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  •  Report on the symposium

"Some people will come here with questions.  Don't bring every question to me. Decide it among yourselves.  And those of you who know how to ask questions should continue on to find answers.  Then you will find that I am not infallible.... You will go back and forth, but I will not lead you.  You will lead yourselves."

The words were those of a man only recently recovered from a bout with viral pneumonia.  His presence at the McMaster University symposium violated his doctor's orders; his participation was necessarily restricted.  Yet the gathering was suffused with a liveliness and vitality that were Immanuel Velikovsky's—the result of his unyielding stubbornness in crossing disciplinary lines and questioning settled assumptions.

If the venturesome spirit and mixing of disciplines were bequeathed to the symposium by Velikovsky, the researches and scholarship in evidence there were clearly the participants' own.  It is significant, as one participant remarked, that "the debate lay in the hands of persons other than Velikovsky himself"—a "second generation" of researchers not necessarily agreeing with all of Velikovsky's theses, but convinced that he has raised many I en questions worth examining.

Open questions abounded during the proceedings: Is the radioactive decay "constant" really constant? (Most likely not, according to Dr. John Lynde Anderson.)  Could planetary orbits have reversed their order of distance from the Sun in historical times? (Yes, if you are listening to Prof.  Robert W. Bass, celestial mechanician.)  Do the megalithic monuments in the United Kingdom bespeak catastrophes or uniformitarianism? (More research is needed, says Scotland's Dr. Euan MacKie.)  Do the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations and folklore show evidence of Velikovskian catastrophes? (The case is good, claims Dr. William Mullen.)

"Catastrophism has in recent years emerged as an interesting and respectable alternative to theories based on a uniformitarian viewpoint of planetary history.  While we do not necessarily subscribe to the Velikovsky reconstruction of events in the Solar System within historic times, we do recognize Velikovsky's central contribution in establishing the possible role of catastrophic events as an important aspect of any interpretation of the past.... we would urge the scientific community, in the best traditions of free inquiry, to pursue with open mind the challenge presented by Velikovsky."

(From a statement circulated by Prof.  Lynn Trainor, Dept. of Physics, University of Toronto, signed by 60 of the scholarly participants in the symposium.)

Commitment to the Issues

As one might expect, the symposium possessed elements of the surreal.  It irreverently threw together mythologists and mathematicians, astrophysicists and housewives, Velikovskians and anti-Velikovskians.  Characterized by a sober, working spirit, and punctuated with rollicking humor and an occasional emotional outburst, it was utterly unlike any other symposium.  The pace was wearying—three successive days from 9:00 in the morning until 10:00 in the evening—and yet the concluding sessions were full. (Indeed, to all appearances they were fuller than earlier sessions, consisting of more than the 350 actual registrants.)  It is noteworthy that when, on the final, tired afternoon, participants were forced to choose between three concurrently-run colloquia—one dealing with the emotion-laden question of the behavior of scientists, and the other two grappling with hard technical questions—more chose the technical sessions than the sociological.

Numerous delegates remarked on this intense, probing, investigative atmosphere.  No one seemed to have dropped out for the customary night on the town.  Meal times, coffee breaks, and late evening hours were jammed with on-going debates.  Even the last evening, after the conference officially ended, small groups pursued their discussion until late hours, going at it again over the next morning's breakfast.  One scientist claimed that never in all his years of attending scholarly symposia both in North America and abroad had he seen such a high degree of commitment to the scientific issue of the occasion.

It was no doubt the business-like, non-acrimonious tone of the event which enabled Hawaii astronomer David Morrison—one of Velikovsky's harshest critics at the symposium—to comment afterwards: "I hope all would agree that the participation of a substantial number of scientists in this symposium indicates that the past bitterness of 'the Velikovsky Affair' is indeed past.  Velikovsky and his theories should be judged on their present merits, not argued on the basis of former wrongs."

