An Annotation on Selected Quotes and Sections
Immanuel Velikovsky, 1895-1979, was one of the most well known, to the public, of modern martyrs to the contemporary “inquisition”. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view this has served to distract attention from Velikovsky’s theories.
The following is a annotated list of quotes and references from Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision, Macmillan and Co, New York, 1950. All quotes are in italics, references are in caps.
p. vii, “Harmony or stability in the celestial and terrestrial spheres is the point of departure of the present day concept of the world as expressed in the celestial mechanics of Newton and the theory of Evolution of Darwin. If those two men of science are sacrosanct, this book is heresy.”
Thus does Velikovsky stake his ground, nothing less than the overthrow of Newton and Darwin and by implication all the science directly or indirectly based on them. It is noted that although Velikovsky did write a work “refuting” quite unsuccessfully, Newton he never got around to a theory replacing Darwin.1
p. vii, “However modern physics, of atoms and quantum theory, describes drastic changes in the microcosm the atom – the prototype of the solar system; a theory, then that envisages not dissimilar events in the macrocosm – the solar system – brings the modern concept of physics to the celestial sphere…”
This is quite simply wrong. Quantum mechanics does not envision the parts of the atom as physical entities. Further the position of an electron in orbit around a nucleus is one of probabilities. No modern day quantum Physicist uses quantum mechanics to describe anything above the subatomic. Neither is there any evidence to support the idea that an atom and the solar system are smaller and larger versions of the same thing.2
p. vii, “If, occasionally, historical evidence does not square with formulated laws, it should be remembered that a law is but a deduction from experience and experiment, and therefore laws must conform with historical facts, not facts with laws”.
Given that Velikovsky must interpret and stretch many texts to construct his “historical facts” and given his concept of mass “amnesia” to explain the obvious fact that mankind did not clearly remember these alleged “historical facts”, why these laws must be modified in accordance with these “historical facts” is dubious. Further if extensive experimentation has indicated that the universe behaves in a certain way the simple fact that something different is reported may all too likely means that the report is in error not the law. Velikovsky seems to have forgotten about the dangers of eyewitness testimony of the “unusual”.3
p. viii “Worlds in Collision comprises only the last two acts of the Cosmic drama. A few earlier acts – one of them known as the Deluge – will be the subject of another volume of natural history.”
Velikovsky never published those works in his lifetime. This was probably fortunate because adding a few more cosmic collisions would have made his cosmic scenario even more dubious.4
p. 5, THE SUN AS NINE PLANETS. NEPTUNE AND PLUTO MAY HAVE SATELLITES.
This is rather picky but firstly Pluto is no longer considered a planet. At least that was what a bunch of astronomers did a few years ago. The statement that Neptune and Pluto may have more satellites that have not been observed yet implies that all known satellites have been found to the other planets. Well with Jupiter having at 15+ and Saturn having 20+ this is simply wrong.5
p. 6, “Mars has a transparent atmosphere…composition unknown.”
Even though scientists at the time weren’t sure what the composition of Mar’s atmosphere was at the time Velikovsky wrote this the general opinion was that it was probably largely carbon dioxide. Velikovsky makes comments later in the book indicating he expects carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.6
p. 6, “The inertia or persistence of motion implanted in planets and satellites was postulated by Newton, but he did not explain how or when the initial pull or push occurred.”
This is incredible. Gravity is an innate property of matter it does not need to be “implanted”. Basically matter by its presence bends space and the bend of space is gravity. More massive objects bend space more than smaller objects which tends to cause smaller objects to fall around more massive objects and under certain circumstances crash into larger objects. Further Newton postulated that objects move until they encounter sufficient resistance to stop them. Velikovsky seems to deny the idea of the inertia. Further given that gravity is an innate property of matter there is no need for the initial “push” or “pull” that Velikovsky seems to want to exist.7
p. 8, “But why should the satellites of Uranus revolve perpendicularly to that plane and some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn in reverse direction?”
