VELIKOVSKY: My Dinner With Tim

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Paul J. Gans

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Jul 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM7/18/96
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David N. Talbott (dtal...@teleport.com) wrote:
:
: You might as well settle in for the art-house version, "My Dinner with
: Tim," because there's no short way to correct Tim Thompson's misstatements
: on the Saturn theory. Tim's eagerness to pronounce verdicts may be
: entertaining, but learning something about the historical argument would
: save a lot of *his* time and mine.

The same is true here. I feel that I must include much of
Talbott's posting lest I be accused of selective quoting. This
makes the resulting posting long. I'm sorry for that. The
regulars need not read it anyway, they're quite aware of my
arguments.


: An evaluation of the Saturn theory must take into consideration three
: levels of evidence: 1) the ability of the theory to explain, or "predict"
: the total field of historical data (recurring artistic, literary, ritual,
: and symbolic themes of the early cultures);

Agreed. The job would be made *significantly* easier if you
would supply some (approximate) dates. Are we talking about
events around 2000 BC or 20,000 BC or 200,000 BC. It is impossible
to examine the historical data without knowing.


: 2) the consistency of the
: theory with physical data on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system,
: particularly the many anomalies difficult to explain in terms of
: traditional models of planetary evolution;

The jury is in on this one, the Saturn idea fails. The so-called
"anomalies" either do not exist or have other, far less strained
explanations. Yet in fairness all that this does is remove point
(2) on the grounds that it is unnecessary.


: and 3) the degree to which
: known principles of dynamics might permit, or prohibit, the planetary
: behavior implied by the historical argument.

This one is, of course, the killer. It has been very difficult
to discuss this because the protagonists of the Saturn theory
insist that they do not know much about the relevent physics.
Thus they tend to discount the objections made. Yet the objections
are *very* serious. It would take more than mythic evidence to
get physicists to give up the law of conservation of energy, for
example. Talbott does not seem to understand this and often
resorts to ad hominem argument when it is pointed out to him.


: With respect to the third level of evidence, Tim is the boldest of the t.o
: debunkers. He has openly declared, more times than I could count, that
: the hypothesized planetary configuration is impossible, end of statement,
: thank you.

He's not alone. Many of us did that, myself included.


: But I'm here to tell you that Tim *couldn't* know the hypothesized
: configuration is impossible. It's one thing for a person to say, "I
: don't know of any dynamic principles that could support the hypothesis,
: and therefore it seems highly implausible to me." In fact, several
: explorers *have* said just that, but with a sufficiently open mind that
: they actually came back later and offered significant suggestions--in a
: couple of cases *extremely* significant suggestions. They did not see
: themselves as professional debunkers, and the difference is remarkable.

The laws of physics are often called the Laws of Impotence. They
spell out what *cannot* be done. There is no known physics that
supports the Saturnist planetary configuration. If we assume that
"unknown" principles allow the configuration to exist, then we have
to ask why those principles do not manifest themselves elsewhere in
the astronomical universe. This is a *VERY* serious objection,
though those not aware of the nature of physical science may not see
it as such.


: What I find most curious is Tim's failure to learn not only from the
: history of science, but from his personal history with respect to the very
: issues at hand. I mentioned in a prior post that, for more than a
: decade, the "definitive" answer to the hypothesized planetary system was a
: simple one-liner: the claimed planetary lineup violates Kepler's Third
: Law. As a rule, that was all it took to deflect potential interest in
: exploring the idea. Why consider historical evidence for something that
: is so obviously impossible?

Indeed, as Talbott must remember, far more major objections were
raised, including several detailed astronomical simulations,
analytic calculations, and what I can call "thermodynamic"
arguments. These were never answered. Talbott may argue that
he is not presenting conclusions, but only possibilities. The
unanswered objections, however, make them more nearly impossibilities.


: Then out of the blue came Bob Grubaugh's revelation that there are
: collinear equilibrium positions at which each of the participating planets
: has the same orbital period.

But, as you know, his calculations were SHOWN to be incorrect. Not
only was the analysis incorrect, but his implementation in a program
also had errors. This too was never met. Indeed, somewhere I have
a posting of Talbott's promising to "get back to us" with the needed
corrections. This too never happened.


: The entire point with respect to Kepler's
: Third Law (i.e., the greater the orbital radius, the longer the orbital
: period) was suddenly irrelevant.

Why? Although Kepler's Third Law (which basically relates the
orbital period to the length of the semi-major axis of the orbit)
applies only approximately, it is still relevent to planetary
dynamics under fairly broad situations.


: Nevertheless, the moment Tim saw Bob's
: preliminary paper on collinear equilibrium positions he announced that
: Kepler's Third Law made the entire proposition absurd, thereby setting the
: tone for a total fiasco on t.o.

Nope. A fairly large number of folks, myself included, pointed
out that (a) the configuration was dynamically unstable and (b)
that one could NOT get from *that* configuration to the


: Since Tim was in this instance incorrect, as pointed out by Richard
: Harter, I'd have thought this experience would have left him a little less
: impulsive when it comes to such sweeping assertions about what is possible
: and what is not--particularly since he has not shown enough familiarity
: with the historical argument to even state the hypothesized conditions
: accurately. Just what is it that he is declaring to be impossible?

I don't think that Richard Harter showed that Tim's objections
were incorrect, but that's neither here nor there. What Tim
(and I and many others) are declaring to be impossible is that
Saturn and a number of other minor planets hung close to (i.e.
close enough for the disk of Saturn to cover a tangible amount of
the sky) and "motionless" over the North Pole of the earth for a
significant (i.e. several hundreds of years) period of time.

It is impossible because such a collinear arrangement of planets
(earth, Saturn, Venus, Sun) is known analytically to be unstable.
Thus either the laws of physics are wrong, the math is wrong, or
Talbott is wrong. There are no other choices.


