by Immanuel Velikovsky
The Velikovsky Affair - Scientism Versus
In 1950 - as it is still largely today -
it was generally accepted that the theory of uniformity must be true
and that no process which is unobservable in our time could have
occurred in the past. It was also believed that celestial bodies,
the Earth included, travel serenely on their orbits in the void of
space for countless eons.
In Worlds in Collision (1950),
however, I offered these theses:
there were physical upheavals of
a global character in historical time
these catastrophes were caused
by extraterrestrial agents
these agents can be identified’
(from the Preface)
these claims were termed a ‘most amazing
example of a shattering of accepted concepts on record
The consequences of the theory affected
almost all natural sciences and many social disciplines. Especially
objectionable was the assertion that events of such magnitude took
place in historical times.
Worlds in Collision describes two (last) series of cataclysmic
events that occurred 34 and 27 centuries ago. Not only the Earth,
but also Venus, Mars, and the Moon were involved in near encounters,
when the Morning Star, then on a stretched elliptical orbit
following its eruption from the giant planet Jupiter, caused turmoil
among the members of the solar system before settling on its present
The description was derived from literary references in the writings
of ancient peoples of the world. The archaeological, geological, and
paleontological evidence for the theory was collected and presented
separately in Earth in Upheaval (1955).
In order to explain how certain phenomena could have taken place -
how, for instance, Venus, a newcomer, could obtain a circular orbit,
or the Earth turn over on its axis - the theory envisaged a charged
state of the sun, planets, and comets, and extended magnetic fields
permeating the solar system. This appeared even more objectionable
since celestial mechanics had been solidly erected on the notion of
gravitation, inertia and pressure of light as the only forces acting
in the void, the celestial bodies being electrically and
magnetically sterile in their inter-relations. Worlds in Collision,
in its Preface, was acknowledged as heresy in fields where the names
Newton and Darwin are supreme.
The only quantitative attempt to disprove one of my main theses was
made by D. Menzel of Harvard College Observatory (1952)
. He showed (‘if
Velikovsky wants quantitative discussion, let us give him one’), on
certain assumptions, that were I right the sun would need to hold a
potential of 10 to the 19th power volts; but, he calculated that the
sun, if positive, could hold only 1800 volts, and, if negative, it
follows from the equation, no more than a single volt.
In 1960-61, V.A. Bailey calculated that to account for the data
obtained in space probes (Pioneer V) the sun must possess a net
negative charge with the potential of the order of 1019 volts
In 1953 Menzel wrote:
‘Indeed, the total number of
electrons that could escape the sun would be able to run a one
cell flashlight for less than one minute.’
My affirmation of electromagnetic
interactions in the solar system became less objectionable with the
discovery of the solar wind and of magnetic fields permeating the
My thesis that changes in the duration of the day had been caused in
the past by electromagnetic interactions was rejected in 1950-51
. In February 1960, A. Danjon, Director, Paris Observatory, reported to
Sciences that following a strong solar flare the length of the day
suddenly increased by 0.85 millisecond. Thereafter the day began to
decrease by 3.7 microseconds every 24 hours
He ascribed the fluctuation in the
length of the day to an electromagnetic cause connected with the
flare. His announcement ‘created a sensation among the delegates to
the General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and
Geophysics’ that year in Helsinki .
V. Bargmann of Princeton University and L. Motz of Columbia
University claimed for me the priority of predicting radio-noises
from Jupiter, the existence of a magnetosphere around the earth, and
the high ground temperature of Venus .
They stressed also that these discoveries later came as great
surprises, though I have insisted in my published works, in my
lectures, and in my letters that these physical conditions are
directly deducible from my theory.
These claims were not made casually or in a veiled form. Some of my
arguments for Jupiter sending out radio-noises can be learned from
my correspondence with A. Einstein. I could add that if the solar
system as a whole is close to neutrality, and the planets possess
charges of opposite sign to that of the sun, Jupiter must have the
largest charge among the planets. Rotating quickly the charged
planet creates an intense magnetosphere.