Well first of all Uranus rotates on its side and the moons orbit to that unusual plane. Leaving aside why Uranus rotates in this fashion, (the bottom line is we do not know), the 9 moons orbit in nearly circular orbits would seem to indicate that this occurred a very long time ago. Regarding the reverse orbits of some of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons how about simple capture of formerly free orbiting bodies.8
p. 11, “…according to all existing theories; the angular velocity of the revolution of a satellite must be lower than the velocity of rotation of its parent. But the inner satellite of Mars revolves more rapidly than Mars rotates.”
Says who? First of all this refers to stable orbits only. Secondly Phobos is gradually spiralling down and will eventually crash into Mars. Much like Triton which orbits Neptune. The price of such an orbit is probable eventual destruction and inherent instability of the orbit. Such an orbit is generally thought of as very good evidence that the moon in question was captured and not formed around the planet it orbits. Note Phobos is composed of quite different material than Mars.9
p. 12, “It is estimated that besides the comets of short periods several hundred thousand comets visit the solar system.”
Here Velikovsky starts his Venus = Comet. Two facts escape Velikovsky in this equation. First Comets are small, 50 Kilometres in diameter and under in size. Second Comets are largely dirty ice and have a very low density. Venus is 81% the size of earth and its average density is slightly less than Earth which has a high density (5.5gm). Velikovsky’s continual comparison of what Comets can do and what “Comet” Venus allegedly did simply ignored this. Note the present idea is that in the outer Solar System outside the orbit of Pluto are Billions of Comets and Comet like bodies. So that millions of Comets have probably visited the inner solar system in the about 4.5 billion years since the earth formed.10
p. 12-15, THE ORIGIN OF COMETS. VELIKOVSKY CLAIMS THAT THE ORIGIN OF COMETS IS UNKNOWN. LOOKS AT IDEA THEY CAME FROM THE SUN OR EMERGED FROM THE GIANT PLANETS.
p. 13, “Another theory of the comets supposes their origin to have been the sun.”
Comets probably are nothing more than the icy remnant debris of the formation of the solar system. Given that Comets are icy rocky bodies their origin from eruptions of the sun or from the giant planets is very dubious, the heat of ejection would have totally vaporized them. In fairness to Velikovsky he regarded the origin from the sun has unlikely.11
p. 16, “…the shell is estimated to be only 60 miles thick…”
p. 16, “The presence of iron in the shell or the migration of heavy metals from the core to the shell has not been sufficiently explained.”
Well, Velikovsky does not explain what he means by “shell”. If he means crust the thickness is usually given as about 30 miles on the continental plates and much thinner on the ocean bed. As for iron, when the earth was being formed iron was present through out the material that formed the earth. In the process of forming the materials tended to separate by weight leaving only remnants of iron in the earth crust. There is no need to postulate a migration from the core to the surface to explain iron in the earth crust.12
1. Even the collection of Velikovsky’s unpublished writings contains little of it. See The Velikovsky Archive Here.
2. See Wikipedia Quantum Mechanics Here.
3. See Loftus, Elizabeth, & Ketcham, Katherine, The Myth of Repressed Memory, St. Martin’s Griffen, New York, 1994, Crews, Fredwerick, Follies of the Wise, Shoemaker Hoard, Emeryville CA, 2006, pp. 200-216.
4. For more absurd Cosmic Collisions see No. 1.
5. See Wikipedia Moons of Jupitor Here, Moons of Saturn Here, Moons of Neptune Here, Pluto Here.
6. Weart, Spencer, Venus and Mars, Here.
7. See Wikipedia, Gravitation Here.
8. See Wikipedia Uranus Here, and Moons of Uranus Here.
9. See Wikipedia Phobos (Moon) Here).
10. See Wikipedia Venus here, Earth Here, Comet Here.
11. IBID, Comet.
12. Wikipedia Crust (geology) Here.