Venus and Hydrocarbons
Copyright 1974 by Immanuel Velikovsky
In 1950, I offered the thesis that Venus joined the planetary family less
than 3500 years ago, and that it is still a protoplanet. In doing so, I
claimed that Venus possesses a massive atmosphere, a high surface heat,
abnormal (disturbed) rotation, and hydrocarbon gases in its atmosphere
Plummer's Test. In the March 14, 1969, issue of Science,
W. T. Plummer undertook to examine the last of these claims. He compared the
reflection spectrum of Venus with those of a cloud of pure propane droplets
and a frost of pure solid butane particles, selecting these compounds from a
number of representative hydrocarbons. He chose the 2.1 to 2.5 micron range
in the infrared as best suited for the analysis. He concluded that, whereas
a certain feature of reduced reflectivity apparent in the hydrocarbons
tested is regularly found between 2.3 and 2.5 microns, its position varying
with molecular structure, a similar feature is not present or, more
correctly, not present in the same degree, in the infrared spectra of Venus
obtained by Sinton (1962), Moroz (1964) and Bottema et al. (1964).
"The presence of condensed hydrocarbons in the clouds of Venus, a prediction
regarded by Velikovsky as a crucial test of his concept of the development
of the solar system, is not supported by the spectrophotometric evidence. On
the other hand, Venus observations in this wavelength range and at other
wavelengths are entirely compatible with the reflection spectrum of a
non-infinite cloud layer composed of very small or slender ice particles."
Plummer's verdict is not conclusive, however. First, it is based upon
three incorrect assumptions: (a) that I stipulated that hydrocarbons are
present in condensed form (producing a reflection spectrum); (b)
that I located them in the upper (reflecting) layer of the clouds;
and (c), following from Plummer's comparison, that I maintained that they
are the sole constituent of the clouds. In my original statement
however, I made it clear that polymerized and therefore heavy molecules of
petroleum hydrocarbons are not necessarily present in the upper layer of the
dense atmosphere; that in the lower levels, because of heat, they must
circulate in gaseous form; and that they are not the only components of the
clouds. Second, Plummer's conclusion neglects some important considerations:
(a) Depressions in the reflectivity of Venus near 2.4 microns have been
detected. Both Sinton and Moroz identified a depression in the reflectivity
of Venus at 2.35 microns, but ascribed it to CO. Of another depression
feature at 2.28 microns, Moroz wrote: "Its nature is not clear yet"
. Connes et al. confirmed the band at 2.35 Microns and identified one
at 2.48 microns as due to HF. (b) The general depression in reflectivity
between 2.3 and 2.5 microns in the spectra of Venus obtained by Sinton, by
Moroz, and by Bottema et al. permits a conclusion only as to the
upper limit for hydrocarbons' concentration in Venus' atmosphere
In a composite atmosphere of CO2 and H20,
hydrocarbon gases would not show well in the 2.1 to 2.5 micron range.
Pollack and Sagan wrote (1968): "We no longer consider the region between 1
and 3 microns sufficiently well defined to permit a definite compositional
analysis" of Venus' atmosphere . (c) The 1.0 atmosphere of pressure in
the laboratory experiment and the 0.3 atmospheres inside the absorbing layer
for the 1 to 2.5 micron wavelength on Venus (J. and P. Connes) represent different conditions.
(d) Kuiper observed that in the 1 to 2.5 micron range, strong bands are
stronger in the laboratory than in Venus' spectrum, while the reverse is
true for the weaker bands . Finally, (e) it should be borne in mind that
bright lines of emission from molecules in the hot low atmosphere of Venus
could mask some of the loss in brightness due to the presence of similar
molecules in the reflecting layer of the clouds.
Plummer's conclusion regarding the possible presence of ice crystals in
the atmosphere of Venus is unsound. (a) It contradicts the refractive index
of the clouds, which is definitely higher than that of ice or water (1.33)
, whereas quite a few hydrocarbons exhibit the observed refractive index;
(b) it does not explain the yellowish color of the clouds; whereas organic
substances of the benzenoid or olefinic type absorb in violet and thus have
a yellowish tint; and (c), it is incompatible with the very small amount of
water vapor in the region above the clouds--the mixing ratio H2O/CO2
being 15 parts per million (Belton and Hunter) or only one part per million (Kuiper)
Evidence of Hydrocarbons Lies Deep in Infrared. As I
clearly stated in 1950, the evidence of the presence of hydrocarbons and
their derivatives in the atmosphere of Venus should be sought deeper in the
infrared. The infrared absorption of hydrocarbons is pronounced in the 3.4
to 3.5 micron range and in several other ranges of longer wavelengths. The 8
to 12 micron region is especially suited for tracing hydrocarbons and their
derivatives, for between 8 and 13 microns carbon dioxide absorbs only
slightly and water vapor absorbs not at all . Actually, wide and strongly
expressed bands were observed in the infrared spectrum of Venus in the 3.5
micron range (starting at 2.8 and continuing past 3.8) and again in the 8 to
13 micron region. "The substance responsible for this absorption--it is not
H2O--has not been identified so far, but its importance in the
physics of Venus is enormous" (Moroz, 1963) . Gillett, Low, and Stein
also observed these sharply expressed bands in Venus' atmosphere and wrote
(1968): "We do not attempt an interpretation of the spectra at this time.
