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Open letter to science editors

 

KRONOS Vol XI, No. 10

Vox Populi

CATASTROPHISM AND THE MAMMOTHS - I

To the Editor of KRONOS:

It was rather flattering that my previous letter on the above subject(1) attracted replies from no fewer than three distinguished correspondents: C. Leroy Ellenberger, Dwardu Cardona, and Dr. Alta Price.(2) Having read their contributions, however, I regret that I can only echo Ellenberger in stating that much of what they offered is "equivocal, irrelevant, or wrong". Before attempting to remedy this state of affairs by dealing with these matters under the very headings employed by Ellenberger, I wish to begin by setting out some points of agreement and to clarify the subject so as to exclude irrelevancies and the alleged "hair-splitting issues".

Cardona and Ellenberger both made the valid point that, despite the demonstration that certain mammoths died of asphyxia, several postulates are possible and that death "is not necessarily the result of drowning and/or landslide burial".(3) Furthermore, I concede that, in the cases reported so far, it is impossible to establish whether or not the observed disfiguration of the mammoths occurred in antiquity. I agree with both of these writers that the mutilation of the corpses need not necessarily have taken place before burial, but, instead, after final reexposure of the remains (but before discovery); or even, indeed, during the cycles of intermittent freezing and thawing, as proposed by Ellenberger.(4) Similarly, Dr. Price's reply ostensibly provokes few problems in that "antique proteolysis by putrefactive enzymes" - as one hypothesis which meets the observed facts is mutually acceptable.(5)

I also share Ellenberger's semantic and syntactical misgivings, and feel that all the participants in the debate would have benefitted from greater precision of terminology. Thus, we ought to bear in mind that the specimens with which we are concerned are, exclusively, the frozen remains of the woolly mammoth - i.e., Mammuthus primigenius - a creature which cannot be shown to have existed earlier than the penultimate glaciation of Europe (240,000-200,000 B.P.) and which, along with other animal species, became extinct at the end of the geological division known as the Pleistocene.(6) The locality of their deep-frozen corpses is, of course, the permafrost zone of the present Arctic Circle.(7)

In addressing the problem of the frozen mammoths, it may be considered legitimate to include other polar regions and other species and, indeed, frozen specimens other than Mammuthus primigenius as well as, perhaps, skeletal evidence of proven contemporaneity. It is not permissible, however, to include other animal and plant remains which earlier writers have, casually and erroneously, associated with the mammoth.(8)

TO CHILL A MAMMOTH

Ellenberger repeats certain arguments - or, rather, hoary old cliches - which purport to demonstrate that only temperatures far lower than those now experienced in Siberia can account for the preservation of entire frozen mammoths. As an illustration of the usual fate of a well-insulated corpse, he cites the example of the modern reindeer: "When caribou die in the Arctic in winter, their stomachs swell and decompose just as though it were summer because their pelage is such an efficient insulator."(9) Such bloating, however, is unrelated to post-mortem gastric processes, which is the point being developed by Ellenberger. The swelling of which Ellenberger speaks results, instead, from the gas formation familiar in putrefaction - see Dr. Price's own contribution. Ellenberger's argument involves the ill-founded assumption that temperatures lower than those considered so far did not prevail at the time when the individual mammoths died. Note that even in present-day Siberia, temperatures as low as -73 deg C (-100 deg F) have been recorded,(10)

Ellenberger accuses me of "an evasion of the quantitative evidence for the low temperatures required" to freeze a mammoth carcass, leaving the stomach contents, including "delicate plant structures", apparently undecomposed, and of "choosing to ignore this key issue in the debate". I am happy to take this opportunity to deal with this issue by drawing facts such as the above to his attention and by considering the thermodynamic data that he quotes. In this respect, the work of Sanderson and Dillow may be of great interest; it remains, however, superficial since "the fundamentals of conductive heat transfer" purely make reference to the wholly inefficient process of conduction of heat into cold, still air. Although of considerable importance to the postulated domestic freezer model, or, as in Cardona's example, to the chilling of beef, this is divorced from the dynamic set-up which pertains to the real world. After death, the body of an animal undergoes cooling not only by conduction (as above), but also by convection and radiation.(11) Hence, to concentrate exclusively upon the single mechanism for heat loss(12) is both facile and misleading.

The Sanderson-Dillow conduction model in which my critics take refuge ignores the concomitant loss of heat by radiation and, above all, the enhanced cooling capacity of a stream of chilled air - especially one with entrained ice crystals.(13) Indeed, one of the citations in my letter dealt with the bodies of antarctic seals preserved by such means.(14) Despite the possession of an insulating layer of fat, and of a skin equipped with the famous oil glands, hundreds of these creatures have been found inland in a completely frozen state on the surface of the ice - preserved by a natural freeze-drying process.(15) Whether or not these extremes would have proven lethal to the mammoth, they remain eminently capable of preserving a carcass.

To return to the quantitative argument: Rudolf Remmert - the veteran of fifteen years' research in the Arctic - quotes a table that shows the still-air temperature equivalents of arctic blizzards. Reference to these data reveals that a cooling effect equivalent to the -101 deg C (-150 deg F) claimed to be necessary to chill a mammoth (according to the Sanderson-Dillow hypothesis) is achieved by a 64 kph (40 mph) blizzard at a temperature as high as -51 deg C - which is not remarkable in Siberia.(16) It is therefore glaringly apparent that the allegedly compulsory rapid chilling of a dead mammoth, including its stomach, would have been readily accessible under known conditions. Moreover, one may point to cases of horses, fortuitously frozen after death, found in the tombs of their Siberian Iron Age owners. They, also, had well-preserved stomach contents, despite the fact that the freezing of the corpses had been relatively slow.(17)

Ellenberger claims, for my benefit (a little boldly, one feels), that freezing is "the only mechanism that can account for the stomach contents of the Beresovka mammoth". Apparently, he, Cardona, and the experts consulted by them are under the misapprehension that these stomach contents included whole flowers, such as the blooms of buttercups. In fact, what survived in the animal's stomach were not such prize blooms but merely plant stems, pollen, spores, and seeds.(18) Far from being the delicate plant structures claimed, these residues in the gastric contents of the Beresovka specimen were precisely those which, by virture of a siliceous coating, are the most resistant to digestive acids.(19) In view of these considerations, it seems superfluous to take issue with Cardona over his assertions concerning the operation of digestive processes after death. However, while I am prepared to grant Cardona that not all of the cells in a body die at the same instant - a problem that has exercised the diverse minds of philosophers, theologians, lawyers, physicians, and would-be organ transplanters - he will have to substantiate his astonishing claim that "chewing and mechanical activity of the stomach . . . can last up to one half hour after death".(20) It seems beyond belief that such specialized organs could survive for as long as this. Similarly, residual stomach acid would have been inadequate to digest the silica-coated vegetable matter present and, since gastric enzyme secretion ends at death,(21) scope for post-mortem digestive activity is limited to the residual enzymes in the stomach of the dead beast. These enzymes, in turn, would have been low in concentration and - since specific activity of digestive enzymes depends upon an optimum temperature prevailing - the efficiency of any enzymes remaining in the stomach will have fallen off as the body cooled.(22) Even though the above may seem like overkill, one may proceed yet further to pour cold water on Ellenberger's declaration and state that, where a mammoth may have died by drowning or by choking on snow - as suggested in some of the models to be considered below - the water ingested would have diluted the gastric juices still further, thus inhibiting any posthumous digestion!

