During the winter Miss Dukas informed me regularly of Einsteins
progress. When he recovered a little he wrote notes to my letter of January
11, and as usual covered the margin of my letter and its back with his
handwritten notes. From his answer I felt that I had not yet made myself
sufficiently clear, all my discussions with him being up to now more in
the nature of prolegomena. At the end of February 1955 I wrote a thirteen-page
letter where I stated most of the problems concerning the nature of gravitation
and inertia, and discussed the difficulties and the advantages of four
plans of the universe. I reminded him of my challenge to him made over
a year earlier, to construct a plan for a new universe in which gravitation
and inertia would have no part. This time I wrote in German, in order
that it should be more comprehensible to him, though it proved to be by
far more difficult for me to express myself in writing in this language
after years of disuse.
February 2, 1955
Dear Prof. Einstein:
All I wanted in my last letter to you was to gain the concession that
a comet, going through the corona of the sun or through an outburst
of ionized gases, sustains an electromagnetic effect. The consequences
of opening the gate to such an effect into the heavenly mechanics force
the astronomer to disregard physical experiences, in order not to violate
in the least the system of 1666. But in fact the comets do not follow
precisely Keplers third law: those that pass near the sun (like
Enckes comet) show acceleration unexplained by gravitational mechanics.
My knowledge is not great, yet gravitation with static electricity
I do not identify, as you understood me and then refuted me with the
fall of a body which must discharge itself upon touching the ground.
In the following I present my thoughts about the nature of gravitation
and discuss also in shortmore in the form of questionsthe
four systems of the world, of which the first is the Newtonian, and
the second actually does not violate the Newtonian.
Do you remember how I asked you: If the good Lord would give you the
task to conceive a plan for a new universe, where gravitation of the
inverse-square variety takes no part, would you be able to comply? To
Newton He could not have made such a proposition, since Newton had only
a very vague idea of electricity. However, the sentence with which he
concludes the Principia is very interesting. I let this
sentence follow as a supplement.
The end paragraph of the PRINCIPIA by Newton
But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties
of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses . . .
And now we might add something concerning a certain subtle spirit which
pervades and lies hid in all gross bodies; by the force and action of
which spirit the particles of bodies attract one another at near distances,
and cohere, if contiguous; and electric bodies operate to greater distances,
as well repelling as attracting the neighboring corpuscles; and light
is emitted, reflected, refracted, inflected, and heats bodies; and all
sensation is excited, and the members of animal bodies move at the command
of the will, namely, by the vibrations of this spirit, mutually propagated
along the solid filaments of the nerves, from the outward organs of
sense to the brain, and from the brain into the muscles. But these are
things that cannot be explained in few words, nor are we furnished with
that sufficiency of experiments which is required to an accurate determination
and demonstration of the laws by which this electric and elastic spirit
[end of the Mathematical Priciples; transl. by F. Cajori]
Newtons plan in which the heavenly bodies in their movements
are influenced only by gravitation (and in a very small measure by light
pressure). For this plan speak:
a) The simplicity of the law of gravitation. (The simplicity would
be more complete if the same system would also be in action as the dominating
force in the atom, and if gravitation, like all other energies in nature,
were given to transformations).
b) The exactness with which the positions of the planets are predicted.
(The exactness of Ptolemaic astronomy in predicting eclipses and conjunctions
was superior to that of Copernicus; and still the geocentric system
c) The discovery of Neptune and Pluto (Neptunes position, but
not its distance from the Sun was calculated in advance; Plutos
mass is by far not sufficient to explain the disturbances it causes).
Some of the circumstances which cannot be explained, or only with great
1. The Sun, Jupiter and Saturn rotate quicker on their equators; the
rings of Saturn rotate quicker than the planet. The inner satellite
of Mars revolves quicker than Mars rotates; the sun possesses only 2%
of the angular momentum of the solar system.
2. The Suns protuberances gain in speed with the distance
from the Sun. They fall back as if attracted to the place from which
they erupted, falling back (as if on a rubber band) to the sun without
3. The Suns equatorial diameter is equal to, and in the consensus
of other observers is 0.038 seconds of the arc smaller than the polar
diameter (and to this says Menzel: We are loathe . . . ).
4. The tides caused by the Sun in the Earths atmosphere are 16
to 20 times greater than those caused by the Moon.
5. The Moon and [some] other satellites always show their planets the
6. The comets tails are turned away from the sun and move in
perihelion with a speed approaching the speed of light; no attempt at
quantitative calculation has been made in this direction.
The heavenly bodies are held in their orbits mainly by gravitation;
however they are not neutral.
Since static electricity also acts according to the inverse square
law, its presence is masked by gravitation. From this follows: The masses
of the heavenly bodies are not exactly calculated.
This plan can explain satisfactorily most of the difficulties of Plan
1. For this Plan 2 speak also, among others, the following facts:
1. The Sun too has a general magnetic field the strength of which is
estimated very differentlythe difficulty lies in the angle of
observation. The corona has a form which resembles the lines of force
of a magnetic field and extends far out.
2. In several stars a strong magnetic field (7000 gauss) has been detected.
These stars must also be electrically charged because electrical currents
would hardly occur on hot stars. The movement of two members of a double
star system which rotate around each other in a few hours must probably
be affected by more than just gravitation alone.
3. The earth is a magnet. The earth is enveloped in electrical layers
of the ionosphere. Chapman postulates a strong electrical layer high
(12,000 to 16,000 miles) over and around the earth.
