The Russian-born scholar Imanuel Velikovsky was a friend
and colleague of Albert Einstein, a student of Freud's
first pupil Wilhelm Stekel, and Israel's first practicing
psychoanalyst. Some of his writings appeared in Freud's
Imago. In 1930 he published the first paper to suggest
that epileptics would be characterized by abnormal encephalograms.
He was the founder and editor of the scholarly publication,
Scripta Universitatis, the physics and mathematics section
being prepared by Einstein.
It was while researching a book on Freud and his heroes
that Velikovsky first wondered about the catastrophes
said to have accompanied the Hebrew Exodus, when fire
and hailstones rained upon Egypt, earthquakes decimated
the nation, and a pillar of fire and smoke moved in
the sky. Biblical and other traditional Hebrew sources
speak so vividly that Velikovsky began to wonder if
some extraordinary natural event might have played a
part in the Exodus.
To explore this possibility, Velikovsky sought out
a corresponding account in ancient Egyptian records,
finding a remarkable parallel in a papyrus kept at the
University of Leyden Museum, called the Papyrus Ipuwer.
The document contains the lamentations of an Egyptian
sage in response to a great catastrophe overwhelming
Egypt, when the rivers ran red, fire blazed in the sky,
and pestilence ravaged the land.
Velikovsky also encountered surprising parallels in
Babylonian and Assyrian clay tablets, Vedic poems, Chinese
epics, and North American Indian, Maya, Aztec, and Peruvian
legends. From these remarkably similar accounts,
he constructed a thesis of celestial catastrophe. He
concluded that a very large body -- apparently a "comet"
-- passed close enough to Earth to violently perturb
its axis, as global earthquakes, wind and falling stone
decimated early civilizations.
Before Velikovsky could complete his reconstruction,
he had to resolve an enigma. He had found that in the
accounts of far-flung cultures, the cometary agent of
disaster was identified as a planet. And the closer
he looked, the more clear it became to him that this
planet was Venus: The converging ancient
images include the Babylonian "torch-star"
Venus and "bearded star" Venus, the Mexican
"smoking star" Venus, the Peruvian "long-haired"
star Venus, the Egyptian Great Star "scattering
its flame in fire" and the widespread imagery of
Venus as a flaming serpent or dragon in the sky. In
each instance, the cometary language is undeniable,
for these were the very symbols of "the comet"
in the ancient languages.
By following the evidence, Velikovsky discovered that
Venus holds a special place among the world's first
astronomers. In both the Old World and the New, ancient
stargazers regarded Venus with awe and terror, carefully
observing its risings and settings, and claiming the
planet to be the cause of world-ending catastrophe.
These astronomical traditions, Velikovsky
reasoned, must have had roots in a traumatic human experience,
though modern science has always assumed that the planets
evolved in quiet and undisturbed isolation over billions
Based on extensive cross-cultural comparison, Velikovsky
concluded that the planet Venus, prior to the dawn of
recorded history, was ejected violently from the gas
giant Jupiter, displaying a spectacular comet-like tail.
Its later catastrophic approach to the Earth (around
1500 B.C.) provided the historical backdrop to the Hebrew
Exodus, Velikovsky claimed.
In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky argued
that the terrifying "gods" of the ancient
world were planets -- those inconspicuous
specks of light we see moving with clock-like regularity,
as if to deny their chaotic roles in the past. The book
recounted two close encounters of the comet or protoplanet
Venus with the Earth. Included in the same volume was
a large section on the ancient war god, whom Velikovsky
identified as the planet Mars. He claimed that centuries
after the Venus catastrophes, Mars moved on an unstable
orbit intersecting that of Earth, leading to a series
of Earth-disturbing events in the eighth and seventh
For many years after publication of Worlds in Collision,
Velikovsky was persona non grata on college campuses.
He was denied the opportunity to publish articles in
scientific journals. When he attempted to respond to
critical articles in such journals, they rejected these
responses. The attitude of established science was typified
by the reactions of astronomers. Michigan astronomer
Dean McLaughlin exclaimed, "Lies -- yes lies."
