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Open letter to science editors

 

Forum

ON LIGHT AND RELATIVITY

To The Editor:

Velikovsky's paper, "Velocity of Light in Relation to Moving Bodies" (Pensée, fall, 1973, p. 16), outlines an experimental procedure which requires the very limit in accuracy of our present experimental capabilities. Any slight error of placement or alignment would produce anomalous results, as would the slightest vibration. Grain size and distribution in films would contribute to uncontrolled random effects. Accuracy and stability as for the best holograms would be required. It is doubtful that these necessary conditions can be obtained with a rapidly moving shutter and a rotating mirror as a part of the apparatus.

Velikovsky may not have considered a body of theory, now rapidly developing world wide, which considers the presence of a particulate subquantic medium ("the neutrino sea") as necessary to explain several types of phenomena, including transmission of electromagnetic radiation.

The null results of the Michelson-Morley experiments (and similar procedures) have been suggested by several as being due to the nature of the subquantic medium.

The Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction may indeed be very real as a result of atomic interactions with the neutrino sea.

Unfortunately, in the United States concepts which in any way attempt to explain experimental results on the basis of the presence of a near-isotropic neutrino sea run afoul of the "no ether" mind-set. Theoretical approaches which assume the existence of a generalized flux having appreciable mass/energy density, now presently receiving considerable attention by European and Indian scientists, are here accorded much the same treatment as were Velikovsky's concepts (1950-1965), albeit much more subtly.

Regarding Velikovsky's comments on methods for testing the postulates of General Relativity by observing an eclipse from Skylab ("A Missed Opportunity?" Pensée, fall, 1973, p. 19): roll and yaw of the ship may make it too unstable a platform for such accurate astronomic observations. But this subject touches on one of the strangest interludes in all of the history of science, one which has been ignored by modern textbooks, thus to indoctrinate students so thoroughly for over 35 years.

In 1949 Einstein wrote in a personal letter, commenting on his life's work, "There is not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will stand firm, and I feel uncertain whether I am in general on the right track."

The above may not be too surprising when certain facets of long ignored history are considered.

The following are direct quotes, indicating that many of Einstein's contemporaries were most unhappy about the way data were culled and selected by experimenters, to uphold their preconceived convictions:

"These three sets of observations taken together, do not show the slightest trace of the relativity effect; they are radically discordant and can only be made to show the desired result by arbitrary and contradictory corrections.

"Owing to the different and even inconsistent corrections applied to the observed sun-arc displacements, the resulting approximate agreement with the deductions from the Einstein theory fails to carry conviction." (1921 ) (1).

"Thirty-three photographic plates, taken during the eclipse of 1919, show star images; of these thirty-three, seven only give results even approximating towards the Einstein predictions. And to make these seven fit the hypothesis, the relativist is forced to invoke the aid of the sun to distort the camera in a particular way and by just the right amount!" (1922) (2).

"Professor Freundlich asserted last night that the American astronomers (1922) had committed an error of prime importance by leaving out of consideration observations that did not fit in with the results they wanted to obtain." (1931) (3).

"Professor Freundlich asserted that the pictures taken by his expedition showed the calculations of the theory of relativity to be wrong--Dr. Einstein rose after Professor Freundlich had spoken and said that the observations were the most accurate made so far, and consequently a certain modification of the theory of relativity would be necessary." (1931) (4).

Search for a unified field theory (to include gravity, magnetism, electric effects) to overcome the inherent errors of General Relativity was unsuccessfully continued by Einstein to the time of his death in 1955.

Many astronomic studies now in progress or projected are designed to test General Relativity. These include studies of gravity waves, radar from Mariners VI and VII, quasar radio emission, as well as tests of visible light. Those who utilize the newest astronomic devices should be aware of the body of excellent observational data which exists, indicating that General Relativity must be accepted as of now, as only an unproven speculative hypothesis. For science's sake, avoid hero worship!

H. C. Dudley
Professor of Radiation Physics
University of Illinois Medical Center
Chicago, Illinois

REFERENCES

1. Annual Report, Director, Mt. Wilson Observatory, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Year Book 20, 1921.
2. C. L. Poor, Gravity Versus Relativity (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1922), p. 256. Poor was Professor of Celestial mechanics at Columbia University.
3. New York Herald-Tribune, 14 June 1931, p. 11.
4. New York Times, 13 June 1931, p. 1.

 

W. F. LIBBY, C14, AND THE AMERICAS

To The Editor:

W. F. Libby (Pensée, spring-summer, 1973, p. 8) states that "man first came to the Americas apparently only 12,000 years ago.... Lascaux color paintings were made 4,000 years before the first humans came to the Americas.... in twenty years, the firm radiocarbon dates for human occupation [in America] have never exceeded 12,000 years."

Recent finds in the Americas and their attendant study render these remarks completely untenable. From 1966 until 1970 a site on the Old Crow River in the Yukon "yielded 390 fossil vertebrate specimens, including a bone implement and a number of bone artifacts broken or otherwise modified by man. Radiocarbon dating of the artifacts has been completed and W. N. Irving of the University of Toronto and C. R. Harington of the National Museums of Canada in Ottawa [reported] the results in the Jan. 26 Science (1973).... three specimens of particular interest are dated between 25,000 and 32,000 years old"(1).

In order to counter any possible objections to their radiocarbon dates in relation to man, Irving and Harington rejected as improbable the likelihood that an implement could have been made "10,000 years ago from a bone that was then 17,000 years old" and supported their reasoning by pointing out that "two large fragments of mammoth radius and long bone are considered to be artifacts because ... they show evidence of having been fractured by heavy blows when fresh; such blows in our judgment could only have been delivered by man" (2).

