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Open letter to science editors


Wallace Thornhill

Velikovsky made 3 "advance claims" concerning Venus which he considered
crucial to his theory of the recent history of Venus:

1. Venus would be hot after its recent birth and encounters with Earth and

2. Venus should have a massive atmosphere as a result of absorbing gases from
its extensive cometary tail;

3. Hydrocarbons would be present in that atmosphere.

Both of the first 2 claims were met dramatically when the first planetary
probes survived to the surface of Venus. The third claim was partially met
when hydrocarbons of many sorts showed up in the initial evaluation of the
mass spectrometer on board the Pioneer atmospheric probes. But these results
were later discounted as lingering instrumental residues. However there are
many puzzles about the cloud decks on Venus. They have been described as a
kind of smog, and the uppermost haze does not have the color expected if it is
largely sulfuric acid droplets. So, maybe Velikovsky stands at about 2.5 out
of 3 correct claims. Even so, if he scored 3 out of 3, it would not prove
his thesis correct. I want to now tip the balance heavily in favour of
Velikovsky's view of Venus having been a comet in historical times by looking
at the new Magellan Orbiter images of Venus' surface and describing the
formation of some of those features in a novel way. But first, to recap the
dramatic human record of Venus:

The ancient Chinese Soochow Astronomical Chart says "Venus was visible in full
daylight and, while moving across the sky, rivaled the sun in brightness".
The Hebrews wrote "The brilliant light of Venus blazes from one end of the
cosmos to the other end." The Chaldeans described Venus as a "bright torch of
heaven", a "diamond that illuminates like the sun", "A stupendous prodigy in
the sky" that "fills the entire heaven.", and compared its light to that of
the rising sun. At present the light of Venus is <1 millionth that of the
sun. Universally, Venus was referred to by the ancients in the same terms as
a comet: a bearded, hairy or smoking star.

Descriptions of phenomena in the ancient skies should not be dismissed out of
hand as poetry or metaphor-particularly if on the same page as a comet is
mentioned, we read of falls of stones from the daylit sky or a shower of
stars at night. These are related phenomena which we know from modern science
might be expected to occur together. Of course by themselves such reports do
not prove anything.

But if the events pictured were global and involved highly visible objects in
the sky we should find complementary but non-identical stories in opposite
hemispheres. And that is what we find. If we are foolish enough to ignore
this data it will eventually return to haunt us and make nonsense of today's
tidy paradigms.

Slide 1. I hesitate to put this slide on, after seeing all of the
Saturnian analyses of this kind of imagery. But this is, according to the
Australian Aborigines, one of their totems of Venus, the Morning Star. When I
saw it I thought, "Yes, it looks like a comet". You see it has a great
cometary tail. But it also has these strange objects on a kind of tripod
arrangement, if you take the tail as being one leg of the tripod. So it may
need reinterpretation. In Australia, the aboriginal dream-time legends are
filled with changes in the sky, the land and animals at a time when a rainbow
serpent was prominent in the sky. On the way over here I visited the Art
Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney, with another person who is in regular
contact with David Talbott concerning aboriginal artworks. And I discovered,
in looking at the pictures, that the very fine cross-hatch painting that they
do in their artwork is designed to give a shimmering effect, which I think is
very important. Because it seems to me that many of the aspects of the
Saturnian configuration, as presented by David, were basically auroral type
displays. So, the shimmering effect was an attempt to portray an electrical
display. The shimmering effect was also meant to be bright.

Slide 2. This is a very familiar image to us all. The motif of the
serpent in the sky is universal but will be most familiar from China. The
Chinese fire-breathing serpent was also associated with catastrophic changes
on land and in the sky. Of particular interest is the "celestial ball" which
the dragon holds. That the serpent in the sky was a comet is plausible. But
for a comet to have affected the Earth physically is beyond our modern
experience-but not beyond recent imagination-as theories of the demise of the
dinosaurs shows, and the recent Jupiter impacts have dramatized. And what
was the celestial ball? If it was the head of the comet and the dragon the
tail, the object would have to be of planetary dimensions to have been seen as
a ball. That it was no ordinary comet can be gauged from the descriptions of
it referred to earlier.