: A second example. I had stated that a considerable volume of evidence
: suggests that in the former planetary arrangement an extremely active
: relationship evolved between Mars and Venus at close range, atmosphere and
: oceans being pulled from Mars to spiral around the planet Venus. Though I
: may have had some intuitive sense concerning the physics of such
: interaction, the entire basis for hypothesizing the condition was global,
: historical evidence, not physics.
:
: Tim said that's impossible, because Mars would have been shredded by the
: forces involved (if I recall correctly, the statement was that Mars would
: have to move inside the Roche limit).

Tim is correct. A solid body will essentially fragment under these
conditions. Since Mars has not fragmented, Talbott's idea is wrong.


: Because of my own confidence with respect to historical evidence, I then
: asked Tim if he really wanted to state his position with such certainty.
: To which he responded that yes, he was perfectly willing to stick his neck
: out on this one. (I am reconstructing the conversation from memory, not
: quoting from any text at hand.)
:
: So I had the occasion to ask others about this. And I quickly found it is
: not nearly so simple. There is, in Carl Sagan's _Cosmos_ a picture of a
: phenomenon almost precisely analogous to what I've suggested on historical
: evidence. In this picture a red giant is losing its atmosphere to the
: smaller but much more dense and massive white dwarf, the gases spiraling
: around the heavier body, precisely as the historical evidence suggests
: occurred with the material spiraling around Venus. Then I was told by
: another explorer that the process is easy: the material is first pulled
: to the Roche limit, at which point it enters the region of the other
: body's gravitational dominance. (I want to emphasize here that I've not
: had a chance either to look into the principle, or even to ask others
: about it.)

This is a different case entirely. Stars are not solid bodies.
The Roche limit has to do with the force of gravity and the
ultimate tensile strength of rock. Stars behave quite differently,
Thus this objection to Tim's statement is irrelevent.


: Here's the question: do the volumes of historical evidence become
: irrelevant just because Tim Thompson declares the hypothesized planetary
: congregation to be impossible?

No. The volumes of mythological interpretation (published ONLY
by Talbott and Cochrane) become irrelevent because Tim Thompson
has raised very cogent objections to the hypothesized planetary
configurations.

As counter-argument above, Talbott has raised two points: one is
Grubaugh's computations, shown to be wrong by many folks in
talk.origins (who, by the way, mounted a major research and
computational effort in the process); the other is the Roche
limit argument rebuttal, which is also wrong. So Tim's objections
stand.


: Or maybe we should just let Leroy
: Ellenberger tell us what is impossible.

Ignoring the ad hominem argument here I would only point out
that Leroy was trained as a chemical engineer. As such he is
*far* more able to understand the physics involved than is
Talbott, for example, who by his own oft-repeated statement,
knows little or nothing about physics.


: The reason for not taking the
: debunkers' verdicts as seriously as they would have us take them is
: simple. Again and again they have been wrong. Now how many examples
: would you like me to give you?

One.


: Once the existence of collinear equilibrium positions was conceded, the
: howling shifted to issues of stability.

This was never conceded. Equilibrium is inseperable from stability.


: Again and again it was claimed
: that a collinear configuration would be explosively unstable. Then Bob
: Bass did an analysis of tidal friction (the planets are interacting at
: very close range). His finding? Tidal friction can *stabilize* a
: collinear system.

Nope. He never *proved* that. At least, his "proof" has never
been published in either a journal or here on the internet, as
far as I am aware. Thus this constitutes an appeal to invisible
authority.


: (Here I am skipping some very relevant observations by Grubaugh concerning
: the limitations of the simulation techniques being used by the debunkers,
: and the crucial relationship of mass ratios to stability issues.)

Ah, but Grubaugh is wrong on this. If you will permit me a bit of
pique on this issue, you take Grubaugh's word against that of a
fair number of folks who posted here. Most of those folks have
credentials far greater than Grubaugh's (if you want to play that
game), indeed, a number of them, myself included, do this sort of
thing for a living.


: Additionally, the physicist Robert Driscoll examined the potential role of
: electromagnetism, finding that electromagnetic repulsion will not only
: bring the planets closer together, as required by the historical argument,
: but add a stabilizing influence. Aspects of Driscoll's approach have been
: published in AEON

Sorry, doesn't work. This has been refuted here on talk.origins
by a number of folks. Besides, you don't want the Saturn system
to be *more* stable. The more stable it is, the more problem
you have. I know that you don't see this, but it is true. Don't
forget, you have to get *from* the Saturn configuration *to*
the present configuration...

: Because Grubaugh was working with collinear equilibrium, he was extremely
: skeptical of the n-body simulations being used by t.o debunkers. By
: degrees, he evolved a different protocol designed to work with collinear
: equilibrium and small perturbations of equilibrium. The approach was *so*
: different (Bob also slipped a couple of times in his first statements of
: the approach), that the howling was relentless. "Who is this idiot?" (or
: something like that) asked Ben Dehner. So I asked Dr. Robert Bass to
: evaluate Grubaugh's unique protocol.
:
: It was only a few days before Bass was able to derive Grubaugh's approach
: mathematically (adding a couple of small changes). The approach was,
: according to Bass, "brilliant," and he urged a review to determine if
: there was any precedent, offering to write a paper on the subject for
: publication.

But in fact never did so, right? Perhaps you are overstating this
story a bit? Grubaugh's math was wrong and his program was wrong.
And you never, in spite of promises, ever posted his "revised"
approach.

So permit me to doubt your story. You can convert me by posting
Grubaugh's new approach with sufficient detail so that we can
evaluate his brilliance for ourselves.


: The howlers, on the other hand, were of one voice in insisting that their
: own simulations of collinear systems were quite sufficient to settle the
: issue. So I challenged them to replicate, with the simulation they were
: using, the known tendency of a body at Lagrange point L-3 to oscillate
: about the equilibrium position when disturbed slightly. If they ever
: satisfied this simple test, I never heard about it.

Never heard of your "challenge". If I produced such a simulation
would you take it as evidence that you are wrong? If so, I will
do so. If you feel that it is irrelevent, then what is the point?


