Site Section Links
Since time does not permit a detailed review of the results of centuries of study of comets and other small bodies-a field embodying one of the most important problems of the solar system-it is proper to consider only certain crucial conclusions:
1) Celestial mechanics, the distribution and statistics of cometary orbits, and consideration of the kinematics of the cometary system leave no doubt whatsoever that all comets, and therefore the products of their decay, were formed inside the solar system, and were formed a little later, on the average, than were the planets.
2) The existence of the families of short-period comets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and the peculiarities of their motion and nature-their chemistry, the presence of ice in their nuclei, their close" association with Jupiter prior to discovery, etc.-demonstrate the recent origin of comets. This is in accord with the theory of the eruptive development of planets, as developed by Lagrange, Proctor, Crommelin, and Vsekhsviatskii. The satellites of Jupiter are very probably the direct source of the youngest comets of the Jupiter family. Recent, comprehensive investigations by Everhart (1969) confirmed once more that peculiarities in the observed distribution of short-period-comet orbits cannot be explained on the basis of gravitational-capture hypothesis.
3) The total number of comets with nearly parabolic orbits--estimated between 1011 and 1012 --can be understood only as a result of eruptive ejections that have taken place over tens of millions of years on various bodies in the solar system.
At least 10 to 15 percent of all these comets leave the solar system on hyperbolic orbits, due to the cumulative effects of small perturbations. By considering the number of hyperbolic comets that have left the solar system and the number of spent elliptical comets that have become asteroids and streams of meteoritic bodies, it is possible to estimate the total number of comets of average mass--1014 to 1015 grams--formed during the history of the solar system. This total number of comets formed comes to 1015 to 1016--more than one million billion. Hence the total mass of cometary matter ejected from planetary surfaces could reach 1029 to 1030 grams.
The existence of comets and other small bodies makes it
possible to evaluate the scale of cosmic-volcanic
processes in the history of the solar system, as well as
the tremendous energies of internal forces in the
planets--at least 1042 ergs--which were
responsible for ejecting planetary matter into space.
Willis L. Webb: The Electrical Structure of the Earth
A researcher at White Sands Missile Testing Range, Dr. Webb is in the business of gathering data about the Earth's upper atmosphere, and he emphasized the degree to which current theoretical work frequently ignores available data, or even utilizes false data:
"You know, originally people thought the atmosphere was very static if you get up away from the very perturbating influence of mountains, trees, oceans, and continents. They sold that picture pretty well-until we got some data. The first data did not agree with that, and the cover-up began at that point. We're still fighting it."
Webb presented a unified picture of Earth's atmospheric electrical structure, hinting along the way that "maybe the Earth is generating a lot of things we haven't perceived before. Most of the work that has been done over the last years has assumed the Earth to be the receiver of everything; maybe the Sun is in some instances responding to the presence of the Earth."
Webb's lecture was a condensed version of a book-in-preparation, titled "Earth's Electrical Structure."
James W. Warwick: The Jupiter Radio Emissions
In a fascinating and curious paper full of qualifications, asides, detours, tangential allusions, and personal anecdotes, astrophysicist James Warwick undertook to place in sociological and scientific perspective Velikovsky's prediction of the Jupiter radio emissions. The result was engaging to be sure, and valuable for the illumination of the scientific process it afforded, but it left many in the audience wondering just what had been said.
Warwick's central conclusion was that, in predicting Jupiter's radio emission, "Velikovsky had a valid but intuitive inference to make. And ... he was treated no better nor worse than any other scientists who have a novel statement to make about what is or will be known or found in the universe."
Warwick illustrated the latter point by offering a series of examples-most touching on his own work-in which a scientist's rightful priority to some discovery was ignored-a normal occupational hazard, it would appear.
As to Velikovsky's "valid but intuitive" prediction, Warwick elaborated:
"Saying that there will be found radio emissions from Jupiter was tantamount to a statement by John Adams in mid-nineteenth century that there was another planet in the sky but with no more evidence, say, than the peculiarities of Uranus' motion.
"The essence and viability of Adam's and Leverrier's prediction of Neptune lies precisely in their documentation of where to look, and what to expect to see there.
VELIKOVSKY (To Warwick, concerning the prediction of Jupiter radio emissions): You are more generous than the other astronomers, I admit. But niggardly you still are.
