the record in the ocean sediment, bristlecone pine rings, and the Greenland ice cores presents a serious challenge to those who would support Velikovsky's specific thesis.

. . . to be continued.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS : I am indebted to Lewis M. Greenberg for encouraging me to write this paper; to R. G. A. Dolby for bringing the ice core evidence to my attention in 1977 whereupon it remained in limbo waiting in vain for a credible explanation consistent with Worlds in Collision; to T. C. Van Flandern and V. J. Slabinski who gave their time so freely to discuss many of these topics; and to Alfred de Grazia whose analysis of the Greenland ice cores gave new meaning to the expression "save the phenomenon".

 home       features       science/philosophy       wholesale store        policies        contact
Mikamar Publishing, 16871 SE 80th Pl,  Portland  OR  97267       503-974-9665