: Repeatedly the t.o howlers argued that the gravity of the Sun would
: eliminate the collinear equilibrium. Then I was told (not by a debunker,
: need I add) about the Gegenschein, the material that has gathered at the
: L-3 position in relation to the Earth and Moon. It seems that the gravity
: of the Sun does *not* prevent Earth-Moon dynamics from attracting and
: holding material at this collinear position. How long do the particles
: of the Gegenschein librate about the collinear position before wandering
: off? I have no idea. But could the simulations touted by the howlers
: replicate the dynamics at all? Absolutely not.

Sorry. Won't wash. This space is too small for details, but
you certainly aren't claiming that astrophysicists have neglected
this "small" detail for the past century, are you?


: Then of course there was the real bombshell. It was announced by several
: howlers that Grubaugh's "retrograde" model was particularly absurd because
: it did not have the Jupiter-Saturn system revolving in inertial space.
: Thus there were no "centrifugal" forces to keep the bodies apart. (This
: particular model had Jupiter and Saturn revolving once retrograde--in
: relation to the radius from the Sun--with each prograde revolution of the
: binary system around the Sun. Therefore, a line running through J and S
: would continue pointing to the same background star. The model, one of
: several Grubaugh has considered, was interesting because in concept, at
: least, it eliminated the need for precession of Earth's pole to maintain
: polar alignment.)

Sorry, it was also shown that *this* model doesn't work either.


: On this one, even Tom Van Flandern, who is an explorer, not a debunker,
: stepped in to deliver a carefully-worded critique stating the
: implausibility of the retrograde model, observing that "centrifugal"
: forces are defined in relation to inertial space, hence there were none in
: the model, i.e., no forces to separate the two bodies. Well this more
: kindly review from Van Flandern was so "devastating" in the eyes of the
: howlers that they were even beginning to "feel sorry" for Grubaugh.

Yes, Tom Van Flandern, your own chosen critic, did in fact also
destroy Grubaugh's model. And yes, we did feel sorry for Grubaugh
(indeed I still do) for what you did to him. Or have you forgotten
your posting about his private life--a posting involving such an
outrageous public exposure of that poor man's situation that only
a truly evil person could feel anything but sympathy for Grubaugh--
and that the poster was truly a low individual. You haven't forgotten
that bit, have you?


: Holy star wars, Batman! Was this the end of the Saturn hoax?
:
: Quick break from "My Dinner with Tim." In the 90-minute documentary,
: "Remembering the End of the World," there are a couple of brief scenes
: with Grubaugh in which he has brought along his archaic computer, running
: a little simulation in the off-the-shelf program "Gravity," which the
: howlers swore was sufficient to test Grubaugh's approach. In those scenes
: you will see a crude replication of the retrograde motions of J and S as
: they move around the Sun. Notice that J and S *do not ever rotate in
: inertial space*. (As Grubaugh has shown, the Gravity system is imprecise,
: and his own simulation maintains the alignment in inertial space more
: accurately.)
:
: If anyone with the Gravity program would like to duplicate what is shown
: in the documentary, just write, and I'll get the initial conditions from
: Bob.

Why not just post them. The initial conditions for the four bodies,
Jupiter, Saturn, the earth, and the sun would involve your typing
in only 24 numbers, surely not an impossible task?

: Well, let's talk about debunkers and explorers for a moment. Over a
: couple of decades I've seen so many examples of these polar opposites, I
: think I will someday write a book on the role of the two in the politics
: of science. I remember when I first discussed the issues of the
: retrograde model with Dr. Bass, an explorer par excellence. Over some
: thirty minutes of phone conversation, he would patiently listen, then say
: something like, "I'm afraid I would have to agree with the howlers on this
: one. I can't see how the system would hold together."

I'll buy this.


: Then I used an example of a bicycle peddle. The peddle is kept horizontal
: as the drive rotates. It does not itself rotate in "inertial space." But
: apply the break with the other pedal, so that the drive stops. Notice
: that the formerly horizontal peddle begins to rotate *backwards*.
: Similarly, in Grubaugh's co-rotating system, I suggested, if you draw a
: radius from the Sun to the J-S center of gravity, you will see that the
: system is actually rotating retrograde as it moves prograde around the
: Sun, in the same way that the horizontal peddle is rotating *backward*
: during the *forward* peddling motion. I was confident that, if you
: eliminated the gravity of the Sun, the J - S binary would begin rotating
: retrograde in inertial space.
:
: A few hours after that conversation I got a call from Dr. Bass. The
: bicycle peddle analogy did the trick, he said, and that inspired him to do
: an analysis showing that energy is indeed conserved in the synchronous
: retrograde model.

Huh? Are ye daft man? Of *course* energy is conserved. It is
the *dynamical* stability that is in question. Can you understand
this? Any set of motions obeying the laws of physics from any
initial position will obey conservation of energy. If you are
reporting this correctly, Bass was humoring you.


: By this time I had already realized how many hours I had wasted on t.o
: discussion. So I said a very polite good-bye to the howlers, and
: expressed my warmest regards to the class clown. Either that, or I posted
: an intemperate assault declaring that the moronic howlers had been wrong
: on every friggin issue--my memory is inexplicably fading here.

As I recall, you did both. But you never really left the class clown,
you've mentioned his name over and over again. And somehow, you
forgot to actually let us know exactly what we were wrong about?
Wrong about Grubaugh's math mistake? Wrong about the non-stability
of collinear n-body arrangements? Wrong about the lack of geologic
and historic evidence for your scenario? Wrong about the inability
of getting from the Saturn configuration to the present configuration
of the solar system without violating conservation of energy and
conservation of angular momentum?

Indeed, I almost thought you'd slunk off with your tail between
your legs after the beating you took.


------ Paul J. Gans [ga...@scholar.chem.nyu.edu]


David N. Talbott

unread,
Jul 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM7/18/96
to


You might as well settle in for the art-house version, "My Dinner with
Tim," because there's no short way to correct Tim Thompson's misstatements
on the Saturn theory. Tim's eagerness to pronounce verdicts may be
entertaining, but learning something about the historical argument would
save a lot of *his* time and mine.