Slide 3. Unfortunately modern astronomy seems to be culturally unfitted
to winnow the wheat from the chaff of these stories. So it is no surprise
that each time a space probe is launched with a benediction that it will
reveal new information about the origin of our solar system-it rather reveals
more puzzles. We have come full circle to a new Ptolemaic form of astronomy
where epicycles are continually added to theory to account for discordant
data. But if the work we do now is to stand the test of time we must remove
the blinkers and admit all data-however challenging to our cherished beliefs
of how things should work. Which reminds me of the rather nice inversion
which seems apt for modern astronomy: "I'll see it when I believe it". So
what I propose to do is to present evidence for Venus being a recent comet
which fits both the ancient observations and provides explanations for many
puzzling space age observations of the planet.

Slide 4. Venus is often described as Earth's "twin". This idea
naturally arose from their relative proximity in the inner solar system and
almost equal size and mass. But why does Venus have almost no water and the
Earth an abundance? Why does Venus have a much higher content of
"primordial" inert gases?

Slide 5. Dr. Ross Taylor, a well known planetary geologist of the ANU,
in a recent lecture summed up by saying that Venus is so different that we
might question the probability of there being a twin of the Earth in any
other solar system. Of course, Venus might not be the Earth's twin in
appearance, but it is still believed to be about the same age.

Slide 6. Counting craters is the main technique for determining the age
of a planet's surface. It relies on many dubious assumptions about the past
population of orbit crossing objects in the inner solar system. This slide
highlights the dilemma on Venus. The craters all look brand new but the count
makes them 500 or so million years old. It is simply assumed that an old
surface was wiped clean by a planet-wide event at that time and remained
volcanically quiet since then. But who knows if there ever was an old

Slide 7. Let's look at craters. Two characteristics of so-called
impact craters which beg explanation are their near perfect circularity and
the melted floors of large recent craters clear of impact debris. Also, small
craters seem to populate the floors of the many linear "fractures"-which
argues against their formation by impact.

Slide 8. The high degree of circularity of most "impact" craters in the
solar system suggests that whatever created them acted largely perpendicular
to the surface, which cannot be true for all impacts. Crater circularity is
a feature on our Moon;

Slide 9. the oddly shaped moons of Mars and asteroids;

Slide 10. and the nucleus of comet Halley where a cratering process was
observed in action. (Earl Milton predicted in an unpublished paper in 1980
that the comet would be cratered ).

Slide 11. The fractures on Venus range from elaborate networks of fine
cracks that extend over large areas of the planet to extensive canyons
thousands of kilometers long. They are found in the equatorial highland
regions, the rift and fracture zones associated with large shield volcanoes,
and the uniquely Venusian coronae. This slide shows an intricate fracture
zone of "arachnoids", so called because of their spider web appearance. They
are similar to, but smaller than the coronae. The field shown range from 50
to 230 km in diameter.

Slide 12. Like the moon, Venus has sinuous rilles which originate in
depressions up to a few hundred meters deep. Rilles are cut into the surface
and narrow with distance from the depression. Curiously they have no outflow
deposit. They are the most numerous channel type and are concentrated near
coronae and arachnoid features. The closest analogue on Earth is a lava
tube, but there are many differences. Not least is their sheer size. The
largest lava tube on Earth IS only 3.5 km long, the river Styx on Venus is
6800 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide. The late Ralph Juergens, at the
1974 McMaster symposium, presented a theory of the formation of lunar craters
and rilles which, when applied to Venus, suggest that the planet was a comet
in historical times. The theory is based on interplanetary lightning or
thunderbolts; cosmic electric discharges. Any skepticism about such an idea
should be viewed against our complete ignorance of what causes Earthly
lightning. For example, recent observations by low light TV cameras, and from
the Space Shuttle and the Orbiting Gamma-ray Observatory, indicate an
electrical energy source for large storms on the Earth, external to the

Slide 13. Any cosmic body which is charged relative to the surrounding
plasma, has a plasma sheath or magnetosphere. It is a region in which
electric current flows and energy is released. The sheath is generally
invisible unless the current and the excited ion density is high enough to
generate light, such as in the Sun's photosphere and in the coma and tails of

Slide 14. In this slide you will notice that I have tried to indicate
the difference between Venus' and the Earth's magnetosphere, and the fact
that Venus has cometary magnetosphere. It is also mass-loaded, rather like a
comet's tail. That is, some of the atmosphere appears in the down-stream