However, it should be noted that two fundamental problems are now apparent:
1) What mechanism accounts for the strong absorption of sunlight in the 3 to
5 micron region? 2) What property of the clouds causes the low brightness
temperature between 8 and 10 microns?" .
The solution to the problem of the strongly expressed bands at 3.5
microns and 8 to 13 microns in the infrared spectrum of Venus should be
sought in the presence of organic molecules. "It is well known that organic
molecules containing C-H bands give characteristic spectra in the wavelength
region of 3.4 to 3.5 microns" wrote Glasstone (concerning Mars)
infrared spectrum should receive more attention, particularly the region
from 8 to 14 microns where some of these substances (benzene and several
other substituted hydrocarbons as well as some purines and pyramidines) and
their derivatives exhibit absorptions," wrote Owen and Greenspan (concerning
Jupiter) . "In the 8 to 14 micron spectral interval carbon dioxide
appears to contribute about 20-35% of the opacity and a particulate medium
presumably contributes the remainder."
Processes Occurring on Venus Which Must Be Taken Into Account.
In the hot and oxidizing atmosphere of Venus, chemical reactions must be
occurring. Mueller writing on the "Origin of the Atmosphere of Venus"
referred to the "instabilities of the hydrocarbon compounds in an anhydrous,
oxidizing hot environment" . I assume that (a) in the lower, high
pressure layers, a cracking of most hydrocarbons to hydrogen and smaller CH
units is occurring, which may be polymerizing to give aromatic hydrocarbons
of higher and higher molecular weight; (b) in the middle layers,
hydrocarbons are being converted into CO2 and H2O ("If
there is oxygen on Venus, petroleum fires must be burning there")
(c) in the higher layers, water is being dissociated by the ultraviolet rays
of the sun, with H escaping--actually hydrogen has been observed in Venus'
upper atmosphere. Whereas Venus' atmosphere is oxidizing, its upper
atmosphere is reducing--a fact which when first discovered, seemed
surprising . This also explains why only a small quantity of water is
present in transition between
the two reactions.
Another process possibly occurring on Venus is a bacterial transformation
of hydrocarbons into carbohydrates and proteins (previously discussed by me
in 1951, prior to the conversion of asphalt into food products by a similar
action.) (a) In the ultraviolet wave length of 2600 angstroms, a narrow band
attributed to organic material was identified on Jupiter by Stecher (1965)
 and confirmed by Evans (1966)
. It was surmised to be aromatic
hydrocarbons by Greenspan and Owens . (b) At the same wave length a
similar feature was detected on Venus by Evans and confirmed by Jenkins et al. (1967).
In 1950, I suggested that polymerized hydrocarbons could be created by
electrical discharges in an atmosphere of methane and ammonia (known
ingredients of Jupiter's atmosphere) . In 1960, A. T. Wilson successfully
conducted such an experiment . This process may have occurred on Venus.
Finally, the envelope of Venus may well contain some ferruginous
particles and ash. The "small dust like ashes of the furnace" which fell "in
all the land of Egypt" (Exodus 9:8) and throughout the globe is, I surmise,
still preserved at the bottom of the ocean. Called Worzel Ash after its
discoverer, its even distribution was attributed by him to a "fiery end of
bodies of cosmic origin" and by Ewing "to a cometary collision." "It could
hardly be without some recorded consequences of global extent" (Ewing)
A reflection spectrum of Worzel Ash should be compared with the reflection
spectrum of Venus' clouds.
Original Thesis is Consistent with Evidence. Although my claim
regarding the presence of organic molecules in the atmosphere of Venus
awaits future testing, my thesis concerning the recent origin and history of
Venus is consistent with the discovered data.
(a) Venus is very hot (about 1000° F).
(b) Its heat comes from the subsurface (there being no phase effect at
various wavelengths) .
(c) It has a massive atmosphere (contrary to theoretical expectations)
(d) It rotates anomalously (retrogradely).
(e) In rotating, it turns the same face to the Earth at every inferior
conjunction. This "resonance effect" could indicate that Venus passed near
the Earth at some point in the past.
(f) Its axis of rotation is perpendicular to the ecliptic, not to the
plane of its own revolution .
(g) Its atmosphere rotates at many times the rotational velocity of the
planet . (In my opinion, the protoplanet's trailing part, upon being
absorbed, preserved some of its rotational momentum.)