An evaluation of the Saturn theory must take into consideration three


levels of evidence: 1) the ability of the theory to explain, or "predict"
the total field of historical data (recurring artistic, literary, ritual,

and symbolic themes of the early cultures); 2) the consistency of the


theory with physical data on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system,
particularly the many anomalies difficult to explain in terms of

traditional models of planetary evolution; and 3) the degree to which


known principles of dynamics might permit, or prohibit, the planetary
behavior implied by the historical argument.

With respect to the third level of evidence, Tim is the boldest of the t.o


debunkers. He has openly declared, more times than I could count, that
the hypothesized planetary configuration is impossible, end of statement,
thank you.

But I'm here to tell you that Tim *couldn't* know the hypothesized


configuration is impossible. It's one thing for a person to say, "I
don't know of any dynamic principles that could support the hypothesis,
and therefore it seems highly implausible to me." In fact, several
explorers *have* said just that, but with a sufficiently open mind that
they actually came back later and offered significant suggestions--in a
couple of cases *extremely* significant suggestions. They did not see
themselves as professional debunkers, and the difference is remarkable.

What I find most curious is Tim's failure to learn not only from the


history of science, but from his personal history with respect to the very
issues at hand. I mentioned in a prior post that, for more than a
decade, the "definitive" answer to the hypothesized planetary system was a
simple one-liner: the claimed planetary lineup violates Kepler's Third
Law. As a rule, that was all it took to deflect potential interest in
exploring the idea. Why consider historical evidence for something that
is so obviously impossible?

Then out of the blue came Bob Grubaugh's revelation that there are


collinear equilibrium positions at which each of the participating planets

has the same orbital period. The entire point with respect to Kepler's


Third Law (i.e., the greater the orbital radius, the longer the orbital

period) was suddenly irrelevant. Nevertheless, the moment Tim saw Bob's


preliminary paper on collinear equilibrium positions he announced that
Kepler's Third Law made the entire proposition absurd, thereby setting the
tone for a total fiasco on t.o.

Since Tim was in this instance incorrect, as pointed out by Richard


Harter, I'd have thought this experience would have left him a little less
impulsive when it comes to such sweeping assertions about what is possible
and what is not--particularly since he has not shown enough familiarity
with the historical argument to even state the hypothesized conditions
accurately. Just what is it that he is declaring to be impossible?

A second example. I had stated that a considerable volume of evidence


suggests that in the former planetary arrangement an extremely active
relationship evolved between Mars and Venus at close range, atmosphere and
oceans being pulled from Mars to spiral around the planet Venus. Though I
may have had some intuitive sense concerning the physics of such
interaction, the entire basis for hypothesizing the condition was global,
historical evidence, not physics.

Tim said that's impossible, because Mars would have been shredded by the
forces involved (if I recall correctly, the statement was that Mars would
have to move inside the Roche limit).

Because of my own confidence with respect to historical evidence, I then


asked Tim if he really wanted to state his position with such certainty.
To which he responded that yes, he was perfectly willing to stick his neck
out on this one. (I am reconstructing the conversation from memory, not
quoting from any text at hand.)

So I had the occasion to ask others about this. And I quickly found it is
not nearly so simple. There is, in Carl Sagan's _Cosmos_ a picture of a
phenomenon almost precisely analogous to what I've suggested on historical
evidence. In this picture a red giant is losing its atmosphere to the
smaller but much more dense and massive white dwarf, the gases spiraling
around the heavier body, precisely as the historical evidence suggests
occurred with the material spiraling around Venus. Then I was told by
another explorer that the process is easy: the material is first pulled
to the Roche limit, at which point it enters the region of the other
body's gravitational dominance. (I want to emphasize here that I've not
had a chance either to look into the principle, or even to ask others
about it.)

Here's the question: do the volumes of historical evidence become


irrelevant just because Tim Thompson declares the hypothesized planetary

congregation to be impossible? Or maybe we should just let Leroy
Ellenberger tell us what is impossible. The reason for not taking the


debunkers' verdicts as seriously as they would have us take them is
simple. Again and again they have been wrong. Now how many examples
would you like me to give you?

Once the existence of collinear equilibrium positions was conceded, the
howling shifted to issues of stability. Again and again it was claimed


that a collinear configuration would be explosively unstable. Then Bob
Bass did an analysis of tidal friction (the planets are interacting at
very close range). His finding? Tidal friction can *stabilize* a
collinear system.

(Here I am skipping some very relevant observations by Grubaugh concerning


the limitations of the simulation techniques being used by the debunkers,
and the crucial relationship of mass ratios to stability issues.)

Additionally, the physicist Robert Driscoll examined the potential role of


electromagnetism, finding that electromagnetic repulsion will not only
bring the planets closer together, as required by the historical argument,
but add a stabilizing influence. Aspects of Driscoll's approach have been
published in AEON

Because Grubaugh was working with collinear equilibrium, he was extremely


skeptical of the n-body simulations being used by t.o debunkers. By
degrees, he evolved a different protocol designed to work with collinear
equilibrium and small perturbations of equilibrium. The approach was *so*
different (Bob also slipped a couple of times in his first statements of
the approach), that the howling was relentless. "Who is this idiot?" (or
something like that) asked Ben Dehner. So I asked Dr. Robert Bass to
evaluate Grubaugh's unique protocol.

It was only a few days before Bass was able to derive Grubaugh's approach
mathematically (adding a couple of small changes). The approach was,
according to Bass, "brilliant," and he urged a review to determine if
there was any precedent, offering to write a paper on the subject for
publication.

The howlers, on the other hand, were of one voice in insisting that their


own simulations of collinear systems were quite sufficient to settle the
issue. So I challenged them to replicate, with the simulation they were
using, the known tendency of a body at Lagrange point L-3 to oscillate
about the equilibrium position when disturbed slightly. If they ever
satisfied this simple test, I never heard about it.

