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The Synthesis of Manna
As Velikovsky has shown, manna (ambrosia) fell on many parts of the world. All narratives agree that manna was cosmic in origin, white in colour, sweet, fragrant, oily, and syrup-like. It was compared with oatmeal, corn, milk and honey, soma, and bread. From what can be gathered, it appears that manna is a kind of carbohydrate mixed with fragrant chemicals.
Velikovsky contends that during Venus' encounter with Earth ca. 1500 B.C., our planet was shrouded by the thick, hydrocarbon-rich tail and atmosphere of the proto-planet Venus. Petroleum rained onto our planet and the sky lit up in fire. But after the fire and explosions in the sky, manna began to fall. Such a sequence of events can be gathered from the book of Exodus and from other ancient texts.
Velikovsky concluded that manna was produced from the Venusian hydro-carbons. "When the air is overcharged with vapour, dew, rain, hail or snow falls. Most probably the atmosphere discharged its compounds, presumably of carbon and hydrogen, in a similar way" (1). Unfortunately Velikovsky did not show how such a process could bring forth manna. Velikovsky was severely criticized by Isaac Asimov in the October, 1969, Fantasy and Science Fiction in an article, "Worlds in Confusion." Asimov retorted: "That sounds as though the hydrocarbon clouds precipitated in a rain of gasoline, kerosene, and asphalt ... Can a cloud of gasoline vapour precipitate as a sugar-like compound? This I'm afraid is chemically impossible."
Of course carbohydrates cannot be precipitated from hydrocarbons but, as a man of prolific imagination, Asimov should realize that there was a possibility for the Venusian hydrocarbons to produce carbohydrates by reacting with the Earth's upper atmosphere. There are several possibilities, but before dealing with some of these processes we must briefly consider the environment in question (2).
The ordinary atmosphere of our planet extends some 55 miles in altitude. Beyond this height the gaseous mantle is differentiated into layers of nitrogen, oxygen, helium, and hydrogen, in ascending order. Hydrogen, being the lightest, forms the topmost layer; it is a potential reducing agent. The oxygen of the oxygen layer is a potential oxidizing agent. Sub-layers can also be produced (e.g. ozone by ultraviolet-rays on oxygen) by the action of cosmic radiations. Cosmic rays and particles can energize chemical reactions. Scattered over the upper atmosphere are dust particles of various kinds, including iron, nickel, calcium, potassium, and titanium; these are potential catalysts. Thermal agitation, turbulence, tidal actions, and gravitational waves can bring about a mixing effect (3). In such an environment many chemical processes can take place. One scientist has labelled the upper atmosphere the "chemosphere."
As the main gases in this region are hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and nitrogen, nothing spectacular takes place. Haerendel and Lust (4) observed many unusual phenomena when clouds of barium atoms were introduced. As to the effect of introducing carbon atoms in the form of hydrocarbons, we shall consider only the synthesis of manna:
(1) When the Venusian hydrocarbons shrouded the Earth, part of it would mix with hydrogen of the hydrogen layer and another portion would be oxidized by the oxygen of the oxygen layer. The main products of combustion are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water vapour. Hydrogen can be released from water vapour through cosmic irradiation, as laboratory experiments suggest (5). The action of cosmic radiation on the carbon dioxide/hydrogen/carbon monoxide/water vapour mixture would generate formaldehyde. Once formaldehyde is formed, various types of sugars and starches would be generated by the process of polymerization and adol condensation. The general formula for this process is:
nCH2O ® (CH2O)n
In the above equation n is any integer. If n = 5, the product is a pentose; if n = 6, the product (isomers also exist) is a hexose; etc.
Formaldehyde should be formed during the day when the gaseous mixture is bombarded by particles from the solar furnace. The product would polymerize in the cool of the night, particularly on dust particles, and rain down in the early morning. If one refers to Exodus and Numbers, one finds that manna was deposited early in the morning with the dew.
Dr. A. J. Swallow, in his text, Radiation Chemistry of Organic Compounds, writes (5):
"The synthesis of organic compounds through the agency of high-energy radiation has been amply demonstrated in the laboratory, an elementary example being the alpha-induced reaction between carbon dioxide and hydrogen to give formaldehyde, which then reacts further. Carbon monoxide can be reduced similarly. The main final product of irradiation in both cases appears to be a white solid of composition (CH2O),,, which is presumably produced by polymerization of formaldehyde. It was originally thought that carbohydrates could be produced in this way" (pp 244-45).
