Phaeton, The Lost Planet: Chapter One, by Tim Unruh



Subsequent to the Earth's original creation, the Flood of Noah's time was by far the greatest single geological event in the history of our world. Nothing comparable has occurred since that time nor will happen again until the final destruction of this present universe in the fire of judgment day. Evidence convincingly indicates that the year of the Deluge was not only a period of hydrodynamic catastrophe but also a period of intense volcanic, tectonic, seismic, and meteoritic activity, of Earth-changing proportions. The antediluvian land masses were undoubtedly quite different in shape, location, and proportion compared to present day continents. The Earth, presently being nearly three-fourths covered by water, indeed remains as a world flooded by deep oceans. Some regions that are now high above sea level were once under the seas. A cloudless world abounding with exotic life and a worldwide subtropical climate suddenly came to an abrupt end. The magnitude of the driving force behind such a change is beyond our finite comprehension. Indeed it was a cataclysm of cosmic proportions, and, according to Genesis 6:11 and II Peter 2:5, represented a judgment upon a world that was filled with corruption, violence, and ungodliness. One fact stands out clearly from a geologic standpoint: the disaster of the Flood left an Earth that was vastly and permanently different and decidedly impoverished in terms of its original resplendent primeval richness.

The Destruction of the Human World

There is startling evidence that catastrophic events have occurred beyond the immediate realm of our Earth, among the planets, possibly as a physical consequence in association with conflicts or judgments involving a higher order of created beings, namely the angelic host, in particular their fallen order. It is well known that the angels are often associated with the stars in Scripture. Quite likely their realm touches upon those unfathomed worlds that appear in our night skies. The advent of the space age and of man's robotic explorations of the planets have uncovered a wealth of hard data that has shocked scientists. Few believed that so many impact craters would be found on Mars, Venus, Mercury, and other planetary bodies in the solar system. Our space probes show that Mars is a tortured planet, having been externally wracked by hurtling debris that severely impacted a surface wrenched by forces internal to the planet. The surface of Mars provides an extraordinary picture of vast devastation by outside cosmic forces. Also there is abundant evidence that Mars once had enormous amounts of flowing water, oceans, and lakes. Space probe photographs made of several satellite bodies of major planets reveal impact scars of planet wide proportions. Thus we have overwhelming evidence of world shattering events in the solar system's history. Furthermore, beyond the planets, exploding stars have become an additional evidence of a tumultuous universe, and a favorite topic among astrophysicists today. It is evident that the cosmos is presently not, nor has been in the past, the relatively quiet tranquil pristine realm that astronomers had long thought it to be.

Rubble on the Desolate Surface of Mars

Out in our solar system, beyond Mars, is a huge ring of debris circling the Sun the asteroids. Some are mountain size; most are much smaller; some are mere grains and dust; a few are the size of small moons. All of the circumstantial evidences point to the likelihood that they are the remains of a single original planet. It is evident that awesome forces were at work in the disruption of a once significant primeval planetary member of the solar system in that realm. The exact mechanism which could cause such a disruption, whether it be some kind of collision, an encounter with another planet in the solar system, or an explosion, remains a matter of speculation The latter possibility appears to be the more likely, given new knowledge about the cosmos in general and the planets in particular since the advent of space age technology.

The Asteroid Belt and Distant Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are known as the classical planets. They were familiar to the ancient Greek astronomers as well as the Arabs. As long as 2,000 years ago mathematicians were able to predict their positions. The middle ages came and went, but these five planets remained the only "wandering stars" known to man. Speculations about extra planets at either end of the solar system as well as in the middle had their day at one time or another. Then, in 1781, Fredrich Wilhelm Herschel (1738-1822), more commonly known as William Herschel, discovered the planet Uranus, and the question of the total number of planets in the solar system came into new vigor and prominence. The arrangement and distances of the planets from the Sun had already been a matter of critical study among astronomers for some time. Of particular interest was the "gap" between Mars and Jupiter. The young Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was clear and emphatic on this point when he wrote in 1596, "Inter Jovem et Martem interposui planetam." Kepler had come to the conclusion that there must be a planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Even though the supposed planet should be well within the realm of naked eye visibility,

