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Open letter to science editors

 

KRONOS Vol X, No. 3

Vox Populi

SOME COMMENTS ON "STILL FACING MANY PROBLEMS"

Editor's Note: Leroy Ellenberger will respond in the next volume of KRONOS. - LMG

To the Editor of KRONOS:

Let me congratulate you and C. L. Ellenberger for publishing his "Still Facing Many Problems (Part I)''.(1) I am looking forward to future installments with considerable anticipation since I regard this first part as the most important contribution to Velikovskian studies I have seen in the last several years. The reason is because I do not believe we can ignore fundamental problems in Velikovsky's scenario on the one hand, while on the other claim, as some do, that the practitioners of conventional science and history ignore problems which conflict with their views. We are in the, perhaps, disagreeable situation of being unable to ignore the problematic just because of our almost adversarial relationship with conventional scholarship.

I would, moreover, like to address several comments and questions to the readership at large. Two of these refer to the related problems of the bristlecone tree rings and Greenland ice cores which Ellenberger discusses.(2) The first is that we Velikovskians are not the only ones in the same situation. Recently, Clube(3) reviewed the work which he and Napier did in The Cosmic Serpent. He noted that they had reconstructed a collision of the Earth with cometary debris about 2500 B.C. However, the absence of any major disruption in the 5400 year tree ring sequence, nor a similar break in the "quiescent-looking regime" (to quote Ellenberger) of the 10,000 year old ice cores, suggests that a "1000 megaton catastrophe" is seemingly as unlikely as any of Velikovsky's. (And, I might ask parenthetically, is there any evidence in the cores for the "universal" flood as recorded in the deep mud layers of Mesopotamia below Sumerian remains?)

On a related topic, there is the relationship between the ice cores and the migration of the poles. For example, Hapgood(4) suggests three "rapid" displacements of the pole over the last 80,000 years before it settled into its present location in the Arctic Ocean. Although the last of these displacements (in Hapgood's scenario, 17,000 to 12,000 b.p.) occurs prior to the top 10,000 years of the core from Dye 3 which Ellenberger discusses, does this core show any evidence of anomaly in its lower layers?

Another question of considerable importance, in my opinion, is, given the problems Ellenberger reviews, how could Velikovsky be so correct in his various corroborated advance claims and their consequences, yet so presumably wrong elsewhere? The surface temperature of Venus is certainly much higher than astronomers and astrophysicists of 1950 expected. And there is the matter of the peculiar resonance in Venus' axial rotation with the Earth, to say nothing of the slow retrograde rotation, itself. And what about the radio noises from Jupiter discovered in the mid fifties . . . ? But the list can obviously go on to some length. And that length suggests that there must be a number of good apples, to paraphrase some of the early critics, amongst the bad.

And this suggests a methodological defect on Velikovsky's part in Worlds in Collision. He observes in his preface(5) that

In a few cases it is impossible to say with certainty whether a record or a tradition refers to one or another catastrophe that took place through the ages; it is also probable that in some traditions various elements from different ages are fused together. In the final analysis, however, it is not so essential to segregate definitively the records of single world catastrophes.

The evidence for the catastrophes which Velikovsky extracts from his sources is perhaps even more "fused" than he imagined. So fused, that his scenario for each event in the BCE 1500-600 period (particularly the earliest) is a conflation of many. It may require a different method of analysis than the one he uses to "definitively" separate the elements for each single catastrophe before a resolution to the problem, and its chronological implications, can be obtained.

In any case, to sum up, I am certainly not suggesting the abandonment of Velikovsky's theses. In fact, I find the corroborated claims an oasis of hope in a desert otherwise dotted with hazardous boulders and salt sinks. However, it also behooves us to recognize that Velikovsky was wrong in some parts of his scenario. The question becomes one of discovering which parts are rotten and which good. Just as Einstein demonstrated that Newton's laws weren't the whole story, so Einstein's theories will also eventually be superseded. If history teaches us anything, it is that nothing is constant; and Velikovsky's scenario is unlikely to be an exception.

Kirk L. Thompson

West Branch, IA

REFERENCES

1. Ellenberger, C. L., "Still Facing Many Problems (Part I)," KRONOS X: 1 (Fall, 1984), pp. 87-102.
2. Ibid, pp. 94-102.
3. Clube, V., "Cometary Catastrophes and the Ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky," S.I.S. Review V:4 (1980-81), pp. 106-111.
4. Hapgood, C. H., The Path of the Pole (Phila., 1970).
5. Velikovsky, Immanuel, Worlds in Collision (N.Y., 1950), p. ix.


