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June 16, 1954

Dear Professor Einstein:

During the three weeks since I received your kind letter, I have composed in my mind many answers to you, and made a few drafts. I realized soon that I would be unable to compress all the problems into one letter and I decided to try to achieve with this writing only one step - to bring you closer to the insight that the global catastrophes of the past were caused not by a terrestrial but by an extra-terrestrial cause. Before discussing this, I would like to say that I am very conscious of the fact that you give me of the most precious in your possession - your time; and I would not have asked to pay attention to these matters if I did not believe that my material may, perchance, serve you too, whatever your conclusions should be. My delay in replying you is certainly not an act of lack of attention; just the opposite - not a quick reply, but a well thought through is a real courtesy.

You agree that (1) there were global catastrophes, and (2) that at least one of them occurred in the not too remote past. These conclusions will make you, too, to a heretic in the eyes of geologists and evolutionists.

Eight years ago, in 1946, under the impression of those chapters of Worlds in Collision that you have read then in manuscript, you have acceded in a letter that “in der Tat Katastrophen stattgefunden haben, die auf extra-terrestrale Ursachen zurückgeführt werden müssen.”1

Now, without re-examining the material that made you think so, you would like to retreat from this position. On the other hand, in 1946 you have brought two arguments against my theory, namely:

(1) “Dass diese Katastrophen nichts zu tun haben mit dem Planeten Venus.”2

(2) “Dass auch die Rotationstichtung der Erde gegenüber der Ecliptic keine erhebliche Aenderung hat erfahren können, ohne dass die ganze Erdkruste völlig vernichtet worden wäre.”3

It appears to me that today you keep no longer the second objection in that definite form; you presently assume that the terrestrial crust, rather catastrophically, moved over the interior of the earth; the experiences that the human kind must have had in such a plunge, would satisfactorily explain the phenomenon of the retreating sun (the cause of a great wrath in the days of Joshua and of Velikovsky as well), the change of cardinal points, of latitudes, of seasons and climate, and the inability of the ancient water- and sun-clocks to show correctly the time of today. It would, however, not explain the change in the number of days in the year, of which all ancient calendars (Maya, Inca, Hindu, China, Persia, Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Palestine, Greece, Rome) concur (“Worlds in Collision,” pp. 312-359: these pages would certainly impress you).

Against a terrestrial cause of
global catastrophes:

The surmise that an asymmetrical growth of polar ice caused in the past a sudden shifting of the terrestrial crust

(1) disregards all references in the folklore to the celestial phenomena accompanying the catastrophe: meteorites and “bursting of the sky,” also darkness.

(2) disregards the geological find of unusual concentration of meteoric iron and nickel in the ocean bed (I attach a section of my new manuscript, “The floor of the seas,” with a description of the work of M. Pettersson of Goeteborg Oceanic Institute).

(3) disregards the magnitude of the force necessary to move the terrestrial crust over the equatorial bulge. Ice covers of the polar regions are placed in the least favorable position to disrupt the balance. The seasonal migration of ice and snow from one hemisphere to the other never induced the slightest displacement of the poles. And finally, the most important counter-argument concerns the mass and the form of the terrestrial crust:

(4) “The data secured from observations . . . of the transmission of seismic waves indicate that the earth is either solid thoughout with the rigidity of steel, or that it is solid to a distance approximately 2000 miles below sea-level, with the solid portions having a rigidity greater than that of steel . . . This seems to indicate a contradiction between isostasy and geophysical data.” (W. Bowie, “Isostasy,” in Physics of the Earth, II, 104).

The theory of isostasy was conceived in 1851 when J. H. Pratt found that the Himalayas do not deflect the plumb line as expected considering the mass of the mountains. It was assumed that the crust is thin and lighter than the magma and that every mountain has a mirror image protuberance immersed into the magma, thus the excess of the mass of the mountains is counterbalanced by a defect in the mass (difference between the lighter granite of the crust and the heavier magma). This, however, would signify that in order to move the crust over the very dense magma (twice the weight of granite) the isostatic protuberances (besides the equatorial bulge) will present obstacles that cannot be overcome by an asymmetric position of polar ice. If, moreover, the crust is 2000 miles thick, its mass represents a very substantial part of the globe.

What are the arguments against an extraterrestrial cause of the global catastrophes?