In response to a correspondent, astronomer Harold Urey,
wrote: "My advice to you is to shut the book and
never look at it again in your lifetime."
For Velikovsky, this was the beginning of a personal
"dark age". But remarkably, his friendship
with Albert Einstein was unaffected, and Einstein met
with him often, maintaining an extended correspondence
as well, encouraging Velikovksy to look past the misbehavior
of the scientific elite.
Things grew more promising for Velikovsky. In 1962,
two scientists, Valentin Bargmann, professor of physics
at Princeton, and Lloyd Motz, professor of astronomy
at Columbia, urged that Velikovsky's conclusions "be
objectively re-examined." In support of this reconsideration,
they cited his prior predictions about radio noises
from Jupiter, the terrestrial magnetosphere, and an
unexpectedly high temperature of Venus.
Then, in 1972, at the invitation of the Society of
Harvard Engineers and Scientists, Velikovsky returned
to the site from which the original boycott was launched.
His presentation produced a standing ovation. "I
survived, as you see," he said. "I have been
waiting for this evening for 22 years. I came here to
find the young, the spirited, the men who have a fascination
Before he died in 1979, Velikovsky grew darkly
pessimistic, telling those close to him that the battle
was over, that the critics had won. Mainstream science,
he said, would never permit an objective hearing on
the subject of Worlds in Collision.
But in the awakening of public interest seven years
earlier, something had occurred that Velikovsky did
not anticipate. Even as the controversy faded into the
background, a number of independent researchers labored
quietly in their own fields, seeking out the remaining
pieces of the puzzle Velikovsky had laid before them.
Unanswered questions ranging from the role
of electricity in the universe to the mysteries of Venus
and the origins of ancient mythology would preoccupy
these researchers for decades.
Today, almost fifty-five years after publication of
Worlds in Collision, those who forged this independent
inquiry WILL be heard. They are no longer dependent
on established journals and academic institutions to
gain a public hearing.
Other scientists and social scientists that showed
deep interest in Velikovsky's work included astronomer
Walter S Adams; archaeologist Cyrus Gordon; and Horace
Kallen, one of America's most respected scholars. In
1950, when Worlds in Collision came out, Kallen was
a personal friend of Harlow Shapley, the Harvard astronomer
who led the original scientific attack on Velikovsky.
But later, Kallen recounted Shapley's role in the "Velikovsky
Affair," and he ridiculed the hasty and pretentious
manner in which the defenders of orthodoxy had dismissed
Kallen's biting criticism of scientific dogmatism is
every bit as appropriate today as it was 30 years ago.
In the debate with McCanney, Morrison opined that Velikovsky
may have sounded intelligent to the untrained, but that
when you look more closely, "nothing is there."
Velikovsky was "simply wrong," said Morrison,
Here, on the other hand, is the opinion of the two
authors of Thunderbolts of the Gods, each having investigated
the thesis of Worlds in Collision for more than three
decades. David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill
write: "The authors of this book believe that Velikovsky
was incorrect on many particulars, some of them crucial
to a proper understanding of ancient events. But his
place among the great pioneers of science will be secure
if he was correct on the underlying tenets"
Talbott and Thornhill do not accept Velikovsky's specific
chronology of events, and they place the age of planetary
upheaval just prior to the flowering of monumental civilization,
which they see as a creative act of human REMEMBERING.
Rather than declare Velikovsky to be categorically "right"
or "wrong", they cite these claims as crucial
to any assessment of Velikovsky's contribution to science--
1. The present order of the planets is new. In geologically
recent times the planetary system was unstable, and
at least some planets moved on much different courses
than they do today.
2. Erratic movements of the planets led to global catastrophe
3. Through rigorous cross-cultural comparison of the
ancient traditions, an investigator can reconstruct
the celestial dramas.
