Hapgood, Velikovsky, Einstein: gli scienziati del Pole ShiftAn early mention of a shifting of the Earths axis can be found in an 1872 article entitled“Chronologie historique des Mexicains” by Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, an eccentricexpert on Mesoamerican Codices who interpreted ancient Mexican myths as evidence for fourperiods of global cataclysms that had begun around 10,500 B.C.In 1948, Hugh Auchincloss Brown, an electrical engineer, advanced a hypothesis of catastrophicpole shift. Brown also argued that accumulation of ice at the poles caused recurring tipping of theaxis, identifying cycles of approximately seven millennia.In his controversial 1950 work Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky postulated that theplanet Venus emerged from Jupiter as a comet. During two proposed near approaches in about1,450 B.C., he suggested that the direction of the Earths rotation was changed radically, thenreverted to its original direction on the next pass. This disruption supposedly caused earthquakes,tsunamis, and the parting of the Red Sea. Further, he said near misses by Mars between 776 and 687B. C. also caused the Earths axis to change back and forth by ten degrees. Velikovsky supported hiswork with historical records, although his studies were mainly ridiculed by the scientificcommunity.Charles Hapgood is now perhaps the best remembered early proponent. In his books “The EarthsShifting Crust” (1958) (which includes a foreword by Albert Einstein that was written before thetheory of plate tectonics was developed) and Path of the Pole (1970).Hapgood, building on Adhemars much earlier model, speculated that the ice mass at one or bothpoles over-accumulates and destabilizes the Earths rotational balance, causing slippage of all ormuch of Earths outer crust around the Earths core, which retains its axial orientation. In hissubsequent work “The Path of the Pole”, Hapgood conceded Einstein’s point that the weight of thepolar ice would be insufficient to bring about a polar shift.Instead, Hapgood argued that the forces that caused the shifts in the crust must be located below thesurface. He had no satisfactory explanation for how this could occur.Hapgood wrote to the Canadian librarian, Rand Flem-Ath, encouraging him in his pursuit ofscientific evidence to back Hapgoods claims and in his expansion of the hypothesis. Flem-Athpublished the results of this work in 1995 in “When the Sky Fell” co-written with his wife, Rose. Charles Hutchins Hapgood (May 17, 1904 – December 21, 1982) was an American college professor and author who became one of the best known advocates of a pseudo-historical claim of a rapid and recent pole shift with catastrophic results. In 1958, Hapgood published The Earths Shifting Crust which denied the existence of continental drift and featured a foreword by Albert Einstein. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (1966) and The Path of the Pole (1970), Hapgood proposed the hypothesis that the Earths axis has shifted numerous times during geological history. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings he supported the suggestion made by Arlington Mallery that a part of the Piri Reis Map was adepiction of the area of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. He used this to propose that a 15degree pole shift occurred around 9,600 BCE (approx. 11,600 years ago) and that a part of theAntarctic was ice-free at that time, and that an ice-age civilization could have mapped the coast. He
concludes that "Antarctica was mapped when these parts were free of ice", taking that view that anAntarctic warm period coincided with the last ice age in the Northern hemisphere, and that the PiriReis and other maps were based on "ancient" maps derived from ice-age originals. Later researchconcerning the paleoclimatology and ice sheets of Antarctica have completely discredited theinterpretations by Hapgood that an Antarctic warm period coincided with the last ice age in theNorthern hemisphere and any part of it had been ice-free at and prior to 9,600 BCE (approx. 11,600years ago).Hapgood also examined a 1531 map by French mathematician and cartographer OronceFiné (aka Oronteus Finaeus). In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, he reproduces letters received fromthe chief of a U.S. Air Force cartography section stationed at Westover AFB in 1961. At Hapgoodsrequest, they had studied both Piri Reis and Oronce Finé maps during their off-duty hours,concluding that both were compiled from original source maps of Antarctica at a time when it wasrelatively free of ice, supporting Hapgoods findings.Hapgood concluded that advanced cartographic knowledge appears on the Piri Reis map and theOronteus Finaeus map, and must be the result of some unknown and advanced ancient civilizationthat developed astronomy, navigational instruments, plane geometry and trigonometry, long beforeGreece or any other known civilization.According to historians Paul Hoye and Paul Lunde, while Hapgoods work garnered someenthusiasm and praise for its thoroughness, his revolutionary hypotheses largely met withskepticism and were ignored by most scholars. In the book The Piri Reis Map of 1513 Gregory C.McIntosh examines Hapgoods claims for both maps and states that "they fall short of proving oreven strongly suggesting that the Piri Reis map and the Fine map depict the actual outline ofAntarctica”.Hapgoods unorthodox interpretations such as “Earth Crustal Displacement” were never accepted asvalid competing scientific hypotheses, yet his ideas have found popularity in alternative circles.Librarians Rand and Rose Flem-Ath as well as journalist Graham Hancock base portions of theirworks on Hapgood’s evidence for catastrophe at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. Hapgoodsideas also figure prominently in the 2009 sci-fi/disaster movie, “2012”. The impact of Einstein’s ideas was not restricted to physics. Among numerous other disciplines, Einstein also made significant and specific contributions to Earth Sciences. His geosciences-related letters, comments, and scientific articles are dispersed, not easily accessible, and are poorly known. These contributions can be classified into three basic areas: geodynamics, geological (planetary) catastrophism, and fluvial geomorphology. Regarding geodynamics, Einstein essentially supported Hapgood’s very controversial theory called Earth Crust Displacement. With respect to geological (planetary) catastrophism, it is shown how the ideas of Einstein about Velikovsky’s proposals evolved from 1946 to 1955.