To the Editor of KRONOS:

Vol. X, No. 1 of KRONOS was most interesting, especially C. Leroy Ellenberger's article, "Still Facing Many Problems". The supporters of unmodified Velikovskian theories face an uphill struggle despite their elegant work on space electromagnetic fields and effects on planetary orbits. As a supporter of catastrophic explanations of past events who has run afoul of both reasonable and unreasonable opposition in the past seven years, I offer a bit of sage advice to all workers in this vital field: any hypothesis is going to have to honestly reckon with the best currently known data if it is to make any serious headway against dominant opposing theories. Among this data is that from the Greenland ice cores - but it is hoped that the analysis will soon be complete for all their geochronology, not just the past 10,000 years.

If there is no positive evidence of radical changes in climate or volcanic activity in the past 10,000 years, what explanations then can there be for the "Flood" accounts and other spectacular phenomena claimed by the ancients? While some of these tales may be just that, there is still some leeway for impressive sightings and events. Most of the strange sightings in the heavens were probably supernovae, unusually large solar flares interacting with the Earth's geomagnetic field, and abnormal cometary activity. We do know that the 1600-1900 period had a lot of "great comets", the likes of which this century hasn't seen for decades. The simultaneous appearance of these in different orbits, the breakup of one as it rounds the Sun, or the very close passage to Earth of one with tail interacting with the magnetic field could cause many strange sightings that would leave powerful religious impressions on ancient civilizations. And of course, it is possible that a Tunguska-type impact event could have wiped out one or more ancient armies that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Add a Minoan-type volcanic explosion and some Richter-9 earthquakes in a tectonically active region such as the Mediterranean and Euphrates basins, and one can have grist for further legends. . . .

Robert W. Carroll, Jr.

Potsdam, NY


To the Editor of KRONOS:

Regarding C. Leroy Ellenberger's, "Still Facing Many Problems", KRONOS X: 1, "Worzel Ash", I wish to make the following comments.

In dealing with Velikovsky's secular catastrophic hypothesis, one should never mix nor relate the concept of catastrophism with that of uniformitarianism. This, I construe to be the error committed regarding the interpretation presented by new evidence of "Worzel Ash".

Ellenberger, in raising these issues to provoke comment, is to be roundly applauded. He has at the least provoked me to comment. Whether he is cognizant or not of the interpretation he presented, in posing this new evidence he treated it from a uniformitarian perspective.

Following the geological evidence presented by Velikovsky in Earth in Upheaval and the ancient descriptions of the sky and sea in Worlds in Collision, it simply cannot follow that any ash expelled from volcanic activity would have been laid uniformly on the sea beds. What, in reality, is posed is a uniformitarian analysis of a catastrophic episode. The erroneous implication is that the sea and the sky were serene and undisturbed so that the ash belched into the atmosphere by all the volcanos of Earth diffused and settled somewhat uniformly on land and sea; the dust and ash deposited on the placid waters then settled to the bottom, uniformly, to leave a nice catastrophic record of the event. The same could also be said of the dust deposited in the snow of Greenland.

The only way to accept such an interpretation is to ignore the other catastrophic evidence. Velikovsky delineated, in his books, that the sky was overwhelmed with stupendous hurricanes that blew the ash from certain regions to others. In some areas of the world torrential rainstorms cleansed the atmosphere of ash. Furthermore, the oceans had spilled over large portions of the continents carrying much of the ash onto the land, while in the oceans huge tidal waves at the surface and turbidity currents below the surface, as well as rising and falling sea floors, churned much of the ash into different layers of the sediment or buried it deeply under depths of mud and debris.

This is a catastrophic analysis in catastrophic terms of "Worzel Ash", which it seems that even Velikovsky was to ignore, since his own interpretation is also a uniformitarian one. What I am contending is that the uniformitarian schooling and collective amnesia we all possess is so deeply ingrained in our thinking that we would tend to analyze catastrophic elements in uniformitarian terms. . . .

Charles Ginenthal

Forest Hills, NY


PROTOSATURN AND VELIKOVSKY'S COSMOGONICAL RECONSTRUCTION

To the Editor of KRONOS:

In KRONOS X: 1, Leroy Ellenberger presents an excellent compilation of theoretical problems attached to Velikovsky's reconstruction, the first part in a series.(1) The problems that he specifies are certainly enough to keep several scientists busy for a long time. Yet, recognizing a problem is the first step towards solving it, and I may be a bit more optimistic about our prospects than Ellenberger.

