News Notes

Zip Dobyns

The July 1994 issue of Discover magazine describes a new theory to account for the odd moons of Mars. The moons, Phobos and Deimos, look more like some of the small asteroids, just irregular chunks of rock. Astronomers have suspected that they were asteroids captured long ago by the gravity of Mars. But planetary scientist Bob Craddock of the National Air and Space Museum doubts that theory. For an asteroid to settle into a Martian orbit, it would have to approach at exactly the right speed and angle and be slowed just enough by the planet’s gravity—an unlikely event for one asteroid and more so for two. Also, if the two small bodies were captured asteroids, Craddock says that their orbits should still be highly elliptical whereas the orbits of Phobos and Deimos are nearly circular.

Craddock suggests that the two Martian moons are the last surviving remnants of a ring of debris blasted into orbit when a huge meteoroid collided with Mars some 4 billion years ago. At that time, there was even more loose debris floating around in space which has since been swept up by the planets. Craddock calculates that a planetessimal about 1,1000 miles in diameter with about 2% of the mass of Mars could have jolted the planet into throwing off pieces of itself which would continue in its orbit and that the jolt might have started Mars’ spin on its axis. The rest of the theoretical pieces of Mars would have already fallen back onto its surface. Phobos, the inner moon, is expected to crash into Mars in another 100 million years or so. The higher orbit of Deimos appears to be stable.

The November 19, 1994 issue of Science News reports that the Hubble Space Telescope images of Pluto and its moon Charon have shown Charon’s orbit around Pluto to be slightly elliptical. Pluto’s gravity should rapidly pull Charon into a circular orbit, so it is theorized that an object hit Pluto or Charon sometime in the last 10 million years—a short interval in astronomical time. This theory would have been ridiculed even ten years ago since no objects had been seen anywhere near Pluto, but since 1992, 17 objects larger than 100 km. have been found during surveys of only a few patches of the sky. These newly discovered bodies are presumed to be members of the theorized Kuiper belt, a proposed reservoir of short-period comets. Astronomer Jewitt estimates that there may be 35,000 residents of the Kuiper belt as large as the already discovered objects.

Eight of the 17 have orbits which may overlap Neptune’s orbit, which would make them unstable, but 3 of them (and possibly all 8) are in a resonance relationship with Neptune, making 3 circuits of the Sun during the time that Neptune makes 2 circuits. This insures that the bodies stay far enough from Neptune to maintain stable orbits. Pluto may play a similar role. It is suspected that Pluto was originally part of the Kuiper belt.

Jewitt suggests that another class of solar system bodies known as Centaurs may be the missing link between residents of the Kuiper belt and comets that have moved into the inner solar system. Members of this group, including the giant comet Chiron, have unstable, planet-crossing orbits and they lie beyond Jupiter. Jewitt theorizes that the Centaurs escaped from the Kuiper belt and that within a million years, they will either be ejected from the solar system or move closer to the Sun to become short-period comets.

Long-time readers of The Mutable Dilemma will remember that I suggested years ago that symmetry would support Pluto being only the first to be discovered of a collection of smaller planets beyond Neptune since the solar system has 4 small rocky planets, then the asteroids, then 4 large gas planets, then Pluto.

I have just read a fascinating book called The Orion Mystery by Bauval and Gilbert. They suggest that the orientation of the three big pyramids at Giza matches the three bright stars in the belt of the constellation of Orion. In other words, the Giza layout was a replication on earth of the spatial relationship between important stars. The central myth of Egypt was the story of Osiris who was murdered by his brother Seth. His sister/wife, Isis, gathered up the fragments of Osiris and was able to conceive a son named Horus. The living ruler of ancient Egypt, the pharaoh, was identified with Horus and the dead pharaoh joined Osiris as a star in the sky. Osiris was associated with Orion and Isis with the bright star, Sirius.

