The book, Worlds in Collision , asserted that around 3, years ago the planet Venus was somehow ejected from the planet Jupiter as a comet. Comet Venus then started wandering through the solar system. Its gravitational field pushed other planets out of their orbits or changed their rotation.
Velikovsky attributed many of the disasters recorded in ancient times to this strange interaction the Earth had with Venus. Material that fell from Venus's comet tail into Earth's atmosphere caused the plagues visited upon Egypt as recorded in the Bible. Blood is everywhere," cried the Egyptian Ipuwer.
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As Earth went deeper into the comet's tail the dust turned to small stones and a hail of gravel pelted the Earth: " Velikovsky also credits the manna that nourished the nation of Israel during their forty-year wandering through the desert in Exodus to carbohydrates that fell to Earth from comet Venus's tail. As Venus grew closer, the gravity of the planet caused the Earth to rock on its axis or stop and start its rotation.
Earthquakes broke out and vital waves engulfed mountain ranges. Velikovsky speculates that this maybe when the legendary city of Atlantis sunk beneath the waves. The changes in rotation, according to Velikovsky, caused a prolonged darkness over the Earth.
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His research discovered that in Iran scholars recorded a night lasting three days followed by a day lasting three days. The Chinese recorded the same phenomena. The Bible speaks of a day when the sun stood still to allow Joshua to finish a battle. According to Velikovsky's work ,somewhere in the eighth century B.
This caused earthquakes to shake the world: "Both the poles shook," wrote one observer at around B. The sun vanished and rising clouds obscured the heavens Finally, after many years of causing catastrophes on Earth, Venus and Mars settled into their current near-circular orbits. Velikovsky's theories didn't fit in at all with modern astrophysics and he was criticized by most scientists. They saw his work as just another crackpot theory.
And they had quite a bit of evidence to refute it. A few scientists weren't satisfied to duke it out with Velikovsky in the marketplace of ideas, though. They made the blunder of putting pressure on Velikovsky's publisher not to publish "Worlds in Collision" as a part of the company's textbook series. When this became known, public sympathy shifted toward Velikovsky, increasing his popularity. He was a persuasive author and many began to believe in his theories. Isaac Asimov, a Velikovsky critic and not a bad wordsmith himself once wrote: "He is an interesting writer.
It's fun to read his books. I have read every book he has published and hope to read any he writes in the future. Although he doesn't lure me into accepting his views, I can well see where those less knowledgeable in the fields Velikovsky deals with would succumb. They have a long list of reasons why such a scenerio was not possible. A few of the more important ones are: The temperature of Venus. Actually, both sides in this controversy point to this as evidence for their claims. When Velikovsky first published his ideas the temperature on the surface of Venus was not known.
Indeed it was discovered that the surface temperature was degrees Kelvin. Hot enough to melt lead. And even if somehow the planet had managed to survive the ejection the temperature, even thousands of years later, claimed Sagan, would have been much greater than those found today. Sagan also argued that if Venus had been on an extremely eccentric orbit as Velikovsky suggests, it would be highly unlikely that it could have changed its orbit so radically in the few thousand years to the nearly circular orbit that the planet enjoys today.
Velikovsky didn't seem to be concerned with the problems his theory generated for physicists. He himself said, "the ancient traditions are our best guide to the appearance and arrangement of the earliest remembered solar system, not some fancy computer's retrocalculations based upon current understanding of astronomical principles. His books use comparative mythology and ancient literary sources including the Bible to argue that Earth has suffered catastrophic close-contacts with other planets principally Venus and Mars in ancient times.
Velikovsky argued that electromagnetic effects play an important role in celestial mechanics. He also proposed a revised chronology for ancient Egypt, Greece, Israel and other cultures of the ancient Near East. Nonetheless, his books often sold well and gained an enthusiastic support in lay circles, often fuelled by claims of unfair treatment for Velikovsky by orthodox academia. Skeptic , 9 1 , ; reprinted in Shermer, Michael editor ISBN Myths of the Space Age, Dodd Mead.
LCCN Ideas in Conflict, St. The Velikovsky Affair Aeon , 2 6 , Prometheus Books. Rationality at Risk: Science against Pseudoscience. Minerva , 23 2 , Oshiro, M. He graduated with a gold medal in Velikovsky then traveled in Europe and visited Palestine before briefly studying medicine at Montpellier in France and taking premedical courses at the University of Edinburgh. He returned to Russia before the outbreak of World War I, enrolled in the University of Moscow, and received a medical degree in Upon taking his medical degree, Velikovsky left Russia for Berlin.
He enlisted Albert Einstein to prepare the volume dealing with mathematics and physics. Once completed, this project was a cornerstone in the formation of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the fledgling university was able to donate copies of the Scripta to the libraries of other academic institutions, who would then send complimentary copies of their own publications, thus helping the Hebrew University to stock its library.