On page 92 Ellenberger makes a statement that calls for a comment. "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." As an example, he takes my work on circularization by aerodynamic drag(2) where I show that the circularization of the orbit of Venus can be explained if we assume the former existence of a large gas cloud in interplanetary space. Ellenberger adds: "His model requires that Saturn once was much closer to the Sun than now and about twice as massive." I must admit that a planet losing 50 percent of its mass seems a strange idea. If it had been a star . . . But let me first point out that the interplanetary gas cloud solves not only one problem, but several.

1. Interplanetary discharges: Velikovsky described electrical discharges between planets. The light emitted by a visible discharge comes from ionization and deionization of gas. The solar wind that blows through interplanetary space today consists of a completely ionized plasma, and it is hard to see how any further ionization or deionization could take place there. Electric currents do flow through this plasma, but they are invisible, even at night. But if gas was present, this would explain how the discharges would be visible.

2. Theophany: The ancients thought that they heard speech or music from the gods. This phenomenon seems to have disappeared during the second millennium BC, the last manifestation being during the Exodus.(3) Velikovsky thought that theophany was caused by earthquakes, and by some obscure electrical effect.(4) Shockwaves in the interplanetary gas, caused by bodies travelling through it at supersonic speed, make a better explanation.

3. Rapid change of solar radiation: Today Arabs protect themselves from solar radiation by wearing white clothes reaching down to their feet. In Egyptian Middle-Kingdom paintings you see bare-headed people, often wearing nothing but a loin-cloth. They seem to be happily ignorant of the existence of skin cancer. Gas and dust in space, absorbing ultraviolet radiation, as well as some heat radiation, would explain this, too. That gas and dust could have caused large variations in the irradiation level at the Earth's surface seems to have been overlooked by Ellenberger in his discussion of the habitable zone.(5)

4. Change of planetary orbits: With circularization by aerodynamic drag, we do not need the extremely close encounters that would be required if orbits were changed solely by encounters. Also, aerodynamic drag could circularize the orbits of the satellites of Mars very rapidly, because of their small mass/surface ratio. This would explain why their orbits are nearly circular today.

5. Interplanetary dust cloud: It is an accepted fact that the amount of dust in interplanetary space is not at equilibrium but is decreasing.(6) In my opinion the dust cloud is what is left over from my gas cloud, which also contained dust. The interplanetary dust cloud is responsible for the zodiacal light, which can be described as a faint glow along the ecliptic near the Sun, sometimes visible at sunset and sunrise. Most modern people have never seen the zodiacal light, but earlier it was more conspicuous and can explain certain mythological concepts such as "the sun boat" and "the two sun wolves".

I should say that the interplanetary gas cloud solves so many problems that Velikovskian catastrophism can hardly do without it. But, I also agree with Ellenberger that the origin of it needs to be explained. Disc-shaped clouds are created by nova outbursts. In Velikovsky's cosmogonical reconstruction, the instability of the solar system began when Jupiter and Saturn - on crossing orbits - made contact, causing Saturn to go nova and lose a major part of its mass .

PROTOSATURN

The body that lost a major part of its mass and ultimately evolved into the present Saturn has been called "Protosaturn" somewhere in catastrophist literature [see "The Primordial Light?" SISR II:2, pp. 36-38. - LMG] . This denomination will be adopted here. Sun and Protosaturn formed a binary together, where the Sun was the primary and Protosaturn the secondary.

Today it is generally accepted that a nova is always a binary. The outburst is caused by the expansion of the secondary. As material reaches beyond the boundaries of the Roche lobe it will be attracted by the primary, forming a large, rotating disc-shaped cloud around it. The cause of the expansion of the secondary is not yet known. Nor is it known why some novae, the so-called recurrent novae, have repeated outbursts at long intervals. It is possible that most novae are recurrent, although systematic observation has not been carried out long enough to prove it.

The energy for the outburst must come from somewhere, and it is logical to look for its origin within the secondary. If you ask any astrophysicist he will tell you that the energy source must be thermonuclear, and this should also be our first assumption. Given the choice between accepted and more unusual theories we should always try the accepted ones first. Only if they fail to explain observations, other solutions should be sought.