The two scientists further maintain that one of the implements, a caribou bone fresher, "is evidence for a sophisticated bone-working technology in the New World considerably older than the 15,000 years postulated by 'Müller-Beck" (3). They therefore concluded "that man lived in the eastern part of the Beringian refugium before the peak of the late Wisconsin glaciation. He had sharp, stone tools intended for working bone and means of breaking large mammoth bones. Probably he hunted mammoth and caribou, and prepared the skins of the caribou for use as clothing and perhaps shelter" (4).

Independent support for the plausibility of this new dating comes from Cobleskill, New York. There, flaked stones were excavated which have been identified as human tools and "appear to be at least 70,000 years old." This dating had to be arrived at by scientific means other than C14, however, due to the inorganic nature of the material. Comparisons with flaked tools of Old World origin believed to be 70,000 years old, the patina of age and the profile of weathering on the stones, and depth of soil burial served as evidential factors for estimating the age (5).

The Timlin tools, as they are called, may double any previously accepted date for human habitation of the Americas, though Louis Leakey and Ruth Dee Simpson have already proposed pushing the history of man in America back 50,000 to 100,000 years (6).

From the site of Tule Springs, Nevada, Simpson had previously reported, "we have obtained a date of 28,000 years plus for carbon directly associated with a stone scraper. Tools there were very rare; one stone scraper and four or five bone tools from the earliest horizon. There is also an occupation level at 13,000 years" (7).

F. Katz has also noted that while "the significance of [the Tule Springs] finds is hotly contested ... they have at any rate led some scholars to the conclusion that man has existed in America for thirty-five to fifty thousand years. Many believe that further finds may show that he has been in existence there for even longer" (8).

J. Hardoy has also called attention to the California sites of Santa Rosa island and "Texas Street" near San Diego where "evidence of human presence has been found dating from 20,000 and 35,000 years ago respectively" (9).

Back in 1962 W. Haag suggested that the lack of evidence pertaining to man's crossing the land-bridge of the Bering Straits before the Wisconsin Period is due to the obliteration of material remains by one hundred meters of water and thirty meters of sediment. For this reason, he cautioned archaeologists "not to be surprised if, in the future, they discover evidence of man's passage in different parts of North America dating back 50,000 years or more" (10).

Lewis M. Greenberg
Department of History and Art History
Moore College of Art
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Irwin Jay Asher
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

REFERENCES

1. Science News, 27 January 1973, p. 55. Emphasis added.
2. W. N. Irving and C. R. Harington "Upper Pleistocene Radiocarbon-Dated Artefacts from the Northern Yukon," Science 179 (26 January 1973): 336-337 and n. 9.
3. Ibid., p. 339 and n. 23.
4. Ibid., p. 339 and notes 27 and 28.
5. Science News, 26 May 1973, p. 337.
6. Science News, 6 February 1971, p. 99.
7. As cited in A. Reed, The Ancient Past of Mexico (New York: Crown, 1966), pp. 3ff.
8. F. Katz, The Ancient American Civilizations (New York: Praeger, 1972), p. 12; also see A. D. Krieger, "Early Man in the New World," Prehistoric Man in the New World, ed. J. D. Jennings, E. Norbeck (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964).
9. J. Hardoy, Pre-Columbian Cities (New York: Walker, 1973), p. 4.
10. Ibid., p. 31, n. 5; W. Haag, "The Bering Strait Land Bridge," Scientific American 206 (January, 1962): 112-123.
 

AN INTUITIVE LEAP RESULTED IN A SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH

To The Editor:

Velikovsky was rejected because of an "intuitive leap" which resulted in a scientific breakthrough. We discourage intuition, a sad fact that stifles creativity. I can only quote the value of emphasizing this process in education by quoting Jerome S. Bruner. "The shrewd guess, the fertile hypothesis, the courageous leap to a tentative conclusion. These are the most valuable coin of the thinker at work." Further, almost prophetically, Bruner states, "A sense of tragedy and triumph achieved through the study of history and literature is surely as important to modern man as a sense of the structure of matter achieved through the study of physics."

Open-mindedness, the importance of history, the brilliance of intuitive thinking are illustrated in Velikovsky's story. His ability to grasp general principles has rewarded us with intellectual enthusiasm and scientific progress.

Leonard P. Caccamo, M.D.
Director of Medical Education
St. Elizabeth Hospital
Youngstown, Ohio

THE ELECTRICAL DISCHARGE THEORY

To The Editor:

Regarding Ralph Juergens' comments (Pensée, Fall, 1973, pp. 48-50) on Bruce's and my own views, I would like to state the following:

1. The electrical charging process by means of expelled charged particles which I described seems to give reasonable answers, so why postulate some other much more mysterious process?

2. A general galactic charging process would involve extremely small voltage gradients and would not cause the characteristics as suggested by Juergens.

3. Space charges produced by movements of charged particles would not "call a halt to the ionization process" as Juergens states.

Readers interested in Dr. C. E. R. Bruce's theory may like to note a recent observation of galactic activity in NGC 1265, in which pairs of radio-emitting lobes are ejected from the nucleus at successive intervals of about 4 million years, described in a letter to Nature by K. J. Wellington (vol. 244, p. 502; 1973). This seems to me an obvious example of large scale electrical discharges, following a prolonged charging period.

The observations of the solar atmosphere from Skylab are reported to have killed "the concept of a quiet homogenous corona which has dominated solar physics," according to Dr. Guiseppi Vaiani, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I hope astronomers will realize that this concept, now abandoned, had been killed years ago by the electrical discharge theory.

If any reader would like further information on this theory, or is prepared to consider the publication of a more detailed account, I would be very pleased to assist in any way possible. Please write to me at my home address or the Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, London, W1 V 0NL, England.

The Bruce electrical discharge theory may eventually be seen as of the greatest importance for the light it sheds on some aspects of Velikovsky's work and it is also of interest because of the reaction to it by established astronomers and scientific journals.