One more principle must also be included, according
to the authors. Velikovsky said that the
key to reconciling his claims with scientific theory
would be ELECTROMAGNETISM, a force in which astronomers
and cosmologists had no interest in 1950. He stated
that if the Sun and the planets are not the "electrically
neutral" bodies astronomers assume, then even "the
law of gravitation must come into question."
In the years since Velikovsky wrote these
words, a new perspective has emerged from space age
discovery. A universe teeming with charged particles-the
"Electric Universe" of Wallace Thornhill and
others -- is redefining everything we see in space.
But you would not know this by listening to David Morrison,
whose words still echo the electrically inactive, purely
gravitational 1950's vision of the heavens.
The electrical theorists say that the picture
of the universe has changed, and all of the theoretical
sciences will give way to a revolution in human understanding.
The authors of Thunderbolts of the Gods summarize the
new view in these words:
"From the smallest particle to the
largest galactic formation, a web of electrical circuitry
connects and unifies all of nature, organizing galaxies,
energizing stars, giving birth to planets and, on our
own world, controlling weather and animating biological
organisms. There are no isolated islands in an 'electric
MODERN COSMOLOGY AND THE BIG BANG
Morrison expressed supreme confidence in the Big Bang,
one of the most popular themes in scientific speculation
today. The Big Bang is well supported and secure, he
said, and we see "no contradictory evidence."
Here he was only reflecting the posture of official
Here's the truth: Scientific confidence
in the Big Bang has already collapsed.
The dogmatic Doppler interpretation of redshift (shifting
of light from distant galaxies toward red on the light
spectrum) has crashed and burned. It was this uncompromising
interpretation of redshift that led astronomers to place
newly discovered, strongly redshifted quasars at the
farthest reaches of the universe. But now we know that
quasars are found in energetic and physical connection
to nearby galaxies. We've even seen a quasar in front
of a nearby galaxy. All of the most critical evidence
is now against the Big Bang. See: Big Bang Broken and
Can't Be Fixed.
But should this come as a surprise? Plasma cosmologists--including
such distinguished authorities as Anthony Peratt of
Los Alamos Laboratories and astrophysicist Eric Lerner--have
long argued that the pillar of Big Bang reasoning is
refuted by what we see in space and what we observe
in scientific experiments. In fact, the world's leading
authority on peculiar galaxies, astronomer Halton Arp,
has been warning the astronomical community for decades
now that it is following a dead-end path. He
paid for these warnings dearly, losing his telescope
time and being forced to move to Germany to carry on
his work at the Max Planck Institute. Its too bad Halton
Arp and Immanuel Velikovsky never had a chance to compare
notes on the role of sacred cows in the sciences.
Peratt, Thornhill, Fred Hoyle, Margaret and Geoffrey
Burbidge, and many others have long claimed that astronomers
were overlooking evidence essential to the question
of redshift. There is evidence that plasma
discharge can produce intrinsic redshift--that is, redshift
with no inherent relationship to velocity or distance.
Our own Sun exhibits an unexplained excess redshift
at its limb. This is no small matter. If plasma discharge
is involved, the electrically neutral universe of the
1950's must be abandoned once and for all. And we're
not talking about a small problem here, but the biggest
mistake science has made in modern times. Virtually
all of the theoretical sciences have been held captive
by the same conjecture, which started as a guess, then
hardened into the pretentiousness of pure mathematics,
divorced from the rigors of observation and experiment.
THE NEBULAR THEORY OF PLANETARY ORIGINS
From start to finish, Morrison refused to acknowledge
the distinction between fact and theory. Here are his
precise words with respect to the origins of planets:
"The planets in the solar system formed out of
a spinning dust cloud, a circumstellar disk it's called,
right along with the Sun, and so they all have the same
basic motion coming from their origin, and they formed
together with the Sun."
You can see he is confident in a theory that has been
around for years, though the theory did not predict
any of the milestone discoveries of the space age. The
nebular theory is, in fact, one of the primary reasons
why every major planetary discovery has come as a surprise.