The minimum mass of a thermonuclear star is not known exactly, but should be roughly 0.085 Ms. (1 Ms = one solar mass.) In a list of 22 novae with known masses compiled by Warner,(7) no secondary has a mass below 0.12 Ms. I would suggest, however, that Protosaturn was an extreme case with a mass close to the critical limit, and that the final disintegration was a consequence of the star's mass falling below this limit after a series of repeated outbursts.

If a star loses so much mass that it gets below the critical limit for thermonuclear reactions, these reactions will stop, but the interior will still be hot and internal pressure high. If a substantial part of the star's mass has been lost in a short time, gravity forces may become insufficient for balancing the internal pressure, which will lead to further expansion.

In the case of a secondary, in other words a star that has a larger companion, expansion beyond the Roche lobe means that material is lost to the companion and will not come back. The more Protosaturn expanded, the smaller became the gravity forces that held it together, and expansion went on until only a small fraction remained: the planet Saturn. This may sound like an amateur catastrophist's wishful thinking, but in 1983 similar thoughts were expressed by professional astronomers at a conference in Cambridge: (8) in a binary, one of the components may expand until the other has taken over nearly all the mass. What finally remains of the expanding star is just a small body, characterized as a degenerate.

I am suggesting that Protosaturn was a real star, not twice as massive, but 200-300 times as massive as the present Saturn. Where did all this material go? In my opinion most of it must have been absorbed by the Sun, contributing significantly to the Sun's energy budget over the last 10,000 years.

Sun and Protosaturn formed a cataclysmic variable, a recurrent nova. The Deluge was caused by the last and final outburst of this recurrent nova. The earlier outbursts explain the very old traditions of world ages and disasters before the Golden Age. The present solar system is not a cataclysmic variable.

PROTOSATURN'S ORBIT

There is a massive amount of mythological evidence for Velikovsky's thesis that the Earth was once a satellite of Protosaturn.(9) Several authors(10) confirm Saturn's central role in the oldest myths. A model that does not take this into account would be of little interest. While Rose(11) and Wescott(12) suggest that the Earth was in synchronous rotation, one side facing the central body all the time, Cardona(13) maintains that more unconventional theories are required to explain the myths, and so do Talbott and Cochrane.(14) Here, again, I recommend that the conventional theory be tested first.

When the Earth had left Protosaturn's gravitational field, it started to orbit the Sun. An originally elliptic orbit may have become more and more circular with time. During the first few turns, however, the Earth must regularly have returned to the point where it left Protosaturn. This point must have been closer to the Sun than Saturn's present orbit, which is 9.5 A.U. from the Sun (1 A.U. = one astronomical unit = average distance Earth-Sun). It is cold out there (Saturn's surface temperature is as low as - 180 deg C) and it is hard to see how land animals could have survived such conditions. This is the main reason for assuming that Protosaturn was much closer to the Sun. Tentatively I would suggest a distance from the Sun between 1 and 2 A.U.

Now we are facing another problem, however: how do we move Protosaturn outwards to Saturn's present orbit without violating the law of conservation of angular momentum? The answer is simple. If Protosaturn did eject material to the inner parts of the solar system, as nova secondaries are supposed to do, then the conservation of angular momentum requires that the orbit of Protosaturn has to be widened. Protosaturn could be compared to a rocket which moves forward by ejecting gases backwards. Protosaturn moved outwards from the Sun by ejecting gases inwards, towards the Sun. But only by losing most of its mass could Protosaturn widen its orbit radius from 1or 2 A.U. to its present value. This is another good reason for assuming a large mass for Protosaturn, much larger than Saturn's present mass of 0.0003 Ms.*

[* For basically the same reason, the fuel that NASA must use to put a space-probe into orbit weighs many times more than the space-probe itself.]

THE GIANT STAR

A very important aspect of the accepted nova model is that the secondary fills its Roche lobe. This means that its volume is enormous. It is characterized as a giant star.

Only by expanding beyond the Roche lobe can the secondary get rid of material. Without the secondary filling its Roche lobe the nova model does not work.

The question we have to ask ourselves is this: can Protosaturn possibly have been a giant star? If not, we are in trouble and shall have to redesign the nova model altogether.

If Protosaturn was a giant star, filling its Roche lobe, then any satellite of Protosaturn must have had its orbit inside Protosaturn, as no satellite can have its orbit outside the Roche lobe. Outside the lobe, centripetal gravitational forces are simply not strong enough.

