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Part I: Atmospherics

by Alfred de Grazia



A powerful, highly developed and mysterious people of ancient Italy, the Etruscans, believed in the strictest set of relationships between the small Earth and the great and divine Universe [1] . They planned their cities astronomically, as did all early peoples, but, more specifically, worshiped lightning and gave "the thunderbolting god" Jupiter to the Romans. They founded a College of Lightning Arts (ars fulminum) at Visul. When a bolt of lightning struck, the ground became at that instant hallowed; no one might disturb it until priests made a site inspection and had concluded which of thirty types of lightning it was and what should be done about it [2] .

They dug wells to receive lightning and marked the wells with the bidental symbol of Jupiter (Zeus), a two-pronged spear. Zeus has been variously portrayed as the hurler of cosmic lightning, with a two or three-pronged spear, and even hurling a bolt whose shape was not forked lightning but like an American football, a plasmoid perhaps, a kind of lightning bomb [3] .

All mountains were sacred to thunderbolting Jupiter. Seneca, the Roman stoic and dramatist, has him dissolving mountain ranges with his bolts [4] . The Bible says the same of Yahweh, all this and more.

Psalm 97 gives us :

"His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth."

The Babylonians speak so of Marduk, the Indians of Shiva, the Persians of Mazda. Other gods played with lightning and fire - Hephaistos, Apollo, Hermes, etc. but Jupiter was the overwhelming lightning god. Giambattista Vico believed that lightning was less on Earth in the damp age of Saturn, before Jupiter, because of deluges. It is noteworthy that satellite maps of terrestrial lightning published this year (1981) by Orville and Vonnegut show a dearth of discharges upon oceanic surfaces [5] . Satellites have also shown that a realm of lightning bolts a thousand times more powerful than the ordinary terrestrial bolts dominates the upper atmosphere [6] .

The Etruscans said that their great city of Volsinium, by what is now Lago Bolsena, was destroyed by a thunderbolt of Mars. They believed that a portent or an inducement to the awful act came from rituals performed by their King [7] . This was about the time that Rome was founded, likely by near descendants of fugitives from grave disasters in the Near East [8] . The famous Seven Hills of Rome themselves may be a set of extinct volcanos, according to an early French geologist. Since few scientists believe in cosmic thunderbolts, this report of Lake Bolsena has never been thoroughly investigated. The Italian anthropologist-geologist Leonardi assured me that the lake basin is a typical extinct volcano. Velikovsky accepted the lightning thesis [9] . Geographer Donald Patten calls it a meteoric crater-lake because it lacks a volcano talus, is oval shaped, 7x9 miles, and is bottomed by lava and ash [10] . Until an intensive investigation is made, Leonardi's expertness must weigh heavily in our judgement.

J. E. Strickling has guided the author to a passage in Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews( I, 240) where, it is said, " the day whereon God visited him (Abraham) was exceedingly hot, for He had bored a hole in hell, so that its heat might reach as far as the earth..." Was this hole dug by a meteoroid impact, a lightning stroke (downwards or upwards), or a volcanic outburst? That it would have been a sudden occurrence, and that other studies indicate probably exoterrestrial (hence volcanic) disturbances in Abraham's time and that Abraham's God was a God of lightning are bits of fact to consider with the larger mosaic being pieced together here.

Archaeologist Nicola Rilli dug in one location at Prato (near Florence) and found three distinct heavy ash layers defining three distinct periods of prehistory [11] . He found a small silo grain, intact but carbonized, a fact that he ascribed to a great fire that had been suffocated. Lightning fires may have played a role in the burnings.

Recent astrophysical opinion regards Jupiter as a hot hyper-active planet that exchanges bolts with its satellite Io over a distance of 50,000 miles. The bolts are frequent enough to be an arc or current. Strangely, Pliny described great thunderbolts as the "fire of the three upper planets," not to be confused with terrestrial lightning [12] . Today lightning could not discharge over the great distance between Jupiter and Earth, not unless Jupiter were to explode, a great cloud of gases that would drift between the planets and provide a conductor for the electric spark. Something akin to discharge can affect the Earth and Sun, though, when the great planet is in conjunction with Earth and Sun, as Gribben and Plageman have propounded [13] .