The preservation of stomach contents after death is attested to in a variety of contexts - far divorced from freezing - and not limited to the bog burials dismissed by Ellenberger. Preserved gastric contents are known from a number of conventional human burials in China, Egypt, and the British Isles.(23) Indeed, forensic scientists use the presence of food in the stomach of a corpse to estimate time elapsed since death.(24) To take an American example: The absence of food residues in the preserved stomach of a palaeoindian "mummy", together with abundant grubs, hickory nuts, chenopodium, and marsh-elder present in the mid-colonic region, was said to show that this child had died at least four hours after his last meal.(25) Thus, freezing is far from the sole explanation possible for the preservation of food in the stomach of a dead mammoth and, I repeat, the latter merely demonstrates that the animal had been feeding shortly before his death.

ICE WATER INADEQUATE?

Ellenberger states that the cooling of a mammoth corpse by ice-water "absolutely would not account for the observations made on the Beresovka mammoth because water would have washed away the blood from under him".(26) This would seem to be correct, for the analysis of this unfortunate creature's death was one of the early successes of the science of taphonomy, and death by falling into a crevasse is indicated - an individual calamity rather than a global event. This particular mammoth had fractured his right foreleg and pelvis; and it is thought that his fruitless attempts to struggle to his feet brought an avalanche of snow down upon him, choking and entombing him simultaneously.(27) Interestingly, swallowed snow would have quenched digestive activity immediately (see above). Cardona's comment that "it had not even rolled over" is hence irrelevant to the case, and neither his nor Ellenberger's hypothesis for the death explains the copious bleeding that occurred. The blood frozen in the surrounding snow resulted from the mammoth's terrible injuries, sustained in the fall, and it is noteworthy that blood-loss in itself accelerates the cooling of a cadaver which, in this instance, would have facilitated freezing.(28)

Ellenberger also quotes Dillow's data on the cooling effect of water at 32 deg F. But these studies, also, are incomplete in that they do not take account of the more efficient lowering of temperature that occurs with a continuous stream of coolant fluid. Any mammoth drowning in a chilled, fast-moving, river would have cooled faster than it would have in the placid body of ice water considered by Dillow. The preservative properties inherent in such a medium are augmented by the potential for adipocere formation, as Cardona himself admits.(29)

BUTTERCUPS AND THE SEASON OF DEATH

Ellenberger went on to accuse me of being "quite disingenuous in overlooking . . . the common buttercup . . . in recounting the range of plants recovered from the Beresovka mammoth's stomach". Begging his pardon, I was not attempting a complete catalogue of food retrieved from that beast but merely indicating the range of plants apparent in the stomachs analysed. In this connexion, neither of my sources mentioned buttercups but, thanks to Ellenberger, I note that several species of the plant were listed by Farrand in his table of analytical results for the Beresovka and Mamantova specimens (concealed under the Linnaean name Rananculus!).(30)

Ellenberger's observations upon the co-existence of seeds with flowers during the summer months is interesting, yet not pertinent to the case in hand. Pfitzenmeyer, who dissected the Beresovka mammoth in situ in September-October 1901, based his estimate of the beast's season of death upon his observations of the contents of the mouth and stomach, as compared to the autumnal vegetation evident in the same locality as the mammoth's remains.(31) Seeds and grasses were readily apparent, but the inference that certain specific flowers were in bloom at the time of death comes from the subsequent analysis of the pollen present. The great difficulty with pollen, of course, is that its necessarily low density allows it to travel very long distances in wind-borne fashion. One cannot, therefore, rule out the possibility that the pollen could have been blown in from outside the region by a wind from the south or east.(32)

Ellenberger and Cardona also take issue with me about Siberian summer temperatures.(33) As indicated above, I make a distinction between the interior of that territory beloved of the latter [Cardona] and the permafrost zone, within the present Arctic Circle, in which the frozen mammoth remains actually occur. Ellenberger goes on to say that "buttercups do not grow, let alone bloom, unless the temperature is well above 40 deg F". He then cites temperatures in excess of this, in the Lena River region, for the three months up to and including August ! (34)

Cardona was particularly incensed by one remark of mine: "We have no knowledge of tundra vegetational coverage in former times . . .".(35) He would have been well advised to have restrained his ire until he had read to the end of my sentence for this would have made it clear that I was speaking in quantitative terms: "but today the plant biomass in the tundra regions support a large population of caribou." This was a response to Ellenberger's expressed doubts that there could have been adequate vegetable biomass in the tundra regions to nourish the woolly mammoth. Such skepticism is the product of a much inflated supposition concerning the size of the mammoth population at any one time. Cardona has fallen into this trap in his fretting about the apparent absence of food supply "for truly vast herds" and "herds consisting of thousands of individuals". (36)

Where is his evidence for such a large population and herd-size? Neither of the living species of elephant move in herds more than a fraction of this number. He is on firmer ground when he speaks of "untold numbers of mammoths in the past". Few would care to dispute this, given that their skeletal remains runs into tens of thousands of individuals! Yet, such numbers are unremarkable considering the ideal conditions for the preservation of skeletons in the cold ground plus the fact that the woolly mammoth flourished from the penultimate glaciation of Europe (240,000 years before the present?) until circa 10,000 years B.P. - or later still, according to my critics. Thus, in 200,000 years, or so, the death and preservation of only one mammoth per year would be adequate to account for all those tusks found. This makes it obvious that the Mammuthus primigenius population was much smaller than certain writers have chosen to presume and/or that only a small proportion of their remains have been preserved (in any form).

It may be reasonable to assume, as Cardona does, that a mammoth would have consumed some 350 pounds of food per day as do modern elephants. Were this so, however, then one mammoth would need to be equated with 100 reindeer in terms of food consumption - although it is not really as simple as this, for the latter are notorious for destroying, by trampling, three times as much vegetation as they eat. Ignoring the fact that there is, at present, a 70-85% surplus of arctic vegetation after all the animals extant have had their fill,(37) there would still have been enough scope for the support of mammoth browsing on the tundra (or, possibly, under grassier circumstances) while presupposing a smaller proportion of commensals such as reindeer. Indeed, there is quantitative archaeological evidence that the population of reindeer was expanding at the expense of the mammoths at the end of the last glaciation. Copious reindeer bones replaced mammoth bones in deposits associated with human hunters, strongly suggesting that reindeer had moved in to fill the ecological niche vacated by the now extinct Mammoth.(38)

In a qualitative sense, Cardona is only correct in saying that the plant remains in the stomach of the mammoth provide an accurate profile of the vegetation in antiquity if the creature may be regarded as an indiscriminate feeder (were no plants unpalatable and hence avoided?). However, Cardona negates even this picture by implying that the habitat of the woolly mammoth was heavily forested, his evidence for which is limited to his quotation from Wrangell that petrified trees have been found in "strata, some 180 feet deep".(39) Geological strata at such depths are thousands of years older than the mammoth and have no bearing upon the subject under discussion.