4. The planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, clearly influence
our ionosphere and radio-reception; Jupiter and Saturn also have a connection
to the origin of the sunspots.
5. The polar lights consist of electrical charges which come from the
sun and which, after eruptions on the sun, or after the passage of a
big sunspot, influence radio transmission and ground currents, and cause
6. Meteorites are magnetized without exception. Also, upon entering
the atmosphere they are regularly diverted toward the east and sometimes
even seem to be hurled out after they have already penetrated into the
7. The fact that comets glow in cold space (lines of emission), and
also the contraction of their heads when closer to the sun, speaks for
an electrical effect.
8. A rise and fall in the strength of mutual disturbances between Jupiter
and Saturn in the years 1898-99 as opposed to that of the years 1916-17
(18 % difference: J. Zenneck, Gravitation in Encycl.
der Math. Wiss., vol. V, first part, p. 44), speaks also for this
and the following plans.
As to the argument that the photoelectric effect of the sun would neutralize
the charges on the planets, I would like to ask: Would not the photoelectric
effect cause charges on neutral planets? And why is not our ionosphere
neutralized by the photoelectric effect?
The other argument against this plan is in the assumption that the
sun cannot be charged because it would repel the surplus ions. I would
answer: According to spectral analysis, the atoms on the sun have been
left without many, often without any orbiting electrons. Could not the
electrons which have left the protons in their closest proximity where
the attraction is tremendous, also have left the sun entirely? Actually
the sun hurls out charged particles (polar lights, also cosmic rays)
as if it were charged and would like to reach a neutral state. (However
the sun, charged as it is, changes its charge imperceptibly: were it
not so, then the system would constantly change its paths.)
Another reply: In the atom the same problem exists: how can charges
of the same sign hold together in the nucleus?
Now a third reply: The stars, which are strong magnets, must also be
electrically charged, because no electrical currents can exist at such
temperatures. Why do the surplus protons or electrons stay there? And
if there, then probably also on the sun.
And finally: Should we not, instead of considering the sun as neutral,
rather consider the whole solar system neutral, with a surplus of charge
of one sign on the sun and of another sign on the planets?
Gravitation would be a force which quickly diminishes with distance.
Static electricity would be the dominating force between the heavenly
This would mean that the force which we know from our experience on
earth as gravitation does not effectively reach the moon.
Against such an explanation speaks the fact that the Cavendish experiment
under different conditions and distances between mutually attracting
masses always showed the same results. However, as far as I can judge,
this experiment was not performed in a Faraday cage; at the same time
we know that the atmosphere has an electric potential and that the potential
difference strongly increases with distance from the ground, but probably
could be almost identical in different laboratories.
This plan of static electricity as the dominating force between the
heavenly bodies would explain most of the phenomena which are unexplainable
in plans 1 and2, but against it speak the following facts:
1. In the case the planets are all of the same charge (positive or
negative), they would repel each other. But would they not behave like
two parallel conductors which attract each other when their currents
flow in the same direction?
2. If, for instance, the sun is positive and the earth negative, then
the moon would again be positive, and the sun would repel the moon.
In this plan, too, gravitation would be a force which diminishes rapidly
with distance. Planets, satellites, and comets are charged bodies which
move in the magnetic field of the sun, and which themselves create magnetic
This plan would explain:
a. The retrograde movement of various satellites and comets;
b. the distribution of angular momentum;
c. the behavior of cometary tails; also the fact that comets are attracted
to the sun from great distances, but were never seen falling into the
sun, even though they are unstable in their orbits;
d. the position of the moon and other satellites which continuously
turn the same face to their planets;
e. the energy of cosmic rays;
also the fact that the sun is hotter in the corona than in the photosphere;
and several other facts.
Since magnetic force decreases quickly with distance, the heavenly
bodies must be differently charged in order to obey Keplers laws.
The planets which are further away from the sun must have a correspondingly
stronger charge. This would be analogous to the arrangement of electrons
in the atom. It would also explain the disturbances caused by Pluto,
the mass of which is by far not sufficient to explain such perturbations.
Against this (4) plan speak the enormity of electric and magnetic forces
necessary to make this plan effective.
The sun moves in relation to the stars; it rotates; the charged planets
revolve around the sun, and create a Rowland magnetic field. How does
the magnetic field between the sun and the planets behave, and how quickly
does it decrease? (The calculations which I received from several young
physicists differ greatly and go all the way from 1/r to 1/r4).
But above all, are the physical experiences of laboratories always
applicable to the sky? There, a very great and hot mass of gases moves
in the coldness of space; how would the magnetic field behave under
It is apparent that plans 2 and 4 sin less against facts and observations
than do plans 1 and 3. In order to decide between plan 2 and 4 the Cavendish
measurements between impeccably neutral bodies must be repeated. But
how impeccably? The electrical repulsion between two protons is 1040
times stronger than their gravitational attraction.
With cordial greetings,
Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that Velikovsky did not ever abandon
the idea that gravity itself might eventually be interpreted as an electromagnetic
phenomenon, nor did he ever abandon the idea that the solar magnetic field
might to some extent be responsible for the fact that the planetary orbits
are roughly co-planar and for the fact that all nine of the major planets,
and apparently all of the minor planets as well, orbit the Sun in a counterclockwise
direction.Lynn E. Rose]