However, according to the theory of Solaria Binaria which we have advanced in another book, the two bodies were once nearer, there were remnants of a gaseous envelope between Sun and Jupiter, and there were sporadic efforts to push through discharges along the defunct axis of an electrical current that had once connected the bodies. Since Earth was descending upon this axis, which became the ecliptic plane it may have experienced the reported Jovian bolts. These would still be discharging from time to time, seeking to make contact with the Sun and being short-circuited by Earth and probably other intervening bodies.

It may be surmised, too, that, upon the nova and fission of Super-Saturn (Saturn-Jupiter), not only would water and debris be discharged into interplanetary space, but also gases that would temporarily afford Jupiter its chance to earn its reputation as the discharger of interplanetary thunderbolts. Not until the arc flashes had quite disappeared, the gaseous medium had been quite dissipated, and the Earth drifted out of its binary-locked, conjunctive orbit with Jupiter would the cosmic lightning cease to threaten the Earth with a bolt from the blue.

Replacing the binary current and magnetic gas tube were two contemporary phenomena: the solar winds and the space plasma. The solar winds are not a current, but are unfocussed particle flows and blasts. They diffuse into space rather than concentrate upon the planets. Earth receives only a very small fraction of the solar radiance.

The space plasma that surrounds the planets is composed of dissociated ionized atoms that generally do not assemble in electrical charges [14] . It protects the Earth and other planets from inducing and suffering repeated cosmic discharges. And it prevents leakage of the remaining charge of Earth, which may indeed be building up.

However, the space sheath or magnetosphere of the Earth cannot suffice as a buffer when large or fast erratic bodies approach. In the Venusian catastrophe, cosmic lightning played a heavy role. Cometary Venus, according to Velikovsky's reconstruction, encountered the Earth in the spring of 1453 B. C. and followed roughly its orbit for some days. The comet with its millions of miles of tail appeared and reappeared as the Earth continued with interruptions its rotation. On the second approach, after six days had passed, a gigantic column towered into the sky, a pillar of smoke by day and of fire by night, as Exodus 14: 19 describes it.

This stage was accompanied by violent and incessant discharges between the atmosphere of the tail and the terrestrial atmosphere. When the tidal waves rose to their highest point, and the seas were torn apart, a tremendous spark flew between the earth and the globe of the comet, which instantly pushed down the miles-high billows. Meanwhile, the tail of the comet and its head, having become entangled with each other by their close contact with the earth, exchanged violent discharges of electricity. It looked like a battle between the brilliant globe and the dark column of smoke. In the exchange of electrical potentials, the tail and the head were attracted one to the other and repelled one from the other. From the serpentlike tail extensions grew, and it lost the form of a column. It looked now like a furious animal with legs and with many heads. The discharges tore the column to pieces, a process that was accompanied by a rain of meteorites upon the earth. It appeared as though the monster were defeated by the brilliant globe and buried in the sea, or wherever the meteorites fell. The gases of the tail subsequently enveloped the earth." [15]

I would depart from the scenario mainly to suggest that the column of smoke seen everywhere was probably a mixture of the comet's tail and the "catastrophic column" (as Kelly and Dachille picture it). The main contact between Earth and Venus occurred at this point were the main discharge left Earth carrying upwards surface material and building then and there a "great chemical factory" of Venusian and Earth raw materials [16] .

Legends from around the world describe this engagement. It is the battle between Marduk and the dragon Tiamat, between Isis and Seth, between Vishnu and the serpent (or Krishna and serpent), between Ormuzd and Ahriman, between the Lord and Rahab and, the most widely known of all, between Zeus and Typhon.