Heuvelmans, it is true, attempted to show that Mammuthus primigenius was a creature of the forests but it requires more than the meagre presence of the leaves of a few shrubs and small trees to prove it. In fact, the morphological evidence of the cheek teeth of the mammoth, with their pattern of tightly-compressed molar ridges, is said to be in keeping with a rough diet of siliceous grasses rather than leaves and young branches of trees as in modern elephants with their tooth-ridges more widely set.(40) Cardona's shrewd observation that the principal ingredient of the mammoth's diet, the couch grass Agropyron cristatum, is now extremely rare in the area in which the animal ranged may have a bearing upon that school of thought which attributes the demise of the mammoth to the postglacial alteration of its habitat from lushly grassed steppe to boggy tundra.(41) In view of the misrepresentation, misinterpretation, and uncertainty with respect to the implications of the stomach contents of Mammuthus primigenius, I continue to maintain that death in summer has yet to be proven.

. . . to be continued.

William White

Buckinghamshire, England.

REFERENCES

1. W. White, "Mammoth Update: A Reply to Ellenberger," KRONOS VII:4 (Summer 1982), pp. 62-66.
2. C. L. Ellenberger, et al., Ibid., pp. 66-96.
3. Ibid., p. 77; D.Cardona, Ibid., pp.86-87.
4. Ibid., p. 70.
5. Ibid., p. 95.
6. K. P. Oakley, Frameworks for Dating Fossil Man (London, 1969), pp. 33-36; B. Kurten, Pleistocene Mammals of Europe (London, 1968), pp. 136-137; E. Aguirre, "The Evolutionary History of the Elephant," Science, 164 (1969), pp. 1366-1375.
7. Unfortunately, this term is not well defined. See H. Remmert, Arctic Animal Ecology (N. Y., 1980), pp. 3-4. However, W. R. Farrand usefully points out that the frozen remains discussed are unknown south of latitude 60 deg N - "Frozen Mammoths and Modern Geology," Science, 131 (1961), pp. 729-735.
8. Much confusion and misunderstanding has been generated by the arbitrary labelling of miscellaneous extinct large elephant species as "mammoth" - see W. R. Farrand, op. cit., p. 729- P. S. Martin & J. E. Guilday, "A Bestiary for Pleistocene Biologists" in P. S. Martin & H. E. Wright, Jr., Pleistocene Extinctions: The Search for a Cause (London, 1967), pp. 1-62; R. Silverberg, Mammoths, Mastodons and Man (Harmondsworth, 1970), pp. 65-66, 125-127. This unfortunate situation has given rise to such howlers as Dwardu Cardona's description of the ancient proboscidean remains with which the Choukoutien Cave is associated as "mammoth"! See Cardona, p. 84.
9. Ellenberger, p. 67.
10. D. Sugden, The Sunday Times (London, June 14, 1981).
11. H. Remmert, op. cit., p. 46; F. E. Camps (ed.), Gradwohl's Legal Medicine (Bristol, 1976), p. 88.
12. Ellenberger, p. 79.
13. H. Remmert, loc. cit.
14. White, p. 65.
15. Ibid. Further examples of preservation of corpses by fortuitous natural freeze-drying are supplied in J. Mellor, Fundamentals of Freeze Drying (N. Y., 1978), p. 4 and in T. Pizzi & H. Schenone, Bol. Chd. Parasit., 9 (1954), p. 73.
16. W. Weiss, Arktis (Munich, 1975), as cited in H. Remmert, op. cit., p. 47. Elsewhere, Remmert supplies the recorded cooling effect of a 40 metres-per-second (90 m.p.h.) blizzard at -29 deg C (-8 deg F) as being equivalent to still air at -180 deg C (-288 deg F) - quite cold enough for the purposes of my critics!
17. E. D. Philips, The Royal Hordes (London, 1965), p. 79; S. Rudenko, Frozen Tombs of Siberia: The Pazyryk Burials of Iron-Age Horsemen (London, 1970), pp. 8-9.
18. A. Heintz, "On the Pollen Analysis of the Stomach Contents of the Beresovka Mammoth," Blyttia, 16 (1958), pp. 122-142.
19. G. Dimbleby, Plants and Archaeology (London, 1967), pp. 129-130.
20. Cardona, p. 86.
21. F. E. Camps, op. cit., p. 98.
22. The digestive activity of -amylase, the major enzyme involved in the digestion of plants by ruminants, ceases below 37 deg C (98 deg F) - see P. Altman & D. S. Dittmer (eds.), Metabolism (Bethesda, 1968), pp. 281-288.
23. 'Taking the Wraps off Mummy," New Scientist (June 19,1975), p. 669;0. Wei, "Internal Organs of a 2100-Year Old Female Corpse," The Lancet (Nov. 24, 1973), p. 1198; White, p. 64; J. G. Evans, The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (London, 1975), p. 165, where 25 species of plants, preserved in the stomach of a female Viking in a burial in Dublin, Ireland, are described.
24. Actually, experts disagree about the precise time-interval involved! See C. J. Polson & D. J. Gee, The Essentials of Forensic Medicine (Oxford, 1973), p. 36.
25. L. M. Robbins, "A Woodland 'Mummy' from Salts Cave, Kentucky," American Antiquity, 36 (1971), pp. 201-206.
26. Ellenberger, p. 68.
27. R. Silverberg, op. cit., pp. 119-120;1. P. Tolmachoff, as quoted by Cardona, pp.84,89.
28. W. E. D. Evans, The Chemistry of Death (Springfield, 1963), p. 75. Dima, the infant mammoth discovered frozen in 1977, had also bled from its wounds.
29. Cardona, p. 85; cf. White, p. 64.
30. W. R. Farrand, op. cit., pp. 731, 735. The list in question was compiled from the pollen analysis provided by A. Heintz (see ref. 18, above).
31. R. Silverberg, op. cit., p. 121. The inestimable value of pollen and spore analysis in mammoth stomachs has been very recently re-emphasized - see A. Wiseman, "Mammoth Task," The Times (London, Aug. 18, 1983), p. 6.
32. "Flora of Siberia," Nature, 245 (1973), pp. 236-237.
33. Ellenberger, p. 68; Cardona, p. 84.
34. Ibid. Moreover, once buttercups have bloomed, temperature is of far less importance than hours of sunshine. Buttercups growing in the Arctic continue to open and close their petals with a diurnal rhythm in response to incident solar radiation, irrespective of air temperature. See H. Remmert, op. cit., pp. 5, 8; W. R. Farrand, "Frozen Mammoths," Science, 137 (1962), pp.450452.
35. Cardona, pp. 84, 87;White, p. 63.
36. Cardona, p. 87; Idem, "The Problem of the Frozen Mammoths," KRONOS I:4 (Winter 1976), pp. 77-85.
37. H. Remmert, op. cit., pp. 123, 174. Even so, the surplus crop is very great and, in fact, so much tundra food is available that even such large animals as the Hudson Bay polar bears find it worthwhile to become wholly vegetarian for part of the year! See Ibid., pp. 67, 332-333.
38. It is also possible that, as the climate deteriorated, the mammoth suffered by being forced to compete for food with the ecologically less-demanding smaller browsers, such as reindeer. See B. Kurten, op. cit., p. 170; White, pp.63, 65.
39. Cardona, pp. 87, 89. Dramatic though his picture may be, it has no bearing upon the discussion of the frozen mammoth remains.
40. A. Rosenfeld, "Mammoth: Nature's Own Deep-Freeze System Provides Us With Detailed Knowledge of an Animal Extinct for 10,000 Years,"Animals, 2 (1963), pp. 436438; E. Aguirre, op. cit., pp. 1367-1368; W. R. Farrand (see ref. No. 7), p. 730; B. Kurten, op. cit., p. 130.
41. P. Wright, "Mammoth Clue to Prehistoric Mystery," The Times (London, March 2, 1974).


