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Open letter to science editors


Robert Driscoll

The mail in the past week honored me with another mailing from Leroy
Ellenberger, and included in it was a flier which said, among other things,
"Venus no comet: Cochrane states that Venus was a comet. This is pure
poppycock. Venus can never have had a tail and, therefore, looked like a
comet because it is too massive and holds its atmosphere. The notion that
Venus had a tail is impossible." Quote, Leroy Ellenberger, 6 September 1994
flier. So I remembered something and got out my files and made a copy of it,
and the copy is of an article in the 29 March 1974 Science, and the article
is "Observations at Venus Encountered by the Plasma Science Experiment on
Mariner 10." The abstract concludes with the sentence, "Unusual intermittent
features observed downstream of the planet (the planet Venus) indicate the
presence of a comet-like tail hundreds of scale lengths in length." A scale
length being a technical term that I won't attempt to define here. Then in
the conclusions of the text, "The interaction between the solar wind and the
Venusian atmosphere appears to resemble in some ways that thought to occur
with a comet." Farther along: "In addition, unusual intermittent features,
unlike those observed in the terrestrial magnetosheath, were observed
thousands of scale lengths downstream of Venus during the approach of Mariner
10." Mariner 10 sort of trailed it, and caught up with it, and went on by
it. "The following conclusions may be drawn from the data presented here ..."
And it gives several conclusions. The last one of them, Number 4, is, "Venus
probably has a tail ..." "Has..." that's the present tense. 1974. "... has
a tail hundreds of scale lengths long, suggestive of that of a comet."

Now with regard to the polar configuration modeling, I don't have any further
remarks or questions regarding Bob Grubaugh's model today. I will simply
outline my own model; its manuscript presentation is in press with Aeon. I
hope it will come out soon, but I haven't been given a date for that. The ...
(How much time do I have left? Five? That's fine.)

In my model the common axis of the planets of the configuration may be normal
to the ecliptic plane, or it may be tilted, so that there would be
seasonality. That is, as the configuration as a whole orbited the Sun it
would have the same seasonal effects as now. If the tilt could be exactly
that of the Earth at present, for instance, it would give exactly the
seasonality. The problem of-Why do the planets not fall into one another,
since they are relatively motionless with respect to one another? And, What
keeps them apart, since the gravity between them does not disappear? is
answered by the fact that they are magnetic and the magnetic repulsion keeps
them apart. So, there is a balance between the magnetic repulsion among them
and the gravitational attraction. Question: "Is that stable?" Yes. It can
be shown that that is stable. It's very easy to show it's stable with regard
to distance between the planets, because the magnetic force falls off with the
inverse fourth power of the distance, whereas the gravitational falls off
with the inverse second power. And where they are at equilibrium, it's very
stable because a very slight change of position between them changes the
magnetic field greatly. And so it doesn't take much change to restore any
disturbance of the equilibrium position. Motion normal to the common axis
can be shown. I have a transparency for that, but there's no time for it.
I'll be glad to show it to anyone who wants to see me afterwards.

(Driscoll then referred to his diagram projected on the screen, made detailed
explanations of calculations, and concluded that the magnetic force on a
planet of the polar configuration transverse to the common axis of the
planets both opposed and exceeded the transverse component of the
gravitational force when the center of the planet moved a small distance from
the axis, thus forcing the planet's center back to the axis and so making the
configuration stable. His subsequent checking of this calculation has
revealed an error invalidating the conclusion based on it. However he has
solved the transverse stability problem, adding the solution as Appendix A of
his article "Magnetic Models of the Polar Configuration" to appear in AEON
IV:2 (1995).)

The only further thing that I'll say is that I will repeat that I hope to see
this published in Aeon soon.

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