Let us imagine ourselves taking a journey back in time a few thousand years. Where we arrive at that early epoch we find a vastly different Earth. There are dinosaurs roaming about. Numerous other unfamiliar animals and exotic plant species arc present. The climate is everywhere subtropical. People live in scantily insulated structures, by today's standards, although built to offer sufficient definition as a dwelling place for their families and clans, and sanctuary from the traffic lanes of extraordinarily large wild beasts. Man's technology is evident although accommodating a different cultural regime and perhaps a more rural like or semi-agrarian society, and adapted to an environment characterized by little seasonal change. Overhead is a cloudless pinkish scintillating sky. Springs of water and soft mists embrace the cool air near the moist ground. Vegetation abundantly carpets the Earth. At day's end the soft evening sky over the mist bound Earth deepens. Above the balmy air the stars begin to appear. They appear steadfast in an azure ever deepening emerald sky. The wandering stars, so well known today as the planets, are ever perennial in their movements. Everything in the solar system appears as we know it in the twentieth century, with one major exception. There is an additional planet in the sky, rather bright and of a slightly noticeable greenish hue. Every year and a quarter it dominates the midnight sky with a brilliance comparable to that of Mars or Jupiter. Then one night it suddenly and unexpectedly explodes, like a nova in our own solar system. It expands and brightens to a daylight brightness and then fades. The explosion signature remains apparent from night to night as the object's debris is hurtled into space at high velocities in all directions from its realm between Mars and Jupiter, the two co-luminaries with whom it had shared its evening splendor for so many nights and for so many years previously. Months later the leading edge of the blast reaches Earth with a sky set ablaze with meteors night and day for many months. Mountain size chunks of rock and ice from the ill-fated planet appear for the first time to earthbound observers as a strange new type of celestial object, thus the spectacle of comets. On the other hand, the explosion itself might have gone essentially unnoticed although it might very well have had an integral association, connection, or timing with the events of the Flood epoch on Earth.

As we return to our present century we realize that the mystery and demise of the lost planet was all but forgotten in the annuals of history until our story continues in the year 1772 when man begins to rediscover the evidence of the bygone event. If any written record of the event has been preserved, it is still unknown to modern man. Man's second step since Kepler toward rediscovering what actually happened was taken by the eighteenth century astronomer Johann David Titius (1729-1796) who recognized a curious fact about the spacing of the planets: each of the six known planets is roughly twice the distance of the previous one from the Sun, with a conspicuous exception, the gap between Mars and Jupiter. The big question of the day raised by Titius was: "Are we to assume that the Divine Creator has left this reservation empty?" It was obvious that something was "not quite right," and this had been noted by Christian Wolfe, a well-known philosopher in 1741. The suspicion arose mainly from the seeming chasm that the presence of such a body would leave in the otherwise well proportioned and well balanced solar system. The gap is just the right size to contain one additional planet. Astronomer Johann Bode published this curious fact about the spacing of the planets in 1778 as a "law" now known as Bode's law. The idea that a single large planet had been burst asunder by some great convulsion had not yet been developed into a credible hypothesis. Not much became of the matter until the year that William Herschel discovered Uranus, and sure enough this new planet was found to be in excellent agreement with Bode's law. This circumstance suddenly brought great attention to the gap and the missing planet predicted by the law. Belief in the existence of an unaccounted for intraMartian Jovian planet in this realm ran so high that searches were organized and rewards offered. None of these efforts although bore any fruit. At an astronomical congress held at Gotham in 1796 the French astronomer Joseph Jerome le Francois de Lalande (1732-1807) urged his colleagues to make an energetic attempt to seek out unknown planet between Mars and Jupiter. It was not until the first day of the new century, although, did the story really begin to unfold.

On the very first day of the nineteenth century, January .1, 1801, the matter of the missing planet began to unfold very rapidly indeed. On the Island of Sicily there was an observatory under the directorship of Giuseppe Piazzi (1746-1826). Piazzi's toil were disposed to the compilation of an accurate star catalog, an item that was much needed by astronomers of the day. During a new year's check of a certain region c the sky Piazzi noticed a tiny point of light, but on the next night it was no longer there, having shifted its position. After watching the object's movement during the course of several nights he reported it to a number of his colleagues including Bode director of the Berlin Observatory. As discoverer Piazzi exercised his prerogative to give the object a name, of which he chose that of the ancient Italian goddess Ceres, pronounced according to a dubious pun 'the world Ceres." At first it was thought to be a comet but soon after it was recognized for what it really was, a new planet. The discovery shocked and amazed the world. As it turned out Piazzi was not among the formal association of the two dozen or so observers organized by Lalande who were assigned to make intense zonal searches of the sky. As so often occurs in the deliberate efforts of science, matters turned out quite differently. Piazzi's discovery was quite by accident. The new planet was found to orbit the Sun exactly where Bode's law said it should be. Yet it is so incredibly tiny compared to the other planets, not even large enough to constitute a modest sized moon. Its orbit proved to be more eccentric and inclined than the other planetary orbits. Subsequently events reached a furious tempo during the first few years of the nineteenth century.