Velikovsky proceeds, after citing these legends, to place the comet Typhon in the mid-second millennium B. C., at the time of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Bimson has established the pharaoh of Egypt just then as the first Hyksos King by the name of Typhon [17] . Typhon is related to Typhon (South Seas), Toufan (Arabs), and is another version of the legend of Phaeton. Legends, myths sacred scriptures, and ancient historians have been mobilized to support the theory of the encounter. That Venus also suffered is logical; it still faces Earth "respectfully" in "resonance", upon its near passage [18] .

Electrical phenomena akin to lightning are associated with volcanism, earthquakes, and meteoritic phenomena, including atmospheric pass-through and impact explosions. They may also be an independent "instrument of the gods," as strong or stronger than gravitation in their effects when two dense bodies approach one another closely. Further, cosmic electricity may traverse a whole star system or planetary system.

C. E. R. Bruce of the British Electrical Association for many years sought recognition of the place of electricity and lightning in the creation and destruction of whole galaxies of the universe [19] . He described lightning discharges of 6x10 11 miles in width and ten times as long generating temperatures of 5x10 8 degrees Celsius and lasting for 10 6 years or more. The discharges occur amidst accumulations of cosmic dust.

Bruce's colleague, Eric Crew, who shares his views, has given more attention to cosmic lightning within the solar system and particularly in encounters involving earth. How he handles electrical problems of large-body encounters can be exemplified in the following passages:

If a charged body B (such as a large comet) approaches a planet A which has an atmosphere, opposite charges are induced and the atmosphere will be pulled out towards B. This increases the voltage gradient between B and the extended atmosphere very rapidly and violent discharges may take place even though the two bodies are separated by a considerable distance. The effect is intensified if both A and B have atmospheres, and even more so if they have opposite charges.

The effect... is to cause jet of compressed material to form and for the substance to be ejected on to the negatively charged body, or the induced negative charge.

Charges induced in the solid surface of A as B approaches will cause a ground current to flow and the resistance of its path will cause the induced charge to lag behind the line joining A and B. The electrical force will produce a turning moment on A and B and the resultant motion will depend on the direction of the force in relation to the axis of rotation of A and B. The displacement may be increased if B has a crust floating on a molten interior, as the moment of inertia of this would be much smaller than that of a completely rigid sphere, even if the possible tilting of the axis is ignored [20] .

That is, in the case of the several large body encounters of the Earth, which we think may have occurred, strong lightning exchanges took place, atmospheres exchanged in varying proportions, debris flew into space, powerful ground currents of electricity followed the point of closest contact, and these currents assisted inertial forces to push crustal sections of the Earth over its plastic mantle.

Ralph Juergens' theories of cosmic electricity have been close to the historical events proposed by quantavolutionary theorists. Intimately acquainted with the experiences and ideas of Velikovsky, he worked for many years upon the basic astro-physical problems posed by the Venus-Mars-Earth scenario, specializing in the application of electrical theory.

His primary theory deals with the source of solar energy [21] . It is in one sense non-catastrophic. It is also quite new and unaccepted; yet, as he says "the modern astrophysical concept that ascribes the Sun's energy to thermonuclear reactions deep in the solar interior is contradicated by nearly every observable aspect of the Sun." Whereas the conventional theory is that the Sun derives its energy from a hydrogen-fusion nuclear reaction continuing over millions of years, Juergen's theory is that the Sun's surface bears a negative heavy electrical charge, which it has gathered mostly from galactic winds and from a great many bodies brighter than the Sun, and which discharges itself upon the solar system bodies. The solar radiance that strikes Earth and causes heat is as nothing compared with the galactic radiance that strikes the Sun. The Sun's bloated atmosphere is the anode; its highest levels are of the highest temperatures, which go down, rather than up, as the surface of the giant gas bag of the Sun is approached. Hence, elaborate attempts to catch neutrinos from the Sun's "solar furnaces" as they traverse the Earth must fail; if no nuclear fusion, then no neutrinos.