Bruce is a scientist with impeccable qualifications, including a Doctorate of Science and Fellowships of the Institute of Physics, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Royal Astronomical Society. His work on lightning is quoted in textbooks and many scientific articles, forming the background of his work on electrical discharges and his interest in astrophysics. His work was first mentioned in Pensée (Fall, 1972, p. 9) by Ralph Juergens, leading to the subsequent amplification of his theory and critical comments in following issues.

Although Bruce has had many articles and letters published during the last 30 years, he has been largely ignored, while other far more unlikely theories have been given full publicity. I have submitted many articles on the subject to various journals, and the BBC, without success, while time and space have been lavished on such relatively trivial matters as the impending departure of Dr. Margaret Burbidge from Greenwich and arrival of Comet Kohoutek from Outer Space.

The astronomer Royal, Professor Sir Martin Ryle, has replied briefly to my letters to state his objections to the theory, as those I described in Pensée of Fall, 1973 (p. 48). He did not comment in any detail on my answers to these objections and finally stated that the subject was "not his field"! He seemed afraid to encourage the publication of any discussion of Bruce's views or their impartial investigation by others. If he is convinced Bruce is wrong, why does he not welcome the opportunity of allowing Bruce's views to be given ample publicity and refutation?

The Director of Jodrell Bank radiotelescope establishment, Professor Sir Bernard Lovell, has informed me there is no one at that famous research center capable of commenting on Bruce's theory! Again, it seems another member of the establishment does not have the courage to say why he ignores the theory, yet one of his lectures recently put forward the bizarre idea that the energy of quasars may be derived from large numbers of pulsars struggling to emerge from the nucleus.

Professors Sir Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey Burbage have preferred to keep silent when pressed for their opinion, like the learned and dignified academics of the year 1610 who refused to look through Galileo's telescope when he could see the moons of Jupiter. Professor Bronowski's response to my enquiry was equivalent to giving the advice to Galileo to get a bigger telescope, then ask the honorable professors to take another look.

I mention these examples because of the parallels with the attitudes to Velikovsky. The more one argues, the stiffer the resistance becomes, and a point seems to be reached when letters are automatically rejected. Then when journals like Pensée publish the censored material, it may become even more unacceptable, because it is linked to other "unsavory" material. The rejection of Bruce's views, backed as they are by the very responsible Electrical Research Association, has puzzled me for years until I realized just what a profound disturbance to the sedate academic minds was caused by the impact of the Velikovsky Affair. Many of Bruce's views relating to electrical charges and catastrophic discharges probably set up a Pavlovian reaction, without his realizing it, and caused terror that another unorthodox idea of gigantic proportions might disrupt the serenity of the temples of astronomy. Professor L. D. Kaplan apparently experienced a similar reaction on another occasion concerning his views on the atmosphere of Venus, which evoked surprising and violent opposition (see Pensée, Fall, 1972, p. 17).

I sincerely hope that Pensée will receive further contributions concerning the theories of atmospheric electrical charging and discharging, even if their publication is delayed for a time while other matters more directly concerning Velikovsky's work are discussed. Eventually, if the theories are valid, they will be accepted, provided they can be heard and seen by those genuinely seeking to find out the truth, or more exactly, the errors of the established views. If they continue to be suppressed, then our attempts to understand the Universe will be unnecessarily handicapped. As Planck wrote in his autobiography, "New ideas are finally accepted, not because their opponents are convinced of the correctness of the ideas, but because they die out."

Eric W. Crew
Broxbourne, Herts.
England

JUERGENS REPLIES

To The Editor:

If my suggestion that an electric discharge--a current of electricity through a gaseous medium--is the source of the sun's radiant energy is really "much more mysterious" than Mr. Crew's idea that the solar atmosphere is electrified by radiation pressure, the mystery must be due to a failure on my part to express clearly what I have in mind. It may be that a brief review of the steps that led me to my present ideas will clear things up a bit.

A dozen years ago, when all this started for me, I had no idea that I might one day find myself all alone in challenging the theory that stars are thermonuclear engines; I assumed, like everyone else, that the foundations as well as the superstructure of that theory were perfectly sound, and in any case it was of no pressing interest to me. At that time, however, I was already convinced that there was nothing "unphysical" about the events described by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision; obviously, they conflicted with numerous beliefs held by scientists, but not necessarily with truly established facts of science. In particular, I was intrigued by Velikovsky's many suggestions that electric discharges of interplanetary proportions played important roles in world catastrophes. So I undertook to learn what I could about this phenomenon.

One of the first things I learned was that, though electric discharges have received considerable study over the. past 100 years or so, most of the work has been done in applied-science (engineering) laboratories, such as those of Britain's Electrical Research Association and America's General Electric Company and Westinghouse Company, to mention only a few. An obvious reason for this is that electrical engineers are very much concerned about such things as lightning, corona-discharge losses, sparking in electrical equipment, and the like. Another, of course, is that all early work in electronics involved the use of vacuum tubes, which are simply specialized devices for making electric discharges perform particular functions. A third reason, which came to my attention much later when I read Hannes Alfvén's 1970 Nobel Prize Lecture (Science, vol. 172, June 4, 1971, p. 991), is that "most theoretical physicists [have] looked down on this field, which [is] awkward ... [and] not at all suited for mathematically elegant theories."

What I am getting at is that this engineering approach has not always tended to clarify basic principles, or even basic terminology. Some of the technical terms not only vary from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other, but they are not widely understood among scientists even on their native shores. Even such a widely used term as plasma, appropriated by pure science and assigned as the name of an entire branch of physics (and thence widely applied in astrophysics), has in the process acquired a subtly different meaning from that intended by its coiner (Langmuir). The result is that a neophyte must read and reread engineering documents--or at least this neophyte had to do so--before a fairly clear idea of fundamental processes begins to emerge. (And this is not to say that I claim any real proficiency for myself in this science; I have had to settle for a largely phenomenological approach to understanding.)