Slide 15. As Juergens pointed out, bright cometary features are a
consequence of a body being well out of electrical balance with the
surrounding solar plasma. For example, a comet spends most of its time in
the outer solar system where it achieves relative electrical equilibrium with
its solar plasma environment. So when it rushes briefly toward the Sun and a
rapidly changing electrical environment, a current flows, creating the
cometary display. The evidence from the comet Halley encounter supports this
view. The plasma jets discharging from discrete points on the surface of
Halley's nucleus and the inexplicably "hot" ion envelope were a surprise to
those relying on solar heating to explain it. Further evidence in support of
the electrical discharge theory was the baffling flare-up of Halley's comet
between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. The nucleus should be frozen and
inert at that distance. However a plasma discharge can occur at any time when
the electric stress exceeds breakdown potential. It is significant that the
flare-up followed some of the largest solar flares recorded. In this case,
the Sun was rapidly altering the comet's electrical environment at a far
greater distance than normal.

Slide 16. Venus' comet-like magneto-tail would suggest that the planet
has not yet achieved electrical equilibrium after a recent cometary history.
The extreme brightness of the nucleus in historical times could be explained
as a spherical Geissler-tube effect. That being so, lightning of considerable
violence and/or frequency might still be expected on Venus, despite the fact
that its clouds are a kind of smog. The Pioneer Venus landers encountered
strong plasma effects in Venus' clear atmosphere. The magnetic flux " ropes"
of the solar wind, entwined about the planet, are indicative of electric
currents flowing from the solar wind directly into the planet's ionosphere.
This is most simply explained by a remaining high potential difference between
the planet and the solar plasma.

Slide 17. But if planets happen to move on orbits where magnetospheres clash,
the plasma insulation between them will break down and flash-over is likely.
It is even possible that Bode's so-called "law" may be a consequence of
planets exchanging electrical energy to achieve orbits where such interaction
is minimized. It is notable that long term orbital stability can be achieved
where two forces are involved. Gravity acting alone would ensure eventual
chaotic motions amongst the planets. I believe, with Juergens, that sinuous
rilles are evidence for interplanetary lightning bolts.

Slide 18. There are severe problems with production of sinuous rilles by
a large volume of hot, rapidly flowing lava, as shown on this slide. Where
did the lava go? There are no outwash deposits. On the moon, the channels
expose numerous strata which suggests excavation rather than solidified lava.
The excavation seems to have been largely lateral, judging by the raised
levees. But the greatest difficulty for any liquid is that the rilles do not
follow the dip of the surface.

Slide 19. This is the sinuous rille on the moon known as Schroter's
Valley, a superb example of an electrical breakdown channel. On-channel
cratering frequently takes the form of a secondary, even more sinuous channel
in the bottom of the rille. Juergens describes sinuous rille formation during
the flyby of two planetary bodies as flows:

Slide 20. As the magnetospheres merge, "...the interplanetary electric
field intensifies globally and locally. Finally some small underground area
of weakness succumbs to the electrical stress, and breakdown starts.
Instantly, all hell breaks loose:

o Everywhere else the radial ground field weakens as lines of force
concentrate at the outer tip of the breakdown zone.

o In a flash, the tiny breakdown point becomes a breakdown path propagating
itself outward from the starting point, turning this way and that as the
intense field at its tip probes for weaknesses in the rock strata.

o Heat generated by the breakdown process liberates gases and generates
plasmas that blast upward through overlying formations and excavate a vast
trench. The exploding trench, propagating as fast as the underground
breakdown channel, tears hundreds of kilometers across the surface at
lightning speed.

o The initial surge of electrons, upon reaching the local high point where the
breakdown started, blasts out a large, irregular crater as it surfaces and
launches itself into space in response to the external field.

o Electrons from more distant parts of the breakdown channel find the external
field at various points along the developing explosion channel stronger than
that directed along their underground path, and they blast upward short of
the main terminus, creating on-channel craters at numerous points". The green
glass beads found by the Apollo astronauts near Hadley's Rille is the melted
discharge channel rock blasted from the rille and supercooled before falling
back to the surface.