(h) Its orbit is nearly circular. (Venus is hot enough now to have many
metals on its surface in a molten state; in my opinion, its body was all
molten or plastic not so long ago. Approaching the sun on an elliptical
orbit, as I have claimed that it did as a protoplanet, it had some of its
energy of motion converted by tidal friction into heat. This tended 1) to
keep the body plastic or molten and 2) to decrease the elongation of its
orbit with each passage around the sun, thereby minimizing the energy loss
from tidal friction and resulting in an almost circular orbit
(i) Even on a near circular orbit, Venus may possess ground tides in its
molten crust. The claim by Soviet scientists, based upon data obtained by
Venera V and VI, that there are high mountains on Venus was met with
disbelief by American scientists, who could not visualize how plastic rock
could sustain mountains. Would ground tides explain 1) the difference in
altitude measurements of the two Venera probes, which reached the planet's
atmosphere 185 miles' apart? 2) the observed precession and lateness of the
optical dichotomy--the terminator does not bisect the planetary disc at
exactly Eastern and Western elongations?
Lastly, (j) it must be noticeably cooling. In 1967, I offered this
additional crucial test of my thesis: Venus' heat being of recent origin,
the planet must be cooling off . This loss could be determined by taking
repeated measurements of the cloud surface temperature with a bolometer or
thermocouples and would be observable from one synodic period of Venus to
the next--"even if in only fractions of a degree." Since then, Gillett, Low,
and Stein compared their 1968 absolute spectrum of Venus with earlier
spectral work of Sinton and Strong (1960) "which gave somewhat higher
surface brightness." They added, "the reasons for this disagreement are not
understood at present" . It appears that in eight years (five synodical
periods), the cloud surface temperature of Venus dropped by several degrees.
 I. Velikovsky, "Gases of Venus" and "Thermal Balance of Venus" in
Worlds in Collision (New York: Macmillan 1950, Doubleday 1950).
 "Carbon dioxide is an ingredient of Venus' atmosphere ... On the basis of
this research, I assume that Venus must be rich in petroleum gases. If and
as long as Venus is too hot for the liquefaction of petroleum, the
hydrocarbons will circulate in gaseous form. The absorption lines of the
petroleum spectrum lie far in the infrared where usual photographs do not
reach. When the technique of photography in the infrared is perfected so
that hydrocarbon bands can be differentiated, the spectrogram of Venus may
disclose the presence of hydrocarbon gases in its atmosphere, if these gases
lie in the upper part of the atmosphere where the rays of the sun
 V. I. Moroz, "The Infrared Spectra of Mars and Venus" in
and Space Research, vol. 2, 4th International Space Science
Symposium, 1963 (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1964), pp.
 W. T. Plummer, "Venus Clouds: Test for Hydrocarbons"
(14 March 1969): 1191-92.
 J. B. Pollack and C. Sagan, Journal of Geophysical Research 73: 5945.
 P. Swings, "Venus through a Spectroscope,"
Proceedings of the
American Philosophical Society, vol. 113, no. 3 (June, 1969): 229-46.
 A. Arking and J. Potter, "The Phase Curve of Venus and the Nature of Its
Clouds," Journal of Atmospheric Research, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 617-28.
 G. Kuiper, Communications of the Lunar and Planetary
Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1968.
 H. M. Randall, R. G. Fowler, N. Fuson and J. R. Dangle,
Determination of Organic Compounds, (Van Nostrand, 1949), pp.
46-65 and chart following P. 20; F. F. Bentley, L. D. Smithson, A. L. Rozek,
Infrared Spectra (Interscience Publishers, 1968), pp. 21-28, 65-71.
 F. C. Gillett, F. J. Low and W. A. Stein, "Absolute Spectrum of Venus
from 2.8 to 14 Microns," Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, vol. 25,
no. 4 (July, 1968): 594-95.
 S. Glasstone, The Book of Mars (NASA, 1968), p. 220.
 T. Owen and J. A. Greenspan, Science 156 (1967): 1489.
 R. F. Mueller, Science 163 (21 March 1969):3873.
 T. M. Donahue, "Upper Atmosphere of Venus," Journal of the
Atmospheric Sciences (July, 1968).
 T. P. Stecher, Ap. J. 142 (1965): 1186.
 D. C. Evans, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Report,
 A. T. Wilson, Nature (6 October 1962).
 J. L. Worzel, Proceedings, National Academy of Science
45 (15 March 1959); M. Ewing, Ibid.
 At 2 cm wavelength: D. Morrison, Science 163 (1969): 3869; at
4.5 cm: J. R. Dickel, W. J. Medd, W. W. Warnock, Nature 220 (1968)
1183; at 11 cm: K. I. Kellerman, Icarus (September, 1966).
 H. Spencer Jones, Life on Other Worlds (1952), p. 167; V. A. Firsoff, The Interior Planets (Oliver & Boyd, 1968), p.
 P. Goldreich and S. T. Peale, Nature 209 (1966): 1117; I. I.
Shapiro, Science 157 (1967): 423-25; R. B. Dyce et al.,
Astronomical Journal 72 (1967): 351.
 B. A. Smith, Science 158 (1967): 114-16.
 From a private communication by C. Sherrerd, Clinton, N.J.
 Yale Scientific Magazine 41 (April, 1967).
PENSEE Journal VI