As I pursued the phenomenology of electric discharges, it gradually dawned on me that, structurally, the atmosphere of the sun bears a striking resemblance to the low-pressure type of electric discharge known as the glow discharge: In sequence from the anode (relatively positive electrode), one finds the anode sheath, or anode glow (the photosphere of the sun), the Faraday dark space (the old "reversing layer," now the lower chromosphere), and then the negative glow (the solar corona and its extension into space as the interplanetary plasma). Many details of these glow-discharge structures are duplicated in each of the corresponding "layers" of the sun's atmosphere, so that it seemed to me the similarities were considerably more than casual.

One important discharge structure was missing from the picture the cathode dark space, a region, cathodeward of the negative glow, in which practically the entire drop in electric potential between the two "electrodes" of the discharge would be found. To preserve the analogy with the solar atmosphere, one would have to suppose that this region, undetectable from the earth's position in the solar discharge, starts where the interplanetary plasma ends and extends far out into interstellar space.

Having come this far, I could no longer avoid asking the unthinkable: Could it be that the sun and the other stars are not fired by thermonuclear reactions? If stellar atmospheres are electric-discharge media, then electric currents capable of supplying the radiant energy of the stars must flow through them, and internal fires would be superfluous.

This question took me back to the start of a trail pioneered half a century ago by men like Jeans and Eddington. To justify my eventual conclusion that a false step was taken way back then, let me briefly summarize a few findings:

(i) Eddington rejected the hypothetical "isothermal gas sphere" as a model of stellar structure for insufficient reasons--the problem is not one of preventing collapse, but of limiting the extent of the body.

(ii) In cosmic space, where heat energy can be radiated away as fast as it tends to build up, the process of collecting gases to form a stellar body (if that is indeed the formative process of a star) is more likely to be an isothermal than an adiabatic process (in which compression would tend to heat central regions more than outer regions and produce a hot core); therefore, if one is not predisposed to account for high central temperatures, one need not assume they are generated by star-formation.

(iii) A theorem developed by A. Ritter (1882), cited in support of the notion that a gaseous star in gravitational equilibrium must have high central temperatures, is not up to the task; what Ritter really demonstrated is that, if a star is a gaseous body, and if it is not isothermal, then its mean temperature must range in the millions of degrees. (The concept of mean temperature, of course, does not apply to an isothermal body.)

(iv) A theorem given top billing in modern discussions of why a star must be characterized by thermonuclear reactions in its core--the virial theorem--"tells us," according to Jeans, "that, if the sun is gaseous, the total energy of motion of all its molecules or other [component particles], is 3 x 1048 ergs"; from which one can only conclude that the central temperature is high enough to liberate thermonuclear energy. But the virial theorem assumes that the particles in question are moving under no forces except their own mutual gravitational attractions, which seems a curious condition to impose on a gas, defined as an assemblage of particles influenced almost entirely by elastic forces arising from mutual collisions. Also, the theorem fails to even consider electrostatic and electromagnetic forces.

In any case, if one is disposed to consider the sun as an isothermal body, which it would almost certainly have to be if it were fueled from the outside, the whole presumption that it is a gaseous body must be abandoned. An isothermal sun at some 4000° K would probably consist of a very dense, white-dwarf-starlike core, surrounded by an envelope of tenuous gases (partly buoyed up by electrical forces?), and enclosed within a shell receiving energy from the outside and radiating it back into space.

(In dealing with the problem posed by the existence of white-dwarf stars, no modern astrophysicist insists that "apart from all particular models [of star-formation], the gravitational attraction of the molecules ... endows the stellar matter with a temperature of the order of 107 degrees centigrade"--Jeans again. The reason: the "stellar matter" in this case is presumably not gaseous, but of a density so great that the gas laws no longer apply.)

Thus I determined to my own satisfaction that the foundations of modern theories of stellar structure and stellar energy are not nearly so stable as I had thought. Eddington had a paternalistic put-down for any of his contemporaries so rash as to suggest that a star might be powered from the outside, and he succeeded very well in squelching any further theorizing in that direction. But; his reasoning was flawed by assumptions he failed to recognize as such--for example: Given, that energy flows, out from the interior of a star.

But this brought me right back to the problem that led to the abandonment of Helmholtz' idea that gravitational contraction supplied the energy of the stars. How could a star like the sun be fired electrically for billions of years?

About the time I began to wrestle with this problem, or maybe a little earlier, I came upon one of Dr. Bruce's articles in the Journal of the Franklin Institute (which had, ten years ago, an open editorial mind). Before long, I became acquainted with Bruce's theory that the spiral arms of our own and many other galaxies are electric-discharge channels in the galactic atmospheres. I was led to ask: If the atmosphere of a galaxy can be so electrified as to give rise to spiral-arm discharges, might one not suppose that space potentials in the neighborhoods of stars are such that the stars are forced, by their very presence in the electrified medium, to take on electric charge. An entirely analogous phenomenon is that in which conducting bodies "grounded" to the earth acquire earth potential. Electric currents effecting the required buildup of charges on stars could explain the glow-discharge structure of stellar atmospheres. And if one could postulate that the galactic electrification process still goes on, despite the mitigating effects of spiral-arm discharges, one could further postulate that the charging of the sun, for example, goes on and on because its local discharge is able only to keep up with galactic electrification, but not to close the gap in electric potential between the sun and its surroundings. (Any of several known mechanisms might be held responsible for the latter effect.) Obviously, I had now plunged into the realm of pure speculation. But wasn't the same true of conventional astrophysics, particularly when its foundations were demonstrably unstable?