Bauval demonstrates that the so-called “air shafts” in the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) were aligned with these important stars and he suggests that the tiny passages marked the path followed by the Pharaoh as he traveled to join Osiris after a ritual performed in the pyramid following his death. When the alignments of the passages were accurately measured within the past two years and precession was calculated, the north and south shafts of the King’s Chamber and the south shaft of the Queen’s Chamber pointed to the three stars in the belt of Orion during the general period of 2400 to 2475 B.C. The north shaft of the Queen’s Chamber pointed to Sirius, the star of Isis in the same time frame. The evidence offers strong support for dating the building of the major pyramids as well as the religious reasons behind the enormous enterprise.

Bauval also quotes the Pyramid Texts which were found inside smaller pyramids built by the following dynasty which archaeologists call the Fifth. These texts describe Orion as both the destination of the dead pharaoh and as a key to his “seed” who came down from heaven to become the next pharaoh as an incarnation of Horus.

One of the exciting developments while Bauval was formulating his theories was the discovery of an apparent “door” at the end of one of the shafts from the Queen’s Chamber. A German engineer named Gantenbrink built a tiny mobile robot which carried a light and a camera 65 meters up the south shaft. Two copper fittings were shown in the film, attached to what appeared to be a sliding door. The last part of the shaft was lined with Tura limestone which was considered sacred and normally only used for lining chambers. I have not read anything in the news, so I do not know whether anyone has penetrated beyond the “door.”

If Bauval is right, the whole layout at Giza was planned before the first of the big pyramids was built. Bauval also suggests that smaller pyramids at other sites in Egypt were similarly placed to replicate on earth the relative positions of important stars. As most astrologers know, the ancient world used the stars much more than we do in current astrology. Bauval noted the resistance of many archaeologists when he proposed his theory about the importance of the stars to ancient humans. In general, scholars trying to be scientific became very uneasy at anything that suggested astrology.

The September-October 1994 issue of Archaeology magazine has some interesting material about the Sphinx which was built by Khafre (Chephren) at the same time that he built the second of the big pyramids at Giza. The authors point out the integration of the temples and causeways connecting Khafre’s pyramid and the Sphinx, and that the latter was not finished due to the death of Khafre and the large number of workers on the project being diverted to begin the third Giza pyramid for the next pharaoh, Menkaure (Mycerinus). The Greek names of the pharaohs are in parenthesis. Part of the Sphinx was built of much softer limestone and it is deteriorating at an alarming rate. One article describes the efforts to save the monument and another points out the flaws in a book by West and Schoch who claim that the Sphinx is much older than the time of Khafre and that it was built by a mysterious, unknown civilization.

I recommend both the Orion book and the article in Archaeology to anyone interested in ancient civilizations.

Switching gears to health, the December 1994 issue of Prevention magazine has an article on the relatively new form of psychotherapy which I described briefly some years ago. I had heard it discussed at a conference but did not have any details on its origin other than that it came from California.

The Prevention article names the technique as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR, and credits Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., as its originator. Shapiro was a senior research fellow at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. She began teaching the technique in 1990. There are already said to be about 8,000 practitioners of the therapy in the U.S. As readers will remember, it is mostly used to help individuals recover from traumatic experiences which continue to “haunt” them. The experiences can range from serving in Vietnam to being raped or mugged, and the lingering reaction when the victim keeps “reliving” the trauma is called “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The technique involves having the victim watch the therapist as she moves her hand back and forth in front of the client while the latter visualizes the traumatic experience. The therapists using the technique were not really sure why it worked but it seemed to help the sufferer reduce the emotional intensity associated with the trauma. One practitioner, Dr. Lazrove, speculates that the eye movements somehow trigger a physiological process in the brain, one that involves how we process memory. The action may help the victim shift from the vividly lifelike flashbacks of the trauma to a more normal memory. The results make astrological sense as an increased emphasis on letter three (Mercury, Gemini, third house) which symbolize our ability to detach from life, to take things more lightly. Letter three is a spectator, watching the world, trying to understand it with the conscious side of the mind, to talk about it, and accept it without feeling threatened by it or needing to change it. On the physical level, the letter three factors (planet, sign, and house) are associated with the hands and the eyes in addition to the ability to think and talk.

