10 Crackpot Theories About Space

Venus Was a Comet
Velikovsky’s theory suggests that Jupiter ejected Venus in comet form. © Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock

Imagine our solar system is a pool table and the planets are billiard balls. They collide and smash and create new heavenly bodies in their wake. That's basically what author, scholar and psychiatrist Immanuel Velikovsky proposed in his 1950 bestseller "Worlds in Collision."

In those pages, he asserted that about 3,500 years ago, a large body slammed into Jupiter and then ejected Venus in the form of a comet. Venus then sped around the solar system (buzzing by Earth in the process and causing biblical catastrophes) until morphing into a planet.

Physicists and astronomers roundly rejected Velikovsky's theories, in large part because it violates the laws of physics. For example, his ideas were in direct conflict with Newton's law of motion, which deals with aspects of acceleration and velocity. Furthermore, the composition of Venus' atmosphere is far different than that of Jupiter, and there's no geologic evidence on Earth or anywhere else to support his claims.

His book was panned immediately and nearly universally. Yet his ideas played upon biblical stories and ancient mythology in ways that made them appealing to certain people, and as such, he left an imprint upon popular culture that science hasn't yet totally erased.

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