It seemed to me, and still does, that the galactic space potentials I had postulated could reasonably be inferred to exist if the results of space exploration continued to support my hypothesis as well as they seemed to in the earlier years. The characteristics of the so-called solar wind near the earth turned out to be those one might expect in the plasma of a negative-glow region, and not those predicted by the theory of the expanding corona.

I had hoped that Pioneer 10 might detect the beginning of a cathode dark space--signalled by an antisolar acceleration of solar-wind ions--this side of Jupiter. This was apparently not to be. But the instruments on board nevertheless provided a consolation prize that might even be of more importance in distinguishing between my hypothesis and conventional solar-wind ideas: Contrary to all expectations, Pioneer 10 reported an increase in plasma thermal energy with increasing distance from the sun. It was only upon reading of this finding that I recalled that the energy of negative-glow plasma also increases toward the cathode dark space. So it may yet be that Pioneer I 0 will enter a region of cathode drop before its instruments and radios fail, and it will report that positive ions are rapidly cooling, but are being mysteriously accelerated away from the sun.

On the other hand, it is quite conceivable that the interplanetary plasma might extend to the orbits of the most distant planets. In terms of my hypothesis, the farther the plasma reaches, the greater must be the potential drop across the cathode dark space; the extent of a negative-glow region is said to be determined by the range of primary cathode electrons--the mean distance they travel before collisions in the plasma thoroughly randomize their motions, and this is largely a function of the energy they acquire in the cathode drop (dark space).

It seems to me that a space-probe discovery or non-discovery of a cathode-drop region somewhere beyond the orbit of Jupiter would provide the best means for choosing between Bruce's theory (including Crew's variant version) of solar-atmospheric electrification and my idea of a sun fueled by electric currents from galactic space. On the Brucean model, it must all be over where the plasma ends, for the electrical phenomena must be confined to the space between the surface of the sun and the plasma boundary. My hypothesis, in contrast, requires the primary electric field to first make its appearance beyond the reach of the plasma. Perhaps we shall all live to see this issue settled.

I fully agree with Crew that electric-discharge theories of cosmic phenomena may ultimately be of great importance for the light they can shed on Velikovsky's work. And I, too, hope that Pensée will receive further contributions both for and against the idea that electricity is of as fundamental importance in the cosmos as it is in the constitution of matter and indeed in life itself.

Ralph E. Juergens
Flagstaff, Arizona

MORE ON ELECTRICAL DISCHARGES

To The Editor:

May I suggest that the leaving out of the title ("The Laws of Astrophysics and Electrical Discharges in Gases") from my article in Pensée (fall, 1973, p. 44) may have detracted somewhat from its cogency.

As Juergens points out, I postulated from the outset a solar atmosphere extending to the limits of the solar system, and that electric fields would be set up in it, which cause the passage past the earth of electrical discharges resulting in magnetic storms of sudden commencement; Pettit's discovery of coronals showed that at least the atmosphere extended further than had then (1943) been generally realized. The physically impossible conception of solar jets still being promulgated in 1960 showed that there was still no realization of the great extent of the solar atmosphere, though if these jets had been realities they must inevitably have led to the existence of such extensive solar atmospheres as my theory requires.

I have thus always visualized the possibility of extensive regions of the sun's outer atmosphere as being converted into regions of highly conducting plasma by the outward propagation of these electrical discharges. When the local field is neutralized by the discharge, the process of "meteorological" field building recommences.

Juergens seems to say that he agrees my theory will explain solar and stellar atmospheric phenomena, and in the same article that it apparently has marked shortcomings.

As van der Hulst wrote, "Where gas collects, grains collect," and where grains collect they become electrified by impacts, and the process of charging automatically involves electric field-building. That is why until more cogent arguments are given, I regard radiation pressure as irrelevant.

In the situation of the most intensive electrification process which we can observe directly, that in the solar photosphere, there is no radiation below the photosphere which could exert any pressure, and in any case the gas pressure is relatively high. On the contrary, if one applies to the conditions of gas velocity, gas density, and gravitational force existing there the theory of my 1955 paper in Philosophical Magazine, one obtains for the times involved between successive discharges values on the order of minutes or tens of minutes, in accord with observation.

In galactic atmospheres the ratio of particles to gas atoms is surprisingly high. The diametral plane of maximum rotational energy will be the plane of maximum electrical charge separation. The discharges which form the spiral arms will be initiated therein and will be confined to that plane. These expectations based on what one may call the meteorological theory of electric field-building as it is found in thunderclouds, are again in accord with observation.

It seems to me that this complete revision of a whole branch of science (astrophysics) on an entirely new basis, after 30 years of success, is as deserving of further discussion as is any in science today.

C. E. R. Bruce, D. Sc.
Electrical Research Association
England

VELIKOVSKY'S COMET

To The Editor:

it seems to me that I saw, many years ago, the phrase "Velikovsky's comet" used in a derisory manner in one of those shameless and stupid reviews with which the appearance of Worlds in Collision was greeted by the scientific establishment. Would it not be delightfully ironic and beautifully appropriate if, by constant use of this phrase, the disciples of Velikovsky could succeed in establishing it as the normal and accepted name for the Venus-Comet? Are not comets named after their discoverers? Then why should this one not be named for the man who rediscovered it after its disappearance into the mists of mythology and the collective amnesia?

John V. Myers, Ph.D.
LaGrange, Georgia

ROCKENBACH'S LATIN

To The Editor:

I just came upon Carter Sutherland's note on Rockenbach's De Cometis (Pensée, fall, 1973, p. 33). Sutherland's new translation is less than expert. For instance, "ut aliqui volu(n)t" simply means "as some state" or "according to some" and certainly not "as if rolling along another road." Velikovsky's "certain (authorities) assert" is much closer to the true sense.