If the concluding plenary session of the symposium gives any indication, Morrison's hope is not ill-founded.  During this session the moderators reported back to the larger gathering on the proceedings of each of the earlier colloquial with delegates allowed to correct or dispute each moderator from the floor.  Charged with faithfully representing discussions that had frequently been marked by sharp differences of opinion, the moderators delicately wove their way through the task with the gracefulness of dancers and the gravity of comedians, while the audience responded with questions and the hall resounded with laughter.  The effect on many delegates seemed to be nearly revelatory: that such strong antagonists could be having such an enjoyable time together was . . . well, unnatural—but it felt good.  And they wanted more, calling for an annual recurrence of the event.

New Researches

Contrary to the backhanded advance notice given by at least one scientific journal, the symposium program was not stacked with Velikovsky supporters. if anything, the physical science sessions—comprising most of the symposium—were weighted with critics.  Nor was the event concerned exclusively with Velikovsky's work.  Rather, it focused on a number of investigators whose researches are yielding up glimpses of the Solar System's recent history, or who are developing the necessary tools for obtaining such glimpses.

Thus it was that considerable attention was given, for example, to 1) the theory of eruptive catastrophism propounded by the Russian astronomer, S. K. Vsekhsviatskii; 2) the reconstruction of "Earth's Electrical Structure" by Texas atmospheric scientist, Willis Webb-a reconstruction which is fundamental to any detailed understanding of Earth's electric interaction with the Solar System; and 3) the experimental evidence for non-random radioactive decay obtained by University of Tennessee physicists, John Lynde Anderson and George W. Spangler, raising fundamental questions in nuclear physics, as well as suggesting a possible source error in radioactive dating techniques (especially carbon-14 dating).

The consensus among participants seemed to be that many of the questions Velikovsky and others have posed concerning the recent history of the Solar System will be a long time in finding conclusive answers.  The gathering of data has hardly begun; the theoretical work, for the most part, is in its infancy; and it still remains an uphill battle to overcome the built-in prejudices of the larger scientific community and the scientific press.

On this latter point, it is worth noting that Prof.  Lynn Trainor, [1] a Toronto nuclear physicist with an international reputation, prepared and circulated among the symposium's "participating scholars" a statement acknowledging "the value to science of Velikovsky's work," and pleading for "an objective assessment of his theories."  But the symposium itself, some participants remarked, stood as the most eloquent "statement" in favor of an open-minded approach to Velikovsky's work.

WARWICK:   Immanuel Velikovsky and I have something in common which he or you may not be aware of, and which has nothing to do with our common interest in radio emissions from the planet Jupiter.  We were both subject to a judicial review process by a tribunal of distinguished astronomers of the Harvard College Observatory in 1950 and 1951; they were the same individuals, Harlow Shapley, Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin, and Donald Menzel.  Furthermore the results in the two cases may have not been altogether different: his was tossed out of court; my case was adjudicated favorably but with the remark that I really knew how to pick out trivial problems on which to do my research.  Finally, we were both interested in the electromagnetic properties of the universe, he in planetary magnetism, and I in problems of magnetic stars.

An Interdisciplinary Dilemma

The symposium was not without its minor disappointments.  Velikovsky himself, with a dry sort of humor, announced at the outset his internal debate over whether to tell the story that has emerged from his researches into catastrophes preceding the Exodus-only to say nothing further on the subject during the whole of the symposium.

The Monday afternoon session, designed to zero in specifically on planetary surface features, lost all focus when one of the speakers attempted to amass a lengthy list of objections to Velikovsky's conclusions, ranging from the composition of the Venerian atmosphere to the thermal balance of Mars.  As a result, no single question was adequately evaluated.

The symposium as a whole faced repeated interruptions in the form of questions and commentary from nonspecialists ("I'm out of my field, but . . .") whose contributions derailed promising dialog.

While the value of an interdisciplinary approach is everywhere applauded today, it is not at all clear how such an approach may be successfully executed.  Certainly not by entrusting discussions on celestial mechanics to historians, or the analysis of myth to physicists.  Nor simply by scheduling separate sessions for physicists, mathematicians, historians, and mythologists, all at the same symposium.