The Sun's radiance, varying only slightly as its total charge varies, penetrates the electrically neutral plasma of interplanetary space, passes through the positively charged outer magnetosphere, enters a neutral zone and then a negatively charged inner zone, and finally strikes the Earth's atmosphere with warming and radioactive effects. (Jupiter does not "need" the Sun's heat; it radiates several times as much energy as it receives from the Sun.) A great proportion of all the craters and many fissures of the Moon and Mars, and, though less visible, of the Earth, are explained by Juergens as the effects of cosmic lightning, occurring during the holocene period that we are studying.

The "plasmoids" which I referred to earlier are a type of lightning conducted to Earth as "pieces of plasma." These balanced "things" of positive ions and electrons retain their identity and appear as luminous objects of missile-like proportions. They would cause impact craters or above-ground explosions that leave little trace. A second type of primeval lightning, like that known best to us, would give clear evidence of electric scarring, whether as a crater or as a jagged crack in the ground.

The jagged cracks of clefts are called rilles and are found by the thousands on the Moon. The principal candidate for the most recent creation of rilles is the planet Mars, which, following Velikovsky's reconstruction of events, would have happened in the period 776-687 B. C. Electrons has to be torn from the lunar crust in numbers sufficient to trigger an interplanetary discharge. The Moon becomes the cathode, Mars the anode. As the charge mobilizes quickly on the Moon, it probes along lines of weakness and explodes the surface in traveling to its discharge point. It blasts a crater as it exits into space.

Again Juergen's theory is exceptional. More favored as agents are running water (now gone), erosion by dust winds, an explosion of underground gases, and the collapse of lava tubes through which liquid lava had passed. That these alternatives to the agency of eruption of a breakdown channel raise severe problem is documented by Juergen's table presented below. It may be seen that the lightning channel eruption, not entirely unknown even today on Earth, provides a better explanation of rille characteristics.

Competence of Various Theories to Explains Sinuous Rilles of the Moon

Proposed Rille-Origin Theory Rille Characteristic

   Erosion by Ash-Gas Cloud Formation by Gaseous Outburst Formation by Gaseous Outburst Formation Lave-T Collapse Eruption of Breakdown Channel
1. Width greater at higher end C C O B A
2. Channel sinuous A C O C A
3. Irregular crater at upper end B B O B A
4. Ends of rille at different elevations A A O A A
5. Outwash deposits lacking at lower end C-X B A C-X A
6. "Bridges" lacking along channel A A O B-C A
7. On-channel cratering frequent O O A O A
8. Channel may traverse high ground X X B X B
9. Channel may stray from dip of surface C-X C-X B C-X B
10. Channel may follow crest of ridge X X A B A
11. Channel may expose numerous strata B B A C-X A-B
12. Surface strata upturned at rille margins X X A X A
13. Clustering of rilles C C B-C B-C A-B
14. Young rilles may cross older rilles C-X C-X A-O C-X B
15. Secondary rilles in rille bottoms Erosion by Running WaterB C C C B

Symbols :

A. Predictable on basis of theory,
B. Permissible in terms of theory,
C. Permissible, but difficult to explain,
O. Apparently irrelevant in terms of theory X.

Evidence precludes theory. Probably the main focus of the electrical battle between Moon and its assailant is the huge crater Aristarchus. It expresses its recency by a bare uncratered floor, by giving off light and by being intensely radioactive. The greatest concentration of lunar rilles is also located at and near Aristarchus. The light bolt was estimated by Juergens at 2x10 21 joules of energy, "a few million times as energetic as ordinary lightning."

The likely partner in catastrophe, Mars shares gases with the Moon.

As things stand, the situation is this: Lunar finds are rich in argon, neon, other rare gases, and carbon dioxide None of these gases is known to be present in the solar wind, nor is elemental carbon a known constituent of that medium... Precisely those gases known to be present in the atmosphere of Mars -the great bulk of which has been mysteriously "stolen" away in the not-too-distant past -are also found tenaciously held in superficial crystalline layer of the Moon's outermost blanketing materials. This would be a most incredible coincidence if the interplanetary discharges described by Velikovsky never took place [22] .