In a footnote, Sutherland says: The words "were led" are supplied, and then he translates "legitur profecti sunt" as "succeed in establishing." "Profecti" is from "proficisci" (to depart). "(Q)uando filii Israel ex Aegypto in terram promissam ... profecti sunt" means then: "when the sons of Israel set out from Egypt for the promised land;" it continues ("duce ac viae monstratore"): "the pillar ... leading and showing the way, as is read ("legitur") in chapters 7.8.9.10." Again, Velikovsky's translation was better.

However, Sutherland's "it was called Typhon after the king" is an improvement over Velikovsky's "it is said that King Typhon ruled at that time." And, maybe, "it was called Typhon by the king" would be even better.

The Reverend P. J. W. Rubbens
Torquay, Saskatchewan

ROCKENBACH: "HISTORICAL SPECULATION"

To The Editor:

In Worlds in Collision (Laurel Edition, pp. 97-98) Velikovsky printed an excerpt from Rockenbach's De Cometis which supports his attempt to synchronize the Typhon comet with the Exodus. In Pensée (fall, 1973, P. 33) Dr. Sutherland also published a text of the same passage. As both excerpts, and the translations given by these scholars, differ in some ways, readers are bound to inquire as to which is correct. Dr. Sutherland does not make it clear whether he has himself examined the original. Since I have not had the opportunity to do so, I can only compare their versions on the basis of probabilities. The line numbers used in the following short discussion refer to Dr. Sutherland's text.

It is obvious that Dr. Sutherland has omitted "quinquagesimo" from the second line, as his translation presupposes the word in the Latin. In the same line he prints "probate" for Velikovsky's "probati," perhaps an error, since Velikovsky's form is correct. Dr. Sutherland translates "ex conjectures multis" as "from much evidence"; Velikovsky's "on the basis of many conjectures" is far more accurate (line 4). The words "formain imperfecti circuli, & in se convoluti caputq; globi repraesentans" (lines 6-7) have been clearly misunderstood by both Velikovsky and Sutherland. They are to be translated as follows: "exhibiting the shape of a circle, incomplete and rolled in itself, and its top as that of a globe." In line 13 the words "ut aliqui volut" are troublesome. Velikovsky renders "certain (authorities) assert," Sutherland "as if rolling along another road." Comparing Velikovsky's excerpt from Hevelius, we read "according to certain authorities, a comet was seen in Syria . . ." (Worlds in Collision, p. 97). Since Hevelius here tells us that he was copying Rockenbach, there can be no doubt that Velikovsky's translation is correct: "volut" is an error for "volunt." I would be interested to know how Dr. Sutherland proposes to emend the text in order to justify his translation. In addition, Dr. Sutherland's stilted translation of the last sentence is no more accurate than Velikovsky's. In general then, Velikovsky's text and translation are to be preferred. One final point here: Dr. Sutherland believes that Rockenbach's text "savours of a preserved eye-witness account." Yet Rockenbach, in three different places in this passage, asserts that his account was compiled from multiple sources.

Velikovsky cites Rockenbach as "support for my assumption that the comet of the days of King Typhon was the comet of the days of the Exodus." How valuable is Rockenbach's "support" for Velikovsky's "assumption"? To begin with, we might take exception to Velikovsky's use of the term "the old chronographers" in connection with a group of post-Renaissance writers. In fact, these men represent the tail end of a very long tradition of chronographical writing, which stretches back to the early centuries of the present era. These chroniclers kept the light of historiography burning in the Middle Ages; but their accounts of the very early periods of history are full of absurd nonsense, and are, generally, quite useless from the historian's point of view. Velikovsky expresses the hope that he will be able to trace the "manuscript sources of Abraham Rockenbach" (ibid., p. 98), and he suggests that Rockenbach's information on this comet may have derived, directly or indirectly, from ancient authorities. This hope is undoubtedly quite forlorn. In the first place, very few ancient texts survived even to the ninth century that do not survive today. In the second place, Rockenbach himself says that his sources made this dating "on the basis of many conjectures." Thus Rockenbach's synchronization is in the realm of historical speculation, rather than historical evidence.

James Fitton
Department of History
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario

THE ROCKENBACH TEXT

The letters concerning Rockenbach refer to the following passage, reproduced here in Latin and in English translation, as given by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision.

"Anno mundi, bis millesimo, quadrigentesimo quinquagesimo tertio, Cometa (ut multi probati autores, de tempore hoc statuunt, ex conjecturis multis) cuius Plinius quoque lib. 2 cap. 25 mentionem facit, igneus, formam imperfecti circuli, & in se convoluti caputq; globi repraesentans, aspectu terribilis apparuit, Typhonq; a rege, tunc temporis ex Aegypto imperium tenente, dictus est, qui rex, ut homines fide digni asserunt, auxilio gigantum, reges Aegyptoru devicit. Visus quoq; est, ut aliqui volut, in Siria, Babylonia, India, in signo capricorni, sub forma rotae, eo tempore, quando filii Israel ex Aegypto in terram promissam, duce ac viae monstratore, per diem columna nubis, noctu vero columna ignis, ut cap. 7.8.9.10 legitur profecti sunt."

"In the year of the world two thousand four hundred and fifty-three--as many trustworthy authors, on the basis of many conjectures, have determined--a comet appeared which Pliny also mentioned in his second book. It was fiery, of irregular circular form, with a wrapped head; it was in the shape of a globe and was of terrible aspect. It is said that King Typon ruled at that time in Egypt.... Certain [authorities] assert that the comet was seen in Syria, Babylonia, India, in the sign, of Capricorn, in the form of a disc, at the time when the children of Israel advanced from Egypt toward the Promised Land, led on their way by the pillar of cloud during the day and by the pillar of fire at night."

THE GREATEST THRILLER

To The Editor:

Hearty congratulations for your splendid issues dealing with the Velikovsky affair, which is surely by far the greatest intellectual thriller of our time. I had previously been inclined to believe that Velikovsky was a brilliant eccentric who had been shabbily treated by the scientific establishment; but, as a result of reading your first two numbers on Velikovsky, I now fear that he is probably right in his main contentions.