Repeatedly the t.o howlers argued that the gravity of the Sun would


eliminate the collinear equilibrium. Then I was told (not by a debunker,
need I add) about the Gegenschein, the material that has gathered at the
L-3 position in relation to the Earth and Moon. It seems that the gravity
of the Sun does *not* prevent Earth-Moon dynamics from attracting and
holding material at this collinear position. How long do the particles
of the Gegenschein librate about the collinear position before wandering
off? I have no idea. But could the simulations touted by the howlers
replicate the dynamics at all? Absolutely not.

Then of course there was the real bombshell. It was announced by several


howlers that Grubaugh's "retrograde" model was particularly absurd because
it did not have the Jupiter-Saturn system revolving in inertial space.
Thus there were no "centrifugal" forces to keep the bodies apart. (This
particular model had Jupiter and Saturn revolving once retrograde--in
relation to the radius from the Sun--with each prograde revolution of the
binary system around the Sun. Therefore, a line running through J and S
would continue pointing to the same background star. The model, one of
several Grubaugh has considered, was interesting because in concept, at
least, it eliminated the need for precession of Earth's pole to maintain
polar alignment.)

On this one, even Tom Van Flandern, who is an explorer, not a debunker,


stepped in to deliver a carefully-worded critique stating the
implausibility of the retrograde model, observing that "centrifugal"
forces are defined in relation to inertial space, hence there were none in
the model, i.e., no forces to separate the two bodies. Well this more
kindly review from Van Flandern was so "devastating" in the eyes of the
howlers that they were even beginning to "feel sorry" for Grubaugh.

Holy star wars, Batman! Was this the end of the Saturn hoax?

Quick break from "My Dinner with Tim." In the 90-minute documentary,
"Remembering the End of the World," there are a couple of brief scenes
with Grubaugh in which he has brought along his archaic computer, running
a little simulation in the off-the-shelf program "Gravity," which the
howlers swore was sufficient to test Grubaugh's approach. In those scenes
you will see a crude replication of the retrograde motions of J and S as
they move around the Sun. Notice that J and S *do not ever rotate in
inertial space*. (As Grubaugh has shown, the Gravity system is imprecise,
and his own simulation maintains the alignment in inertial space more
accurately.)

If anyone with the Gravity program would like to duplicate what is shown
in the documentary, just write, and I'll get the initial conditions from
Bob.

Well, let's talk about debunkers and explorers for a moment. Over a


couple of decades I've seen so many examples of these polar opposites, I
think I will someday write a book on the role of the two in the politics
of science. I remember when I first discussed the issues of the
retrograde model with Dr. Bass, an explorer par excellence. Over some
thirty minutes of phone conversation, he would patiently listen, then say
something like, "I'm afraid I would have to agree with the howlers on this
one. I can't see how the system would hold together."

Then I used an example of a bicycle peddle. The peddle is kept horizontal


as the drive rotates. It does not itself rotate in "inertial space." But
apply the break with the other pedal, so that the drive stops. Notice
that the formerly horizontal peddle begins to rotate *backwards*.
Similarly, in Grubaugh's co-rotating system, I suggested, if you draw a
radius from the Sun to the J-S center of gravity, you will see that the
system is actually rotating retrograde as it moves prograde around the
Sun, in the same way that the horizontal peddle is rotating *backward*
during the *forward* peddling motion. I was confident that, if you
eliminated the gravity of the Sun, the J - S binary would begin rotating
retrograde in inertial space.

A few hours after that conversation I got a call from Dr. Bass. The
bicycle peddle analogy did the trick, he said, and that inspired him to do
an analysis showing that energy is indeed conserved in the synchronous
retrograde model.

By this time I had already realized how many hours I had wasted on t.o


discussion. So I said a very polite good-bye to the howlers, and
expressed my warmest regards to the class clown. Either that, or I posted
an intemperate assault declaring that the moronic howlers had been wrong
on every friggin issue--my memory is inexplicably fading here.

Dave

David N. Talbott

unread,
Jul 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM7/22/96
to

In <4sm4sq$4...@news.nyu.edu> ga...@scholar.nyu.edu (the Class Clown)
responded to my summary of a little history for Tim, with his own version.

So here's the deal. Send your comments to your buddy Leroy, and ask him
to include the most forceful arguments in his submission to the Great
Debate. Or, if that is not satisfactory, and several of the howlers would
prefer that *you* replace Leroy in the Great Debate, I'll drink to that
too. While I don't mind flailing away for a few days in the t.o Posturing
Wars, my plan (as I've said) is to debate two people only, and to put the
text up on our website so that scholars we will be contacting can be
directed to that discussion for background.

Or here's another way to approach this. I challenge Tim Thompson, Neil
Reid, or others with some knowledge of physics to read through the Class
Clown's review and honestly acknowledge the misconceptions contained
therein. The question couldn't be simpler. Will talk.origins continue
forever with its goon-squad approach to intellectual issues, or will the
debunkers somehow find the courage to ask those who make such brazen
misstatements of principle to be accountable for what they say?


And just in case any of you missed the post in response to Tim Thompson,
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING TEXT OF "MY DINNER WITH TIM"--


You might as well settle in for the art-house version, "My Dinner with
Tim," because there's no short way to correct Tim Thompson's misstatements
on the Saturn theory. Tim's eagerness to pronounce verdicts may be
entertaining, but learning something about the historical argument would
save a lot of *his* time and mine.

An evaluation of the Saturn theory must take into consideration three


levels of evidence: 1) the ability of the theory to explain, or "predict"
the total field of historical data (recurring artistic, literary, ritual,

and symbolic themes of the early cultures); 2) the consistency of the


theory with physical data on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system,
particularly the many anomalies difficult to explain in terms of

traditional models of planetary evolution; and 3) the degree to which


known principles of dynamics might permit, or prohibit, the planetary
behavior implied by the historical argument.

With respect to the third level of evidence, Tim is the boldest of the t.o


debunkers. He has openly declared, more times than I could count, that
the hypothesized planetary configuration is impossible, end of statement,
thank you.