In the last chapter of W. in C. (‘The Thermal Balance of Venus’) I
insisted that ‘Venus is hot’ and ‘gives off heat’ as a consequence
of its recent origin and stormy history before settling on its
orbit. In 1954, R. Barker suggested that a layer of ice on the night
side of Venus is responsible for the ashen light
. It is more probably a
visible sign of incandescence. When in 1961 the temperature of Venus
was found to be ca. 600° K (326.85° C), it was admitted that neither
radioactivity nor greenhouse effect suffices to explain why Venus is
Several of the sensors of Mariner II were beyond their capacity to
report temperatures before the nearest point to Venus was reached,
‘because temperatures beyond their designed scale were encountered,’
as reported by C.W. Snyder to the meeting of the American
Geophysical Union, December 28, 1962 .
On December 15, 1962, a day after Mariner II passed the point of
closest approach, the ‘temperature had inexplicably started to drop’.
It is interesting also to know why the temperature of the upper
cloud layer of Venus measured in the 1920’s by Pettit and Nicholson
(-33° C for the dark side, -38° C for the bright side) was
found in the 1950’s by Stinton and Strong to be a few degrees lower
(ca. -40° C for both sides).
Could it be that Venus cools off at this rate ? It would point, too,
to its youth as a celestial body.
In 1950 the critics of Worlds in Collision (W. in C.) emphatically objected to the notion
that Venus is a young Planet or that it erupted from Jupiter.
R.A. Lyttleton (1959-60) showed why the terrestrial planets,
Venus included, must have originated from the giant planets, notably
Jupiter, by disruption .
W. H. McCrea (1960) calculated that no planet could have originated
by aggregation inside the Jovian orbit
R.M. Goldstein and R.L. Carpenter reported to the
meeting of the American Geophysical Union at Palo Alto, the last
week of December 1962, that radar probes from Goldstone Tracking
Station between October 1 and December 17, 1962, confirmed earlier
indications that Venus rotates very slowly and retrogradely.
According to the press, this led to the
‘Maybe Venus was created apart from
other planets, perhaps as a second solar explosion, or perhaps
in a collision of planets.’
To this, compare W. in C., p. 373:
‘The collision between major
planets... brought about the birth of comets. These comets moved
across the orbits of other planets and collided with them. At
least one of the comets in historical times became a planet -
Venus, and this at the cost of great destruction on Mars and on
In the section ‘The Gases of Venus’ in
W. in C. (1950), I concluded that Venus must be rich in
hydrocarbons. This theory was termed ‘surprising’ (H. Shapley, 1946)
when, a few years in advance of the publication of my book, I
requested that Harvard College Observatory make a spectral search
for hydrocarbons in Venus’s atmosphere
In 1955, Fred Hoyle proposes, on
theoretical grounds, that Venus is covered by oceans of oil and that
its atmosphere is clouded by hydrocarbon droplets
. I, however, wrote:
‘...as long as Venus is too hot for
the liquefaction of petroleum, the hydrocarbons will circulate
in gaseous form.’
(W. in C., p. 169).
The extraterrestrial origin claimed in
my book for at least part of the petroleum deposits, notably those
of the Mexican Gulf area, was scorned (C. R. Longwell, 1950),
and it was asserted that petroleum is never found in recent
sediments (J. B. Patton, 1950).
However, soon thereafter, P.V. Smith (1952)
reported the ‘surprising’ fact that the oil of the Gulf of Mexico is
found in recent sediment and must have been deposited during the
last 9,200 plus or minus 1,000 years.
Hydrocarbons were subsequently found on meteorites, a fact termed by
H.H. Nininger (1959)
also ‘surprising’: ‘These resemble in many ways some of the waxes
and petroleum products that are found on the earth.’ Several months
ago, A.T. Wilson (1962)
postulated an extraterrestrial origin of the entire terrestrial
deposit of oil. In W. in C. (p.55), presence of hydrocarbons on
meteorites was anticipated.