It is very important that attitudes on this matter should not be further polarized. That the scientific establishment would appear to be largely responsible for the present atmosphere of bitterness and recrimination does not imply that emotional reaction by Velikovskians, however understandable, is good policy either from the immediate practical point of view or in the ultimate interests of truth. However, the members of the scientific establishment concerned--to mention no names--ought in justice to do one of two things. Either they should admit they have behaved, very badly, or they should rebut in detail the charges made against them in Pensée, The American Behavioural Scientist (September, 1963), and elsewhere.

What is needed now is that all parties should try in some measure to stand on both sides of the controversy and see the issues from the point of view of their opponents. One of the chief lessons of this whole affair is that vehemence in denunciation of one's opponents is apt to be in inverse proportion to confidence in one's own position. The attitude to be cultivated is admirably exemplified by Bargmann and Motz. These scientists hold to the orthodox position, but insist that Velikovsky's successful predictions prove his theories to be at least worth testing. Each of us should attempt whatever experiments or observations within our own field of interest that would tend to show Velikovsky correct or incorrect.

One detects beneath the controversy a struggle between two quite different theories as to the nature and practice of science, each of which is defended by distinguished thinkers. According to the one, represented by Kuhn and Polanyi, authoritarian attitudes in the scientific community are desirable or at worst inevitable. According to the other, represented by Popper and Lonergan, the essence of scientific method is a comprehensively critical attitude.

Hugo Meynell
Departments of Philosophy and Theology
University of Leeds
Leeds, England

NEW PARADIGM

To The Editor:

I have long contemplated a course of study which would include Velikovsky as among the foremost who are helping us toward new modes of thought appropriate (necessary) to the world of our era. Hopefully, I shall have the course prepared for offering within a year, tentatively entitled, "Politics of the Evolutionary Transition" --the "Politics," of course, being by way of a nod toward the discipline (fragment) I am supposed to serve.

As is perhaps apparent from the above, what is of greatest significance to me regarding Velikovsky is his role in helping to break the bonds of the overwhelmingly dominant way by which we ascertain "fact," obtain "knowledge," and achieve understanding.

I believe that we are on the threshhold or have crossed the threshhold of a new evolutionary era calling for new ways of thinking and learning, and a new "grand synthesis," a new paradigm of understanding ("holism"?)--a threshhold on which we find that long-run forces are overtaking (if they've not yet overtaken) the short-run forces which we normally allow to dominate our lives, individually and as societies. We are, then, in true crisis.

Velikovsky's courageous work, it is already clear, is enormously important relative to the above --not alone in regard to the specifics of his findings and to the respectful view of "catastrophism" he has insured, but even more, I believe, relative to his overall contribution to the new paradigm, and thus to his encouragement to all of us to be bold, ourselves, whatever our field.

The route to better understanding of our situation--and, more hopefully, to its improvement--seems to me to lie in directions indicated (demanded) by our environmental crisis which so dramatically and painfully manifests the long-run, and which is also properly understood, I believe, as the human crisis raised to the species level.

The "failure" of human society--and most particularly of what we call modern "Western Civilization"--may be understood, then, as our failure to think, plan, and do for the long-run, that is, our failure to manage complex-systems over time.

From whence can we learn?

Our only successful model of a (very) complex system over time is the "order of Nature." We must now somehow learn to fashion our social, political and economic systems in that pattern. The environmental crisis which, given present systems, can only get worse, leaves us no other choice.

In these terms, Velikovsky's method and insights, in helping us to understand our world and cosmos much better, significantly enhance our efforts to improve our situation.

Charles Konigsberg
Professor of Political Science
Alaska Methodist University
Anchorage, Alaska

THE PYRAMIDS AND EARTH'S AXIS

To The Editor:

It is not true, as William Mullen stated in his footnote (Pensée, winter, 1973, p. 1 5), that "several of the pyramids contain a long narrow chute ... rising from their inner chambers at a 30 degree angle" and that these chutes "point directly at the pole-star." Only one, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, contains such a chute, which rises at a 31 degree angle (while a companion chute on the southern side of the same pyramid rises at an angle of 45 degrees (1). If this chute was meant as a passage for the king's soul to pass through, as Mullen also suggests, it seems that Cheops was the only Egyptian king thus favored, for no other pyramid in Egypt, out of the 80 or so that are known, is observed to be fitted with such a contraption.

Mullen seems to have confused the chutes in the pyramid of Cheops with the entrance passages to the three Giza pyramids and those at Dashur. It has often been stated in both popular and scientific publications (2) that these entrances all incline to the north at an angle of about 26 degrees to the horizontal. This angle being close to the geographical latitude of Giza (which is actually 30° approximately), the passages would have pointed to the lower culmination of a draconis, which some astronomers believe to have been the pole-star at the time of the building of the pyramids (3). Velikovsky, however, has shown that the pole-star previous to the present one was a star of the Great Bear (4).

Mullen states that "the fact that the chutes point at the present pole-star [sic] does not, invalidate Velikovsky's claim that [the pole-star] has changed several times since the pyramids were built due to shifts in the Earth's axis; it only proves that since that time the position of the geographical pole has not changed, and therefore the evidence collected in Earth in Upheaval to show that the present polar regions must at some time have been in temperate or torrid zones must refer to earlier catastrophic events."

On the evidence of the pyramids, it seems as if we have no choice but to agree with Mullen. It is neither the chutes nor the passages, however, which pose the problem but, rather, the actual bases themselves, which are accurately aligned to the four cardinal directions, never deviating more than a few minutes of arc (5).