But I'm here to tell you that Tim *couldn't* know the hypothesized


configuration is impossible. It's one thing for a person to say, "I
don't know of any dynamic principles that could support the hypothesis,
and therefore it seems highly implausible to me." In fact, several
explorers *have* said just that, but with a sufficiently open mind that
they actually came back later and offered significant suggestions--in a
couple of cases *extremely* significant suggestions. They did not see
themselves as professional debunkers, and the difference is remarkable.

What I find most curious is Tim's failure to learn not only from the


history of science, but from his personal history with respect to the very
issues at hand. I mentioned in a prior post that, for more than a
decade, the "definitive" answer to the hypothesized planetary system was a
simple one-liner: the claimed planetary lineup violates Kepler's Third
Law. As a rule, that was all it took to deflect potential interest in
exploring the idea. Why consider historical evidence for something that
is so obviously impossible?

Then out of the blue came Bob Grubaugh's revelation that there are


collinear equilibrium positions at which each of the participating planets

has the same orbital period. The entire point with respect to Kepler's


Third Law (i.e., the greater the orbital radius, the longer the orbital

period) was suddenly irrelevant. Nevertheless, the moment Tim saw Bob's


preliminary paper on collinear equilibrium positions he announced that
Kepler's Third Law made the entire proposition absurd, thereby setting the
tone for a total fiasco on t.o.

Since Tim was in this instance incorrect, as pointed out by Richard


Harter, I'd have thought this experience would have left him a little less
impulsive when it comes to such sweeping assertions about what is possible
and what is not--particularly since he has not shown enough familiarity
with the historical argument to even state the hypothesized conditions
accurately. Just what is it that he is declaring to be impossible?

A second example. I had stated that a considerable volume of evidence


suggests that in the former planetary arrangement an extremely active
relationship evolved between Mars and Venus at close range, atmosphere and
oceans being pulled from Mars to spiral around the planet Venus. Though I
may have had some intuitive sense concerning the physics of such
interaction, the entire basis for hypothesizing the condition was global,
historical evidence, not physics.

Tim said that's impossible, because Mars would have been shredded by the
forces involved (if I recall correctly, the statement was that Mars would
have to move inside the Roche limit).

Because of my own confidence with respect to historical evidence, I then


asked Tim if he really wanted to state his position with such certainty.
To which he responded that yes, he was perfectly willing to stick his neck
out on this one. (I am reconstructing the conversation from memory, not
quoting from any text at hand.)

So I had the occasion to ask others about this. And I quickly found it is
not nearly so simple. There is, in Carl Sagan's _Cosmos_ a picture of a
phenomenon almost precisely analogous to what I've suggested on historical
evidence. In this picture a red giant is losing its atmosphere to the
smaller but much more dense and massive white dwarf, the gases spiraling
around the heavier body, precisely as the historical evidence suggests
occurred with the material spiraling around Venus. Then I was told by
another explorer that the process is easy: the material is first pulled
to the Roche limit, at which point it enters the region of the other
body's gravitational dominance. (I want to emphasize here that I've not
had a chance either to look into the principle, or even to ask others
about it.)

Here's the question: do the volumes of historical evidence become


irrelevant just because Tim Thompson declares the hypothesized planetary

congregation to be impossible? Or maybe we should just let Leroy
Ellenberger tell us what is impossible. The reason for not taking the


debunkers' verdicts as seriously as they would have us take them is
simple. Again and again they have been wrong. Now how many examples
would you like me to give you?

Once the existence of collinear equilibrium positions was conceded, the
howling shifted to issues of stability. Again and again it was claimed


that a collinear configuration would be explosively unstable. Then Bob
Bass did an analysis of tidal friction (the planets are interacting at
very close range). His finding? Tidal friction can *stabilize* a
collinear system.

(Here I am skipping some very relevant observations by Grubaugh concerning


the limitations of the simulation techniques being used by the debunkers,
and the crucial relationship of mass ratios to stability issues.)

Additionally, the physicist Robert Driscoll examined the potential role of


electromagnetism, finding that electromagnetic repulsion will not only
bring the planets closer together, as required by the historical argument,
but add a stabilizing influence. Aspects of Driscoll's approach have been
published in AEON

Because Grubaugh was working with collinear equilibrium, he was extremely


skeptical of the n-body simulations being used by t.o debunkers. By
degrees, he evolved a different protocol designed to work with collinear
equilibrium and small perturbations of equilibrium. The approach was *so*
different (Bob also slipped a couple of times in his first statements of
the approach), that the howling was relentless. "Who is this idiot?" (or
something like that) asked Ben Dehner. So I asked Dr. Robert Bass to
evaluate Grubaugh's unique protocol.

It was only a few days before Bass was able to derive Grubaugh's approach
mathematically (adding a couple of small changes). The approach was,
according to Bass, "brilliant," and he urged a review to determine if
there was any precedent, offering to write a paper on the subject for
publication.

The howlers, on the other hand, were of one voice in insisting that their


own simulations of collinear systems were quite sufficient to settle the
issue. So I challenged them to replicate, with the simulation they were
using, the known tendency of a body at Lagrange point L-3 to oscillate
about the equilibrium position when disturbed slightly. If they ever
satisfied this simple test, I never heard about it.

Repeatedly the t.o howlers argued that the gravity of the Sun would


eliminate the collinear equilibrium. Then I was told (not by a debunker,
need I add) about the Gegenschein, the material that has gathered at the
L-3 position in relation to the Earth and Moon. It seems that the gravity
of the Sun does *not* prevent Earth-Moon dynamics from attracting and
holding material at this collinear position. How long do the particles
of the Gegenschein librate about the collinear position before wandering
off? I have no idea. But could the simulations touted by the howlers
replicate the dynamics at all? Absolutely not.

Then of course there was the real bombshell. It was announced by several


howlers that Grubaugh's "retrograde" model was particularly absurd because
it did not have the Jupiter-Saturn system revolving in inertial space.
Thus there were no "centrifugal" forces to keep the bodies apart. (This
particular model had Jupiter and Saturn revolving once retrograde--in
relation to the radius from the Sun--with each prograde revolution of the
binary system around the Sun. Therefore, a line running through J and S
would continue pointing to the same background star. The model, one of
several Grubaugh has considered, was interesting because in concept, at
least, it eliminated the need for precession of Earth's pole to maintain
polar alignment.)