SHORT-CIRCUITING A CIRCULARIZATION MODEL

To the Editor of KRONOS:

Eric Crew suggests that the orbit of Venus was circularized by the slow decline of electrostatic forces between Venus and the Sun (KRONOS X:2, pp. 13-31). The hypothesis is offered as an alternative to my own hypothesis of circularization by aerodynamic drag (KRONOS VII:2, pp. 3-28). Crew has developed a very interesting computer program. Unfortunately, several objections can be raised against the input data he has used to support his hypothesis.

When estimating the Sun's electric charge, Crew refers to two of his own works, one from 1977, the other from 1981. In the paper from 1977, the only one available to me at the moment, he proves that radiation pressure can yield a maximum voltage gradient of 1.67 x 105 V/m (a value reached if all particles have a radius of 0.25 [micro]m and a charge of one electron each). It is surprising, therefore, that Crew now states that a steady state value of 102 deg C for the total charge of the Sun "does not seem unreasonable" although this would produce a voltage gradient at the surface of 1.86 x 1012 V/m. This discrepancy of 7 orders of magnitude requires an explanation.

For the body representing Venus (called "the core"), Crew makes the rather artificial assumption that the charge is distributed evenly throughout the body. The general rule is that electric charge always accumulates on the surface. But let us leave aside the question as to how the charge was produced and how it became distributed in such a peculiar way. Supposing that the charge is there, how much time will it take for it to leak away? In his computer simulation, Crew has chosen such input data that the charge will leak away in 40 years time. With a total charge of 5.24 x 1014 C, the average current over 40 years will be 4.15 x 105 A. Venus has a surface area of 4.60 x 1014 m2, so the average current density would amount to 9.02 x 10-10 A/m2. This figure is totally incompatible under the given conditions, or 1.29 x 105 MV/m. It would require a material with a resistivity of 1.43 x 102 deg ohm-m. This is much higher than the resistivity of any known solid material. Mica, for instance, is an excellent insulator with a resistivity of approximately 1014 ohm-m at room temperature, yet this is six orders of magnitude lower than the value required to fit Crew's calculations.

There is another, more severe objection. The dielectric strength of most insulating materials is not better than 50 MV/m. If the critical voltage gradient is exceeded, breakdown will occur and the insulator will be turned into a conductor. In spite of many years' search for better insulating materials, no solid material has yet been found with a dielectric strength approaching 105 MV/m. The best material I have found in the literature is mica which, according to one source, can withstand 300 MV/m at room temperature.

The consequence of this is that the charge will leak out to the surface long before Venus has completed one turn around the Sun. Probably, the major part of the charge will be brought to the surface in one violent discharge of 10 seconds duration.

When the charge has reached the surface, how long a time would it take for it to leak out into space? Crew suggests that the leakage current may be limited by the number of charge carriers available, so that the voltage gradient is of little importance. In other words, conduction would be limited by a certain saturation current rather than by a certain conductivity. This may be correct, but it is hard to say how large the saturation current would be, as we do not know very much about the composition of gas or plasma in interplanetary space during the millennia following the Deluge.

Even if there were no external carriers at all, however, the strong voltage gradient postulated by Crew is able to produce all the carriers required for quickly transporting the major part of the charge out into space.

To carry away the whole electric charge requires 3.27 x 1033 univalent positive ions. If these ions consist of ionized carbon dioxide (the main constituent of the atmosphere of Venus), each ion has a mass of 44 x 1.67 x 10-27 kg = 7.35 x 10-26 kg. The total mass of univalent ions required is then 2.40 x 108 kg, and less than that if some of the ions are bivalent.

The atmosphere of Venus has a mass of 4.8 x 1020 kg. This means that a small fraction of the atmosphere, if ionized, could carry away all the charge. Energy for the ionization would be provided by the field.

The charge would leak out even if Venus had no atmosphere. At the voltage gradient of 1.29 x 105 MV/m, the electrostatic forces are strong enough to crumble the bedrock. The particles created in this way would fly right out into space with the charge. Crew's own calculations of the outward forces do not apply to the case when the charge is concentrated at the surface.

Partly as a comment to Cardona's "Ejections, Resonances, and Inversions" (KRONOS X:2, pp. 54-70), I should like to add the following. I have ceased to believe that Venus is made of Jovian core material. When I read Jueneman's suggestion in 1975 that Venus was a former satellite of Jupiter (KRONOS 1:3, p. 78),I realized that this was a much better theory. It is true that I used some words that may have been misleading in my paper on the circularization problem. I wrote: "When Venus left Jupiter, as posited by Velikovsky, it brought with it an envelope of gas, dust, and larger particles" (KRONOS VII:2, p. 10). What I had in mind was not a literal ejection from the body of Jupiter but an escape from its Roche lobe which was, at that time, probably filled with gas and dust captured material originally ejected by Saturn.

Of course, Venus may also have been a satellite of Saturn. If Saturn was much closer to the Sun than now, the circularization problem may be easier to solve than we previously thought.

Ragnar Forshufvud

Karlskoga, Sweden


A COSMIC NON SEQUITUR

To the Editor of KRONOS:

In "Ejections, Resonances, and Inversions" (KRONOS X:2), Dwardu Cardona provides many thoughtful observations. It is reassuring that someone besides R. C. Vaughan was stimulated enough by my questions to comment. However, given Cardona's continuing reticence to describe what he means by "Child of Saturn", much remains to be said and he should not be chagrined at the speculation that fills the void. Although the main point of this letter will concern resonances, I would also like to comment briefly on ejections, inversions, and the mytho-historical record.

Regarding ejections, Cardona proposes that "the possible ejection of the planet Venus from Saturn must have cropped up among Velikovskian scholars prior to the publication of [his] 'Child of Saturn' ". Nevertheless, while this may be true, Cardona, to his credit, was the first person to my knowledge to advance a non-Jovian origin in public. This is more important than any private notes or discussions that may have occurred earlier. Thus, everyone's surprise at San Jose in 1980 when he read his paper "Other Worlds, Other Collisions". Until then, I am unaware of any Velikovskian scholar dissenting so drastically from Velikovsky's reconstruction. At Portland in 1972, Velikovsky emphasized his fallibility [Pensee IVR II, p. 34]; and David Griffard later highlighted Velikovsky's own uncertainty about the agent at the Exodus [KRONOS VII: 1, p. 15], but no one ever questioned the basic Venus-Jupiter link. A Venus-Saturn link was not even hinted at by David Talbott in The Saturn Myth (New York, 1980).

Regarding inversions, their possibility should be weighed in light of the immense physical difficulties they present and the knowledge that Michelson's 1974 comments about their physical ease were incorrect, as my letter in KRONOS X:3, pp. 111-112, reveals. As a purely academic point, a tippe top reversal is more relevant than a 180 deg inversion of the Earth, Senmut's ceiling aside for the moment, because physical processes take the path of least resistance and the tippe top reversal requires the lesser effort [KRONOS VII:2, p. 88] . Although reversing Earth's rotation is as economical as a tippe top inversion, a reversed rotation is much less plausible on dynamical grounds and no physical evidence exists for Earth's rotation ever having stopped.