Slide 21 Now a word about so-called impact craters: In general the
occurrence of small craters perched on the rim of large craters occur more
frequently than can be explained statistically from impacts. Chains of
craters of diminishing size are frequently seen. The smooth, melted floors of
large craters are characteristic of anode scars where the discharge sticks to
one spot long enough to melt the crater floor even though the electrodes (in
this case the planets) may be moving past one another. The frequency of
craters with central peaks matches that produced in the laboratory by spark-
machining apparatus. It is significant that the rilles, canali and valleys
are concentrated in the lower latitudes of Venus. This may be expected if
they were caused by discharges flowing along the magnetotail. So-called
fracture lines are most likely to be discharge scars. This is suggested by
the craterlets visible along their length where resolution is good in the
Magellan images. They are found in vast numbers on the surface of Venus,
often following roughly parallel courses across undulating terrain. The
parallelism may be caused by so-called Birkeland currents flowing in the
interplanetary discharge.

Slide 22. Birkeland currents have parallel components that exert a long-
range attractive force and circular components that provide short-range
repulsion. When unconstrained in space they exhibit a twisted rope-like
appearance. When confined to a planetary surface they should show
parallelism. Later events may cause new channels to cross the earlier ones
at some angle with no evidence of flow from one to the other. This is
observed. Electric discharges explain such features best. I should say, on
looking at some of the images in the Saturnian configuration that, if you
were looking up at an approaching interplanetary discharge you would probably
see the twisting ropes as swastika and three legged images, presumably
rotating as well. The Birkeland currents with the central discharge stream
and filaments wrapped around it should be considered as a possible
explanation of some of the Saturnian imagery.

Another thing that has occurred to me is that the image of a ladder to heaven
could be generated by an effect, similar to that observed in a Geissler tube
discharge where the light and dark spaces would look like a ladder of light
to a nearby planetary body. Such a discharge would be in the nature of an
auroral display (referred to earlier), and more benign than the destructive
interplanetary thunderbolt. So, I think it is fruitful to look at laboratory
plasma physics as a means of explaining some of the images.

Slide 23. To return to Venus, many puzzling surface features on Venus
may find an explanation in effects of electric discharges. For example, the
"domes,, seen in this slide are a real puzzle. Their near perfect
circularity argues against their formation by purely volcanic means. There
are too many special conditions required. It seems possible that some of the
many variations of electric arc behavior at an anode seen in the laboratory
may explain these enigmatic objects.

Slide 24. Such raised mounds may be planetary equivalents of
"fulgamites", which are mounds of metal, melted and raised above the surface
of metal caps placed over the ends of lightning rods.

Slide 25. Coronae and arachnoids seem to be other forms of the same
process. The radial channels are due to explosive charge transfer along the
surface from surrounding terrain (in other words, they are sinuous rilles),
while the concentric channels are presumably a consequence of the helical,
filamentary structure of the interplanetary discharge. In other words, these
Birkeland currents, as they hit the surface, would be like a corkscrew. So
the discharges would wrap around in concentric circles, as seen in this slide.

Many of the complex phenomena observed at the cathode and anode in laboratory
electric discharges are not well understood. The composition of the cathode
and anode have marked effects and the anode effects are distinct from those
at the cathode. In interplanetary encounters a planet may act as an anode or
cathode, depending upon the momentary charge distribution.

Slide 26. Today, Venus' "cometary" magnetosphere, strong electrical
interactions with the solar wind and intense lightning, ionospheric and upper
atmospheric activity suggest that it has not yet achieved electrical
equilibrium with its environment in the solar plasma.

Since there is time, I will give more detail on Venusian lightning because I
think it is important. The Venusian ionosphere is directly coupled to the
solar wind. Intense air-glow emission in long wavelength ultraviolet is
observed to occupy a large volume of the ionosphere on both the day and night
sides of the planet. The intensity seems to be linked to solar activity. I
would, therefore, expect lightning activity to be generated not from cloud
motions but from electrical input originating in the Sun. In fact, the clouds
on Venus have been likened to Earthly smog, and you don't expect to find
lightning in smog. If ions are scarce in the Venusian lower atmosphere (and
there are no counterparts to earthly clouds on Venus), fewer but more equally
energetic lightning discharges would be expected than on Earth. There is
evidence that this is 50, six out of nine events detected by the Galileo
spacecraft were strongly clustered in frequency spectrum and power, a
situation not found on Earth. If the extremely rapid lightning detected by
the Venera spacecraft is verified, there may be two modes of discharge on
Venus; a continuous glow of St. Elmo's fire at high points on the surface
with rapid, low energy lightning, rather like that on Earth, and second; high
energy superbolts which fire from the upper atmosphere and were detected by
the Galileo spacecraft. Actually, the increasing brightness detected by the
Venera spacecraft as they neared the surface may have been due to something
like St. Elmo's fire.