The experiment in which high molecular
weight hydrocarbons were compounded from ammonia and methane with
electrical discharges (Wilson, 1960) 
supports the view that the planet Jupiter (rich in ammonia and
methane) was the source of the hydrocarbons on Venus, on meteorites,
and in some of the earth’s deposits (W. in C., ‘The Gases of
My contention that Mars’s atmosphere must be rich in argon and neon
and possibly nitrogen was made early in my work (lecture titled
‘Neon and Argon in the Atmosphere of Mars’).
A few years later,
Harrison Brown, on theoretical grounds and independently, arrived at
the same conclusion concerning argon:
‘In the case of Mars, it might well
be that argon is the major atmospheric constituent.’
But he thought that rare gases ‘are
essentially non-existent’ on meteorites. In recent years neon and
argon have been repeatedly discovered on meteorites (H. Stauffer,
1961), as anticipated in
W. in C. (pp. 281 ff, 367).
Concerning the Moon, I asserted that its surface had been subjected
to stress, heating (liquefaction) and bubbling activity in
‘During these catastrophes the
moon’s surface flowed with lava and bubbled into great circular
formations, which rapidly cooled off ...In these cosmic
collisions or near contacts the surface of the moon was also
marked with clefts and rifts’
(W. in C., ‘The moon and Its
H. Percy Wilkins (1955) described
'numerous domes that might be regarded as examples of bubbles which
did not burst.’.
Signs of tensional stresses have been detected on the Moon (Warren
and Fielder, 1962); volcanic activity has been unexpectedly
discovered by Kozyrev (1958).
Sharp outlines of lunar formations could not have persisted for
millions of years in view of the thermal splintering due to great
changes in temperature, over 300 degrees, in the day-night sequel
and during the eclipses.
H. Jeffreys (1959)
drew attention to this evidence for the youth of the surface
features, but made it dependent on the presence of water in the
rocks. Since there seems to be volcanic activity on the Moon, water
is most probably present in the rocks.
Assertions that the Earth’s axis could not have changed its
geographical or astronomical position constituted one of the main
arguments against Worlds in Collision
. They gave place to the theory of wandering poles.
Th. Gold (1955ff) shows
the error in the view of G. Darwin and Lord Kelvin on the subject,
and stresses the comparative ease with which the globe could - and
did - change its axis, even with no external force applied.
Confirmed is also the conclusion that advanced human culture would
be found in the today uninhabited area ‘on the Kolyma or Lena rivers
flowing into the Arctic Ocean’ in northeastern Siberia (W. in C., p.
329) in the region where herds of mammoths roamed.
Already in 1951, A. P. Okladnikov
 making known the
results of his research in northern Siberia, wrote:
‘about two to three millennia before
our era, Neolithic races...spread to the very coast of the
Arctic Ocean in the north and the Kolyma in the east.’
Twenty-five hundred years ago copper was
worked in the taiga of Yakutsk.
Under the heading ‘The Reversed Polarity of the Earth’ (W. in C.,
pp. 114ff.) is written:
‘In recent geological times the magnetic
poles of the globe were reversed.’
The phenomenon that could cause
it was described, and the question was asked,
‘whether the position
of the magnetic poles has anything to do with the direction of
rotation of the globe.’
Complete and repeated sudden reversals of
the magnetic poles were postulated by S.K. Runcorn (1955)
and P.M. Blackett (1956).
‘There seems no doubt that the
earth’s field is tied up in some way with the rotation of the
planet. And this leads to a remarkable finding about the earth’s
rotation itself...The planet has rolled about, changing the
location of its geographical poles.’