We are only in the early stages of fulminology. Edward Komarek has discovered that the effects of modern lightning are extensive. When a tree is struck, surrounding trees and vegetation are affected by structural, biological, and chemical changes for a long time to come. Lightning also may fuse the Earth around. Fused sand tubes caused by lightning and called "fulgurites" are common around the world. "In one sand-dune patch of 5,000 acres at Witsands, on the southeastern border of the Kalahari Desert, Lewis estimated that there were not less than 2,000 fulgurites. Since lightning is at the present time very infrequent in this area, some of the tubes must have been formed thousands years ago [23] . The fulgurites often followed bush and plant roots. Perhaps they occurred simultaneously and were one of the causes of the desert. That all deserts, whatever their origin, may be indeed new is a question worth considering. Lightning may descend in showers. Lightning may instantly fossilize trees; a high tension wire did so too in Alberta, Canada, E. R. Milton reports. Lightning alters C14 content in trees, hence their "age" for dating purposes [24] . Recently various theories have been offered to explain the mysterious kimberlite tubes of South Africa and similar tubes in Utah. The former are like fulgurites and are found near the great diamond fields. Probably the same electrical flows that dug the kimberlites produced the diamonds. Whether this should be called "slow lightning," and discussed in the preceding chapter, or should be discussed here is perhaps immaterial at this stage of research. The Moses Rock dike of Utah is about 4 miles long at the surface, in the shape of a hook, and about 1000 feet wide. It was forced up from possibly 200 kilometers below the surface.

Komarek has come to believe that "lightning is ecologically fully as important as such better known factors as temperature, rainfall, soils etc [25] . He does not estimate past incidences. If present lightning effects must be exponentially retrojected into the past, the world would have been significantly remolded therefrom.

Juergen's theory of Moon and Mars belongs to Earth as well. The Earth must have lunar rilles in large numbers. An unknown but considerable number of craters, "river" valleys, fractures and ravines must owe their origin not to ice, water, volcanos, or meteoroids, but to cosmic lightning. In the absence of well-directed field work, not only are their indications misinterpreted, but usually their very existence remains a surmise. The present level of electrical activity on Earth does not excite research except in imaginative minds, like Ralph Juergens, Nicola Tesla and Frank Dachille.

It is well for geologists to consider meanwhile the promise of such theories. Take, for example, the consequences of the concept that the Earth's global electric potential has not been uniform throughout its history, an idea that I repeat in this book several times; consider its consequences for another insistent idea of these pages, that geological time may be grossly exaggerated.

Juergens argues that the Earth's surface potential is highly negative and low [26] . Suppose that it is lowered further. Rampant radioactivity would occur. The half-life of every radioactive atom would be drastically reduced. Radiochronometric time would be largely erased. In the opposite case, if Earth's potential became higher and less negative, polonium, for instance, which has a short life as evidenced in the geological record by the halos it inscribes upon rock, would acquire a much longer half-life and so would other radioactive isotopes.

Nikola Tesla's work is acclaimed for its genius. But some of it was unfortunately cut short by a lack of funds and his growing madness. It went largely unreported and, especially because it was so astonishing, it was and is difficult to describe and appraise. Around the turn of the century, after his dramatic successes in designing and building alternating current electric motors in the East, Tesla went West to Colorado Springs and built an extraordinary electrical apparatus [28] . He set up a 200 foot tall mast with a metal ball on top nested in a 10 foot diameter coil. At a diameter of 80 feet he provided a second surrounding coil. These were affixed to banks of condensers. A 300 volt line from a nearby power plant supplied initial impetus to the oscillator. The magnetic field created by the current in the large coil set up an alternating current in the central coil. Over 150,000 times per second, a charge was sent through the Earth and back up and out into the atmosphere, discharging as bolts of lightning.