"Velikovsky's prediction was precisely useless in just its lack of detail--where to look in the radio spectrum (from ground base it covers a factor of 10,000 to one in frequency); what to see there, that is the character of the source (Velikovsky didn't understand that two kinds of distinct non-thermal emission are produced); and when to look (Burke's and Franklin's data show enormous variations that seemed to be basically stochastic)."
Exactly what credit Warwick was willing to assign Velikovsky for the Jupiter prediction remained rather obscure. Perhaps the explanation for this vagueness lay in Warwick's own observation that "the present theoretical understanding of Jupiter's radio emission is virtually nil." Indeed, no more than that can be said for the present understanding of why Velikovsky ventured his prediction in the first place, how it relates to his theories.
No wonder, then, that Warwick could only conclude his paper with the query: "I who am a specialist in the field am moved to ask myself, Did this physician writing in 1954 know more about the physics of radio emissions from planets than this astrophysicist 20 years later?"
Irving Michelson: Celestial Electromechanics
One of the more disappointing results for Velikovsky's supporters surfaced in the paper by Prof. Irving Michelson. Attempting to explain the circularization of Venus' orbit over the short time span required by Velikovsky, Michelson considered a certain electromagnetic effect and found it wanting. He summarized his work in an abstract:
"Standard planetary capture theory considering effects of a resistive medium and associated tangential forces is extended and modified by taking account of dynamic interaction of the interplanetary magnetic field with a planetary body carrying a net electric charge. Normal forces directed toward the Sun are thereby introduced. It is found that a uniform magnetic field tends to circularize an elliptic orbit (decrease the orbit eccentricity) in one half of each orbit cycle, but the opposite effect (increase of eccentricity) then occurs in the other half, leading to an essentially zero result for each complete orbit cycle. Resistive medium forces have been long known to give the same result.
"A first harmonic field variation is seen to cause a reduction of orbit eccentricity in both halves of the orbit cycle. The strength of such a hypothetical field is calculated which would suffice to circularize the orbit in a period of 1500 years as suggested by Velikovsky's chronology of Venus' orbital evolution. Using Venus' known orbital properties, planetary mass, and a hypothetical net electric charge value, the harmonic coefficient is estimated and found to be very much larger than presently accepted values. The calculation does not confirm the hypothesis of orbit decay in any period of the order of thousands of years. If electromagnetic field effects are to be considered further, other mechanisms seem to be required."
MORRISON: We in the hard sciences....
LOGAN: Don't use terms like "hard scientist."
MORRISON: "Soft" is not meant as pejorative. What would you prefer I use instead of "hard scientist"? "Physical scientist?
LOGAN: I'm a soft physicist.
A coefficient characterizing the first harmonic component of magnetic induction, denoted by C1, required to circularize the orbit of Venus, according to Michelson, is given by
C1 » 2m
where m is the mass of Venus, q0 the charge on Venus, and t the time required to achieve circularization, starting with an elongated orbit extending past Earth's present orbit.
Taking what Michelson termed "the most favorable, more or less plausible values," vis., m = 4.85 x 1024 kg., q0 = 1013 coulombs and t = 4.7 x 1010 sec (1500 years), C1 turns out to be 2.1 x 1010 gamma. He concludes:
"This value is nine or ten orders of magnitude greater than accepted values based on spacecraft measurements, i.e., some billions of times larger than the greatest values we could conceivably accept as realistic at this time.
"The interpretation of this result is that circularization of Venus' orbit, assuming its mass to be the presently known value and the decay period to be 1500 years, would require a first harmonic coefficient value of the order of some billions of times greater than the present value of the interplanetary magnetic field itself. Alternatively, a greater charge value q0, increased by the same factor, would bring the decay time to the assumed period of 1500 years if the value of C1 corresponds to accepted values of magnetic field strength B itself. Or a reduction of the mass value by the same factor would give the same decay time if the charge is kept at the value indicated. Any other adjustment of values of m, q. and r that would reduce the value of the ratio that gives C1 would serve the same purpose. Such adjustments are very drastic in any case, and it is therefore difficult to argue for an affirmative finding on the basis of the assumed mechanism of dynamic interaction of net electric charge with the special field configuration here assumed. Uniform field and higher harmonics are evidently still less suitable."
