knew the orbital periods of Uranus, Neptune and
Pluto--planets they shouldn't have even known existed because
they are invisible to the naked eye. (This factoid is
not controversial, by the way--it is well-known that the
Sumerians, who were avid astronomers, kept detailed
ephemeredes on their tablets, which have survived.) But
the Sumerians also
knew that Uranus' rotates on
its side; they knew that Pluto was formerly a moon, not
a planet with an independent orbit; they knew that
Neptune has a ring.
According to Sumerian cosmogony,
when our solar system formed, it did so without Earth
positioned between Venus and Mars. Instead, in place of
the asteroid belt, there was a planet they called Tiamat
(mother of life). When the rogue planet Nibiru fell into
the solar system, one of its four moons collided with
Tiamat, breaking it in two. The shattered half became
the asteroid belt; the other half fell into an orbit
closer to the Sun and became Earth.
If true, one would
expect Earth's crust to still bear the scar of this
collision--and it does; that scar is the Pacific Ocean,
where the crust is only about ten miles thick. (The
crust is about twenty-five miles thick everywhere else.)
Even now, the continental mass that was left on one side
of Earth after the collision--Pangaea--having broken up,
has pieces drifting toward the Pacific to fill in the
In 1772, the
director of the Berlin Observatory, Johann Bode, printed
a theory that the solar system formed according to
simple geometric principles. (The theory, known as
Bode's Law when I was in fifth grade, was actually
discovered by Johann Daniel Titius in 1766 and is now
Titius-Bode's Law.) It proposes (in somewhat
simplified terms) that each planet of the solar system
is twice as far from the Sun as the one closer in.
This isn't quite true, but investigators of Bode's
Law were still motivated to see if it wasn't kind
of true. Remember, in the 1700s science was enamored of
a "clockwork universe" in which all the parts followed simple, mechanistic rules set down by a "Master Clockmaker." So they tweaked the numbers and came up with a system that more closely matched the observation. In this system, a mathematical formula,
a = 0.4 + (0.3 x k)
where k = 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 (continuing with
powers of 2) produces values of a that nearly
match the number of astronomical units each planet's
orbit lies from the Sun. (An astronomical unit, or AU,
is the Earth's distance from the Sun--about 93,000,000
miles.) That gives us the following table:
T-B rule distance
Real distance (AUs)
The first thing we see from this chart is that the
Bode's Law prediction is pretty darn close to the
reality in most cases. Of course, we do have to
include the asteroid belt as a "planet". But it's
interesting to note that the asteroid belt was
discovered because Bode's Law predicted something
should be in that space. More disturbing is that Neptune
doesn't fit into the pattern at all. That didn't bother
Bode and his pals, because Neptune wasn't discovered
until 1846 (not including the Sumerians, or Galileo who
spotted it in 1612 but thought it was a fixed star).
Pluto, however, picks up with the next "slot", though
its distance from the Sun is misleading since it has a
rather elliptical orbit--it actually comes closer
to the Sun than Neptune for part of it!
In any case,
as much as the fans of Bode's Law wanted it to be true,
the results were ambiguous enough that no one was
certain whether the formula revealed a numerical
coincidence or if some underlying aspect of celestial
mechanics had been discovered. Neptune's discovery, and
the fact that Neptune--which is a big
planet--didn't fit into the pattern caused Bode's Law to
fall into disregard.
But now, with this new
astronomical information from the ancients, it might be
possible to revive Bode's Law after all--that is, if
Bode's Law described the celestial mechanics of a
forming solar system.
First, the table had to be
redrawn, with Earth removed and Tiamat put in place of
the asteroid belt. Also, we can remove Pluto, since the
Nibiruans claimed it was a former moon of Saturn that
Nibiru had drawn away from that world into its own
orbit, after some time spent orbiting
Neptune. (Pluto's orbit does intersect with Neptune's,
indicating it was at least once a moon of that planet.)
I also decided to dispose of Titius' "fudge factor" (k),
hoping to find some simpler formula to predict the
orbits of the planets of the early solar system.
My first stab, using multiples of 2 as Bode did, didn't turn out to match the reality very well.
However, when I worked with a multiplier of 1.91,
the results were much more intriguing. So you can repeat this, I set up a spreadsheet with the Sumerian planets listed (with Tiamet, without Earth). I gave Mercury its known distance from the Sun as a starting value, then multiplied the distance of each planet by the one before it by 1.91 to predict a new distance, and got this:
With one exception (Mars), my predicted distances
are much closer to the reality than the original
Bode's Law predictions. And in the original predictions, Mars was also the farthest off (not including Neptune). Besides, Mars, according to the
Sumerian tablets, was knocked out of its original orbit
by another near passage of Nibiru. What's more, not only
is Neptune not an exception, as it was in the original
table--the real planet comes quite close to the predicted distance.
Does this prove anything? No. The original version of
Bode's Law didn't prove anything, either. In spite of the suggestion that it does reveal a rule of celestial mechanics, one star system's planets are not enough to be statistically significant. We'd need to apply the rule to many systems to be sure.
Still, this little exericise may be another small piece of the puzzle that is the Sumerian legacy to the modern world, as it lends credence to the possibility that the Sumerians were right, and Earth did not form in its present position, and that the presence of another, still unknown planet in this system is responsible for both the asteroid belt and Earth's modern orbit.
And, if it turns out that the Sumerian's cosmognony was valid, then the work of Bode and Titius is validated as well.
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