Tesla thought that such a machine oscillating through the Earth might be tapped at a number of place through local receivers to supply energy for local consumption. It would be a wireless electrical power distribution system. This naive and astounding project has not to my knowledge been seriously considered by geophysicists and electrical engineers in these years of energy crisis. Nor, for that matter, has the idea of Juergens, that "once the curtains of thermo-nuclear theory are drawn aside, electrical engineers will quickly discover that the controlled-fusion reaction they have been seeking in vain for a quarter of a century have actually been within their grasp for at least twice that long - that a relatively small throughput of electrical energy will release the pent-up power of matter on a scale far beyond the most fanciful prediction of the late 1940's."

Notes (Chapter Six: Terrestrial and Cosmic Lightning)

1. Nicola Rilli, Gli Etruschi a Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze: Tipografia Giuntina, 1964), 92.

2. Ibid., 94-5.

3. Ralph Juergens, "Of the Moon and Mars," 4 Pensée 4 (Fall 1974) 21-30; 4 Pensée 5 (Winter 1975), 27-39; A. de Grazia, Chaos and Creation, 203 for illustration. On ball lightning see A. Wittmann, 232 Nature (27 Aug. 1971), 625.

4. In Thyestes, a drama remarkable for its catastrophic images.

5. R. Orville and B. Vonnegut, "Patterns of Thunderbolts," 92 New Scientist (1981), 102.

6. New Scientist (20 Oct. 1977), 150.

7. G. P. Pliny, II Natural History (trans. Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1967) II: LIV. The translation of Rackham is questionable, if only because he has no idea that the Etruscans and early Romans, like the Hebrews and Greeks of the age, were using electrostatic machines to produce divine image and oracles.

8. A. de Grazia, critique of Enea Nel Lazio (Rome: Palombi, 1981) on the Virgil Bimillennial Celebration, in The Burning of Troy (in press).

9. Worlds in Collision, 273.

10. Donald W. Patten, R. R. Hatch and L. C. Steinhauer, The Long Day of Joshua and Six Other Catastrophes (Seattle: Pacific Meridian Pub. Co., 1973), 18-9.

11. Op. cit., 88-91.

12. Patten et al., 92.

13. The Jupiter Effect: The Planets as Triggers of Devastating Earthquakes (New York: Vintage Books, 1974).

14. Juergens, "Moon and Mars," loc cit., 37 et passim.

15. Worlds in Collision, 77-8.

16. Target Earth, 189ff.

17. "Rockenbach's 'De Cometis' and the Identity of Typhon," I S. I. S. R. 4 (Spring 1977), 9-10.

18. C. G. Ransom, The Age of Velikovsky (Fort Worth, Texas: LAR Co., 1976), 117 interprets several studies.

19. His basic work is A New Approach to Astrophysics and Cosmogony, (London: Unwin Bros., 1974); cf letter of Dec. 1958 in 4 Electronics and Power, 669-70, "Cosmic Electric Discharges."

20. "Electricity in Astronomy," S. I. S. R. (1976-7) I: 1,2,3, II: 1.

21. 2 Pensée (1972) 3 (Fall), 6-12.

22. Juergens, "Moon and Mars," loc. cit., Winter 1974-5, 33.

23. "The Natural History of Lightning," Proc. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conf. (9-10 Apr. 1964), 150.

24. L. M. Libby and H. R. Lukens, "Production of Radiocarbon in Tree Rings by Lightning Bolts," 78 J. Geophy. Res. 26 (10 Sept. 1973), 5902-3.

25. Op. cit., 171.

25A. 98 Sci News (11 July 1970), 33 on the work of T. R. McGetchin; I. D. MacGregor, "First Kimberlite Conference," Rep. S. A. F. Geol. (Mar. 1974), 151-2.

26. "Radiohalos and Earth History," III Kronos I (Fall, 1977), 3-17.

27. J. J. O'Neill, Chapter 2.

28. 4 Pensée 4 (Fall 1974), 30.


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