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
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
(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
Against a terrestrial cause of
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,
(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
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
2. Earths axis of rotation would wobble: It does.
3. Things would have flown away if unattached: This depends on the
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
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
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
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.