In Worlds in Collision (p. 313), Velikovsky states that the changes in the geographical position of the poles were caused by the catastrophes of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. This change was, he writes, responsible for carrying the ice of the last Ice Age outside the previous polar circle while it carried temperate regions into the newly created (present) arctic circles. The previous position of the north geographical pole was placed by Velikovsky somewhere between Greenland and Baffin Land (let us say Baffin Bay), the south pole at, roughly, Queen Mary Land (6). He deduced these positions on the evidence supplied by old astronomical charts of the Brahmins and the periphery of the last glacial cover. "It is assumed here that in historical times neither northeastern Siberia nor western Alaska were in the polar regions, but that as a result of the catastrophes of the eighth and seventh centuries this area moved into that region" (7). So, also, elsewhere in the same work.

In Earth in Upheaval, Velikovsky presented 19 consecutive pages (154-72) of evidence supporting the contention that the last Ice Age could not have been terminated earlier than 2800 years ago. This evidence came from radiocarbon analyses of blue till and peat from various parts of the western United States, from the study of sediment in Lake Agassiz, from the rate of retreat of Niagara Falls, from the evaluation of detrital mud of various glaciers, the detritus borne by the Mississippi, from the study of fossils in Florida and from many other sources. H. E. Suess and Rubin have meanwhile supported this evidence by postulating that the last glacial advance occurred only 3000 years ago (8).

The ancient site of Ipiutak, at Point Hope in Alaska, 1302 miles within the arctic circle, must have been occupied by ancient man when that part of the world was still free of ice, yet dating of the site (9) has shown that this culture could nowhere be as old as the pyramids of the Old and Middle Kingdoms.

All this points to a change in the position, of the geographical poles since the pyramids were built. Yet the pyramids still stand and the precision of their orientation begs an explanation.

In his recent article, "The Orientation of the Pyramids" (10), Velikovsky attempts a compromise by stating: "In Worlds in Collision I described both kinds of change--in the direction of the axis and in the position of the poles; but in Earth in Upheaval, on the basis of geophysical facts, I ascribed a lasting change only to the first kind of displacement, and changes of temporal character to the second" (12). But nowhere in Earth in Upheaval is this point thus clarified.

In his article Velikovsky maintains that when such a shift in the geographical pole occurs, the Earth's equatorial bulge would act as a stabilizer. "In such a case wobbling would result." This wobbling, a residue of which is still present, would, presumably, shift the poles back to their original location. This would therefore mean that the north geographical pole had originally occupied the place it more or less occupies now, that due to a cosmic disturbance it was then catastrophically shifted to Baffin Bay and that then, through the stabilizing effect of the Earth's equatorial bulge, the pole was re-shifted back to its original, which means its present, position.

This explanation cannot be accepted as the ultimate solution. Such a stabilizing effect as Velikovsky postulated would, in my estimate, and precisely because of the Earth's wobbling, act with comparative slowness. Yet Velikovsky himself has, more than once, stressed the point that both the beginning and the end of the last Ice Age occurred suddenly (12). Meanwhile, Velikovsky has also shown that such a sudden shift could only have been brought about by powerful external (or extraterrestrial) forces.

Could it therefore be that at the advent of the last Ice Age (3300 ± 200 years (13)), the pyramids were disoriented through the sudden shift of the geographical poles and that at the termination of the same Ice Age (approximately 2800 years ago), the pyramids returned to their original position due to an opposite shift? In other words, could Venus have disoriented the pyramids during the 1500 B.C. catastrophe, while Mars (and not the Earth's equatorial bulge) corrected the error during one of the cataclysms of the 8th and 7th centuries?

Dwardu Cardona
Vancouver, B.C.

REFERENCES

1. I. E. S. Edwards, The Pyramids of Egypt (New York: Viking, 1961), pp. 86, 91.
2. Kurt Mendelssohn, "Science at the Pyramids," Science Journal, March, 1968, p. 52.
3. Ibid.
4. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (New York: Doubleday, 1950), pp. 218, 313, 314, 379.
5. See note (1).
6. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 326.
7. Ibid., p. 327.
8. Science 120 (24 September 1954); also Science 121 (8 April 1955).
9. Evelyn Stefansson, Here is Alaska, rev. ed. (New York: Scribner, 1973), p. 138ff.
10. Pensée 3 (winter, 1973,), p. 17.
11. Ibid.
12. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 325; idem, Earth in Upheaval p. 136ff. and elsewhere in print and in various lectures by Velikovsky.
13. See note (8).
 

I am grateful to Mr. Cardona for having corrected an error in my research of which I myself became aware just as Pensée was going to press.

W. Mullen

STUDY CENTER PLANNED.

Dr. William Mullen, Pensée associate editor, and Professor Alfred de Grazia, editor of The Velikovsky Affair, are sponsoring plans for an informal, cooperative study center concerned with problems in catastrophism. They have in mind establishing it in an unused school building in the castle of the town of Naxos, Island of Naxos, Greece. Eight additional founding members are sought at this time among persons who have some related advanced education and skills. Contributions of $1000 from each member will suffice to pay for a large living space for each, with a common room and grounds for one year; it will allow also for a caretaker and a surplus to pay for common office supplies, some books and microform materials.

A member's living space may be sublet when the member is absent, at his own responsibility and under cooperative rules, so, that, for example, two or more interested persons can split a membership for successive occupancy. The living space is adequate for two persons and a member can include a companion as an associate member for an additional $600 for the year. No formal teaching is provided with the membership, which is considered as a type of fellowship for advanced study. If the group wishes to accept some students later on, it may do so.

Each member will provide furnishings for his own space; this would cost additionally from $100 at a bare minimum up to any sum he pleases. Costs of meals in local restaurants, medicine, and incidentals is estimated at $1000 per annum. A member may subscribe for from one to five years. Members will come and go as they can and wish during the year. Interested persons can address William Mullen at 122 E. Pyne Building, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

PENSEE Journal VI

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