Furthermore, Senmut's ceiling is probably a red herring in these discussions and therefore irrelevant to cosmic catastrophism. Velikovsky accepted Pogo's 1930 opinion that the ceiling is a map of the sky. However, by 1932 Pogo interpreted the panels as a calendar and, later, as a diagonal star clock - discounting them as a map of the sky. Pogo based his later interpretations upon a fuller knowledge of Egyptian astronomical motifs in a variety of contexts. Velikovsky never commented upon the evolution of Pogo's thinking which was described by O. Neugebauer and R. A. Parker in Egyptian Astronomical Texts Vol. III (Providence, RI: 1969).

At McMaster in 1974, J. W. Warwick reported on his examination of Velikovsky's use of Senmut's ceiling, stating, in part, that "Velikovsky did not write with a knowledge of the verbal and mathematical distinctions required to draw upon the data of Senmut's tomb for verification of whether the Earth's axis had overturned in fact" and, further, that Velikovsky's discussion includes a description which "is completely opposite what the pictures appearing in Pogo's article exhibit".

Regarding resonances, Cardona attempts to show that those among Jupiter's Galilean satellites could have formed quickly so that their existence is not inconsistent with the moons having been disrupted within the last several thousand years. For his case, Cardona relies largely upon the work of J. G. Hills and M. W. Ovenden as reported by R. W. Bass, with J. M. Bailey and T. C. Van Flandern used to a lesser extent.

In the simplest terms, Bass misrepresented the work of Hills and Ovenden in Pensee IVR VIII when he used it to support the idea that recent orbital disruptions in the Solar System are not at variance with Newtonian dynamics. Cardona adds nothing to the discussion to overcome this deficiency.

According to Bass, Hills, using computer simulations of the N-body problem, discovered that "arbitrary planetary configurations, started with purely random initial positions and velocities, tend, during a few thousand to a few hundred thousand subsequent years to 'relax' into a Bode's-law type of resonant configuration". What Bass failed to share with his readers is the fact that the planetary system that relaxed the fastest for Hills (ca. 2000 yrs.) was composed of the Sun with four planets each "ten times the mass of one of the Jovian planets" [Nature 225, 1970, pp.840-42] . This result suggested to Hills that "a reasonable estimate of the time necessary for the Jovian planets to evolve to their present orbits after their formation is [between 100,000 and a million years] ". Bass also never bothered to distinguish between a general "Bode's-law type of resonant configuration" and the specific 1:2:4 resonance displayed by the first three Galilean moons, among others [see Chs. 3 & 4 in D. Morrison (ed.), Satellites of Jupiter (Tucson, 1982); plus A. E. Roy, The Moon and the Planets 22, 1980, pp. 67-81 and J. Kovalevsky in A. Berger (ed.), The Big Bang and Georges Lemaitre (Dordrecht, 1984), pp. 181-94] .

Ovenden proposed that the Solar System is adjusting to the recent "dissipation" of a 90 Earth-mass planet at the asteroid belt [Nature 239, 1972, pp. 508-9] and that "the time of relaxation from an arbitrary configuration is short compared with the time spent near such a minimum-interaction configuration". What Bass again failed to share with his readers is the fact that Ovenden placed this event 17 million years ago with the orbital re-adjustments taking another 280 million years. Ovenden also stated that the Galilean moons required two billion years "to approach within the observed precision of resonance". Since Bass did nothing on his own to supplement or extend these results, the work of Hills and Ovenden obviously does nothing to support Bass' time scale.

Finally, Cardona misrepresents Bailey and Van Flandern. In 1971, Bailey dealt with the capture of the then seven outer moons of Jupiter specifically excluding the four inner, or Galilean, ones. Cardona did not properly describe Bailey's work so that in referring to "the prograde inner satellites" Cardona inadvertantly included the Galilean moons with the prograde captured ones. Then, by implication, Cardona has Van Flandern supporting the idea of major disruptions "only a few thousand years ago". But this is not so because the disruption of a former asteroidal planet is dated by Van Flandern to four million years ago - hardly "only a few thousand".

Checking Cardona's sources shows that no observations or experiments support the origin of the resonances among the Galilean satellites within the last few thousand years. That there is quantitative support for the idea that the Solar System we observe today could be the survivor of orbit-altering cosmic catastrophes within such a time frame turns out to be nothing but a figment of Bass's fertile imagination. Like "wild motions" discussed in KRONOS X: 1, pp. 88-91, this is another example of Bass' writing falling exceedingly short of expectation. As Part II of my "Still Facing Many Problems" in KRONOS X:3 shows, electromagnetism offers no solution to this problem so far as we have been able to determine. Cardona and other literal interpreters of myth will have to look elsewhere for physical mechanisms to support their version of what the planet-gods were really about.

Regarding the mytho-historical record, in which Cardona places great stock, the absence of detailed, explicit accounts means the emphasis is decidedly on myths, legends, and religious traditions. This makes interpretation a key process, raising the question of how valid is their literal interpretation, as Velikovsky, Cardona, D. Talbott, and others advocate.

The validity of literal interpretation has not been seriously enough questioned in Velikovskian circles. However, considering the immensity of the physical problems attending Velikovsky's planetary near-collisions and the absence of any credible solutions so far, it would be prudent to entertain alternatives to the literal interpretation of mythological and related material. A fruitful paradigm should be expected to solve more problems than it creates; but this has not been the case with Velikovsky's specific reconstruction.

The need to re-evaluate the validity of literal interpretation is underscored by the realization that people in oral cultures, where the myths originated, do not see the world in the same way that literate people do. The very act of writing down oral traditions begins a process in which their original meaning becomes lost, and teaching the people in oral cultures to read separates them from their oral roots. What now looks like planets as gods, instead of planets named after gods, may not be what the ancients intended at all. This may be difficult to comprehend, but Walter J. Ong describes the process convincingly in Orality and Literacy (Methuen, 1982). The absence of any examination of the correspondence between the content of oral traditions and the subsequent interpretation of their written versions by current Velikovskian scholars is a serious defect in the methodology.

C. Leroy Ellenberger

St. Louis, MO


"STILL FACING . . .": A REPLY TO COMMENTS

AND AN UPDATE

To the Editor of KRONOS:

The reader response in KRONOS X:3 to my "Still Facing . . . Part I" in KRONOS X: I is quite gratifying although one could not help but notice the dearth of rejoinders from the principals whose work was crititicized. Hopefully Part II and the successors will generate further discussion. What follows is my reply to Messrs. Thompson, Carroll, Ginenthal, and Forshufvud plus an update to the material in the first two parts of "Still Facing . . .".

Mr. Thompson raises points regarding cometary impacts, a "universal" flood, Hapgood's polar migrations, and Velikovsky's advance claims. An air blast, such as that at Tunguska in 1908, would not necessarily produce the same kind of signal in the ice caps as volcanism. For example, an iridium peak was found in Antarctic ice at the 1908 level [R. Ganapathy, Science 220, 10 June 1983, pp. 1158-61] and iridium is now being sought in Greenland ice [Ganapathy to Ellenberger, Sept. 17, 1984] . The 1000 megaton blasts discussed by Clube and mentioned by Thompson are 83 times more powerful than Tunguska's 12 megatons [A. Chaikin, Sky & Tel., Jan. 1984, pp. 18-21] . As a clarification, since the publication of Z. Sekanina's analysis in late 1983, the scientific consensus is that Tunguska was caused by a small asteroid instead of a comet [Ibid.; plus Nat. Hist., Feb. 1984, pp. 36-7, and Astronomy, Feb. 1984, p. 62] .

