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  • AAAS symposium will attempt an evaluation of Velikovsky's work, focusing on "the nature and origin of the planets."

Review Compendium

More than 20 years ago Immanuel Velikovsky concluded, from his studies of historical and archaeological records, that close encounters between Earth and the planets Venus and Mars occurred near 1500 B.C. and 775 B.C.

Velikovsky's suggestions differed greatly from the generally accepted view of the solar system, and many astronomers and historians considered his conception to be fallacious.

Although an attempt was made to suppress Velikovsky's writings, public interest in his ideas continued, and in recent years has increased. This renewed interest arises in part from the progress of space exploration. Velikovsky claims that the results of space research support his views; however, many astronomers flatly disagree.

An AAAS meeting symposium entitled "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science," arranged by Donald Goldsmith of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Owen Gingerich of Harvard University, and Ivan King of the University of California at Berkeley, will present speakers both in favor of and opposed to Velikovsky's ideas. The symposium will deal with theories proposed by Velikovsky, focusing on questions of the nature and origin of the planets, and will include, among other speakers, Velikovsky himself. (Reprinted from Science, vol. 182, 23 November 1973, pp. 848-49. Copyright 1973 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.)


Not since 1633, when Galileo was summoned to Rome to recant his espousal of the Copernican theory, has so much excitement been generated as after the announcement that Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky will participate in the kick-off symposium at the AAAS, Conference next February 25th in San Francisco.

The half-day formal session, with a panel of six distinguished scholars including Velikovsky, will discuss the pros and cons of his challenge to science regarding electromagnetic behavior vs.gravitation within our solar system, and argue the celestial mechanics and thermo-dynamics of nearplanetary collisions.

His 1950 book, Worlds. in Collision, claimed that Venus and Mars made flybys to the earth some 35 and 28 centuries ago, respectively, and electrically repelled each other through enormous lightning discharges between the planets. The symposium committee, headed by Dr. Ivan King of UC Berkeley, chairman-elect of the Astronomy Section of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), the current chairman Dr. David Goldsmith of SUNY, Stonybrook, and Dr.

Owen Gingerich of Harvard, are all something less than sympathetic to Velikovsky's views, yet feel that the recent upsurge in interest has prompted a rehearing of the Velikovskian hypotheses.

In addition, this is a move to stem the criticisms leveled at the AAAS by various groups for past excesses by the more militant and zealous members of that august body against Velikovsky.

As a panelist, Velikovsky will be given about 30 minutes to defend his position, a rather brief time to counter 24 years of castigation, although an informal evening session is planned to allow audience interaction and participation.

Velikovsky's meteoric rise in credibility over the last several years, most notably by his advance claims that thermoluminescence would show unusual recent heating of the moon's surface, the anomalous high temperature and retrograde rotation of Venus, the radio noises of Jupiter and our own magnetosphere, was rooted in his researches in the historical records of both geological and archaeological finds.

If the AAAS symposium in late February is on the up-and-up, and not a contemporary court of inquisition, one may be moved to say, "The fuse is lit!" (Reprinted from Industrial Research, December, 1973, pp. 25-26.)


Title: "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science."

When: 9-12 a.m., February 25, 1974. Also, an informal evening session may be held.

Where: St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco.

Organizers: Professors Donald Goldsmith, Department of Astronomy, State University of New York (Stony Brook); Owen Gingerich (Departments of Astronomy and History of Science, Harvard University); and Ivan King, Department of Astronomy, University of California (Berkeley). These three men comprise the AAAS Astronomy Committee. Professor King is chairman-elect of the committee for 1974.

Panelists: The three-hour format for the morning session allows each of the six panelists to give a 20-minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. The panelists:

  1. Peter Huber, professor of the history of science, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Switzerland;
  2. Irving Michelson, Professor of mechanics and mechanical aerospace engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology;
  3. J. Derral Mulholland, professor of astronomy, University of Texas (Austin);
  4. Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy, Cornell University;
  5. Norman Storer, professor of sociology and anthropology, Baruch College, City University of New York;
  6. Immanuel Velikovsky.

How To Attend: Registration may be effected in person during the convention, and it enables one to attend any of the sessions during the weeklong convention. The registration fee is $17 ($22 including spouse; $8 for "young people" and students).


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