The Earth must have had its orbit inside Protosaturn. The idea is not as wild as it may seem.

If Protosaturn had a mass of 0.085 Ms and a distance from the Sun of 1 A.U., its average density was only 0.0016 kg/m3 . For comparison, the density of air at atmospheric pressure is 1.3 kg/m3 . This means that Protosaturn mainly consisted of very thin gas. It should be noted that the density calculated is an average for the whole star. If a major part of the total mass was in the core, which may well have been the case, the gas surrounding the core would be still thinner.

The presence of rarefied gas around the Earth, instead of the almost perfect vacuum that surrounds it today, is no absurdity. The consequences of the Earth being inside Protosaturn's dust shell were mainly optical: an ever bright sky surrounded the Earth on all sides. The sky was not necessarily blue - according to Wescott its colour was predominantly golden. Also, the parts of the Earth where Protosaturn could not be observed directly had light - light that was reflected from the inside of the dust shell. The stars could not be seen. The Sun may, or may not, have been visible, depending on the optical density of the shell.

No modern astronomer has ever seen the interior of a giant star. But I am convinced that our forefathers did. I hope that the fantastic descriptions of what they beheld will one day make it possible to figure out what the internal structure of Protosaturn was like.

One thing is certain: there was at the centre a bright, shining body - we may call it the core. This body, called "Aster" by Wescott, was surrounded by a wide shell of gas and dust. The gas was in rapid circulation; and it is possible that the circulation pattern included the core, so that material was flowing from the core to the shell and back again. Considering that the whole system was rotating, the core probably more rapidly than the shell, it seems likely that the direction of flow was outwards in the equatorial plane, and that material came back to the core via paths near the rotational axis, one leading to each pole. Seen from the equatorial plane it may well have looked like a cross, as in Fig. 1.

[*!* Image] Fig. 1. Possible circulation pattern around core of Protosaturn.

[*!* Image] Fig. 2. The hot core seen through Protosaturn's shell.

As for the appendage from the core, described by Cardona as "a massive cyclone that churned, and spun, and danced constantly in the north",(15) I should suggest that this was produced when the steady flow of material outwards from the core met the Earth's gravitational field. Exactly what it was, and how it was produced, is a question I would prefer to leave open, however. As for the ring, or band, or enclosure, I would say that this was simply the dust shell. When the Earth had left Protosaturn and Protosaturn was seen from some distance, the hot core may have been visible through the shell, as in Fig. 2. Later the core cooled off, and the light from it faded and became invisible. Ra's presence inside the enclosure became a matter of faith.

Ragnar Forshufvud

Karlskoga, Sweden

REFERENCES

1. KRONOS X:1, pp. 87-102.
2. KRONOS VII:2, pp. 3-28.
3. KRONOS III:4, pp. 78-83 (book review by R. W. Wescott).
4. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, Part 1, Ch. IV, "Theophany".
5. KRONOS X:1, p. 91.
6. K. Hindley, New Scientist (7 Oct. 1976), p. 16.
7. B. Warner, "Observations of Dwarf Novae". IAU Symposium No. 73, Structure and Evolution of Close Binary Systems (1976), p. 103.
8. Anonymous: "Young stars, old degenerates and cataclysms." New Scientist (22 Sept. 1983), p. 850.
9. KRONOS V:1, pp. 3-11.
10. See D. Cardona, KRONOS X: 1, pp. 1-15, and his reference list including works by himself and by Tresman, O'Gheoghan, Rose, Talbott, and others. See also works by Ashton, Talbott, Cochrane, and Wescott in the same issue of KRONOS.
11. KRONOS V:1, pp. 12-46.
12. KRONOS X:1, pp. 41-51.
13. KRONOS X: 1, pp. 1-15.
14. KRONOS X: 1, pp. 26-40.
15. KRONOS X: 1, p. 11.


THE AXIOMS OF ASTRONOMY

To the Editor of KRONOS:

A renowned British physicist recently wrote to me concerning his confrontation with editors of a popular astronomy magazine. He stated that "there is far too much evidence of suppression of papers which do not take the now orthodox Oort-Whipple (ice ball comet) model as an axiomatic starting point. . . . It does make one wonder if Astronomy qualifies as a science!"

