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Chronology & Catastrophism Review 2008, 2009 and 2010 Abstracts

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‘Cosmic Catastrophes – Asteroids, Comets and Planets: Possibilities and Probabilities in the Light of Today’s Findings and the Testimony of Ancient Man’ (The Proceedings of The 3rd SIS Cambridge Conference, held in 2007 at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University).

Introduction and Overview – by Frank Wallace

The Society has brought together an excellent group of well-qualified and exciting speakers to identify best consistent evidence, as it relates to asteroids, comets and planets, in order to better understand their possible or probable role in cosmic catastrophes …………………… In an attempt to present an initial overview, to help orientate us for what we are about to absorb, I will briefly refer to the evidence and ideas of people in the past who, from Velikovsky on, have contributed to the debate on cosmic catastrophism. I hope that this will illustrate some of the major issues and assumptions facing us today, and their possible strengths and weaknesses in relation to each other on the basis of best evidence. …………………


The Effects and Outcome of Cosmic Catastrophes on Human Societies – The Goddess in Religion as Response to Catastrophe – by Irving Wolfe 

If we, as catastrophists, believe that the history of the cosmic regions around our planet has varied between stability and convulsive instability, especially in the past four millennia, and has been witnessed in fear by humankind, then, perhaps, our ancestors might have conceived of the universe as having two natures which, as a projection of life on earth, they might have depicted as male and female, the male ruling during the long periods when heaven is orderly and regular, but the female frighteningly in control at those relatively short but devastating moments when the sky was unstable, irregular and destructive. That will be the working hypothesis of my paper. If it is correct, then I believe that these moments of vast trauma would have become irremovably embedded in our collective unconscious as permanent memories – it is a response to the terror. ……………….


The Geological Evidence for Cosmic Catastrophes: Their Possible Causes and Long-Term Significance – by J. Bernard Delair

This paper will be in two parts – an overview of geological catastrophes and their likely causes and then three selected instances of convulsions in Earth’s history, with a small but important element that I will mention towards the end. The largest and oldest-known book lies beneath our feet. Its chapters are enormously long and composed of thousands of pages. Of these, most are still in their original sequence, the remainder being crumpled, torn, or altogether missing. Unlike conventional tomes, the pages of this book are made of rock and stone and collectively form Earth’s crust, or lithosphere, upon which all living things – now represented by fossils – are considered to have resided for at least the last 900 million years. Quite literally, this is Earth’s history ……… This story, or ‘history’, has sometimes been a highly dramatic one, for scattered sporadically throughout its length are the unmistakable ‘signatures’ of large-scale disruptions of its stony fabric and, inferentially, also of then contemporary meteorological systems – an especially important factor. It must, at once, be emphasised that most of these signatures are not the results of familiar natural convulsions, such as severe volcanism, unusually large tsunamis, or even exceptional earthquakes (even those rating 10 on the Richter Scale), but the scars of events acute enough to cause widespread crustal fracturing and buckling and massive orogeny (mountain building), which affected the relocation of whole oceans (a very dramatic propostion), or even to realign Earth’s axis of spin, or the position of the poles (pole shift). In short, events sufficiently critical to adversely affect entire hemispheres, if not the whole globe. ……………………..


Reversals of the Earth – Cause and Effect (on the possibility of Turning the Earth Upside-down) – by Peter Warlow 