Complete reversals would change the
rising and setting points, west becoming east, as described in many
ancient sources collated in W. in C. The pioneers in paleomagnetic
studies, G. Folgheraiter and P.L. Mercanton
, found a reversal of the
earth’s magnetic field in the Central Mediterranean area in the 8th
century before the present era, recorded in the magnetic dip of the
Etruscan and Attic vases; their position in the kiln is learned from
the flow of glaze. This find is in harmony with the events described
on pp. 207-359 of W. in C.
Radiocarbon analysis, besides disclosing that some petroleum is of
recent origin and deposit, verified also the claim (W. in C., ‘The
Ice Age and the Antiquity of Man’) that the last glacial period
ended less than 10,000 years ago. One of the first and most
important results of the new method was the reduction of the time of
the last glaciation.
‘The advance of the ice occurred about 11,000
years ago... Previously this maximum advance had been assumed to
date from about 25,000 years ago,’ reported W.F. Libby and
Frederick Johnson in 1952 .
Later this figure was still more reduced; furthermore, it refers to
the advance, not the end of the retreat of the ice cover.
Possibly the most clear-cut case of vindication concerns the
antiquity I assigned to the Mesoamerican civilizations (Mayas,
G. Kubler of Yale University
The Mesoamerican cosmology to which
Velikovsky repeatedly appeals for proof did not originate and
could not originate until about the beginning of our era.
Kubler showed a discrepancy of over
1,000 years and asserted that events I ascribed to the 8th-4th
centuries before the present era could not have taken place until
rather late in the Christian era. But on December 30, 1956, the
National Geographical Society, on its own behalf and that of the
Smithsonian Institution, announced:
Atomic science has proved the ancient civilization of Mexico to be
some 1,000 years older than had been believed. The findings basic to
Middle American archaeology, artifacts dug up in La Venta, Mexico,
have been proved to come from a period 800 to 400 or 500 A.D., more
than 1,000 years later. Cultural parallels between La Venta and
other Mexican archaeological excavations enable scientists to date
one in the terms of the others.
Thus the new knowledge affects the
dating of many finds. Dr Matthew W. Sterling, Chief of the Bureau of
American Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution, declared the new
dating the most important archaeological discovery in recent
P. Drucker and his co-workers have elaborated on the subject
in Science (1957) and in the report of the excavation (1959).
H.E. Suess, because of an accumulation of certain
discrepancies in the radiocarbon dates, assumes that natural events
caused a radical change in the intensity of the magnetosphere and in
the influx of cosmic rays sometime in the second millennium before
the present era. Several other researchers came to the same
conclusion . This is
also in harmony with the story related in my book.
Oceanographic research brought several confirming data.
H. Pettersson of Goteborg found so much nickel in clay of the oceanic
bed that he inferred that at some time in the past there had been a
prodigious fall of meteorites .
In W. in C., the descent of enormous trains of meteorites and
meteoric dust and ash (pp. 51ff) of land and sea is narrated, with
reliance on ancient sources.
In 1958, J.L. Worzel found a layer of
white ash, 5 to 30 cm thick, very close to the bottom, evenly spread
over an enormous area of the ocean bed in the Pacific, and he
thought of a ‘fiery end of bodies of cosmic origin’.
M. Ewing cites evidence that the same ash layer of ‘remarkable
uniformity of thickness’ found by Worzel in the Pacific underlies
all oceans and assumes ‘a cometary collision’.
It could hardly be without some recorded
consequences of global extent,’ Ewing concluded. To this a line from
W. in C. (‘the Darkness’) can be quoted:
‘The earth entered deeper
into the tail of the onrushing comet’ with its ‘sweeping gases,
dust, and cinders’ and ‘the dust sweeping in from interplanetary
In 1950 a past collision of the earth with a comet was denied, and
comets were also regarded as very tenuous and light masses incapable
of causing much damage . R. Wildt claimed that the largest comet
would have a mass equal to one millionth of that of Venus
. But N. T. Bobrovnikoff
(1951) Director of
Perkins Observatory, took a different view. Several comets seen in
the 19th century moved in very similar orbits and ‘in all
probability, are the result of decomposition of one single body.’