The young, but rapidly developing field of archaeo-astronomy (astro-archaeology) offers an example of genuine interdisciplinary synthesis: certain historical and archaeological data become, at the same time, astronomical data.  Indeed, this disciplinary merger seems now to hold out the most immediate and substantial hope for resolution of the vexing questions Velikovsky has set before the scholarly community-as the symposium papers by MacKie (megalithic "observatories"), Owen (Mayan calendrical inscriptions), and Rose and Vaughan (Babylonian astronomical observations) testified.

The data of mythology and the descriptive writings of the ancients, on the other hand, do not so neatly convert to raw material for physical scientists.

That the conversion of such data can be effected was cogently argued by mythologists Vine Deloria, Jr. and Dr. William Mullen during the session on "Myth and History." Mullen presented a compelling case for the total reassessment of Mesoamerican archaeology and folklore in light of Velikovskian catastrophism, while Deloria defended the arresting thesis that, rather than representing some "transcendent" or verbal reality only, "the ancient sources and accounts which we have in hand today may be simply the way that people wrote about the events that affected their lives."

MULLEN: Occasionally the supreme achievement of the narrator [of folkloric stories] is to transmute what was originally horrible into what is now funny or graceful.

If the numerous specialists assembled under the single umbrella of Velikovsky's scholarship find themselves necessarily separated by the requirements of their specialization and the limitations of current knowledge, the symposium nevertheless made it abundantly clear that each must pay ever closer attention to what the other is saying.  Furthermore, each has a right to exercise a self-defensive skepticism toward the particular claims of specialists in other disciplines-especially if that skepticism is based upon both the solid evidence of one's own discipline, and signs of rigidity in the "foreign" discipline.

Plausible Mechanics

This latter point is well demonstrated by perhaps the most striking revelation of the symposium, contained in the paper by Bass, a professor of physics and astronomy at Brigham Young University. (Bass' paper is published in this issue.) Whereas for over two decades astronomers have been chanting in orchestrated unanimity that celestial mechanics (the "fundamental laws of physics") render Velikovsky's interpretation of ancient myth absolutely impossible, Bass now comes along and assures historians that 1) the world's leading celestial mechanicians have long recognized the possibility of Velikovsky-type orbital scenarios; and 2) current knowledge makes it very likely that the thesis of Worlds in Collision is entirely plausible from the standpoint of celestial mechanics.

And so those are now seen to be fully justified in their cynicism who all along felt that most astronomers were not willing to reckon honestly with a theory, derived primarily from historical studies, requiring a revision in our understanding of the Solar System's history.

And yet, Bass' contentions should come as no surprise; surely the recent history of the Solar System, whatever it might be, will some day be recognized as the true province of the historian.  The task of celestial mechanics will be to explain that history in terms of physical law.

Hardly less striking than the perspective offered by Bass was the presentation by Anderson.  There is excellent evidence, he revealed, to suggest that the radioactive decay "constant" is not really a constant at all, and specifically, that there is a possibility for sizable error in carbon 14 dates owing to this fact.  The inventor of C14 dating, W. F. Libby, who refereed a recent paper by Anderson published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, has seen the latter's researches as uncovering a potential "can of worms."

In sum, those historians not by nature imbued with skepticism toward the claims of physical science would be well advised to become closely attuned to the many open-but often ignored-questions latent in current physical knowledge.  It may be that the greatest constraints upon theory construction in the historical disciplines have been the "limits of the possible" imposed by theorists in the physical sciences-whether those limits be established by, for example: current dating techniques; estimates of early man's sailing, architectural, or mathematical capabilities; or the physicist's delineation of permissible planetary behavior.  The historian, perhaps fearful of betraying an ignorance of "basic physical law," proves all too willing to accept these limits, and by the time the limits are revised, finds that his data have already been assimilated to a theoretical superstructure which he is loathe to abandon.

Velikovsky's monumental achievement was to ignore such limits, to follow wherever the evidence led him—even if across sacred disciplinary boundaries—and to recast the data from many fields into an altogether new theoretical construction.  Few there are, perhaps, who can match his stride; but the McMaster University symposium offers vivid testimony to the fact that many are coming behind.


What follows are a few brief representations of selected symposium papers and discussion.  Future issues of Pensée will carry additional material from the symposium, including the publication of many papers not discussed here.

