Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mysterious Mars Lecture - Dr Tom Van Flandern

Thomas C Van Flandern (June 26, 1940 – January 9, 2009) was an American astronomer and author specializing in celestial mechanics. Van Flandern had a career as a professional scientist, but was noted as an outspoken proponent of non-mainstream views related to astronomy, physics, and extra-terrestrial life. His publication of the Meta Research Bulletin was well-known in the non-mainstream scientific community. He died in Sequim, Washington after a brief battle with cancer.

Dr Tom Van Flandern: Meta Research

Early life and the US Naval Observatory
While in High School, Van Flandern helped create the Cleveland Moonwatchers organization to track satellites that gained national attention during the sputnik launch of 1957. He was still engaged in this activity when he helped found a Moonwatchers team at Xavier University. According to the Smithsonian's Astrophysical Observatory the team, under Van Flandern's direction, broke a tracking record in 1961. This early interest in Lunar Occultations paved the way for important work later in life.

Van Flandern graduated from Xavier University cum laude in 1962 and was awarded a teaching fellowship at Georgetown University. He attended Yale University on a scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO), joining USNO in 1963. In 1969 he received a PhD in Astronomy from Yale, with a dissertation on lunar occultations. Van Flandern worked at the USNO until 1983, first becoming Chief of the Research Branch and later becoming Chief of the Celestial Mechanics Branch of the Nautical Almanac Office. Thereafter he did some consulting work, organized eclipse viewing tours, and promoted his non-mainstream views in his Meta Research Bulletin newsletter, web site, and public lectures.

Scientific work
Van Flandern's prediction that some asteroids have natural satellites, which was rejected by the mainstream scientific community, was proven correct in 1993.

A list of his main scientific publications is available through Scholar. In the latter years, Van Flandern authored and coauthored papers on what he dubbed “Deep Reality Physics". One of more popular (with about 60 citations) was his "The speed of gravity--What the experiments say" where he affirmed that laboratory, solar system, and astrophysical experiments for the speed of gravity yields a lower limit of 2x10^10 c.

This article was commented by Marsch and Nissim-Sabat but replied by Van Flandern. Carlip wrote another comment analizing the issue of aberration, only a section in Van Flandern original paper, and concluded that, contrary to a common myth, aberration was perfectly explained with faster-than-light propagations:

In the absence of direct measurements of propagation speed, observations must be filtered through theory, and different theoretical assumptions lead to different deductions. In particular, while the observed absence of aberration is consistent with instantaneous propagation (with an extra interaction somehow added on to explain the gravitational radiation reaction), it is also consistent with the speed-of-light propagation predicted by general relativity.

However, in a subsequent paper Van Flandern and Jean-Pierre Vigier claimed to found mistakes in Carlip paper already in his discussion of electromagnetic interactions and extended the discussion to quantum theory as well. Those results have been verified by several authors in recent publications.

Van Flandern expressed his views of the future of science to Science Digest magazine:
As science progresses we will eventually unravel the mystery of our origins, and the solution will come sooner if our minds are prepared to accept the truth when it is found, however fantastic it may be. If we are guided by our reason and our scientific method, if we let the Universe describe its wonder to us, rather than telling it how it ought to be, then we will soon come to the answers we seek, perhaps even within our own lifetimes.

Awards and honors
In 1974, his essay, "A Determination of the Rate of Change of G", was awarded second place by The Gravity Foundation.

In 2009, asteroid 52266 was named in honor of Van Flandern because: predicted and comprehensively analyzed lunar occultations at the U.S. Naval Observatory in the 1970s. In 1979 he published pioneering papers on the dynamics of binary minor planets. He helped improve GPS accuracies and established Meta Research to support alternative cosmological ideas.

Non-mainstream beliefs and Pseudo-science
In latter years, Van Flandern advocated inquiry into astronomy theories which he felt were consistent with the principles of science but were not otherwise supported because they conflicted both with observations and verified theories. He espoused 10 principles for assessing ideas and dubbed theories in compliance as "Deep Reality Physics."

Van Flandern authored a book, Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets: Paradoxes Resolved, Origins Illuminated, in which he rejected and offered replacements for the fundamental theories of modern physics (especially special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics), and challenged prevailing notions regarding dark matter, the big bang, and solar system formation, and advocated the theory that the asteroid belt consists of the remains of an exploded planet. He issued newsletters, papers, and maintained a website devoted to his ideas, which have not found acceptance within the mainstream scientific community.
Le Sage's theory of gravitation

Van Flandern attempted to rehabilitate Le Sage's theory of gravitation, an experimentally disproved theory according to which gravity is the result of a flux of invisible "ultra-mundane corpuscles" (c-gravitons) impinging on all objects from all directions at superluminal speeds. He gave public lectures claiming that this flux could be a source of limitless energy, which he believed could be used as a means of propulsion for space vehicles ("useful for getting around in the galaxy").

Face on Mars
Van Flandern was a prominent advocate of the belief that certain geological features seen on Mars, especially the "face at Cydonia", are not of natural origin, but were produced by intelligent extra-terrestrial life, probably the inhabitants of a major planet once located where the asteroid belt presently exists, and which Van Flandern believed had exploded 3.2 million years ago. He gave lectures on the subject, usually sponsored by UFO organizations, and at the conclusion of the lectures he described his overall conception:

"We've shown conclusively that at least some of the artifacts on the surface of Mars were artificially produced, and the evidence indicates they were produced approximately 3.2 million years ago, which is when Planet V exploded. Mars was a moon of Planet V, and we speculate that the Builders created the artificial structures as theme parks and advertisements to catch the attention of space tourists from Planet V (much as we may do on our own Moon some day, when lunar tourism becomes prevalent), or perhaps they are museums of some kind. Remember that the Face at Cydonia was located on the original equator of Mars. The Builder's civilization ended 3.2 million years ago. The evidence suggests that the explosion was anticipated, so the Builders may have departed their world, and it produced a massive flood, because Planet V was a water world. It is a coincidence that the face on Mars is hominid, like ours, and the earliest fossil record on Earth of hominids is the "Lucy" fossil from 3.2 million years ago. There have been some claims of earlier hominid fossils, but Lucy is the earliest that is definite. So I leave you with the thought that there may be a grain of truth in The War of the Worlds, with the twist that WE are the Martians.

Mysterious Mars Lecture Dr Tom Van Flandern - Part 1 of 3

Mysterious Mars Lecture Dr Tom Van Flandern - Part 2 of 3

Mysterious Mars Lecture Dr Tom Van Flandern - Part 3 of 3

Dr Tom Van Flandern

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