Regarding a "universal" flood, I think it is safe to say that if one really happened, the polar ice caps would have become bouyant and floated away. At any rate, their presence and the absence of a salt water layer in the ice is strong evidence against a "universal" flood. The traditions about such a flood, also taking note of Mr. Carroll's concern, almost certainly arose from local experiences that were "universalized" by pre-literate cultures. The physical and thermodynamic constraints on the Flood are so enormous as to "rule out the possibility that the Biblical account of the Deluge is literally and historically correct" [L. G. Soroka & C. L. Nelson, J. Geo. Education 31, 1983, pp. 135-38; see also R. Schadewald, The Skep. Inq. 8: 1, Fall 1983, p p . 22-35 and R. A . Moore, Creation/Evolution XI, 1983, pp. 1-43] .

With respect to Hapgood's polar migrations, they would not be expected to leave an imprint in the ice caps. Although fast in geological terms, their rate was so slow that Earth's shape would adjust itself as the migration occurred, leaving the ice unaffected. However, even Hapgood admitted that the evidence for these three shifts was sketchy at best [The Path of the Pole, p. 40] . The last one was motivated as a means to explain the melting of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age, but it is now understood that a pole shift is not necessary. The scientific consensus is that polar wandering has been nil for the past 200 million years [D. L. Anderson, Science 223, 27 Jan. 1984, pp. 347-55] .

Regarding Velikovsky's advance claims, those cited by Mr. Thompson do not require Velikovsky's scenario for explanation. It might also be pointed out that since 1979 the supposed phase lock between Earth and Venus has been known to be invalid [Astronomy, Oct. 1979, p. 58] . Although advance claims, or predictions, are useful, I think it was a mistake to have placed so much emphasis on them because they never establish, or prove, a theory. As the French physicist Pierre Duhem pointed out, a large number of different theories can usually be fitted to the same set of empirical data. Scientific theories can be supported and disproved, or falsified, but never proven. As "Still Facing . . ." is showing, there is a plethora of data that on first inspection falsifies Velikovsky's scenario; and the traditional rationalizations from Juergens and Milton, for example, are simply unable to rescue the day as far as I have been able to determine.

I agree with the thrust of Mr. Carroll's comments, especially concerning the role of supernovas on which George Michanowsky expounded with respect to Vela X in 1977 in The Once and Future Star [see J. Tierny, Science 83, March, pp. 47-54; P. Huyghe, Science Digest, March 1981, pp. 72-5, 118; and D. Cardona, KRONOS VII:3, 1982, pp. 28-35] . However, considering the evidence from the Greenland ice cores, I am not as sanguine as Mr. Carroll about the occurrence of a global catastrophe within the last 10,000 years.

Curiously, according to the Pyramid Texts, the ancients viewed a spectacular supernova at the celestial pole. A supernova 4000 years ago is reported as producing a world-wide catastrophe including fire-from-heaven, a great darkness, and a great flood. The explosion was in the constellation Draco, the serpent-that-hugs-the-pole, which according to conventional reckoning was then at the celestial pole. The fire-from-heaven, the Great Green, may have been produced by resonance between oxygen in the supernova and Earth's atmosphere, the Einstein photo-electric principle [J. J. O'Neill, New York Herald-Tribune, 15 Feb. 1953, p II 12] . The planetary nebula NGC 6543 is the most likely candidate for this event.

Mr. Ginenthal's attempt to reinterpret the 'Worzel ash", though spirited, is unconvincing. In accepting a volcanic origin, he ignores the point that its support for Velikovsky resided in its having a cometary origin and world-wide distribution, neither of which is the case. His rationalization exhibits the very practice I cautioned against, i.e., forcing a catastrophist explanation on non catastrophic data, which amounts to assuming that which it is desired to prove.

"Uniformitarian schooling and collective amnesia", as Mr. Ginenthal puts it, are beside the point regarding the interpretation of the "Worzel ash". If the oceans were tossed about a la Velikovsky, the existence of any orderly, stratified sediments would be truly miraculous. Velikovsky's scenario is not only contradicted by the continuity of life on islands and the absence of evidence for recent tidal waves, as explained in Part II, KRONOS X:3, but by the mere existence of ordered strata on the sea floor.

Consider the following experiment. To a jar filled with water, create a sequence of sediment layers by adding various fine-grained materials, e.g, fine sand, soil, clay, etc., and allowing each material to settle before adding the next. This represents the ocean bottom before a catastrophe. Then, shake and stir the jar, allow the solids to settle, and observe the new appearance of the sediment. The original order is lost while the new appearance is distinctly different than initially.

Vast areas of ocean bottom are undisturbed while the disturbed sediments that do exist can be explained by ordinary, local processes. I submit that the condition of the ocean bottom is a context whose interpretation is straightforward and not contaminated by "uniformitarian schooling and collective amnesia".

The catastrophes described by Velikovsky are far more violent and destructive than the physical evidence permits. In his enthusiasm and zeal, he evidently took poetic license farther than such license goes. Although he pieced together a story that looked convincing to lay readers, its details simply do not match the physical world. Lynn Rose's claim in Pensee IVR I that Velikovsky's "theory is not in conflict with any clear-cut facts unearthed by other disciplines" [p. 29; Vel. Recon., p. 15] is simply inoperative.

Mr. Forshufvud has mounted an ingenious defense of his model for proto-Saturn, but the fact remains that nothing known about Saturn - its mass, shape, composition, or temperature - indicates that it is a degenerate star [A. P. Ingersoll in J. K. Beatty, et.al. (eds.), The New Solar System, 2nd Ed. (Cambridge, MA: 1982), pp. 117-28] . Forshufvud presents nothing of physical significance to reconcile the Saturn he postulates with the Saturn we observe. Essential to his model is a rotating cloud of gas. It is not inconceivable that the process that formed the cloud would also create significant amounts of plasma whose presence would invalidate the model. Actually, the presence of plasma is guaranteed if, as Forshufvud now postulates, proto-Saturn really was a star. When Forshufvud talks about theories failing to explain observations, it should be borne in mind that by "observations" he really means "interpretations of myth" regarding, for example, interplanetary discharges and theophany.

Current astronomical thinking places well-defined limits on the masses of stars and planets [K. Croswell, "Stars Too Small to Burn", Astronomy, April 1984, pp. 16-22] . All of the handwaving about Jupiter and Saturn being "failed" or "dark" stars notwithstanding, the great preponderance of present astronomical thinking, which is supported by detailed computations, indicates that planets are planets and stars are stars. That Jupiter and Saturn are failed stars is an obsolete idea.

Unfortunately, Forshufvud's Ref. 8 [New Scien., 22 Sept. 1983, p. 850] is less supportive than he thinks because the period of the binary systems discussed becomes shorter, not longer as in his model. I have serious doubts about the validity of his Roche lobe jet effect that supposedly enables proto-Saturn, as a secondary, to move away from the Sun. If material were thrown off the surface of the secondary as a spherical shell it is not obvious how its subsequent passage through the Roche lobe would provide the required jet effect for the secondary. If the process did not operate over the entire surface, it is not clear how, with rotation, it would favor one hemisphere over the other. And even if the jet effect worked initially, Forshufvud has not shown that it would push proto-Saturn all the way to its present orbit; this is only an assumption.