Vsekhsviatskii: Eruptive Theory and the Origin of Comets

Evidently unable to negotiate the Soviet bureaucratic apparatus in order to gain clearance for travel abroad, Professor Vsekhsviatskii did manage to submit a written copy of his paper.  It was read at the symposium by Richard Lewis, science writer and until recently editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Following are excerpts from Vsekhsviatskii's "general deductions and conclusions":

"The system of comets and the systems of other small bodies represent indisputable evidence for the scale of eruptive processes in the solar system.  The correspondence of quantities of matter lost by the planets, evaluated independently by reckoning the number of comets and by comparing the mean densities of the planets, is very important.  These deductions are of fundamental importance to problems of the cosmogony of the solar system.

YORK: In conclusion, I'd like to say that I admire Drs.  Anderson and Spangler's courage in challenging an axiom.  This is the whole essence of scientific inquiry, and I wish them good luck.  And, if they do get confirmation of this, I hope they'll phone me up before they send it in to Nature, so that I can then rewrite the geochronology textbooks like my own, and get them out before anybody else does.

"It becomes more and more apparent that not only was the loss of matter by the sun a decisive process, but so also was the disintegration of planetary matter, which, in the form of complex gases, ash particles, and crustal fragments, was ejected into interplanetary and interstellar space.  Since the time it was formed, the system of planetary bodies has lost a total amount of matter comparable to the total present mass of the planets.  The amount of energy lost in this process should have been more than 1042 to 1045 ergs....

"As a result of the eruptive evolution of the planets, the solar system should have ejected from one-thousandth to one-hundredth of its initial matter into interstellar space.  But precisely this portion-in relation to the total mass of the stars-is made up of gas and dust in our galaxy.  It is therefore impossible to rule out the possibility that all such matter in the galaxy resulted from the disintegration and decay of stellar matter in eruptive evolutionary processes.  In this connection, it is especially important to continue searching for and studying infrared objects and planetary systems in the Galaxy, in which process the choice between condensation (accretion) and disintegration permits a study of the activity of such objects.  It can be pointed out that at least two systems-the solar system and the R Mon system (and also, perhaps, that of beta Lyrae) demonstrate the ejection of disintegrated matter into galactic space."

The reader will also find here (see inset) Vsekhsviatskii's brief summary of his earlier conclusions about the system of comets.

Vsekhsviatskii's contention that matter has continually been ejected volcanically from the surfaces of the planets, including Jupiter, came under strong, and largely unchallenged criticism from respondents Morrison and Zeller, as well as from others present.  The consensus seemed to be that no satisfactory mechanism for such ejection has yet been worked out, although several different approaches to the problem were suggested.

Velikovsky sought to make it clear that he, too, opposes the eruption theory, adding:

"Vsekhsviatskii was correct in one point—that the cometary bodies are of recent origin.  He was not correct in assuming that they are created today, too.  But they are only a few thousand years old.  And spectral analysis shows from which bodies they came: those of ice or water came from Saturn, and those with hydrocarbons from Jupiter or Venus."

Velikovsky indicated that, in his view, comets—as well as the protoplanet Venus —were the result of "near approaches between the major planets in the Solar System."

In the session following Vsekhsviatskii's paper, Dr. Derek York (department of physics, University of Toronto) presented evidence based on radioactive dating of lunar rocks.  These rocks, collected from various localities, are over three billion years old, said York.  The dating results are "so clear and compelling that one must conclude that at least the rocks sampled crystallized over three billion years ago.  Furthermore, they have suffered only minor disturbances since."

York continued: "If it is still to be maintained that the Earth-Moon system was recently closely visited by Venus, then it now has to be shown that this could have happened without serious thermal disturbances of the Moon.  I would suggest that this is a less boisterous and more fruitful course for Velikovsky and his followers to pursue than one which tries to overthrow the principles of radiometric dating."


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.



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, Pensée)

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))

Response: Ransom

"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)

Response: York

"Cl4 and Catastrophism" (Dr.  G. W. van Oosterhout, Department of Chemistry, Delft University of Technology, Holland)

Response: York

"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)

Supplementary Papers

"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



[1]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.

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