Another argument for expecting lightning on Venus comes from the idea proposed
by Juergens. He identified cometary tails with objects which are under
enhanced electrical stress from the solar plasma due to the radial component
of their movement toward or away from the Sun. Venus' comet-like tail would
suggest that the planet has not yet achieved electrical equilibrium after a
recent cometary history. That being so, lightning of considerable violence
and/or frequency would be expected on Venus. It would also fit the
observation that the solar wind is tightly coupled to the planet. The
magnetic flux " ropes" of the solar wind, entwined about the planet, are
indicative of electric currents flowing from the solar wind directly into the
planet's ionosphere. This is most simply explained by a high potential
difference remaining between the planet and its surroundings.

The solar wind shock front observed by Pioneer Venus at solar maximum was 35%
larger than the shock front observed by the Soviet Venera 9 and 10 spacecraft
at solar minimum. It was expected that the size of the bow shock would be
determined by the size of the planet and remain unchanging. However, plasma
sheaths change in thickness in response to changes in electric stress.
Cometary comas show similar variability during solar storms. This implies
that the solar cycle either causes, or is caused by, a change in the
electrical environment of the Sun.

Another manifestation of electrical effects in the ionosphere of Venus is the
well-known "Ashen light" which is often seen as a faint illumination of the
dark part of the crescent disk. "There can be no doubt that the true origin
of the Ashen Light is electric. It is a night-sky glow, similar to that in
our own sky but estimated to be 50-80 times stronger". Also, the electrical
interaction with the solar wind would help explain why there is an ionosphere
on the night side of Venus when the night is 58 Earth days long. It was
expected that the atoms would recombine and the ionosphere disappear. But it
is known that the night side ionosphere is bombarded by fast electrons and
there is a fast drift of plasma, up to 10 kilometers a second, from day to
night hemispheres.

Slide 27. Finally, a word about the high surface temperature of Venus.
It is the remnant internal heat from Venus' birth producing the hellish
surface conditions. It is not due to an atmospheric greenhouse effect, which
has been equated to expecting a well insulated oven to be able to melt lead
with only the pilot light switched on. I think Charles Ginenthal effectively
wiped out the greenhouse theory yesterday. What's more, and it wasn't
mentioned yesterday, the atmosphere " breathes" every 4 days indicating a
build-up of heat beneath the clouds followed by some form of energy release
and relaxation back to the beginning of the cycle. The energy required to
raise the planet's atmosphere through several kilometers every 4 days is
considerable. The four day rise and fall was also confirmed when the
Magellan orbiter was dropped low enough to start atmospheric braking.

Slide 28. To summarize, particularly the arguments for electrical
scarring. The experimental and observational evidence is compelling for
cratering of solid bodies in the solar system being predominantly due to
electric discharge events. The slide is of Saturn's moon Dione. Simultaneous
cratering from swarms of highly energetic interplanetary thunderbolts make
nonsense of any attempt to date planetary surfaces by crater counting. It
also resets radioactive clocks.

Slide 29. The craters on Venus look young simply because they are so.
The largest were probably created within hours of each other. As for fixing
the timing of the birth of Venus and its subsequent wanderings, we must not
continue to ignore a new way of looking at the earliest recollections of
mankind in the form of myths and legends and the written records of the human

Slide 30. These highlight the pivotal role of the planets, particularly
Venus, in early cultures. The description of physical events in a sequence
consistent with modern scientific understanding lends truth to the stories of
battles in the sky between the planetary "gods" (Note the serpents and comet's
tail helmet of Athena).

Slide 31. I would just like to draw attention to this statue of Jupiter,
or Zeus. You will note the rendering of Jupiter's thunderbolts in the
unusual corkscrew-football shape of a plasmoid. Which makes you ask, "Where
on Earth did they get the idea that this is the appearance of a thunderbolt?"
But this is precisely the appearance of a discharge in a very tenuous plasma.
It is not the standard jagged lightning bolt that you would expect on Earth,
which suggests that the stories of Zeus' hurling thunderbolts are much more
than pure imagination.