We can now view the planets up close and
personal. Their surfaces do not speak for isolated and
incremental evolution, but for an unstable solar system
in the past.
The appeal of the nebular theory early in the twentieth
century was based on observations later revealed to
be incorrect. At that time, astronomers believed that
only one galaxy, the Milky Way, existed. When they observed
what they called "spiral nebulas" and "planetary
nebulas," they imagined these clouds to be the
birthplaces of stars and planets, formed by the "gravitational
collapse" of gas and dust.
But the early "observations" proved to be
erroneous. With better telescopes, astronomers realized
that "spiral nebulas" were actually galaxies
beyond the Milky Way. They could tell us nothing about
an imagined "gravitational collapse" of clouds
into stars and planets. Then, with still better observational
tools in the latter decades of the twentieth century,
it became clear that "planetary nebula" were
not gas clouds coalescing or accreting into planets,
but the remains of EXPLODING STARS.
Thanks to our better telescopes now, we DO see evidence
of planetary formation. For example, the discovery of
gas-giant planets orbiting nearby stars should have
forced a complete review of the assumptions behind the
nebular theory. But it did not. Most such bodies are
moving on exceedingly close orbits to their primary
(star), the opposite of what was predicted by "planetary
nebula" models. Faced with this contradiction,
the theorists concluded that the gas-giant planets must
have moved inward after they were formed. But if that
were a normal occurrence, then Jupiter should be closer
to the Sun than Mercury, and Earth and its neighbors
should not exist. Either way, the picture certainly
does not suggest planets coalescing from a cloud, and
then remaining in place for billions of years!
Morrison is not the only astronomer desperately needing
an education in plasma physics and electric discharge.
Astronomers working with gravity-only models have failed
again and again to anticipate the new view of space.
This record of failure can now be compared to the striking
success of "plasma cosmology," rooted in the
work of Kristian Birkeland, Irving Langmuir, and Nobel
Laureate Hannes Alfven, the father of modern plasma
Morrison insisted that the Sun is known to be electrically
neutral, but his only defense of this claim was a reference
to the "neutrality" of the solar wind. He
did not mention the fact that the charged particles
of the solar wind are accelerated away from the Sun
(something that was not known when Velikovsky wrote
Worlds in Collision). In contrast to Morrison's bold
assertions, the known FACT is that electric fields accelerate
charged particles. This acceleration is
the best measure of an electric field's strength. Unless
someone can demonstrate (not merely hypothesize) something
other than an electric field that can accelerate charged
particles, there is simply no integrity to Morrison's
The Sun is a glow discharge according
to the modern pioneer of the electric Sun, Ralph Juergens,
whose work has been further developed by Wallace Thornhill
and Donald Scott. See: Of Pith Balls and
It was surprising to find that the debate included
no meaningful discussion of comet theory. This was unfortunate,
because ideas about comets could be the Achilles Heel
of dogmatic science.
On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact probe will reach comet
Tempel 2 and fire an 800-pound projectile into the comet's
nucleus. NASA's comet investigators do not doubt that
hidden beneath the surface of comets is a great abundance
of water ice. How else could comet tails be produced,
except by ices sublimating in the heat of the Sun?
The revolutionary electric Sun model set
forth by Juergens in the early 70's included a view
of comets as electric discharge phenomena.
If the Sun is a glow discharge at the center of a radial
electric field, then comets moving on highly elliptical
orbits through this electric field will experience increasing
stresses that can only be relieved through electrical
arcing, removing material and accelerating it away from
the nucleus, along the path of solar magnetic field
Though electrical experts cannot categorically say
there are no volatiles beneath the surface of comets,
they all consider it most likely that the projectile
will strike a solid rock and not a pile of ice and rubble.
According to Thornhill, some of the water we normally
detect in comet tails appears to be a result of electrical
exchange within the coma of the comet.
So the Deep Impact mission could prove to be an acid
test. The electric theorists have made their position
clear, and there won't be much wiggle room for the conventional
"dirty snowball" hypothesis. If
water is not observed to explode from the surface at
the projectile's impact, a domino effect will be set
loose. An absence of water would mean there is no mainstream
model left, only the electric model would remain.