Immanuel Velikovsky was a Russian-born American independent scholar, best known as theauthor of a number of controversial books reinterpreting the events of ancient history, in particularthe US bestseller “Worlds in Collision”, published in 1950. Earlier, he played a role in the foundingof the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, and was a espected psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He summarised his core ideas in November 1942, and in two privately published Scripta Academica pamphlets entitled Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History(1945) and Cosmos without Gravitation (1946). Velikovsky was a passionate Zionist, and this did steer the focus of his work, although its scope was considerably more far-reaching than this. The entire body of work could be said to stem from an attempt to solve the following problem: that to Velikovsky there appeared to be insufficient correlation in the written or archaeological records between Biblical history and what was known of the history of the area, in particular, Egypt. Velikovsky searched for common mention of events withinliterary records, and in the Ipuwer papyrus he believed he had found a contemporary Egyptianaccount of the Israelite Exodus. Moreover, he interpreted both accounts as descriptions of a greatnatural catastrophe. Velikovsky attempted to investigate the physical cause of the Exodus event,and extrapolated backwards and forwards in history from this point, cross-comparing written andmythical records from cultures on every inhabited continent, using them to attempt synchronisms ofthe historical records, yielding what he believed to be further periodic natural catastrophes that canbe global in scale.He arrived at a body of radical inter-disciplinary ideas, which might be summarised as: - Planet Earth has suffered natural catastrophes on a global scale, both before and during humankinds recorded history; - There is evidence for these catastrophes in the geological record and archeological record; - The extinction of many species had occurred catastrophically, not by gradual Darwinian means; - The catastrophes that occurred within the memory of humankind are recorded in the myths, legends and written history of all ancient cultures and civilisations.Velikovsky pointed to alleged concordances in the accounts of many cultures, and proposed thatthey referred to the same real events. For instance, the memory of a flood is recorded in the HebrewBible, in the Greek legend of Deucalion, and in the Manu legend of India.Velikovsky put forward the psychoanalytic idea of "Cultural Amnesia" as a mechanism wherebythese literal records came to be regarded as mere myths and legends.The causes of these natural catastrophes were close encounters between the Earth and other bodieswithin the solar system — not least what were now the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars,these bodies having moved upon different orbits within human memory.To explain the celestial mechanics necessary to permit these changes to the configuration of thesolar system, Velikovsky thought that electromagnetic forces might somehow play a greater role tocounteractgravity and orbital mechanics.
Some of Velikovskys specific postulated catastrophes included: - A tentative suggestion that Earth had once been a satellite of a "proto-Saturn" body, before its current solar orbit; - That the Deluge (Noahs Flood) had been caused by proto-Saturns entering a nova state, and ejecting much of its mass into space; - A suggestion that the planet Mercury was involved in the Tower of Babel catastrophe; - Jupiter had been the culprit for the catastrophe that saw the destruction of the "Cities of the Plain" (Sodom and Gomorrah); - Periodic close contacts with a cometary Venus (which had been ejected from Jupiter) had caused the Exodus events (c.1500 BCE) and Joshuas subsequent "sun standing still" (Joshua 10:12 & 13) incident; - Periodic close contacts with Mars had caused havoc in the 8th and 7th centuries BCEWithin his lifetime, he continued to research, expand and lecture upon the details of his ideas, hereleased only selected portions of his work to the public in book form:Worlds in Collision (1950) discussed the literary and mythical records of the "Venus" and "Mars"catastrophes. Portions of his Revised Chronology were published as Ages in Chaos (1952), Peoplesof the Sea (1977) and Rameses II and His Time (1978). Earth in Upheaval (1955) dealt withgeological evidence for global natural catastrophes.Velikovskys ideas on his earlier Saturn/Mercury/Jupiter events were never published, and theavailable archived manuscripts are much less developed.Of all the strands of his work, Velikovsky published least on his ideas regarding the role ofelectromagnetism in astronomy. Although he appears to have retreated from the propositions in his1946 monograph Cosmos without Gravitation, no such retreat is apparent in Stargazers andGravediggers. Cosmos without Gravitation, which Velikovsky placed in university libraries andsent to scientists, is a probable catalyst for the aggressively antipathetic reaction of astronomers andphysicists from its first presentation.However, other Velikovskian enthusiasts such as Ralph Juergens, Earl Milton, Wal Thornhill, andDonald E. Scott have embraced and developed these themes to propose a scenario where stars arepowered not by internal nuclear fusion, but by galactic-scale electrical discharge currents. Suchideas do not find support in the conventional literature.