Slide 32. But I believe that proof of powerful interplanetary electrical
activity in the past may be achieved by a re-examination of the Moon's
sinuous rilles and craters. And if in years to come we can measure a
continuing decline in Venus' temperature, or a steeply rising sub-surface
temperature gradient, or changes in its electrical interaction with the solar
wind, then Venus may finally be recognized as the latest planetary child in
the solar system and only a distant relative of the Earth.

I didn't plan to address this here, but since it is likely to come up in
questions, I will attempt to answer "What is the likely origin of Venus?" To
begin, I rather like the quote from Peter Warlow's book "The Reversing Earth":

o "It is said that planets were formed from material outside the sun-for the
obvious reason-that's where we find them.

o We humans, equally obviously, are outside our mothers-yet we did not start

I have a very strong belief that the work of the late Dr. Charles Bruce, a
fellow of the British Electrical Research Association, and Eric Crew in
England, was on the right track when they looked at the electrical nature of
stars. And Crew's contention that when you start to gravitationally confine
matter, you get to a certain point where the electrons begin to leave the
atoms near the center of that body. In other words, it becomes metallic,
conductive, and you get pressure ionization. It has been very difficult to
find any references to pressure ionization when you look at astrophysics
textbooks. And when they discuss the formation of neutron stars, it is
generally ignored or dismissed with one sentence. My belief is that the
electrons are not going to sit there and be pushed into the nucleus of the
atom unless they can possibly help it. Also, with a large gravitating body,
like our Sun, you have a polarization effect, because the nucleus in each atom
is offset towards the center of the star due to the fact that most of the
mass of the atom is in the nucleus. So you get an electric field which tends
to move electrons toward the surface. Incoming cosmic rays, which are
positively charged, can neutralize some of these electrons, but most of them
would sit, according to Crew, around the core of the star. So you have
gravitationally induced charge separation in the star's core. His idea was
that if you have an external gravitational field which disturbs the core, at
a time when the charge build up is critical, or else there is a phase change
in the material in the core, which causes a sudden shift or collapse, then you
will have, all of a sudden, a separation of two positively charged blobs of
matter: the major part of the core and a displaced part of the core. The
result is to give an electrical push to the displaced material, towards the
surface of the star. The surrounding electrons are not able to move rapidly
enough to quench the discharge so it should accelerate until it reaches the
surface. At that point the electrons in the atmosphere of the star, which are
able to move much more freely, will attempt to quench that discharge. In the
process of doing that there will be tremendous energy release and you have,
in effect, a nova. Now, it is known, that in the Orion nebular where stars
are being formed, that there are large objects, many times the mass of the
Earth, being shot out of the star formation regions. So that we have some
evidence for the fact that, in a star birth region where you expect that
gravity is accreting material, somehow there are very large blobs of matter
being shot out at very high velocities. This is a great puzzle for theorists
who only have the attractive force of gravity to work with. In fact, it is a
puzzle for other things on a larger scale: How do you get matter being ejected
out of the center of some galaxies? There are all sorts of weird and
wonderful theories associated with black holes. But, if Crew is right, you
cannot even form neutron stars, which are a supposed precursor of a black
hole. Electrical forces will prevent it. In fact, you don't need black
holes at all to explain the highly energetic events witnessed in deep space.
Such events can be more simply and elegantly explained by reference to the
phenomenology of plasma discharges. Dr. Charles Bruce detailed many examples.
The discharges occur in great bursts and are a result of sudden breakdown
after charge separation has been taking place on a grand scale, over a long
period of time, under the influence of gravity. This is a rather lengthy
preamble to the question of "What is the likely origin of Venus?" Eric Crew,
Peter Warlow and others assume that this is how solar systems are formed.
When you look into the sky, most stars are binary or triple systems. And they
are often of disparate sizes. So, what happens is that you have stars formed
efficiently by electromagnetic compression of diffuse matter in a galactic
discharge, followed immediately by gravitational accretion. The new stars
will continue to grow until electrical instability causes the core to be spat
out. Hence the large number of multiple star systems. Some cores will not
be large enough to become another star and will end up as a more dense object,
such as a gas giant. Gas giants themselves apparently may go through the
same process of spitting out their cores to form the more condensed planets,
moons, asteroids, comets and meteorites. And here it is interesting to note
that the gas giant, Saturn, has a very low density which suggests that it has
lost a substantial part of its core. So it is possible that Venus is a child
of Saturn. That would be my guess. I think I'll finish there. Thank you.

