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Immanuel Velikovsky
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    (June 10, 1895-November 17, 1979)
    Born in Vitebsk, Belarus
    Physician and psychiatrist
    Wrote 'Worlds in Collision' (1950) and the sequels 'Ages in Chaos' (1952), 'Earth in Upheaval' (1955), 'Peoples of the Sea' (1977) and 'Ramses II and His Times' (1978)
    Suggested that events from the Bible -- such as Noah's flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses parting the Red Sea and Joshua making the sun stand still -- and from other myths were caused by close encounters between the earth and other planets
    More specifically, claimed Jupiter spat out a comet that nearly collided with earth before settling down to become the planet Venus
    Also, Venus nearly struck Mars, sending that planet out of its orbit and into a near-miss with earth
    To put it succinctly, his ideas were whack.
    His supporters credit him with predicting that Venus would be abnormally hot.
    However, spectroscopic measurements of Venus had shown it to be hotter than expected in the 1940s, which makes Velikovsky's success about as impressive as predicting the presidential election after one of the candidates has conceded.
    Supporters also cite the modern acceptance of catastrophism (such as the idea that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid impact) as proof that Velikovsky was merely ahead of his time, while glossing over the differences between an asteroid hitting earth and having multiple planets ricocheting around the solar system like billiard balls.
    He called himself a 'suppressed genius' and compared himself to Giordano Bruno. (Bruno got burned at the stake; you got a best-seller -- tons of similarities there.)
    He was married to Elishiva Kramer for 56 years until his death.
    He wrote the first medical paper to suggest that epilepsy is characterized by abnormal EEGs (1930), which became part of the diagnosis procedure.
    'Worlds in Collision' topped the New York Times best sellers list for 11 weeks.
    Scientists threatened to organize a boycott of Macmillan's textbook division, prompting the company to stop publication of 'Worlds in Collision.' (The book was picked up by Doubleday.)
    He was good friends with Albert Einstein (who did not, however, buy into his theories about Venus).

Credit: C. Fishel

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