He estimated that:
‘If put together’
these comets ‘would make something like the mass of the moon.’
Before Ewing, a cometary collision was postulated in 1957 by H. Urey
to explain the tektites and their distribution
. G. Baker insists that
Australian tektites (australites) have lain in place no longer than
5,000 years .
3,500 years ago the oceans suddenly evaporated and the water level
dropped about twenty feet, a fact first noted by R. Daly and later
confirmed by Kuenen .
Rubin and Suess found that 3,000 years ago glaciers in the Rockies
suddenly increased in size .
Scandinavian and German authors date
Klimastürze at 1500 and 700 B.C. - the very period of great
perturbations described in W. in C. .
In the ocean floor B. Heezen discovered (1960)
a ridge split by a deep canyon, or ‘crack in the crust that runs
nearly twice around the earth.’
‘the discovery at this late date of
the midocean ridge and rift has raised fundamental questions
about basic geological processes and the history of the earth
and has even had reverberations in cosmology.’
Prof. Ma (Formosa) claims that there was
a sudden and total shift in the crust only 26 and 32 centuries ago,
as evidenced by the shift of marine sediments (1955)
. It was argued that in global catastrophes of such
dimensions no stalactites would have remained unbroken, but within
one year after the atomic explosion, stalactites grew in the Gnome
cavern, New Mexico:
‘All nature’s processes have been
speeded up a billionfold.’
Claude F. A. Schaeffer of College
de France, in his Stratigraphie Comparée
 on which he worked not
knowing of my simultaneous efforts, came to the conclusion that the
Ancient East, as documented by every excavated place from Troy to
the Caucasus, Persia, and Palestine-Syria, underwent immense natural
paroxysms, unknown in modern annals of seismology; cultures were
terminated, empires collapsed, trade ceased, populations were
decimated, the earth upheaved, the sea erupted, ash buried cities,
Five times between the third and the
first millennia before the present era the cataclysms were repeated,
closing the Early and the Middle Bronze Ages in their wake. The
number of catastrophes and their dates relative to historical
periods coincide in Schaeffer’s estimate and in my own. From source
material of a different nature - archaeological - he found that the
greatest catastrophe terminated the Middle Kingdom in Egypt (Middle
Bronze). Thus we are in agreement to a day.
The catastrophe that ended the Middle
Kingdom in Egypt is the starting point of Worlds in Collision
(and of Ages of Chaos, my reconstruction of ancient
The recent finds in astronomy, especially in radio-astronomy (sun,
Venus, Jupiter), have given confirmation from above; oceanography,
radiocarbon, paleo-magnetism, and archaeology have carried their
shares from below.
(References cited in "Additional
Examples of Correct Prognosis")
D. Menzel, Proc. Amer. Philos.
Soc. (October, 1952).
V. A. Bailey, Nature, May 14,
1960; January 7, 1961; March 25, 1961.
Menzel, Flying Saucers (Harvard
University Press), 1953, p. 236.
J. Q. Stuart, Princeton
University Observatory, in Harper’s, June, 1951.
A. Danjon, Comptes rendus des
séances de L’Académie des Sciences, 250 #8 (February 22,
1960); 250 #15 (April 11, 1960).
* 5a. New York Times, July 30,
Science, December 21, 1962.
R. Barker, J.B.A.A., 64, 60
New York Times, December 29,
1962 (West coast ed.).
U.P.I. dispatch from Washington,
D.C., in Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 1962.
E. Pettit in Hynek (ed.)
Astrophysics, McGraw-Hill, 1951, revised by Pettit and
Nicholson, Publ. Astr. Soc. of the Pacif. 67 (1955), p. 293.