The October 1994 issue of World Press magazine includes an article on an old drug which is being used in new and scary ways in South America. Spanish invaders of Colombia in the 17th century discovered a small tree with spectacular, bell-shaped flowers whose modern name is Datura arborea but which became known to the Spaniards as the tree that drives people mad. I remember being told in Arizona that a local plant with beautiful big white flowers was a type of Datura and could be a serious threat to cattle if they ate it.

The World Press article states that in the 1970s, Columbian criminals found a way to extract scopolamine from the tree’s fruit and from it, to make a drug which caused people to lose their will and their memory. Under the influence of this drug, people are said to give their money and possessions to the criminals and afterwards to be unable to remember anything that happened. Every weekend, 15 or 20 victims are admitted to the emergency room of Bogota’s Kennedy Hospital with no recollection of what has happened to them. Usually, it is discovered that they have been robbed of money and jewelry and sometimes raped. So far, this activity seems to be limited to Columbia though a few cases have been reported in Venezuela. One case in a Spanish airport was said to have been carried out by a couple from Columbia.

Dr. Tizo of the Institute of Forensic Medicine which analyzes an average of 140 cases each month in Bogota says that most of the criminals have now switched from scopolamine to benzodiazepine which is easier to obtain and produces almost the same effects when the dose exceeds two milligrams. The soluble, odorless, and tasteless chemicals have to be ingested and are usually slipped into people’s food or drinks when they are in nightclubs. Colombians are being warned to never accept food or drink from a stranger.

The multinational drug companies are doing their best to persuade us that there is a drug cure for every possible problem, physical and/or psychological, while the international drug cartels make billions of dollars from their illegal drugs that give stressed-out, hopeless people a temporary escape from their misery. The November 1994 issue of Share International magazine quotes a New York Times article which states that in 1993, one million more Americans fell into poverty as the top one-fifth of American households earned 48.2% of the nation’s income and the bottom one-fifth earned 3.6%. 25% of U.S. children are now classed as poor.

Another article in the same issue of Share reports that we now have 1.4 million inmates in U.S. prisons; almost three times as many as ten years ago. Yet the Republicans are screaming for more jails and longer sentences and plan to cut all spending for rehabilitation. Sommer’s article states that the cost of keeping an inmate in jail is now between $23,500 and $74,000 a year, more that the salary of most Americans and more than the cost of a college education. Cells for inmates with special problems like TB, AIDS, and aggressive behavior require as much as $450,000 each to build as funds for health, education, and other services continue to be cut. The huge increase in numbers of prisoners has occurred despite the fact that the number of violent crimes has actually dropped in recent years. The latest poll of heads of businesses reports that 80% of the business leaders are opposed to Clinton, that they want the budget to be balanced and welfare spending (for the poor) reduced. We are not threatened by geologic changes. It is human inhumanity to our fellow humans that is the threat.

To end on a more positive note, previous studies have shown that emotional depression has an adverse effect on the immune system. The November 26, 1994 issue of Science News reports that recurring bouts of depression reduce bone density in the lower back and can lead to osteoporosis. The positive side of this information is that by reducing depression, we can help our bones. Hello Saturn.

How do we reduce depression? By doing things we enjoy. A new book by Ornstein and Sobel called Healthy Pleasures says that simple pleasures, doing ordinary things we enjoy, do more for our health than any diet or fitness program!!! Cheers. I’ve been saying for years “happy people don’t get sick.” Of course, you have to find things which you CAN do (which are within your power) and which are not against your conscience or likely to mess up your relationships or get you put in jail. But surely that is possible and a lot less expensive than drugs (legal or illegal), surgery, hospitals, etc. So help and hug a friend, find something funny and laugh, read something inspiring, play a game, do something that makes you feel virtuous or competent or excited.

Copyright © 1994 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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