It was about one hundred years ago that Alfred Wegener put forward his theory of Continental Drift but, unfortunately, he failed to provide an adequate mechanism to explain the movements and the proposal was rejected. Then, around 1930, someone suggested that convection currents in the mantle could cause the crustal movements, but no-one took any notice of this idea. The International Geophysical Year (IGY) took place about 1957 and the extensive examination of the Earth’s surface revealed evidence that convinced most people that the crust had, indeed, moved. The subject of ‘Plate Tectonics’ was officially recognised in 1964. …………There was an element of hypocrisy about the early rejection of Wegener’s continental drift theory on the basis of inadequate explanation, because the theory of ice ages had been accepted with no mechanism to explain them. Joseph Alphonse Adhemar had suggested a simple astronomical theory, but it was soon rejected. Then James Croll tried, with a more sophisticated version, but that too fell by the wayside. When it was suggested that the Earth might have tilted, mathematical astronomers, such as George Darwin, calculated that the Earth could not tilt itself more than one or two degrees. Even when Milutin Milankovitch put forward his version of the astronomical theory in the 1920s and 30s, it wasn’t readily accepted. It is, of course, now generally accepted as the explanation. However, although it seems to fit the timescale pattern, there are a couple of niggling problems. One of the problems is that, by itself, it cannot do the job. It is said to act as a trigger mechanism to encourage some other change. The change in question is normally assumed to be CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ is then invoked to provide the desired amplicfication. A reduction of the effect produces the cooling and an increase produces warming to bring about the alternating glaciations and warm intervals. However, the most recent assessment of ice-cores indicates that the CO2 changes occurred long after the temperature changes – as much as 800 years later ………………..Tilt the Earth? – If only we could tilt the Earth we could explain all of these phenomena in one go, with just a single explanation. ………….. 


The Celestial Mechanics of Worlds in Collision Revisited (and subsequent new findings from space) – by Laurence Dixon

In this essay we will be considering celestial mechanics to be the observation and modelling of the motion of the bodies in the solar system. In 1949, before Velikovsky’s book Worlds in Collision was published [1], the solar system was considered to be stable, peaceful and completely governed by gravity. Catastrophic changes were forbidden. Velikovsky challenged all three concepts. Today, in 2007, most astronomers would accept that catastrophic collisions occur, that the interplanetary medium is filled with electromagnetic plasma and that the parameters of Earth’s orbit have changed. We will consider how this change in opinion occurred and the following basic questions:

1. Do recorded astronomical observations indicate a stable solar system, or one where

catastrophes punctuate stable, peaceful periods?

2. Are the astronomical observations completely explained by gravity, or must electromagnetic

effects be taken into account?



Ancient Traditions: What Can They Tell Us About the History of the Earth? – by Rens van der Sluijs

As I shall be speaking before David Talbott, it is opportune to mention that the models he and I envision have much in common – both of them postulating the existence of a visible ‘world axis’. However, I will be covering different ground than Dave. In his presentation the world axis takes a minimal place, whereas it is at the heart of my research. In addition, his model involves planets out of their present orbits, whereas my own work remains neutral to this possibility. What can ancient traditions tell us about the history of the Earth? The answer most scholars would have given before the 1980s and 1990s was ‘nothing’, but this attitude is beginning to change. In 1980, Luis and Walter Alvarez presented evidence that a comet impact was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. It was only then that catastrophism became acceptable, at least in the sciences. At first, this recent form of catastrophism was still limited in outlook, at least compared to the catastrophist theories of the 18th and 19th centuries. No catastrophist events were postulated to have happened within relatively recent periods – certainly not within the Holocene – and as a result, only scientists would entertain the possibility of past catastrophes, not historians or anthropologists. But even this is changing rapidly. The evidence for catastrophic events in the Holocene is mounting. Scientists have now identified and agreed on numerous disasters that could have been remembered by mankind. ……………………


Past History of the Planets: The Polar Configuration (past and present research) – by David Talbott

I was very pleased to see that I had a chance to talk after Rens, because I believe he has established, along with Tony Peratt, the perfect opportunity for us to work with the electric universe and with the principle of plasma formations seen in the ancient sky. With those as a clear reference, we can begin to pose questions as to claimed planetary roles and configurations that, in many respects, I think, perfectly match configurations that I had reconstructed myself, beginning in the early 1970s, involving planets. More than 10,000 years ago, Palaeolithic artists painted images on the walls of Lascaux cave in France. They were realists, with an exceptional eye for detail. Why these talented artists of the stone-age disappeared remains a mystery, but the greater mystery is the extraordinary epoch that followed. It seems that Neolithic artists lost the ability to depict nature as we know it. Although accurate representations of nature are present, the dominant style produced a carnival of ghostly creatures and absurd forms never seen in our world today. How did this remarkable tendency arise, not in one land alone, but on every continent? What provoked the distinctive patterns? An answer had recently come from plasma science and laboratory experiments with electric discharge, which seem to show that these strange forms are records of electrical events in the sky [1]. Rock-art forms have been matched to the configurations taken by electric discharge in the laboratory and the conclusion is that extraordinary events occurred in the ancient sky and that our sky today bears little resemblance to that earlier time [2]. ………………………