The name of Ceres became a household word. Soon news came forth of the discovery of another miniature wonder, on March 28, 1802. The amateur astronomer Wilhelm Olbers (1758-1840) a German Doctor, discovered a second little planet orbiting at the same distance from the Sun as Ceres, to which was given the name Pallas, after the ancient Greek goddess Pallas Athena. This new development further confused the scientists for they had expected only one planet to be in this region, not two. Subsequent observations and calculations left no doubt that still more of these planets were waiting to be discovered. A third minor planet, Juno, was discovered by an astronomer named Karl Harding in 1804. Three years later Olbers himself discovered the fourth, Vesta. On account of these discoveries Dr. Olbers conjectured that these new little planets were mere fragments of a larger planet which had formerly circulated at the same distance but had been burst asunder by some internal convulsion thereby producing the remnants that were now being discovered telescopically. Thus by his most profound theory Olbers predicted that many more pieces would be found, and that they would all have similar odd shaped orbits, and that they would vary in brightness as they spun, because fragments are irregular in shape. As it turns out, long term ground based analysis, and more recent space probe reconnaissance, has proven Olbers to be absolutely correct. Unlike the other planets and their major moons, none of these objects are truly spherical in shape. Although a few of the larger bodies happen to be only roughly spherical, they are typically very irregular in shape. These objects were first called asteroids by Sir William Herschel because they were star like in appearance. In reality they are not stars at all as they are solid and not self-luminating. Since the early 1800's they have been amply called "minor planets" or planetoids. The largest and brightest of the planetoids were found early in the nineteenth century. Yet subsequent discoveries were slow to be made not only because of the faintness of the objects but because they were not strictly confined to the narrow band of the ecliptic. Being ultra-zodiacal, they required much wider areas of the sky to be visually searched. Many more of these little worlds, which Herschel also called "pocket planets," were discovered after 1847. At the outset, names were taken from the mythologies of ancient Greece and Rome, together with the old Latin designations. Although so many planetoids were ultimately found that the supply of these names was exhausted to the point that female Christian names started to abound, names such as his, Flora, Victoria, Irene, Lydia, and so on. After the advent of photography planetoids began to be discovered in even greater numbers. To these were given numbers rather than names. Ceres is 1, Thule is 279, Eros is 433, and so on. Dr. Thomas Dick, one of Olber's adherents, had remarked that the breaking up of the Earth's exterior crust, at the time of the general Deluge, was a catastrophe that approaches the magnitude and astonishment of a planet that breaks like a vast bombshell scattering its fragments beyond the stars and over the regions of its former pathway, while dashing its pieces against its fellow worlds. The cratered pockmarked surfaces of the surviving planets can easily be accounted for by the destruction of such a sizable ancient world.

Olbers' theory was the first and most viable hypothesis of what happened, and remains the most sensible to this very day. In 1814 the French astronomer Louis Lagrange extended Olbers' theory to explain the comets, pointing out that their extremely elongated orbits would also be a natural byproduct of an explosion. But the better known and more prestigious astronomer, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), whose nebular theory of the origin of the solar system and of the comets was in vogue at the time, attacked the ideas of both Lagrange and Olbers. This long standing bias is a very significant factor in the rejection of the exploded planet thesis. Thus the planetary explosion theory was cast into disfavor for most of the next 175 years. This unfortunate historical setback has been felt right up to our present time where the "going" theory is that the thousands of known minor planets between Mars and Jupiter are the remains of a planet which never formed, due to the gravitational perturbations of Jupiter, rather than a planet which had broken up. Unlike the Americans, Russian scientists on the whole are inclined toward the fragmentation theory. Interesting enough a broken cometary chunk of the lost planet astounded the world in the summer of 1994 by its eventful crash into Jupiter, providing a spectacle easily observable through portable telescopes in backyards everywhere.

At this point perhaps a background review of the two major theories as affecting our interpretation of planetoid origins is in order. One of these, the Nebular Hypothesis which, along with its variations, can be traced back to the eighteenth century German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) after which Laplace elaborated in his 1796 writing Systeme du Monde. The other theory, elaborated at length in this writing, is the exploded planet theory consolidated by Olbers, the same who wrote about his celebrated paradox: "Why is it dark at night?" The nebular hypothesis, also referred to as the accretion model, declares that the solar system formed out of a vast cloud of dust and gas which gradually developed a rotary motion and condensing by attraction resulted in the formation of the Sun and planets with their moons, and the asteroids. The latter are regarded as remnants of a planet that never quite formed due to the gravitational interference of Jupiter. As alluded to earlier, the disruption theory states that there was once a major planetary member of the solar system circulating in the present gap between Mars and Jupiter, a planet which either veered to close to Jupiter and was torn apart by the latter's powerful gravity; was struck by another large celestial body; or was shivered to pieces by some great internal catastrophe, with the gap subsequently populated by the former planet's innumerable tiny fragments.

Considered by most scientists today as the "best" overall theory for the origin of the solar system and the asteroid belt, the nebular hypothesis is in fact beset with some very serious deficiencies. One of these problems involves the process of accretion itself, namely that high (or low) velocity colliding particles would not stick together as required by the accretion model. Careful laboratory experiments have demonstrated this to be so. In fact dissipation rather than accretion is more in keeping with known physical laws. Other problems involve the fact that the Sun is tilted to the plane of the ecliptic and that the planets orbit at various inclinations to the ecliptic. Some of the planets rotate in directions at variance with each other. These and other important factors stand in bold contrast to the requirements of the nebular hypothesis, a theory which has remained in essentially the same form since its publication by Laplace in 1796. In summary, and in spite of its popularity, the evidence for the nebular hypothesis remains technically deficient if not profoundly lacking. Meanwhile the evidence supporting the disruption theory is startling, as will be seen in the next section.

Copyright © 1995, 1996. All Rights Reserved. Published by RUHE COMPANY, P.O. Box 1034, Rocklin, California 95677-1034. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without written permission from the publisher. Internet edition, January 17, .1997

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