On this one, even Tom Van Flandern, who is an explorer, not a debunker,


stepped in to deliver a carefully-worded critique stating the
implausibility of the retrograde model, observing that "centrifugal"
forces are defined in relation to inertial space, hence there were none in
the model, i.e., no forces to separate the two bodies. Well this more
kindly review from Van Flandern was so "devastating" in the eyes of the
howlers that they were even beginning to "feel sorry" for Grubaugh.

Holy star wars, Batman! Was this the end of the Saturn hoax?

Quick break from "My Dinner with Tim." In the 90-minute documentary,
"Remembering the End of the World," there are a couple of brief scenes
with Grubaugh in which he has brought along his archaic computer, running
a little simulation in the off-the-shelf program "Gravity," which the
howlers swore was sufficient to test Grubaugh's approach. In those scenes
you will see a crude replication of the retrograde motions of J and S as
they move around the Sun. Notice that J and S *do not ever rotate in
inertial space*. (As Grubaugh has shown, the Gravity system is imprecise,
and his own simulation maintains the alignment in inertial space more
accurately.)

If anyone with the Gravity program would like to duplicate what is shown
in the documentary, just write, and I'll get the initial conditions from
Bob.

Well, let's talk about debunkers and explorers for a moment. Over a


couple of decades I've seen so many examples of these polar opposites, I
think I will someday write a book on the role of the two in the politics
of science. I remember when I first discussed the issues of the
retrograde model with Dr. Bass, an explorer par excellence. Over some
thirty minutes of phone conversation, he would patiently listen, then say
something like, "I'm afraid I would have to agree with the howlers on this
one. I can't see how the system would hold together."

Then I used an example of a bicycle peddle. The peddle is kept horizontal


as the drive rotates. It does not itself rotate in "inertial space." But
apply the break with the other pedal, so that the drive stops. Notice
that the formerly horizontal peddle begins to rotate *backwards*.
Similarly, in Grubaugh's co-rotating system, I suggested, if you draw a
radius from the Sun to the J-S center of gravity, you will see that the
system is actually rotating retrograde as it moves prograde around the
Sun, in the same way that the horizontal peddle is rotating *backward*
during the *forward* peddling motion. I was confident that, if you
eliminated the gravity of the Sun, the J - S binary would begin rotating
retrograde in inertial space.

A few hours after that conversation I got a call from Dr. Bass. The
bicycle peddle analogy did the trick, he said, and that inspired him to do
an analysis showing that energy is indeed conserved in the synchronous
retrograde model.

By this time I had already realized how many hours I had wasted on t.o


discussion. So I said a very polite good-bye to the howlers, and
expressed my warmest regards to the class clown. Either that, or I posted
an intemperate assault declaring that the moronic howlers had been wrong
on every friggin issue--my memory is inexplicably fading here.

Dave

writes:

David N. Talbott

unread,
Jul 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM7/23/96
to

Only yesterday I had offered the following:

>Or here's another way to approach this. I challenge Tim Thompson, Neil
>Reid, or others with some knowledge of physics to read through the Class
>Clown's review and honestly acknowledge the misconceptions contained
>therein. The question couldn't be simpler. Will talk.origins continue
>forever with its goon-squad approach to intellectual issues, or will the
>debunkers somehow find the courage to ask those who make such brazen
>misstatements of principle to be accountable for what they say?

And today, I find that Tim Thompson has already put his stamp of approval
on the wisdom of the Class Clown. Moreover, I predict that not one t.o
regular will come forward to correct any of the Class Clown's
misstatements or identify a single instance in which he failed to
comprehend the issue at stake.

When I return from my trip, I'll begin the debate with Leroy, and add to
the narrative going onto our website the exchange with the Class Clown,
including the corrections to that most recent embarrassing post of his.

Dave

Wayne Throop

unread,
Jul 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM7/30/96
to

: dtal...@teleport.com (David N. Talbott)
: I predict that not one t.o regular will come forward to correct any of

: the Class Clown's misstatements or identify a single instance in which
: he failed to comprehend the issue at stake.

I haven't looked in detail at Gans' most recent postings, but I've
posted corrections to Gans' misinterpretations in the past. I've also
posted corrections to Talbott's.

IMO, Gans response to correction was ... let's say "less disconcerting".

Note that Talbott *still* clings to many mistaken beliefs. Eg:

: (Here I am skipping some very relevant observations by Grubaugh


: concerning the limitations of the simulation techniques being used by
: the debunkers, and the crucial relationship of mass ratios to
: stability issues.)

But Grubaugh's attempts to demonstrate these "limitations" were
fallacious, every single time. He claimed Gravity could not simulate an
equlibrium orbit (and indeed, Talbott challenged anybody do demonstrate
a "rectilinear" simulation of a single orbit L3-type equilibrim (and
never paid off the promised $100.00 when it was trivially done by
multiple respondents essentially instantly))). He was wrong. He
claimed that the equations were those of linear motion only. He was
wrong. He claimed that mathematical instabilities could account for the
exponential blowups of L3 simulations. This was checked, and they
cannot. He claimed that altered mass ratios could yield stable L3-like
situations. They cannot.

Now I hear that Bass says tides can stabilize a multi-planet "stack" in
equilibrium. Of course, this seems to ignore the fact that Grubaugh's
full scenario (with sun plus planetary stack) is not in equilibrium. It
also ignores the fact that Grubaugh's scenario is fundamentally limited
in the distance ratios the planets can have, and these cannot yield the
"polar configuration" images Talbott and Cochrane need.

: (As Grubaugh has shown, the Gravity system is imprecise, and his own


: simulation maintains the alignment in inertial space more accurately.)

If by "accurately" is meant "realistically",
Grubaugh has never shown any such thing.