(For the contention that gravitational effects alone could account for the orbital changes of Venus, see the papers by Bass in this issue.)
Elizabeth Chesley Baity and Alfred De Grazia: Archaeological Evidences
Dr. Baity summarized her lengthy, synthesizing review of the literature on "Bronze Age Cultural Discontinuities" as follows:
"It appears from the evidence presented... that the Eurasian and Egyptian Bronze Age site destructions and cultural discontinuities are not fully explained by the four archaeological hypotheses listed here--invasion, drought, local disaster, and ecological exhaustion--but may be seen rather as the further consequences of a widespread, severe, and prolonged natural process as yet little understood.
"This, however, is what is yet to be proven or disproven archaeologically. It can only be determined by an interdisciplinary effort to collate the pertinent evidence from site destructions and discontinuities, and geologic and other natural disasters. This will require the fitting of evidence into a unified and calibrated radiochronology. It will then be necessary to determine whether the events described occurred at the same time in other parts of the globe, to know whether the disaster affected only certain localities or was indeed global.
A. N. BOURNS (President, McMaster University): I couldn't help but feel how different this conference is from those which one normally attends. Tell me when you last attended a conference where at the last session essentially everyone who had registered for the conference was present.
"If the Eurasian and Egyptian Bronze Age disasters fit Schaeffer's description of five or six periods of simultaneous disturbances of a tectonic nature, after his chronology is corrected and refined, and if further research indicates the same disturbances occurred on a global basis--which it may not--then we must seek a unified theory to explain the stresses in rock strata which must have been responsible for the tectonic upheavals.
"I stress the fact that this is all yet to be proven archaeologically. The present survey does not cover much of the pertinent evidence from the wider range of time and geography. The tremendous collection of literary and folkloric references made by Velikovsky and others, like the researches reported upon by Hapgood, indicate the possibility, however, that disturbances may well have been a common human experience within the relatively recent past."
Baity was immediately followed by Professor De Grazia, who pointed out the fact--difficult for many in the audience to believe--that there has been no systematic examination of the various ash layers at archaeological sites around the world to determine the nature of the ash. De Grazia argued that at the one site he investigated in detail--Schliemann's Troy--an important ash layer shows clear signs of being the end result of something other than a "normal," local conflagration.
When asked whether the ash is organic or volcanic in origin, De Grazia replied: "We don't really know. The archaeologists try to get through it as quickly as possible so as to find the pretty pots."
De Grazia's suggestion was that a systematic analysis of ash layers at archaeological sites and in surrounding strata should enable investigators to determine the nature of the events which caused the ash layers to be laid down.
PROGRAM - "VELIKOVSKY AND THE
RECENT HISTORY OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM"
Introductory Remarks, "Velikovsky and Freud" (Dr. George Grinnell, Department of History, McMaster University)
Catastrophic Processes in the Solar System
"Eruptive and Catastrophic Processes in the Solar System" (Prof. S. Vsekhsviatskii, Director, Kiev Observatory; Head, Faculty of Astronomy, University of Kiev). Read by Richard S. Lewis, former editor, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Responses: Dr. C. J. Ransom (General Dynamics, Convair Aerospace Division, Fort Worth, Texas); Dr. David Morrison (Associate Astronomer, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii); Dr. E. J. Zeller (Space Technology Laboratories, University of Kansas; and Mariner 9 Principal Investigator).