A single event could thus alter the mindset of all who
work in the theoretical sciences: it would
mark the end of the imagined "electrically neutral"
universe lurking behind every statement
we heard from David Morrison.
WHEN DID PLANETARY UPHEAVAL OCCUR?
Morrison confidently dismissed the idea of recent catastrophe
in the solar system, telling us that the real catastrophes
occurred "4.5 billion years ago." How does
he "know" this? The confidence begins with
a rigid adherence to the nebular theory, and ends with
a practice at which the electric theorists can only
grimace: counting craters to determine the ages of a
planet's or moon's surface. The fewer the craters, the
"logic" goes, the more recent the events that
re-surfaced an area.
Even orthodox planetary scientists are coming to realize
that crater counting doesn't work. See article - "Crater
Count Led Mars Historians Astray", March 2005 New
For the cosmic electricians, the idea of counting craters
is absurd. They see the defining surface
features of planets and moons as the signature of brief
catastrophic episodes of electric discharge, in a phase
of solar system history that continued until surprisingly
recent times. According to these investigators,
every planet shows electrical re-sculpting from pole
to pole, often with strange hemispheric differences
as if scarring occurred briefly from a single direction.
They propose a simple and direct way to resolve the
question. Since plasma discharge events are scalable,
they claim the dominant features on planets
and moons can ONLY be produced by electric discharge,
and they are eager to see rigorous testing of this extraordinary
claim. Without any funding from NASA, they have already
begun the process, and the results are simply staggering.
(See: Martian Blueberries in the Lab.
DID OUR ANCESTORS WITNESS COSMIC CATASTROPHE?
In agreement with Immanuel Velikovsky,
many proponents of the Electric Universe contend that
our early ancestors witnessed Earth-changing catastrophes.
So on this point, they do not just speak of scientific
evidence, but of HUMAN TESTIMONY. They
tell us that only a few thousand years ago the sky was
ablaze with electrical fireworks and that humans witnessing
these events recorded them through every means available--
They drew pictures of plasma formations in the heavens.
From one land to another they recounted stories of
cosmic thunderbolts that altered world history.
In ritual prayers and monument building, they constructed
imitations of the plasma formations in the sky.
And in their astronomical traditions they preserved
a global memory of PLANETS as the towering gods of a
In laying the groundwork for a new approach to solar
system history, Talbott and Thornhill write--
"A costly misunderstanding of planetary
history must now be corrected. The misunderstanding
arose from fundamental errors within the field of cosmology,
the 'queen' of the theoretical sciences. Mainstream
cosmologists, whether trained as physicists, mathematicians,
or astronomers, consider gravity to be the controlling
force in the heavens. From this assumption arose the
doctrine of eons-long solar system stability-the belief
that under the rule of gravity the nine planets have
moved on their present courses since the birth of the
solar system. Seen from this vantage point, the ancient
fear of the planets can only appear ludicrous.
"We challenge this modern belief.
We contend that humans once saw planets suspended as
huge spheres in the heavens. Immersed in the charged
particles of a dense plasma, celestial bodies 'spoke'
electrically and plasma discharge produced heaven-spanning
formations above the terrestrial witnesses. In the imagination
of the ancient myth-makers, the planets were alive:
they were the gods, the ruling powers of the sky-awe
inspiring, often capricious, and at times wildly destructive."
It has been said that no great advance has ever been
made without controversy. More than 5 decades after
the Velikovsky firestorm, questions first posed by Velikovsky
can no longer be ignored. At stake here is not just
the billions of dollars NASA has wasted chasing chimeras,
but the very integrity of scientific exploration. Also
at stake is the ability of the sciences to attract and
inspire new generations. And nothing is more inspirational
than a sense of being on the edge of discovery.
No matter the outcome of this long-standing battle,
the time of reckoning is at hand. The voice of Velikovsky's
ghost WILL be heard.