: I was told (not by a debunker, need I add) about the Gegenschein, the


: material that has gathered at the L-3 position in relation to the
: Earth and Moon. It seems that the gravity of the Sun does *not*
: prevent Earth-Moon dynamics from attracting and holding material at
: this collinear position.

It does not seem that way at all; this is merely a Talbott misinterpretation.
The existance of a density peak at equilibria IN NO WAY implies that
material is "held" there.

: But could the simulations touted by the howlers replicate the dynamics
: at all? Absolutely not.

I see no basis for such a claim.

: I challenged them to replicate, with the simulation they were using,


: the known tendency of a body at Lagrange point L-3 to oscillate about
: the equilibrium position when disturbed slightly. If they ever
: satisfied this simple test, I never heard about it.

Well, Talbott's failure to acknowledge succesfully meeting his
previous challenge might have taken all the fun out of trying it.

Actually, I have no doubt that several of the simulations could do it.
Certainly, a circular wobble upon slight displacement is a feature of
the blowup scenarios simulated at the time (blowups in agreement with
the textbook treatments of the situation I might add, while Grubaugh's
simulations DISagreed with textbook theoretical predictions).

Note, "oscillate about the equilibrium position when disturbed slightly"
is at best a misleading description of the effect refered to here; there
are a family of dynamically unstable orbits around the colinear lagrange
points. But putting an object onto one of those orbits isn't a matter
of "disturbing" a particle at the equilibrium. Instead, it takes a
specific velocity and specific offset as initial position. I recall
asking Talbott to supply these so everybody would be using the same
ones; he never did.

If anybody would supply me with initial conditions for this renewed
Talbott challenge, I'll be glad to crank it through a simple simulation,
and report what happens. I wouldn't hold my breath for Talbott to
acknowledge that the challenge was successfully met, however. He *still*
has yet to fully acknowledge that his first specific challenge was met,
nor that Grubaugh's accounts of the errors of "rectilinear simulation"
were tested and found false.
--
Wayne Throop thr...@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw
thr...@cisco.com

Paul J. Gans

unread,
Aug 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/2/96
to

Wayne Throop (thr...@sheol.org) wrote:

: : dtal...@teleport.com (David N. Talbott)


: : I predict that not one t.o regular will come forward to correct any of
: : the Class Clown's misstatements or identify a single instance in which
: : he failed to comprehend the issue at stake.
:
: I haven't looked in detail at Gans' most recent postings, but I've
: posted corrections to Gans' misinterpretations in the past. I've also
: posted corrections to Talbott's.
:
: IMO, Gans response to correction was ... let's say "less disconcerting".

[cogent description of water-muddying by Dave Talbott deleted].


LESS DISCONCERTING!!!!!

I'm sure as h**l disconcerted when I make a mistake! Why I
remember one night, tickets in hand, I showed up at Lincoln
Center here in NY to find that the concert was for the
previous night. THAT is being disconcerted.

More seriously (if one can actually detect a change in tone
in a posting) I feel that it is incombent on anyone who
sounds off in a newsgroup (this certainly includes me) to
admit error when it is discovered. I try to do it here.
It is a disconcerting experience, but good for the soul.

Wayne Throop

unread,
Aug 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/4/96
to

:: thr...@sheol.org (Wayne Throop)
:: IMO, Gans response to correction was ... let's say "less disconcerting".

: ga...@scholar.nyu.edu (Paul J. Gans)
: I'm sure as h**l disconcerted when I make a mistake!

Well, note, I did say "less disconcerting" (by implicaiton, to me),
not that Gans himself was not disconcerted.

Specifically in the grubaugh case, when two specific challenges were
made by Talbott, (one, circular equilibrium case simulated "for as much
as one orbit") by a "rectilinear simulation", and two, match between
theoretical predictions and simulations for both in-line equilibria and
L[4,5] points), both were passed by "rectilinear simulations" used by
t.o. correspondents of the time, and the second was failed by
Grubaugh's simuations. (The in-line equilibria instability when offset
was failed by Grubaugh's simulation; I think Grubaugh never tried to
reproduce the theoretically-implied instability of L[4,5]
at mass ratios near 1. )

The fact that Talbott posted by and by that Grubaugh was "correct on
every friggin issue", when he was demonstrably wrong on so many, and had
failed so many of these little "challenges", was indeed disconcerting.
(Again, "disconcer*ING* to me", though Talbott showed no particular
signs of being disconcert*ED*.)

Does anybody out there (you want to try this Paul?)
have time to work out the initial conditions of Talbott's latest
challenge (the unstable orbits around the in-line equilibria, mentioned
in Roy's "Orbital Motion" among other sources)? I don't expect Talbott to
acknowledge it any more than he has the other successful challenge
responses, but what the hey, you never know.

(Well, to be fair, he once posted that he'd "look into" awarding his
$100.00 challenge money, but never did, and since has taken to implying
that t.o. correspondents never met challenges.)

Paul J. Gans

unread,
Aug 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/5/96
to

Wayne Throop (thr...@sheol.org) wrote:

[deletions]

: The fact that Talbott posted by and by that Grubaugh was "correct on


: every friggin issue", when he was demonstrably wrong on so many, and had
: failed so many of these little "challenges", was indeed disconcerting.
: (Again, "disconcer*ING* to me", though Talbott showed no particular
: signs of being disconcert*ED*.)
:
: Does anybody out there (you want to try this Paul?)
: have time to work out the initial conditions of Talbott's latest
: challenge (the unstable orbits around the in-line equilibria, mentioned
: in Roy's "Orbital Motion" among other sources)? I don't expect Talbott to
: acknowledge it any more than he has the other successful challenge
: responses, but what the hey, you never know.

I'd be glad to. I have no idea what Roy wrote in "Orbital Motion",
is that a book or a paper--if the latter is there any reference
to it. I also have no idea as to what Talbott's "challenge" is,
since he never supplied any details.

Given those two things and a clearly stated objective so that I
could tell if it had been obtained or not, I'd be happy to drag
out the ol' integrator and integrate away.

It goes without saying that if I did so, source code and results
would be posted here.

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