Interestingly, recent new observations of novae increase the alternatives for their operation [M. Bode, New Scien., 23 May 1985, p. 20] . "In an ordinary . . . nova, the red star is a faint dwarf, and the explosion happens when the accreted gas on the white dwarf suffers a thermonuclear eruption. . . . [the new] recurrent novae seem to consist of a white dwarf with a red giant star as its companion." Forshufvud emphasizes the fact that not everything is known about novae outbursts, as though this gives license to virtually unlimited speculation. True enough, knowledge is incomplete [R. E. Williams, Sci Am., April 1981, pp. 120-31 and B. Paczynski, Science 225, 20 July 1984, pp. 275-80], but there are constraints on the possibilities that exclude the hypothetical Sun/ proto-Saturn system as a viable nova and, unfortunately, nothing new learned about novae points in the direction of relaxing those constraints. Neither the Sun nor Saturn is or could have been a faint red dwarf, a white dwarf, or a red giant star. It is also true that not all problems in the origin of the solar system are solved [see, e.g., Jon Darius, "Cosmogony Now", in Peter Stubbs (ed.), New Science in the Solar System (London, 1975), pp. 2-8], but the gaps are very well defined and do not permit rampant speculation. Although handwaving disguises the situation, a glance at the rigorous papers in a volume such as S. F. Dermott (ed.), The Origin of the Solar System (New York, 1978) shows how inadequate handwaving is [e.g, D. J. Stevenson, pp. 395-431] .

However, what conclusively disproves Forshufvud's model is thermodynamics. If Saturn were once a hot star-like body, it would take far longer than ten or twenty thousand years to cool to its present state. The example I checked started with a hydrogen body of Saturn's present mass with a center temperature of 1,000,000 K and surface at 4000 K (assuming such a small, hot body would stay together). For Saturn to cool to its present state by radiation would take over 200,000 years, and actually much longer considering the conservatism in my estimate. Also, even though proto-Saturn's outer envelope was a very thin gas, it would have been very hot with dire consequences for any satellite, e.g., Earth, orbiting inside it. Forshufvud seems to have overlooked this problem, too.

With respect to the dress of Arabs and Egyptians discussed under a rapid change of solar radiation, Forshufvud compares apples with oranges. He does not discriminate between the needs of desert living and Nile river valley living. His point would be firmer if he showed a change in desert dress or a change in Nile valley dress. As it is, his two examples are not comparable. Plus, some Arab desert tribes wear dark clothes, not white. It seems air convection through loose-fitting garments is more important for comfort than their color [A. Shkolnik, et al., "Why do Bedouins wear black robes in hot deserts?" Nature 283, 24 Jan. 1980, pp. 373-75] .

Armchair cosmogonists and elucidators of the mythological Saturn lore would be wise to familiarize themselves with all the relevant disciplines before presuming to invent new science based solely on the naive and literal interpretation of religious and mythological source material that, in all likelihood, has no relation to history or science [C. Hyers, Creation/Evolution XII, 1983, pp. 1-21] . This is not to deny a historical core to some such sources, but merely to emphasize that many of the sources used by Saturnists, Velikovskians, and other catastrophists do not relate to actual events no matter how declarative the texts are in modern translation. According to Hyers, using Genesis as a point of reference, "The basic literary genre of Genesis 1 is cosmological. And, inasmuch as it is dealing specifically with origins, it is cosmogonic. In order to interpret its meaning one has to learn to think cosmogonically, not scientifically or historically. This does not mean that the materials are, in any sense, irrational or illogical. They are perfectly rational and orderly, and have a logic all their own. But that logic is not biological or geological or paleontological or even chronological. It is cosmological and theological" [Ibid., p. 15] . Cf., for example, D. Cardona, KRONOS X: I (1984), p . 1 - 15.

The reader will perceive that this perspective contradicts the keystone of Velikovsky's methodology, i.e., that myths have a basis in reality that can be used to reconstruct pre-history. Another facet of this issue is discussed in "A Cosmic Non Sequitur", elsewhere in this issue.

Learning about the polar supernova in Draco and its effects on Earth came as a great surprise, especially since such an obviously Saturn-myth-oriented event has never, to my knowledge, been mentioned in print by Velikovskians or any of the practicing Saturnists. Although in 1973 W. Mullen wrote about the Pyramid Texts in Pensee IVR III, he did not indicate an awareness of this supernova. Considering that O'Neill's column is over 30 years old, it would appear that the Saturnists have missed a most relevant datum.

In KRONOS VII:3, it may have been acceptable for Cardona to have treated the Vela X supernova, which appeared on the horizon in Mesopotamia, as a subsequent evocation of the primordial polar Saturn explosion. However, the location of the polar supernova in Draco is too close to the Saturn lore to be a coincidence. If it should prove to be the progenitor of the polar configuration, then it would appear that the Saturnists have some revising to do.

Since writing the first two parts of "Still Facing . . .", new and/or additional information has come to my attention and it is presented below.

Wild Motions : While planets are not subject to wild motions, asteroids in 3:1 orbital resonance with Jupiter apparently are, according to work by J. Wisdom and G. Wetherill reported by R. A. Kerr [Science 228, 7 June 1985, p. 1186] . Such asteroids are perturbed into Earth-crossing orbits and become the source of meteorites.

Worzel Ash:

When writing this section, I had the distinct impression that others besides Velikovsky had mentioned the Worzel Ash, but I could not locate any of them at the time. Six have since been found: G. Kolodiy, Bull. Atomic Scien., Feb. 1975, p. 38; T. Ferte, Pensee IVR I, p. 12; C. J. Ransom, Ibid, p. 17 (reprinted in Vel Recon., pp. 97-98), C. H. McNamara, Philadelphia Magazine, April 1968, p. 96; Doubleday ad in New York Times Book Review, August 2, 1964, p. 17; and E. Larrabee, Harper's, August 1963, p. 53.

Tree Rings : The correlation of tree ring growth with climate is discussed in H. C. Fritts, Science 154, 25 Nov. 1966, pp. 973-79 and V. C. LaMarche, Jr., Nature 276,23 Nov. 1978, pp. 334-38. The 8,681 year bristlecone pine sequence has now been supplemented with a 7,272 year tree ring record for western Europe [J.R.Pilcher, et.al.,Nature 312,8 Nov. 1984, pp. 150-52].

Contrary to my statement, Sorensen did acknowledge LaMarche and Harlan's 1973 work, in Creation Res. Soc. Q. 13, 1976, pp. 5-6, but his stance was unchanged from Pensee IVR IV and he ignored its significance.

Ice Ages : Additional support for the role of geomagnetism in the Milankovitch model of ice ages is reported by J. Gribbin in New Scien., 7 Feb. 1985, p. 20.

A recent series by M. J. Oard critically examines the methodology underlying the Milankovitch model with emphasis on the dating of ocean sediments [Creation Res. Soc. Q. 21, 1984, pp. 66-76; Ibid. 21, 1984, pp. 125-37; Ibid. 21, 1985, pp. 170-81] . He is dubious of resonance and non-linear processes to enable small causes to produce large effects, clearly distrusts the validity of results from micro-analysis because of errors supposedly arising from small sample size, and, most significantly, ignores the significance of the absolute dating for the last 10,000 years available from the Dye 3 core, just as he ignored the ice core data in CRSQ 16, 1979, pp. 29-37. Clearly, Oard's series is biased by his creationist beliefs.