Electricity or Gravity: Which Rules the Universe? – by Wallace Thornhill

The very fact that the title of my talk is being asked at this stage in our scientific development is, I believe, an indictment of the way science is actually done these days. For me, the answer seems glaringly obvious. We make use of electricity in so many ways on Earth in our everyday lives – for lighting, heating, locomotion, and so on – yet, when we turn to the universe we ignore it totally. The question: electricity or gravity? is never asked – although, in my view, it is crucial for our understanding of cosmogony, which is the origin of the solar system, and cosmology. It is also, in my view, crucial for understanding planetary catastrophe and the restoration of rapid stability thereafter, because one of the questions is, if we went through such tremendous cataclysms in the recent past, how did any of the biospheres survive? I think the answer has to be that there must be some powerful restoring action after such chaotic episodes which settles everything down very quickly. This is something the gravitational model cannot do, because any more than two bodies in a gravitational system is a chaotic system and to try and bring a chaotic system back into stability requires a force other than gravity, but perhaps there is something about gravity that hasn’t been understood. ………………………


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Intelligent Design? – by David Salkeld

……… In the many questions of biological evolution, three problems stand out – macroevolution, the extinction of species, and the origin of life itself. Ardent Darwinian evolutionists say that macroevolution is just ‘microevolution with unlimited time’; although some added: ‘plus possibly, an ‘X’ (i.e. unexplained) factor.’ However: ‘One of the oldest problems in evolutionary biology remains largely unsolved … Historically, the neo-Darwinian synthesizers stressed the predominance of micromutations in evolution, whereas others noted the similarities between some dramatic mutations and evolutionary transitions to argue for macromutationism’ [4]. Velikovsky suggested that macroevolution was cataclysmic evolution [5], but all mainstream scientitsts turned deaf ears. Many of them also closed their eyes when, in 1978, Luis and Walter Alvarez – father and son – discovered 30 times higher iridium levels in the C-T boundary than in limestone above and below, and later suggested that the Cretaceous period had been ended by an asteroid impact [6]. However, in 1984 iridium anomalies had been found in 66 sites worldwide, and Richard Kerr in Science recorded the view, expressed at a conference in 1988, that if a show of hands occurred it would vote that an asteroid or comet impact is ‘the most likely explanation of the mass extinction ……………..


Velikovskian Catastrophism: Science or Pseudoscience? Part III – Thomas Kuhn and the Myth of ‘Mob Psychology’ – by Paul Sukys 

It is fitting that this series of essays on Velikovsky’s catastrophism and the ongoing question of pseudoscience have led to this article on the work of Thomas Kuhn. In many ways Thomas Kuhn and Immanuel Velikovsky suffered similar fates. Velikovsky has been vilified for presenting a radical theory of planetary formation and for revising the chronology of ancient history, while Kuhn has been criticised for suggesting an unorthodox theory about the workings of the scientific community. ……………………….. In the case of Velikovsky the incidents involved several unsavoury tactics not the least of which was a threatened boycott of the publisher of Worlds in Collision, a move that led to the transfer of publication rights to a trade book publisher [1]. In the case of Kuhn, it involved charges that his discussion of consensus in science amounted to forfeiting objectivity to ‘mob psychology’ and a dismissal of his ideas about science and culture as a surrender to the post-modern irrationality of ‘shared opinions’ [2]. ……………………….. if we look at the basic tenets of Kuhn’s theory with an objective eye, what we see is simply an accurate and relatively unbiased description of what actually happens in the laboratories and the observatories of the scientific community, nothing more. Basically, what Kuhn proposes …………………….


