Tom Van Flandern

28 Apr 2013

Tim Cullen, in a post at Tall Bloke's Talk Shop, 'The Other Big Bang Theory', raises an interesting set of issues, not least another example of consensus dictating the line research should follow, the desired path way so to speak. It is basically all about the Asteroid Belt and where did all those comets come from. Their origin of course has been banished to the far reaches of the solar system, beyond the penetration of telescopes (until recently), in the so called Oort Cloud.

More immediately we have the Asteroid Belt and the discredited theory a planet once existed there but had been blown to smithereens, leaving behind all those asteroids swirling around in the section of space, an idea recently revived by Tom Van Flandern - see

The story goes back to the 18th century and the astronomer Titius of Wittenberg. He noted a strange gap, or empty zone, in the solar system. The so called Titius-Bode Law predicted the semi major axes of the six planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - provided one allowed for a gap between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter (see When Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781 the planet matched the Law perfectly leading astronomers of the time to consider there might have been a planet in the gap. When the asteroids began to emerge from telescope observation speculation grew about the planet and the possibility it had exploded as a result of a collision - or something like that. An errant comet was blamed and here is where the theories began to go awry as they came up against a consensus view regarding comets and what they could and could not do. In 1814 Lagrange found that the highly elongated orbits of comets could also be readily explained by such a planetary explosion but this ran counter to the prevailing view at the time, the Laplace hypothesis that comets were primitive bodies left over from the solar nebula in the outer solar system. Laplace supporters went on the attack and as they were in the ascendancy their views gained peer support. Lagrange died in the same year and nobody else was stubborn enough to take up the challenge from the consensus lobby. So it became accepted that as far as the origin of comets was concerned, they were formed at the same time as the solar system itself, primordial leftovers. They could not have caused a planet to explode into pieces and neither could such pieces become comets in the aftermath. And so on.

The exploding planet theory was kicked into the long grass and there it remained until revived by Tom Van Flandern in the 1990s, in his book Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets. He updated some of this in 2000 - see

Tom Van Flandern predicted satellites of asteroids, satellites of comets, salt water in meteorites, the time and peak of the 1999 Leonid meteor shower, boulders on asteoids, strongly spiked energy parameters for new comets, distribution of black material on slowly rotating airless bodies, splittling velocities of comets and that Mars is the former moon of an exploded planet. Mainstream consensus theory is that comets originate in the Kuiper Belt, and the Oort Cloud. However, the family of Jupiter comets are confined to the inner solar system. They have orbital periods of less than 20 years and include Encke (of Clube and Napier notoriety). Cullen says, an examination of Jupiter's family trajectories indicates a convergence point just beyond the present orbit of Mars. This suggests, he claims, these comets had an explosive origin in the very recent astronomical past. He provides lots of links to other sites if anyone wishes to explore further and claims the solar system has an explosive history with not only the Asteroid Belt but the Kuiper Belt too, being evidence of debris fields. On top of that, he adds, the Ooort Cloud is a figment of imagination, a theory that has failed to be seen by the vast array of modern telescopes scanning the far reaches of space.