The "white solid" mentioned above could be what is described in Exodus, Numbers and elsewhere.
(2) Carbon monoxide and hydrogen can also generate carbohydrates when exposed to ultra-violet light. A. C. Caress and E. K. Rideal (6) give the following equation:
CO + H2 ® CH2O
The above equation leads to this logical step:
nCH2O ® (CH2O)n
the polymerization process.
Radioactive emanations also have the same effect. This was reported by Stocklesa, Sebor and Zdobnicky in their 1913 paper to the French Academie Des Sciences, entitled "On the Synthesis of Sugars by Radioactive Emanations."
(3). When the carbon dioxide of Venus mingled with the hydrogen of Earth's hydrogen layer under action of cosmic radiations (x-rays, alpha-rays, etc.), carbohydrates could be produced.
(4). The carbon dioxide and water vapour carried over from Venus could be transformed into carbohydrates by the action of ultra-violet radiation in the upper atmosphere. According to astronomer V. A. Firsoff (7): "In the presence of ultraviolet radiations water vapour and carbon dioxide combine to form formaldehyde (CH2O) with release of an oxygen molecule. "The equation can be written as follows:
CO2 + H2O + Radiation ® CH2O + O2
The above equation is quite similar to that of photosynthesis in plants:
6(CO2 + H2O) ® C6H12O6 + 6 O2
(5) When the methane of Venus covered the atmospheric mantle of Earth, part of it was oxidized (very explosive). The products, which include water vapour, would mingle with the unoxidized methane to form a mixture. This mixture would then be subjected to radiations from solar and stellar sources. Laboratory tests have shown that formaldehyde is formed in such a process (8).
(6) There is another possibility. The Venusian ethylene that came into contact with the ozone of the oxygen layer would be converted to ethylene ozonide. Being unstable, it decomposes into formic acid and formaldehyde, from which carbohydrates can be generated.
There are other possibilities, but it is sufficient to list six here. Once formaldehyde is formed, sugars, nectars, syrups, starch, and other carbohydrates can be generated.
The type of carbohydrate that can be produced depends on the value of n in the equation,
nCH2O ® (CH2O)n
If n=6, the product can be a fructose or glucose, or both. Now, fructose. is the sweetest of all hexoses; it is found in honey. Glucose is moderately sweet; it is also found in honey. Glucose molecules can link together to form starch, which is insoluble in cold water, giving a milkish suspension. If galactose is also generated, glucose can combine with it to form lactose. Lactose is found in milk. Thus we see how artificial ,,milk", "honey" and "bread" could have been formed in the ancient upper atmosphere of our planet. When such substances fall into the river, the river will be transformed into a "river of milk and honey"; such a deposit will make the land a "land of milk and honey."
A portion of the cometary tail of Venus was torn off when it encountered the earth around 1500 B.C., during the Exodus. It became a "pillar of smoke and fire." It gave the Israelites shade during the day and warmth during the night. It is significant that as long as the Israelites followed the object they were assured of manna. In fact the author of Psalms acknowledged that manna came from the "flesh" of the leviathan (9). It was the hydrocarbon cloud that supplied the Israelites with manna. It could be brought about by any of the six processes outlined above. Hydrocarbons can also be converted into edible materials by the action of micro-organisms in the air.
There is a pilot program by the British Petroleum Company in France designed to convert petroleum into protein. According to the New Scientist (September 25, 1969) a similar program was started in Scotland. So Venusian hydrocarbons could have been converted into proteins by micro-organisms.
(1) I. Velikovsky. Worlds in Collision (Doubleday, N.Y., 1950), p. 134.
(2) K. K. Wong. Astounding Universes and Cosmoanalysis (not published).
(3) F. S. Johnson. Discovery, (February. 1966).
(4) Haerendel and Lust. "Artificial Plasma Clouds in Space," Scientific American (November, 1968). p. 80.
(5) A. J. Swallow, Radiation Chemistry of Organic Compounds (Pergamon Press, Oxford. 1960).
(6) Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Section A. Vol. 120. pp. 170-85.
(7) V. A. Firsoff. Our Neighbouring Worlds (1954), p. 208.
(8) Swallow, op. cit., p. 78.
(9) Psalm 74:13-14. In another translation cited by Carl Jung in his Symbols of Transformation, the verse is rendered: "Thou didst crush the head of the Leviathan, thou didst give him as food for creatures of the wilderness."