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Notes on this issue:

The squiggles on the left may not say a whole lot to many of our readers, but they send shivers of delight up the spine of Robert W. Bass.  A professor of physics and astronomy at Brigham Young University, Bass' specialty is celestial mechanics, and his contention here (f. 04didcol) is that the orbital wanderings of Worlds in Collision are entirely plausible mechanically--and have long been recognized as plausible by leading authorities in the field.  If Bass is correct, then the general public--whose innocence so many scientists have been eager to protect from Velikovskian "science fiction" and "dynamical impossibilities"--is entitled to ask some hard questions of the scientific community.  Who has been misleading whom?

    Bass is one of several writers in this issue who take up the "Titius-Bode law of planetary distances"--the title of a book by Dr. M. M. Nieto.  The book is reviewed here by Prof.  Irving Michelson (f. 10titrev), who cites renewed interest in the "law." Nieto himself (f. 02titbod) argues that, if the law is indeed a law, then recent catastrophes "didn't happen."  While many of Velikovsky's opponents have used the law as an argument against any recent shuffling of the planets, Dr. C.J. Ransom introduces (f. 02titbod) a new wrinkle which should give these persons some pause: alternative forms of Bode's law can be shown to be equally valid for a Solar System with or without Venus.  So what does Bode's law have to do with Velikovsky?  It all seems to depend on what physical mechanism--if any--accounts for the law.  Bass sees such a mechanism, and finds it operative over time scales quite acceptable to Velikovsky.

    Prof.  Lynn E. Rose and Raymond C. Vaughan, having explored (f. 06velseq) the orbital sequences Velikovsky's work seems to require, find themselves confronting major energy-disposal and eccentricity-damping problems.  However, they see these problems as an opportunity for discovery.  Rose follows up his orbital work with a look at the life spans of those Biblical patriarchs.  How old did Methuselah really get to be? (f. 07lengyr)

    All the authors represented in this issue delivered papers at the McMaster University symposium, "Velikovsky and the Recent History of the Solar System"; their work comprises a part of that burgeoning research effort aimed at ferreting out the truth in the claims of catastrophism.  We carry a full report on the McMaster symposium in this issue's Review section.  Reports on three additional "Velikovsky symposia" will appear in our Winter, 1974-75 issue.

    Finally, for a sneak preview of Isaac Asimov on ice skates, see f. 09guard.

 

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