In 1980, in a letter of rejection to a paper submitted for publication which predicted electric fields near the planet Saturn (the paper was subsequently published elsewhere), a journal editor scolded me for not following "the scientific method". He explained that one must start with accepted theory as presented in the respected journals, reference it properly, and add any new work to this framework. He added that the workings of Saturn's ring system were well understood and that there was no need to consider electrical phenomena. Four months later, Voyager I reached the electrified planet Saturn and sent back what some scientists consider the most mishandled data in the history of modern science.

What are the axioms of Astronomy? They are the basic concepts around which theory and data must conform as seen by traditionally educated scientists. They are:

  • the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago and the order of the planets has not changed since (first stated by the mathematician Laplace).

  • the universe began in a "big bang" about 10 billion years ago and the universe has been expanding ever since (first stated by Hubble at the turn of the century).

  • Gravity is the sole force that governs the cosmos (first stated by Newton).

  • Comets are frozen balls of ice which melt when near the Sun (first stated by Kepler).

All other "accepted" theories of Astronomy such as the Venus Greenhouse Effect, and scores of others, as well as theories in Geology (e.g., plate tectonics), Archaeology, and Evolutionary Biology have been developed to conform with these axioms. Literally all data from space probes are interpreted by NASA scientists to support the axioms. The popular science magazines and newspapers force-feed the public with scientific hype, constantly referring to these axioms.

Using the axioms, a great many predictions have been made about the expected state of the cosmos. But what happens when data from new work or research contradicts the expectations of the axioms? There are three possible courses of action: 1) reconsider the basic axiomatic structure, 2) rationalize the data to support the axioms by creating after the fact ad-hoc theories, or 3) sweep the data under the rug. Unfortunately, the peer editing systems of our scientific journals only support the last two possibilities. There is a reason for this.

These axioms have formed the cornerstones of astronomical belief at least since the early 1900s. The fonts of western knowledge lie in the universities where tradition and the respected scientific journals are based. The strict hierarchy of advancement (from graduate student to aged tenured professor) forces underlings to comply with this protocol. Dissenters and original thinkers have no place in this structure. One is only granted permission to build on the preexisting caste system. Change cannot be expected, however necessary or justified, within this framework.

A thorough look in the astronomy journals shows that they are filled with papers based on the standard axioms, but the axioms are never questioned. How embarrassing might it be if it were discovered that 80 years of published papers were erroneous (especially after censoring and publically ridiculing those who may later be viewed as correct)? Every gradeschooler has heard how the now heralded discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and even Einstein (as well as countless others in other fields) were met with closed doors by the seats of knowledge of their day.

Secondly, this is a closed system. These groups reign as "the experts", generally controlling the flow of publishable material to their journals and the popular media. They do not allow those in other fields to cross the interdisciplinary boundaries; they control the new personnel who enter the field and those who seek employment in their field. They are approached by the mass media to inform the public, and form core groups such as NASA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They control who is allowed to referee articles to be published: they receive the government grants to perform new research, and they present the results of their research in the journals which are controlled by their peer groups. It is a closed system. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in this case, there are very few.

Anyone outside the system who dares to contradict is easily labelled a non expert (commonly name calling occurs such as crackpot, pseudoscientist, etc.). Who is the man on the street to believe?

Insiders who defect can be singled out and eliminated. No one will offer public support since the same fate may befall them.

It should not be surprising that the axioms of Astronomy have remained unaltered over the course of this century, even in spite of remarkable finds of recent space probes. One can only anticipate that future finds from space, including those of upcoming comet fly-bys, will yield the unexpected . . . but watch with precognition as the experts will claim them to support the axioms of Astronomy.

J. M. McCanney

Roseville, MN


A TWICE-TOLD TALE OF INERTIA

To the Editor of KRONOS:

Lynn Rose gives an entertaining account of the interaction between Mulholland and Michelson at the AAAS symposium in 1974 [KRONOS X: I (1984) pp. 69-86] . However, in relating portions of Michelson's paper, certain mistakes Michelson made, which have hitherto been unpublicized, if not unrecognized, were inadvertently perpetuated. While Rose's account was not intended to be a critique of Michelson's paper, informed discussion of Velikovsky's work requires correcting mistakes as they are recognized.