Studies in Persian Chronology:A Response to Jonsson – by Rolf Furuli

Can the Persian chronology be revised? That question is also the title of two articles by C. O. Jonsson, (in C&C Review 2006 and 2007), in which he criticises my book Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian Chronology: Vol. I, Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews (2003). Jonsson’s answer to the question is, ‘It is impossible’, while my answer is, ‘There are reasons to believe the Persian Chronology can be revised.’ These answers reveal a fundamental difference of philosophy. It is important to note that Jonsson bases his arguments and conclusions on secondary sources, that is, on the conclusions drawn by different scholars who have studied the original documents. There is nothing wrong in using secondary sources (this is done in all kinds of writings, including scholarly studies), but problems arise when such secondary sources are used in such a way that all other interpretations except one’s own are excluded. In this paper, I will deal with astronomical tablets that can be used in connection with an absolute chronology [1]. I will argue that many of the astronomical tablets to which Jonsson refers contain retro-calculations rather than real observations and, therefore, have little chronological value. ………………. 


The ‘Great Star’ of Antiquity – by Ev Cochrane

Stars were venerated and celebrated by many Amerindian tribes. Of all the stars, the Morning Star stands out for its prominent role in sacred mythology and ritual. Less well-known, but evident nevertheless, is the star’s importance in the sacred iconography of the Amerindians. How the mythological traditions interface with, or help to explain, the specific iconography associated with the Morning Star has scarcely been addressed to date, but this would appear to be a ripe field for research and analysis. It is this question that we will explore in this article. ……………….. 


Catastrophic Black Sea Floods and the Story of Noah – by Trevor Palmer

Historical Introdiction – Accounts of a great flood are a common feature in myths from cultures in all parts of the inhabited world [1]. In Europe and America at the present time, the best known flood myth is of course that found in chapters 6-8 of the book of Genesis, ……………….. For over a thousand years, this was believed by Jews and Christians alike to be the literal truth. ……………… in 1680, Thomas Burnet argued that the waters of the ‘Deluge’ must have come from within the Earth, because that seemed the most probable natural source [2]. In 1696, William Whiston accepted that some of the flood waters may have emerged that way, but he considered that most must have fallen as rain derived from vapours in the tail of a passing comet. Two years earlier, Edmund Halley had dared to suggest that the Deluge may have been more localised than generally supposed, possibly arising from the effects of a comet splashing into the Caspian Sea but, for whatever reason, he retracted that suggestion just days after he’d made it [3]. ………………………………  Developments after 1950 – Immanuel Velikovsky challeged the prevailing uniformitarian view, arguing in paper published in 1979 that the Deluge of Noah and other cataclysmic flood stories from around the world were a consequence of a catastrophe involving Saturn. This had occurred at an earlier period than the events he had associated with a close encounter with the planet Venus at around 1450 BC, discussed in detail in 1950 in his first book, Worlds in Collision. ……………………… The Pleistocene-Holocene Transition ……….. The Hypothesis of Ryan and Pitman ……….. The Hypothesis of Aksu and Hiscott ……..The Hypothesis of Yanko-Hombach and Chepalyga ……… Continuing Disagreements ……………


Dendrochronology – Data from Anatolia and the Dating of Thera – by Barry Curnock

Introduction – This paper examines the dendrochronology data published by Cornell University in the United States. In particular it examines the data used to date the eruption of Thera. By the kind assistance of Professor Mike Baillie and Queens University, Belfast I have also examined some dendrochronology methods. My work has led me to question the suitability of some methods and the validity of Cornell’s conclusions regarding Thera. The Juniper Tree-ring Chronology of Gordion, created at Cornell University, has provided a backbone to their Anatolian Master Chronology (hereafter referred to as the Anatolian Master). A ‘chronology’ is created by matching the measurements of tree-ring widths from several wood samples to form a set of average ring widths for a sequence of years. Data from different sites are matched to build longer chronologies. The matching of two samples is usually done statistically to find the best match between the patterns of ring sizes. The Gordion tree-ring data is particularly useful because three samples of very long-lived trees were found at this ancient capital of Phrygia. The dates of the wood are determined by radiocarbon dating. In the case of Gordion these dates are about fifty years older than the conventional historical dates. ………………


Chronology & Catastrophism REVIEW 2010 Click here for price

[this issue also contains a fully detailed and visual report on the SIS Autumn LectureMeeting:  ‘Testing Time

– the NewChronology in 2009′ by David Rohl and another reporton theElectric Universe talk given in London on the 9th of August by Wal Thornhill.