Moderator: May I kick off the questions by asking about the rilles on Mars?
How do they compare with the Moon and Venus? Are they electrical in origin
or are they hydrological, or other?

Thornhill: I think in the case of Mars there is a mixture. It obviously has
suffered water damage, but I think the big Valles Marineris is an electrical
scar where a huge quantity of material was scoured out of the surface of the
planet. One of the big contributions that Eric Crew made to the investigation
of interplanetary discharges was the fact that these lightning bolts can
accelerate material away from the surface of a planetary body and eject it
into space. And from that debris you can end up with asteroids and
meteorites. In fact, I've written a paper a few years ago which allied all
of the observations of the strange characteristics of chondritic meteorites
to being born in just one of these electric discharges. It's only a month or
so ago that it was proposed that the fact that some of these chondritic
meteorites which have a mixture of clear and dark minerals-and only the dark
minerals are melted inside the meteorite-suggested that they had been
subjected to a very intense flash of radiant energy.

Moderator: Thank you. Have we other questions? Yes. Charles Raspil.

Raspil: All right. What is your view on what fuels the Sun?

Thornhill: I don't think anyone has answered Ralph Juergen's proposal. And I
think that all of the features that we see on our star conform to the idea
that it is a giant ball of lightning. And that when you see the lower
temperatures through a sunspot you're actually seeing the temperature
underneath the surface of the Sun, the photosphere. And the hottest part of
the Sun is that photosphere.

Raspil: Could there be any mechanism which would make the Sun grow dim or grow
dark through time?

Thornhill: Yes. If the Sun is essentially electrically powered, it would mean
that the Sun's energy is dependent upon the electrical stress in this part of
the galaxy. And that if that changes, the Sun's appearance will change and,
in fact, the spectral type of a star is presumably due largely to the
electrical stress it's under and also its composition.

Raspil: Would this also affect the planetary orbits?

Thornhill: It's possible. I think Earl Milton has a feeling that would
certainly ensue. (As mentioned in the presentation, the stable planetary
orbits appear to rely on two forces, gravitational and electrical, If the
electrical force were altered, the planetary orbits would need to readjust).
One other thing which points to the electrical nature of the Sun: there is
evidence from the fact that the neutrino count seems to vary in inverse
proportion to the number of sunspots, which you would not expect if the
neutrinos are coming from a central reaction in the star. But it does fit
the idea that nuclear reactions are taking place, but at the surface, under
the influence of very strong electric discharges.

Moderator: Question from Ev Cochrane.

Cochrane: I'd like to ask Mr. Thornhill, could you discuss briefly radiocarbon

Thornhill: You mean radio-active element dating? Well, I think the problem
with radioactive dating is that it assumes the uniformitarian model that
radioactive elements were created at some stage in the early formation of the
solar system, and since then it's been a slow process of disintegration.
Under the electrical theory, elements are being formed all the time in these
discharges and, when you have interplanetary discharges, transmutation of
elements is occurring and radioisotopes are being created. In fact, part of
my paper on meteorites points out that the implantation of some short-lived
radioisotopes in chondritic meteorites suggest that they were being formed at
the same time as the meteorite, which is a bit difficult to explain if you
assume that some of these elements were created in nearby supernovae and that
kind of thing. So I think radioactive dating is a real problem. My
contention would be that if we can look at the elemental and radioisotope
signatures of the rings and moons of the outer planets, and the signatures of
the objects in the inner solar system, we may be able to work out some sort
of genealogy of all these objects. But it's going to be a mammoth task, and
there's probably a lot of problems associated with it too.

For a more detailed and referenced version of the paper, see "Evidence for the
Extreme Youth of Venus", by Wallace Thornhill in the SIS Chronology and
Catastrophism Review, Special Issue, Proceedings of the 1993 Cambridge
Conference, ISSN 0953 0053-Available from The Society for Interdisciplinary
Studies, Val Pearce, 10 Witley Green, Stopsley, Bedfordshire LU2 8TR, UK.
Airmail cost US $19.50, checks drawn on a US bank and made payable to 'SIS'.
W Thornhill: "Formation of Chondritic Meteorites and the Solar System", SIS
Chronology and Catastrophism Review, Volume X ~1988), pp. 49-56.

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