John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey
the_gneech

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Letting My Mind Wander...

The only problem is getting it to come back home again.

Today, instead of frantically drawing the NN strip that is supposed to already be up today, I've found myself randomly tooling around sites that had to do with Velikovsky and Saturnism.

Saturnism, in case you don't know, is an, um, "unconventional" view of the solar system that contends that Earth was once much closer to Saturn, and that in fact the planet Venus was once a part of Saturn, which was expelled in a catastrophic event that sent it on a disastrous "near-miss" trajectory with Earth ... and that this cataclysm is reflected in various ancient mythologies.

Saturnism is often combined with an "electrical" model of the universe, rather than the more common scientific "gravetic" one ... in essence, stating that the large cosmological events, effects, and phenomena we observe are due to electrical forces, rather than the effects of gravity.

The more extreme Saturnist theories contend that Saturn, Mars, Earth, and Venus (as well as possibly other planets, including the infamous missing tenth planet "Vulcan"[1]) were once arranged in a very close "ladder" formation, stacked at the poles so to speak, held together by a lattice of electric/plasma discharges, floating through space in a large "placental nebula" of gases and dust. Warmed and lit by the electric and gravetic effects of this ladder arrangement, this was supposedly the "world tree" of ancient thought, with no discernible day or night, no stars visible in the sky, just Saturn looming huge at the north pole, Mars hanging under it, and another planet lurking to the south. It is sometimes speculated that man traveled from world to world along these connecting filaments via some sort of electric sail, giving rise to the legends of "the rainbow bridge to Asgard," "castles in the sky," or "people coming down from heaven."

Then, possibly as late as the age of early Biblical records, this happy arrangement fell into orbit of the sun and was torn apart by the effects of the sun's gravity and was torn apart like several billiard balls that had been held together by rubber bands, which had snapped. A large chunk of Saturn tore off and became Venus, dumping huge amounts of water (as well as fire and brimstone) on the Earth as it went by ... Saturn went flinging off into the farther reaches of the solar system, carrying with it rings made of more of the water that Venus dumped out ... the atmosphere of Mars was almost totally lost, and what little was left ended up cold and frozen at the polar caps. Earth had massive extinctions and the near obliteration of humanity ... as reflected in the nearly global flood stories, and the wholesale re-ordering of religions all over the world.

Zeus vs. the Titans, Noah's flood, Ragnarock ... are theoretically all reflections of the human species' memory of this horrific event, garbled and distorted by the culture in question, the intervening centuries, and the political agenda of the various organized churches that have been in power since then. The theme of the dim void being separated into day and night, is the placental nebula being shorn away, to reveal the sun and stars we're familiar with now.

Frankly, as science, I find it questionable; as anthropology, however, it's fascinating.

Velikovsky, one of the most famous proponents of this type of thinking, was hounded and viciously attacked by many prominent scientists (including a famous haranguing by no less than Carl Sagan, whose own tendency to mix science with speculation has always irked me a bit). However, as time as moved forward, he has been vindicated in some small way by the fact that people are now actually looking at the effect of cosmological catastrophies -- which we know for a fact really do happen. Heck, we pointed Hubble at Jupiter and watched as it underwent a pummelling that would have probably led to a new Dark Age on Earth. This new field of study, called "catastrophism," strikes me as largely being Velikovsky's legacy, for better or worse.

Mind you, I'm only a very neophyte student of the subject -- there are many people far more knowledgeable about it than I am, so I'm probably getting important details wrong.

Anyway, as I say, lay person that I am, I find the science involved to be questionable. The historical and mythological references often cited as evidence can certainly be suggestive -- I don't deny that -- but an event as humongous as the Saturnists describe would surely have left more readily-discovered physical evidence. Current data suggests there is a huge, global cataclysm roughly every 250 million years, marked by mass extinctions, continental upheavals, and so forth -- and there are records of at least two such occurences, rather than one single rending of the Earth. But what strikes me as more relevant, is that if such a daisy-chain-of-planets formation was possible, shouldn't we see more of them? Like any at all?

I imagine that the answer to that is such constructs are naturally dark by comparison. We can see stars because they shine super-bright ... gas giants' own internal heat and plasma discharges, while bright enough to people on or near the worlds themselves, would be very dark indeed at distances of a light-year or more. However, we don't need the physical light bouncing off of planets in other systems to know they're there ... we can detect massive objects by the gravetic effects their presence causes on other objects, and free-floating clusters of gas giants should still register.

Who knows? Maybe these things are floating around out there, and that's what dark matter is. It's going to take quite some time to figure it all out.

Anyway, even though I don't actually think that Saturnism is right, I love to think about it, and to speculate, "Well, what if it WAS?" Science fiction author James Hogan has written several books that use Velikovsky's model as the basis; it also makes a very interesting mythological prehistory for a fantasy setting. My "Shadows of Atlantis" fantasy setting (not the same one as my previous novel, but possibly to be used for a future novel) is placed in this post-breakup, pre-history time period, with wizards being basically those people who can still use the elemental sciences their ancestors used to climb the Ladder of the World before its destruction. Monsters are simply creatures who thrived in the former arrangement, and are dying out in the new order of things. It's quite intriguing just how many elements fit, with a little tweaking.

Meanwhile, Arthur, Beowulf, and Mopsy are tapping their feet and scowling at me. Sorry, guys! I'll get back to work any minute now, I promise.

-The Gneech

Some links re: Saturnism, catastrophism, and mass extinction...

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/28jan_extinction.htm?friend

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/science/velikovsky.htm

http://www.knowledge.co.uk/velikovsky/

http://www.catastrophism.com/

[1] Not Spock's homeworld. That's something else entirely. ;)
Tags: crackpottery, fantasy, writing
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