Gravity vs. Magnetism : An article in the July 1985 Science Digest, p. 26, is headed "Magnetic Whirlwinds: New discoveries show that magnetism is as fundamental as gravity". While this may at first glance appear to give new support to Velikovsky, this is not the case. Nothing in it contradicts what I wrote in KRONOS X:3. The key passage reads, "While the magnetic fields observed in these jets are weak (around one 10-thousandth the strength of the magnetic field of the Earth at its surface), the volume of space they take up is so great that extremely large currents must be required to create them." As has been understood since before 1950, magnetism dominates particles; gravity dominates massive bodies. In fact, as J. W. Warwick stated in 1974 at McMaster, "By 1937, Alfven had already estimated correctly from fundamental physical phenomena the presence and distribution of magnetic fields throughout the Milky Way." For a related item, see Sci. Am., Oct. 1984, p. 74. Also at McMaster, and much to Velikovsky's consternation, Irving Michelson reported that to circularize Venus' orbit in 1500 years, assuming an electrical charge of 10^13 coulombs, would require a solar magnetic field at Venus of 210,000 gauss [Pensee IVR VIII, p. 42], a value "some billions of times larger than the greatest values we could conceivably accept as realistic at this time".

In 1899, Kristian Birkeland "suggested that electron streams following the Earth's magnetic-field lines were responsible for auroras. . . . The main point of his auroral theory was that electrically charged particles ejected from sunspots are captured by the Earth's magnetic field and directed along the field's lines into the polar regions" [A. L. Peratt, "Birkeland and the Electromagnetic Cosmology", Sky & Tel, May 1985, pp. 389-91] . Birkeland's theory was opposed by Sydney Chapman "who maintained that the Earth was surrounded by 'vacuum"' [Ibid., p.389] . The controversy was not decided in Birkeland's favor until 1974 when space-probe measurements confirmed Birkeland's theory.

Since the Velikovsky literature has tended to create the impression that Velikovsky had priority concerning space not being a vacuum [e.g, T. Ferte, Pensee IVR I, p. 11], be it noted that Birkeland's work is thoroughly discussed in a book cited several times by Velikovsky, namely, J. A. Fleming (ed.), Terrestrial Magnetism and Electricity (New York, 1939), pp. 590-98. Curiously, Velikovsky never mentioned Birkeland in his published writings.

Electric Stars : Further elucidation of how the Sun's differential rotation relates to its magnetic activity is presented in H. B. Snodgrass and R. Howard, "Torsional Oscillations of the Sun", Science 228, 24 May 1985, pp. 945-52.

C. Leroy Ellenberger

St. Louis, MO


CATASTROPHISM, REVISIONISM, AND VELIKOVSKY

To C. Leroy Ellenberger:

The actual reason for writing this letter has to do with the final sentence in your letter of October 16,1984 to Alfred de Grazia. You write: "I really believe that if someone had done to V in the early 1950s what Dalrymple has now done with the Creationists, you would never have got started in 1963 - and neither would I have read your book [The Velikovsky Affair] in 1970." This running away from Velikovsky really interests me. I want to clarify this in the field of Ancient History. You might not be aware of the undisputed consensus in mainstream scholarship on the beginnings of post-megalithic civilisation in Mesopotamia, which commonly figures as the cradle of civilisation. I quote from Edith Porada's article in Ehrich's Chronologies in Old World Archaeology (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1965). On top of levels only containing relics of tribal villages the excavators found a "destruction level" after which they discovered "the first high terrace of Eanna" (p. 156). This terrace is the foundation of the first Inanna-temple in the history of mankind. As "another innovation" the excavators found "Inanna symbols" (Ibid.). Edith Porada - as I said - represents the consensus of scholarship, and I only quote from Sandars' The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin) to confirm this: "Excavation has shown that the . . . Early Dynastic civilization . . . follows notable flood levels at several important sites: Shurrupak, Kish and Uruk among them" (p. 14).

Venus sanctuaries, as the decisive feature of the beginning of civilisation after destruction and flood levels, is exactly what I expect from the archaeologists to test Velikovsky's claims. There is only the problem of dates to be solved. The Venusian rise of civilisation after natural catastrophes is dated around -3000. If this date is to hold, Velikovsky is in trouble. However, together with Chris Marx/Basel, I am collecting evidence that this date is a desk fabrication not to be confirmed by the archaeological evidence. We can plausibly show that the Akkadians of the 3rd millennium never existed (and no stratified relics ever showed up) and that the Sumerians of the 3rd millennium, unknown to the scholars of Antiquity, are the alter ego of the Chaldaeans of the late 2nd and 1st millennium attested for in hundreds of ancient sources but to this very day allegedly without a single material remainder. The archaeological evidence, the layers actually found, only allow for around the middle of the second millennium as the earliest possible date for the destructions with the ensuing Venus Temples.

Interestingly enough, the work which resulted in a shortening of Mesopotamian Chronology was not related to attempts to prove or to disprove Velikovsky, but to produce an evidence-supported history of the monetary economy on which I have been working for half a decade. What is left to be done between Velikovsky's reconstruction and establishment scholarship is the role of Inanna=Ishtar=Venus in the catastrophes preceding the sanctuaries dedicated to her. Mainstream scholarship remains silent which I don't regard as a virtue. Velikovskian Revisionists don't want to relate the catastrophes to Venus, and this I don't consider to be very productive.

Let me now switch to the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of Western Civilisation, which comes about with the advent of the Archaic Polis in Greece. The mysterious evolution of the Greek City States out of tribes wandering in 500 dark years is heavily disputed. I quote from Sally Humphreys' Anthropology and the Greeks (London, et al., 1983): The"Greekpolis appears no longer . . . as a product of Indo-European tribal organization, but as a social system growing out of the ruins of an 'Oriental Despotism"' (p. 68). Only the ruined Mycenaean feudal estates can be the predecessors of the 8th century born Greek polis if there is no dark age in between. That's why Classical scholars increasingly tend to make clear that the responsibility for dates creating the Dark Age of Greece does not lie with them. I quote the world authority in the field, Moses Finley, from his Early Greece: The Bronze and the Archaic Ages (London, 1981): "There is not a single dated object from the Aegean world which is not an import (and there are precious few of those). All dates are archaeological. . . . The pivots, the 'absolute' dates, are then fixed by synchronizations, made possible by imported and exported objects, with a few known dated from Egypt or Syria" (pp. 10ff.).

To test Velikovsky, I would expect a chain of catastrophes at the end of the Bronze Age - the 15 year-period Mars catastrophes; and Finley writes: "There were periodic catastrophes" (p. 59); and he goes on: "Archaeology reveals cataclysms, but it cannot tell us the circumstances or even who the participants were" (p. 10). So, what remains to be done between Velikovsky and mainstream scholarship is the debate on the "participants of the cataclysms". Velikovsky does not remain silent which I consider a virtue. Mainstream scholars at least expose a kind of open-mindedness towards the causes of the cataclysms, which shows that they did not abandon the rules of science. Velikovskian Revisionists again give the poorest impression one might think of. And, if I may refer to you personally, no Greenland Ice core can eliminate the destruction layers dug up by archaeologists. No ice core can put the Venus sancturaries following these layers into doubt. It rather works the other way round. The ice core researchers still have to prove their skills.

As long as Velikovskians run away from the strong points in Velikovsky's works to build their edifices on the weakest points of mainstream scholarship, they will end up as bastards who, for good reasons, nobody will listen to.

Gunnar Heinsohn

Bremen, Fed. Rep. Ger.

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