In , Velikovsky married Elisheva Kramer , a young violinist. During this time he had a dozen or so papers published in medical and psychoanalytic journals, including, in , the first paper to suggest epilepsy is characterized by abnormal encephalograms,  Velikovsky, I. Freud had argued that Akhenaton, the supposedly monotheistic Egyptian pharaoh, was the source of the religious principles that Moses taught to the people of Israel in the desert.
One such document was the Ipuwer Papyrus which reports events similar to several of the Biblical plagues. Since conventional Egyptology dated the Ipuwer Papyrus much earlier than either the Biblical date for the Exodus ca. Soon launching on a tangent from his original book project, Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become notorious see below.
For the remainder of the Second World War, now as a permanent resident of New York City, he continued to research and write about his ideas, searching for a means to disseminate them to academia and the public.
Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky
He privately published two small Scripta Academica pamphlets summarising his theories in Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History and Cosmos Without Gravitation. His mailing a copy of the latter to astronomer Harlow Shapley in was to have particular repercussions. In , after eight publishing houses rejected the Worlds in Collision manuscript  Velikovsky, Immanuel ISBN X. Shapley threatened to organize a textbook boycott of Macmillan for its publication of Worlds in Collision , and within two months the book was transferred to Doubleday.
It was by then a best seller in the United States. For most of the s and early s, Velikovsky was persona non grata on college and university campuses.
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After this, he began to receive more requests to speak. He lectured, frequently to record crowds, at universities across North America see List of Velikovsky Lectures. The remainder of the s saw Velikovsky devoting a great deal of his time and energy to rebutting his critics in academia, and continuing to tour North America and also Europe, delivering lectures on his ideas.
The Life of Dr. The last two years of his life finally saw publication of two volumes of the aforementioned Ages in Chaos series: Peoples of the Sea and Rameses II and his Time Velikovsky died, tended by his wife, at his Princeton home on November 17, Legal wranglings appear to have dogged the release of remaining unpublished work. Velikovsky had appointed Professor Lynn E. Rose as his literary executor , with plans to issue several more volumes. However, his family managed to retain control of his literary estate.
See also the Web site of Ruth Velikovsky Sharon who generally resisted the publication of any further material. Immanuel Velikovsky , issued in and greeted with rather dubious reviews;  Vorhees, Duane Aeon , 4 2 , Journal of Scientific Exploration , 10 4 , He summarised his core ideas in an affidavit in November ,  Velikovsky, Immanuel Affidavit, November V, issue 4 and this did steer the focus of his work, although its scope was considerably more far-reaching than this.
The entire body of work could be said to stem from an attempt to solve the following problem: that to Velikovsky there appeared to be insufficient correlation in the written or archeological records between Biblical history and what was known of the history of the area, particularly Egypt. Dissertation, Bowling Green State University. Velikovsky searched for common mention of events within literary records, and in the Ipuwer Papyrus he believed he had found a contemporary Egyptian account of the Israelite Exodus.
Immanuel Velikovsky’s strange quest for a scientific theory of everything
Moreover, he interpreted both accounts as descriptions of a great natural catastrophe. Velikovsky attempted to investigate the physical cause of the Exodus event, and extrapolated backwardsand forwards in history from this point, cross-comparing written and mythical records from cultures on every inhabited continent, using them to attempt synchronisms of the historical records, yielding what he believed to be further periodic natural catastrophes which can be global in scale.
As noted above, Velikovsky had conceived the broad sweep of this material by the early s. However, within his lifetime, whilst he continued to research, expand and lecture upon the details of his ideas, he released only selected portions of his work to the public in book form:. Several key portions of the Revised Chronology remained unpublished although the manuscripts are readily available in the Velikovsky Archive and thus the details of the entire scheme are known. Numerous other authors such as Donovan Courville , Peter James and David Rohl have since taken a cue from Velikovsky to develop their own proposed chronological revisions.
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Arrow Books. Of all the strands of his work, Velikovsky published least on his ideas regarding the role of electromagnetism in astronomy. In fact he retreated from the propositions in his monograph Cosmos without Gravitation , a work he and his supporters preferred to ignore subsequently, and a probable catalyst for the aggressively antipathetic reaction of astronomers and physicists from its first presentation. However, other Velikovskian enthusiasts such as Ralph Juergens and Earl Milton have embraced and developed these themes to propose a scenario where stars are lit not by internal nuclear fusion, but as the anode foci of galactic-scale electrical discharge currents.
Such ideas do not find support in the conventional literature. Moreover, scholars view his unorthodox methodology for example, using comparative mythology to derive scenarios in celestial mechanics as an unacceptable way to arrive at conclusions.