A Round Sun

Since Einstein at the time of my lecture before the Forum wished to be present, and later had to satisfy himself with the reports of the three females of his household (Gina Plungian could be counted as belonging to the household), I supplied him with a copy of it.

January 6, 1954

Dear Professor Einstein:

I have carefully put into writing my lecture before the Forum of the Graduate Students here (October 14, 1953). Doing so I was guided by the desire to place it before you for reading.

In the written form I have considerably shortened the archaeological and geological parts of my address; but I have elaborated on the astronomical part of it to a greater length than I did orally. Before submitting this paper to you I have asked Professor Lloyd Motz of the Astronomy Department of Columbia University to check its factual statements.

I am aware of the great demand on your time made by various authors; therefore have my sincerest thanks for agreeing to read this paper.

Cordially yours,

Immanuel Velikovsky

After a few days Einstein invited us to come and discuss my lecture. Thus the wall was breached. Until then, in our previous conversations that winter, neither he, nor I, mentioned anything of my Worlds in Collision. But during this visit of February 11, 1954 I turned to Einstein and said:

"Now imagine that the Lord sent a messenger to you with these words: ‘I gave you, Albert Einstein, a very unusual mind and, what is still rarer, the recognition and admiration of your contemporaries. Now build a working plan for another universe; only don’t apply gravitation that propagates at the inverse square, but electricity and magnetism you may use as much as you need.’ Could you do this?”

"I would answer the Lord: ‘Do such a thing yourself!’” Einstein burst into a loud laugh. But then he thought a few seconds and said: “Yes, on condition that it be a dark universe.”

"Why?” I asked.

"The charge on the planets would be expended in the photoelectric process.”

The problem he selected for discussion that evening, from a series of problems mentioned in my lecture, was the round shape of the sun. Because of rotation it should be somewhat flattened; and in addition the sun rotates at a greater velocity at its equator than at higher latitudes. We spent the evening talking about this and a few other points in my lecture; when my wife and I left, it was already late and Einstein’s eyes were tired.

After a few hours of sleep, I awoke and jotted down my comments to various arguments Einstein had brought up, especially discharge by photoelectric effect. It appeared to me that this effect must charge a neutral body. In the morning I thought of calling Helen Dukas and saying a few words of apology for our too long conversation, when the phone rang and Miss Dukas said: “The professor would like to talk to you.” His voice sounded resonant and clear, and I thought, if one does not see Einstein but only hears him, he may imagine that he is speaking with a young man. He said (as I recall):

"After our conversation last night I could not fall asleep. For the greater part of the night I turned over in my mind the problem of the spherical form of the sun. Then before morning I made light and calculated the form the sun must have under the influence of rotation, and I would like to report to you.

"Imagine the sun as a body one meter in diameter; because of the slowness of rotation—I took one rotation equal to 25 days—the deformity should be only"—I believe he said—"a quarter of a millimeter.” While he was saying this I quickly calculated in my mind (in general, I am not quick at figures), that this would amount to about one half a second of the arc, the visible face of the sun being about half a degree, or 1800 seconds, and, in his opinion, this small difference could escape observation. I told Einstein his figure, translated into seconds of arc.

We agreed to inquire of Professor Lyman Spitzer Jr., Director of the Princeton Observatory, whether a difference was established in the length of the solar equatorial and polar diameters.

February 19, 1954

Dear Professor Spitzer:

May I ask for an information? Is a difference established in the length of the equatorial and polar diameters of the sun?

This question came up in a conversation with Prof. Einstein and he thought it would be right to put this question to you.

Very truly

Immanuel Velikovsky


14 Prospect Avenue
Princeton, New Jersey

February 26, 1954

Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky
4 Hartley Avenue
Princeton, New Jersey

Dear Dr. Velikovsky:

In reply to your letter of February 23 I am writing to say that there is no established difference in the length of the equatorial and polar diameters of the sun. Some observers have reported a small difference but I believe that no such difference has been firmly established.

Very sincerely yours,

Lyman Spitzer, Jr.

I know that Dr. Donald Menzel even found an excess in the polar diameter which he was “loath” to consider.

In March the world paid Einstein a renewed tribute at the occasion of his reaching seventy-five years of age. His mail was coming in big sacks. I wrote him a quotation from Emerson:

Beware when great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city, and no man knows when it will end. There is not a piece of science but its flank may be turned tomorrow; there is not any literary reputation, not the so-called eternal names of fame, that may not be revised and condemned. The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind are all at the mercy of a new generalization.

Einstein called by phone to express his thanks.