Arguments against extra-terrestrial agents are:

1. Ancient solar eclipses would not have taken place in appropriate times. Answer: As shown in my answer to Stewart, there is not a single case known where they actually did. By the way: the same argument, if true, would be good against the motion of the terrestrial crust in historical times.

2. Earth’s axis of rotation would wobble: It does.

3. Things would have flown away if unattached: This depends on the time element.

4. Waves of translation and hurricanes would be generated: they were. A section from the first file of my geological work is attached, and explains, partly, the “wilde Raubergeschichte,”4 in the (second) file you just read.

Argument against a massive comet: The observed comets are of small mass. In answer:

1. Even Jupiter, as all other planets, was once in the category of comets, according to the planetismal and tidal theories.

2. The origin of the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) from the large planets (to explain the difference in the specific weights) is an old legitimate story.

Arguments against the mechanism of disturbance: A gravitational pull by a passing body could not disturb the rotational velocity of the earth or the inclination of its axis. Answer: In Worlds in Collision I brought historical material leaving astronomers to choose:

1. Either the earth was disturbed in rotation,

2. or the axis of rotation changed its inclination to the plane of the ecliptic.

Once more, I left for astronomers to choose: The earth was disturbed by entering

1. into a thick cloud of dust,

2. or into a magnet field.

In Worlds in Collision I left open the problem which of these mechanisms was in action (p. 386). You are indignant at the idea that magnetic fields had anything to do with the disturbances. You oppose such explanation

1. because magnetic actions are excluded from the celestial mechanics. Answer: At usual distances. But at close approaches the magnetic fields could be felt.

2. because in a cloud of iron particles there is no reason for all of them to have the same magnetic orientation. Answer: The same question is asked concerning the polarized light of fixed stars that supposedly passes through clouds of gases or dust particles. Also: would the earth, which is a magnet, and possibly has an iron core, moving through a large charged cloud of dust preserve the direction of its axis or not?

The real cause of indignation against my theory of global catastrophes is the implication that celestial bodies may be charged. It was argued that only an astronomer can imagine the degree of coincidence between the calculations based on the gravitational theory and the observed planetary motions. But this very degree of coincidence is disturbing in the face of many facts known about the sun (behavior of protuberances), the planets (influence of radio-transmission), the comets (self-illuminating; behavior of tails), the fixed stars (strong magnets), the meteorites (magnets). Even for the cases of observed anomalies magnetic or electric charges were not considered, as if they were a tabu in celestial mechanics. Of the many unexplained phenomena presented in my address before the Forum of the Graduate College, you have explained only the apparent spherical form of the sun (and was it correct to disregard the very low atmospheric pressure on the sun in calculating its expected shape?), but not why the sun rotates quicker on the equator, nor many other similar violations of mechanical laws.

Of course, I am a heretic, for I question the neutral state of celestial bodies. There are various tests that could be made. For instance, does Jupiter send radio-noises or not? This can easily be found, if you should wish.

If planets are charged, gravitation is a short range force, a terrible statement to make. Cavendish experiment with varying distances between the attracting bodies would easily disprove such notion. But if I am not wrong, the Cavendish experiment is not performed in a Faraday cage. It should be easy to find out the constant in a cage. But not easy for me. Especially since Shapley in a relentless effort made me “out of bounds” for scientists.

You, too, would not have had any suspicion about my motives in my book on folklore and ancient literature, were it not for the campaign initiated by Shapley. The few pages on astronomy in my book were edited by Lloyd Motz, professor of astronomy at Columbia University. Too early you have thrown the mantle of Jewish compassion over Shapley: you have seen only the beginning of the file of the documents concerning the “Stargazers and Gravediggers” and their leader. His being a liberal is not an excuse but an aggravating cirumstance. My appeal to you to investigate this material was prompted by a new attack, a few days before I last saw you. Then I immersed myself in my work and calmed down.


Immanuel Velikovsky


  1. “that in fact catastrophes have taken place which must attributed to extraterrestrial causes.”
  2. “That these catastrophes can have nothing to do with the planet Venus.”
  3. “That also the direction of the inclination of the terrestrial crust towards the ecliptic could not have undergone a considerable change without the total destruction of the entire earth’s crust.”
  4. “wild robbers’ story”

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