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Open letter to science editors


Venus' Circular Orbit
Chris Sherrerd

Chris Sherrerd is an electrical engineer at the Bell Laboratories in Clinton, New Jersey.

I do not see that the high degree of circularity of Venus' orbit presents a difficulty for Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky's view that Venus once traveled a highly elliptical path.  The ascertainment that the surface temperature of Venus is so great that the body is incandescent indicates a high degree of plasticity (if not an actually molten state until very recently) for the planet's body.  If such a body approaches the intense gravitational field near the sun on an elliptical orbit, considerable energy of motion will be converted by tidal friction into heat.  This will: a) tend to keep the body plastic or molten; and b) change the orbit to that, by the laws of Cassini, which minimizes energy loss by tidal friction.  That is, the effects of tidal friction tend to decrease the magnitude of the velocity at nearest passages, which in turn reduces the ellipticity of the orbit.  If the spin rate is high (short day), such an orbit will be still elliptical, with a shifting perihelion and slowly decreasing major axis; if in addition the initial orbit and equator were severely non-coplanar, strong librations will also result.  If the spin rate is very slow, on the other hand, that orbit will be nearly circular.  It seems very credible, not only by virtue of Velikovsky's theories, but also by the physics of tidal energy dissipation and the current knowledge of the surface temperature of Venus and its Earth-synchronous spin, that this indeed has happened over the past 3000 years.  Also, if there exist strong electromagnetic forces, attractive or repulsive, between Venus and the sun, the orbit of Venus would tend to reach circular orbit in less time than expected by gravitational and tidal-dissipation considerations alone.

To Sherrerd's concluding remark concerning the additional ease with which Venus could achieve a circular orbit in an electromagnetic solar system, I would refer the reader to a 1970 paper by D. K. Sarvajna, in Astrophysical Space Science 6, 258, and to a 1971 paper by L.P.  Williams on "Planetary Formation from Charged Bodies" in the same publication (Vol. 12, 165-171), showing how "a charged body ejected from the Sun can be captured in orbit because of electromagnetic effects.  " (Williams' model requires a much smaller charge than Sarvajna's).  But to these things I also referred over 20 years earlier in the only italicized sentence in Worlds in Collision (p. 387).  I would also assume that Venus' orbit slowly continues to approach a true circle.

Immanuel Velikovsky

PENSEE Journal I

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