Reading the History of the Solar System
"Planetary Surfaces and Catastrophism " (Morrison)
"Planetary Surface Features: Their Ages and Manner of Formation" (Ralph E. Juergens, associate editor, Pensee)
Responses: Dr. Derek York (Department of Physics, University of Toronto; and 1971-72 Apollo Project Foreign Principal Investigator); Zeller
Electrical Characteristics of the Solar System
"The Electrical Structure of the Earth" (Dr. Willis W. Webb, Department of Physics, University of Texas- El Paso; Research Meteorologist, Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory, White Sands Missile Range)
"The Prediction, Discovery, and Significance of the Jupiter Radio Emissions" (Prof. James W. Warwick, Department of Astro-Geophysics, University of Colorado)
The Dynamics of the Solar System
"Celestial Electromechanics and Velikovsky's Catastrophism" (Prof. Irving Michelson, Department of Mechanics and Mechanical Aerospace Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology)
"The Rotations and Subsolar Convection Zone of Venus" (Robert B. Driscoll, P.O. Box 637, Oakland, California)
Electricity, Magnetism, and the Dynamics of the Solar System
"Bode's Law and Catastrophism" (Dr. M. M. Nieto, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories; author, The Titius-Bode Law of Planetary Distances: Its History and Theory (1972))
"The Stability of the Solar System" (Prof. Robert W. Bass, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Brigham Young University)
"Planets and Sunspots" (Leo Fox, Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences, University of British Columbia)
The Structure of History
"The Bronze Age Cultural Discontinuities: Evidence and Explanation" (Dr. Elizabeth Chesley Baity, African Affairs Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
"Calcination in Pre-historic and Ancient Times" (Prof. Alfred De Grazia, Department of Politics, New York University)
Myth and History
"Myth and the Science of Catastrophism: The Mesoamerican Record" (Dr. William Mullen, Hodder Fellow in the Humanities, Princeton University)
"Myth and the Origin of Religion" (Vine Deloria, Jr., author of God is Red and Custer Died for Your Sins)
Colloquium #1: Dating Methods and Catastrophism
"Radiometric Dating: Is the 'Decay Constant' Constant?" (Dr. John Lynde Anderson, Department of Physics, University of Tennessee; and Dr. George W. Spangler, Department of Physics, University of Tennessee)
"Induced Changes in Radioactive Decay Rates" (Prof. Horace C. Dudley, Department of Medical Radiology, University of Illinois Medical Center)
"Cl4 and Catastrophism" (Dr. G. W. van Oosterhout, Department of Chemistry, Delft University of Technology, Holland)
"Anomalies in the Historical Distribution of Radiocarbon Dates" (Dr. Herbert Sorensen, Director of Quality Control and Regulatory Affairs, United Medical Laboratories, Portland, Oregon)
Colloquium #2: Archaeoastronomy and Catastrophism
"Megalithic Astronomy and Catastrophism" (Dr. Euan MacKie, assistant keeper, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, Scotland)
"Mayan Calendars" (Nancy K. Owen, 608 Ridgeline Place, Solana Beach, California)
"Babylonian Observations of Venus" (Prof. Lynn Rose, Department of Philosophy, State University of New York-Buffalo; and Raymond C. Vaughan, Carborundum Company, Niagara Falls, New York)
Colloquium #3: Education and the Scientific Process
"The Assessment and Assimilation of New Ideas" (Panel: Prof. Martin Dickson, Department of Near Easter Studies, Princeton University; Michelson; Prof. Albert Schatz, Division of Curriculum and Development, Temple University; Prof. Lynn Trainor, Department of Physics, University of Toronto; and W. Webb)
"Use of Velikovsky Materials in Physical Science Courses" (Prof. Clement L. Henshaw, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Colgate University)
"An Approach to Objectivity" (Schatz; and Dr. Dolores Silva, College of Education, Temple University)
"Unsolved Dynamical Problems for the Hypothesis of the Recent Creation of Venus" (Henshaw)
"Geophysical Time Series and Catastrophism" (Dr. Vit Klemes, Hydrology Research Division, Department of the Environment, Canada)
"The Universal Nature of Discharge Phenomena" (Dr. Douglas Paine, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University)
"The New Science of Immanuel Velikovsky" (Dr. Alan Parry, Student Counseling Services, University of Lethbridge)
"Jupiter and Bode's Law" (Prof. Charles H. Jerred, Department of Earth Sciences, State University of New York, College at Oswego)
Moderators: Trainor; Prof. Earl Milton, Chairman, Department of Physics (Prof. of Astronomy), University of Lethbridge; Dickson; Prof. D. G. Andrews, Department of Chemical Engineering (Professor of Nuclear Engineering), University of Toronto; Prof. J. Terasmae, Department of Geological Sciences, Brock University (Ontario); Ransom; and De Grazia
PENSEE Journal VIII
Trainor, at the final session of the gathering, read from an account in Nature of the AAAS symposium on Velikovsky (held February 25, 1974, in San Francisco). He termed the account "disgusting," noting that Nature has a reputation for the highest standards in scientific journalism. The story, written by Miranda Robertson and published in the March 15, 1974 issue of Nature, carried allegations against Velikovsky of the most vicious and clearly unconsidered sort.