Sinton and Strong, Science, 123,
R. A. Lyttleton, Monthly
Notices, Royal Astr. Soc. 121 #6 (1960); Man’s View of the
Universe, 1961, p. 36.
H. H. McCrea, Proceedings, Royal
Society, Series A, Vol. 256 (May 31, 1960).
The National Observer, December
H. Shapley to H. M. Kallen, May
F. Hoyle, Frontiers of
Astronomy, 1955, pp. 68-72.
C. R. Longwell, Am. J. of
Science, August, 1950.
J. B. Patton quoted by F. E.
Edmondson, Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., April 23, 1950.
P. V. Smith, Science, October
H. H. Nininger, Out of the Sky
(Dover Publ.), 1959, pp. 89
A. T. Wilson, Nature, October 6,
Ibid., December 17, 1960.
H. Brown in The Atmospheres of
the Earth and Planets, ed. Kuiper, 1949, p. 268.
H. Stauffer, J. Geoph. Res., 66
H. P. Wilkins, The Moon, 1955,
B. Warren and G. Fielder,
Nature, February 24, 1962.
N. A. Kozyrev, November 3, 1958.
Cf. Z. Kopal, The Moon (1960), p. 96.
H. Jeffreys, The Earth, 4th
ed.(1959), p. 377.
C. Payne-Gaposchkin, Popular
Astronomy, June, 1950.
Th. Gold, Nature, 175, 526
(March 26, 1955); Sky and Telescope, April, 1958.
A. P. Okladnikov, in Po Sledam
Drevnikh Kultur, Moscow, 1951; Russ. Transl. series of the
Peabody Museum, 1, #1(1959).
S. K. Runcorn, Scientific
American, September, 1955.
P.M. Blackett, Lectures on Rock
Magnetism, Jerusalem, 1956.
G. Folgheraiter, Archives des
sciences physiques et naturelles (Geneva), 1899; Journal de
Physique, 1899; P. L. Mercanton, Archives des science phys.
et nat., 1907 (t.xxiii).
F. Johnson in W. F. Libby,
Radiocarbon Dating (University of Chicago Press), 1952.
G. Kubler, Am. J. of Science,
P. Drucker, R. F. Heizer, R. J.
Squier, Science, July 12, 1957; Excavations at La Venta
(Smithsonian Institute, 1959).
Cf. a series of articles by V.
Milojcic, Germania, 1957 ff, E. Ralph, Am. J. of Sc., Radiac.
Suppl., 19559 (note to samples p214, p-215, p-216).
H. Pettersson, Scient. American,
August, 1950; Tellus, I, 1949.
J. L. Worzel, Proc. Nat. Acad.
of Sc., Vol. 45 #3 (March 15, 1959).
M. Ewing, Proc. Nat. Acad. of
Sc., Vol. 45 #3.
R. Wildt, Amer. J. of Science,
N. T. Bobrovnikoff, in
Astrophysics, ed. Hynek, McGraw-Hill, 1951, pp.310-311.
H. Urey, Nature, March 16, 1957.
G. Baker, Nature, January 30,
P. H. Kuenen, Marine Geology,
Rubin and Suess, Science, April
H. Games and R. Nordhagen,
Mitteil. der Geograph. Ges. in Munchen, XVI, H. 2 (1923),
pp. 13-348. R. Sernander, ‘Klimaverschlechterung,
Postglaciale’ in Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte, VII (1926);
O. Paret, Das Neue Bild der Vorgeschuchte (1948), p.44.
B. Heezen, Scient. American,
T.Y.H.Ma, Alterations of
Sedimentary Facies on the Ocean Bottom, 1955.
Dispatch by W. Hines of the
Washington Star from Carlsbad, N.M., in The Evening
Bulletin, December 18, 1962.
C. F. A. Schaeffer,
Stratigraphie comparée, Oxford University Press, 1948; Im.
Velikovsky, Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History
(Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana), 1945.