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 •  Cometary Venus
 •  BBC documentary
 •  Planetarium programs
 •  Radiocarbon dating

The April, 1972, issue of Cosmic Electrodynamics carried a paper by Max K. Wallis entitled, "Comet-Like Interactions of Venus with the Solar Wind."  Wallis (department of plasma physics, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm) contends that two characteristics of a cometary atmosphere apply also to the plasma flow past Venus.  Namely, ionization processes, in adding mass to the plasma flow, 1) cause interaction over an extended region, with a gradual change in flow parameters, and 2) eliminate, or at least weaken, the leading bow shock.

While the significance of this conclusion for Velikovsky's own contentions about Venus is not immediately clear, Wallis' paper does underscore the weakness of that argument, often advanced against Velikovsky, which is based on the definition of a comet. (See also the paper by C.J. Ransom and L.H. Hoffee in this issue.) In claiming that Venus was once a "comet" —he actually prefers the term "proto-planet"—Velikovsky never asserted that Venus was identical in nature with comets observed today.  There is no force at all in the claim that, since comets are relatively insubstantial, Venus, which has 4/5 the mass of the Earth, could not have been a comet.  Venus' birth from Jupiter certainly had unique aspects, and one could invent an entirely new name for this celestial body, if he wished.  However, Wallis' paper makes us wonder whether the ancients, who saw Venus as a "hairy," diffuse object (comet), may not have chosen the best term after all.

A 50-minute British Broadcasting Corporation documentary on Velikovsky was aired twice—on the 11th and 14th of January—in England.  Pensée will attempt to provide its readers with a review of the film, which may also be shown in this country.

The fall, 1972, Pensée carried notice of a planetarium show dramatizing Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision.  The program, produced at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's Noble Planetarium, finally closed on November 30, after a record four-month run. (No previous program has lasted more than a single month.)  Attendance remained excellent until the end— "Worlds in Collision" was finally displaced by a pre-scheduled Christmas program.

Since then the Kendall Planetarium, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, produced another version of "Worlds in Collision," sub-titled "Twentieth Century Prophet?"  Not nearly as ambitious as the Fort Worth program, this show consisted primarily of narration.  The few visual and sound effects offered bore no apparent relationship to the events Velikovsky describes in his book. (A photograph of Jupiter was projected during the description of the near-contact between Earth and Venus.)  The spoken narrative, however, at least represented a serious, if sometimes flawed, attempt to acquaint the audience with the gist of Velikovsky's work.  The program ran from January 5 - February 11.

Erratum:  We indicated in our fall, 1972, issue that Nation's production was the first to deal with Velikovsky's work.  But we have since received a letter from Bruce L. Dietrich, director of the Reading School District Planetarium (Reading, Pennsylvania).  "During the interval from January 4, 1970 - February 1, 1970," Dietrich writes, "we offered a program entitled "Whence Cometh Venus?" based entirely on the work of Immanuel Velikovsky ... public acceptance was excellent."

"C14 dating was being discussed at a symposium on the pre-history of the Nile Valley.  A famous American colleague, Professor Brew, briefly summarized a common attitude among archaeologists towards it, as follows:

"'If a C14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text.  If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a footnote.  And if it is completely "out of date," we just drop it.'

"Few archaeologists who have concerned themselves with absolute chronology are innocent of having sometimes applied this method, and many are still hesitant to accept C14 dates without reservations." (T. Säve-Söderbergh and I. U. Olsson, Proceedings of the 12th Annual Nobel Symposium at Uppsala, 1969.)


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