Plasma Cosmology: A Research Programme – by Rens van der Sluijs

Myths and other traditions can be mined for information about the past, but this will only work successfully with a clear theory of myth and a refined understanding of its socio-political and historical contexts. One caveat is the reductionist trap, a psychological tendency to try and explain too much with a single paradigm. When we postulate that a large segment of mythology was informed by contact with plasma phenomena, are we saying that all myths relate to cosmic plasma, or only some? Do the latter represent a distinct class of myths? Where does ‘plasma mythology’ stand as a theory of myth in the history of the subject? …………… 


The Literary Velikovsky: Mythistory and The Cradle of Saturn – by Paul Sukys

In a book entitled, History and Social Theory, Peter Burke, a noted Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, attempts to answer what he refers to as ‘two deceptively simple questions’ [1]. Those questions, according to Burke, are ‘What is the use of social theory to historians, and what is the use of history to social theorists?’ [2]. This article attempts to address a similar question, ‘What is the use of literature and history to scientists and the scientific community?’ To answer this question we must first, look at the function of literature; second, relate that function to the function of history and, finally, apply that relationship to science, the scientific community and popular culture. Since such an undertaking is best accomplished using a concrete example, we will focus on James P. Hogan and his novel, The Cradle of Saturn [3]. …………………..


The Papyrus Ebers Calendar: Civil or Lunar – by Daphne Chappell

This paper discusses various interpretations that Egyptologists have suggested for the calendar found on the verso of Papyrus Ebers. Dated to year 9 of Amenhotep I, it provides one of the pillars of Sothic dating. If, however, the calendar is lunar and not civil there is no anchor for the New Kingdom chronology. The Ebers calendar and Amenhotep III’s clepsydra (or water clock), offer insight into the 18th Dynasty’s understanding of the natural year and its division into seasons


The Latin Goddess Venus – by Ev Cochrane

……. The first temple to Venus was dedicated in 925 BC, in the aftermath of the campaign against the Samnites. Prior to that occasion, the origins of the Latin Goddess and her cult are obscure, to say the least [2]. ………….. There would appear to be general agreement among scholars that the goddess Venus is simply the personification of a magical concept originally meaning ‘charm’. …….. It was Robert Schilling who, in his monumental La Religion Romaine de Venus, pointed the way to a new understanding of the Latin goddess. There, he analysed a family of words considered to be cognate with Venus: venia, venerari, venenum, venenatum, and venerium. …………


Why Change a Calendar? – Which Year Did Bede Think he Lived In? – by Laurence Dixon

One of the reasons that chronology is difficult and interesting, is that our forefathers frequently changed the dating system which they used to record their past and present activities. In this paper I will consider briefly those changes made in the last 1,400 years, when the changes made, and provide the possible reason for each. I will work backwards to end with a consideration of the time of Bede. As we will see, changes to the calendar system have occurred frequently. In AD 1800 most regions of the world had their own calender and the Gregorian system was only in use in Europe, America and their colonies. In contrast, by 2000 that calendar had been adopted in most countries throughout the world. Why? ……………… 


Lamarck, the Man, the Myth and the Legacy – Trevor Palmer

Very few men of science during the 18th/19th century have been as unfortunate as Jean-Baptiste Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (1744-1829), in having their ideas consistently presented by others in a distorted form. This process started during Lamarck’s lifetime, because of manipulations by his more politically alert rival, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), and was later compounded by the creation of a false dichotomy between what in reality were the overlapping views of Lamarck and Charles Darwin (1809-1882). From the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, the terms ‘Lamarckism’ and ‘Darwinism’ were taken to describe mutually-exclusive mechanisms of evolution, a situation that would have seemed perplexing to both Lamarck and Darwin. Successive discoveries about the nature of hereditary material and hereditary processes (i.e. genetics) proved to be consistent with Darwinism but not apparently with Lamarckism, leading to a widespread belief amongst evolutionary biologists that Darwinism alone would provide the answers to all the remaining questions. However, developments in molecular genetics over the past twenty-five years or so have indicated that the situation may not be so straightforward. Despite the fact that Lamarck’s theories have been misrepresented, dismissed and ridiculed for so long, evolutionary ideas and hereditary mechanisms of a Lamarckian nature may finally be close to gaining general acceptance. …………….


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