Rose's article prompted me to read Michelson's paper afresh and the result was disappointing. While Michelson's AAAS paper represented a rare example of support for Velikovsky at the time and it was natural for Velikovsky [KRONOS III:2 (1977), p. 36] and his supporters [e.g., F. B. Jueneman, Analog (Oct. 1974), pp.35-36 and E. R. Milton, KRONOS II:3 (1977), p. 4] to have embraced it, the fact is that Michelson's comments about the ease with which the Earth can be turned over were totally erroneous.

Rose related that "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' " (p. 77). Unfortunately, Michelson did not calculate the energy required to invert the Earth's body. He said he had, in effect, but all he really did was calculate what he purported to be the energy required to invert Earth's magnetic field. His calculation implicitly assumed that Earth would come along for the ride. In other words, Michelson ignored the moment of inertia.

Flipping the body of Earth over in a day is equivalent, practically speaking, to half a rotation, or requires about 1036 ergs according to Michelson's preceding text. This is twelve orders of magnitude greater than the approximately 1024 ergs Michelson calculated for flipping the magnetic field.

Furthermore, Michelson made two careless mistakes in setting-up his calculation. The values he gives for Earth's dipole moment and the interplanetary magnetic field strength are not those given in the references he cited. For the former, Michelson made an error of 4 in converting Alfvén and Falthammar's 8.1 x 1025 gauss cm3 to amp m2. The correct conversion is 8.1 x 1022 amp m2, not Michelson's 6.4 x 1021 amp m2. For the latter, Michelson took Cahill's stated 5 gammas as 0.5 gauss, when the correct conversion is 5 x 10-5 gauss. Such carelessness is in keeping with that which Rose pointed out in KRONOS I:3 (1975), pp.49-51.

The effect of Michelson's mistake is to lose sight of the inertia represented by the mass of the Earth. No matter how simple or easy a physical motion may appear when performed by a small model, the immensity of the extrapolation to the full Earth is not easily appreciated. For instance, the tippe top considered by P. Warlow is a prime example [KRONOS VII:2 (1982), pp. 86-94; Ibid. VIII:3 (1983), pp. 86-89] .

In comparing a tippe top to the Earth, Warlow glossed over the difference in mass between the two systems: "In general, observation indicates that the slower the rate of spin, the easier it is to induce fast precession [turning the body upside down]. . . . Tippe tops spin at a rate of between one and ten revolutions per second, and they invert easily. The Earth spins just once in twenty-four hours about 0.00001 of a revolution per second - which makes it inherently tens of thousands more susceptible to fast precession than a tippe top. The Earth, of course, is somewhat larger than a tippe top, which naturally makes a difference, but the factor of tens of thousands still applies regardless of size" [The Reversing Earth (London, 1982), p. 36 and similarly in SISR III:4 (1979), p. 102] .

If the resistance of a spinning body to fast precession is proportional to the product of mass and spin rate, then the ratio of this product for two bodies is a measure of their relative resistance to fast precession. Consider the Earth with a mass of 6 x 1027 grams and a spin rate of 10-5 rev/sec compared to a tippe top with a mass of 5 grams and a spin rate of 20 rev/sec (measured on a Burger King tippe top). The Earth/tippe top ratio here equals 6 x 1020 i.e., the Earth is twenty orders of magnitude more resistant to turning over than a tippe top. The tremendous difference in mass overwhelms the relatively small difference in spin rate, even though it is six orders of magnitude. Warlow would have been on firmer ground had he compared the Earth with a tippe top spinning fast and with the same mass as Earth.

The problems attending a scientifically valid explanation of the events in Worlds in Collision are truly staggering. While studying small scale models can be conceptually useful, it is only the beginning of a fully-worked-out explanation for the cosmic events adduced by Velikovsky.

C. Leroy Ellenberger

St. Louis, MO


Note added in proof: The Earth-tippe top comparison is even worse than described above. Since (mass x spin rate) does not include the effect of the radius in rotation, resistance to fast precession is really proportional to (moment of inertia x spin rate), as V. S. Slabinski informs me. On this basis, with the Earth's moment of inertia of 8 x 1044 g cm2 and taking a tippe top as a thin spherical shell, whose moment of inertia equals (2/3) (mass)(radius)2 ~ 10 g cm2, the Earth/tippe top ratio becomes 4 x 1037, i.e., Earth is 37 orders of magnitude more resistant to turning over than a tippe top. This is over 10 trillion times greater than the ratio above. For comparison, the Earth is 23 orders of magnitude heavier than a twelve inch diameter ball of granite (85 lbs) which, in turn, is only four orders of magnitude heavier than a tippe top.

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