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Worlds In Collision




I've been rediscovering the work of Immanuel Velikovsky, who wrote Worlds In Collision in 1950. The crux of his theory was that the planet Venus swung by the earth and caused massive disruptions due to the effects of gravity. He attempted to link this hypothetical event with ancient stories of global floods, polar shifts, a reversal of the earth's spin, and total eclipses that lasted for days. Astronomers strongly deny Velikovsky's claim that Venus has interacted with the earth. However, there are many other large bodies beyond Pluto in our solar system that could have swung by earth on long elliptical orbits and caused the effects described by Velikovsky. We are still discovering dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt region of the solar system (see Sedna below).


If such an event did happen, it would have been documented by ancient astonomers and astrologers, who were obsessed with the heavens. Velikovsky used historical analysis to assert that a severe planet-wide event did occur about 3500 years ago. This was recorded by witnesses all over the earth in ancient manuscripts and oral legends - the Vedas, the Bible, Eskimo mythology, Mayan calendars, Egyptian hieroglyphics, etc.


These stories contradict each other on many details, as would be expected from eyewitnesses from different cultures. But, it is unlikely that hundreds of very serious people, who did not know each other, would create such dramatic and unbelievable stories, without some element of truth in them. The exact event will probably never be known, but it is a very interesting subject.


Oort Cloud:



Solar System, logarithmic scale:



Velikovsky is best remembered for his compilation of ancient mythology than for his interpretation of them. Velikovsky was severely criticized and ignored by mainstream scientists for the rest of his life, and his ideas have only recently has been getting some attention. It is one of those subjects that professional astronomers do not want to investigate for fear of losing their credibility, which is regrettable.


With the 2012 scare currently being marketed by the entertainment industry, it is quite sobering to read Velikovsky's research into ancient documentation of similar events.





Sidenote: NASA has predicted that we are in for a period of severe solar flares in the next few years, which could cause widespread electrical outages. (Be sure to put a hard drive in a lead-lined box somewhere). It's not the end of the world, we have solar flares every few decades, but it is the first time we have had a major solar flare in the Information Age.





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interesting but there is one BIG flaw. for other heavenly objects to be moving in elliptical orbits that big there must exist a huge source of gravity pulling the planet along. there are no record of such massive "suns" existing.

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not so.


no known object moves in a perfectly circular orbit -- a circle is a special case of an ellipse with zero eccentricity anyhow, so technically even a circular orbit is "elliptical"


pluto the (proto-) planet has a very eccentric orbit that crosses inside neptune's orbit periodically.


kuiper belt objects are pretty small in relation to planets.. only a few kilometers across. so to scale, a neptune, jupiter or a saturn is a sufficiently "sun-sized" mass.


an object doesn't have to be acted on by two very massive gravity wells in order to have a very eccentric orbit either -- the kuiper belt objects you're probably most familiar with are comets -- some of which are in hyperbolic orbits - meaning they swing around the sun only once in their lifetimes and then are flung out into the universe at some oblique angle. the missing force you expect to be due to another sun-sized mass is explained by their initial velocity and angle of approach. generally, any comet we see is in a very eccentric, elliptical orbit ( if they were more circular and stayed distant, or otherwise didn't pass close to the sun, they wouldn't have a tail and so wouldn't be visible )




now back to our story..


Velikovsky's scenario doesn't even require something to be in a closed orbit - like i mentioned about some comets, it's entirely possible that an object of any mass could pass through the solar system on a hyperbolic orbit, never to be seen again. AND the r^2 orbit is very stable, so even if a mass the size of all the other planets combined came as close to the earth as the moon's orbit, then zoomed on out of the solar system, in just a few years earth would be more or less back in it's regular orbital path and we would be none the wiser. kuiper belt objects? probably not - these are SMALL. the moon herself, only 3 days journey from here, is WAY more massive than any known proto-planet ( like 1.5 times bigger than pluto ), and only moves the tides a few inches by her gravity. for an object half the size of the moon to cause worldwide flooding, it would have to get close enough to splash down.. =\ hmm no record of THAT 3500 years ago.



for another interesting take on what could have caused the flood, read stephen baxter's new book "Flood"


there is good evidence that earth's mantle contains underground oceans containing perhaps as much as 4 times as much water than all the oceans on the surface holds. in the biblical account:

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

the water not only came from the clouds above but from underneath the ground!


we know less about what lies a few miles under our feet than we do about the kuiper belt -- we have no idea what unknown forces in the core could cause an upwelling of the underground oceans, or what possible extent such an event might have. now THAT is interesting.

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