Episode 95: The Fake Story of Planet X, Part 8 - Zecharia Sitchin, Revisited
Recap: Zecharia Sitchin's ideas about Planet X were discussed in Episode 23, where I also presented numerous reasons why his Planet X - Nibiru - does not exist. This episode discusses some of the news stories over the past decade that the man posted to his website and claimed supported his ideas, and I address whether they do or do not.
Puzzler for Episode 95 [Same as Episode 94]: The equatorial circumference of the earth is 21,600 nautical miles, 24,901.55 miles, or 40,075.16 km. What is the circumference of the moon in nautical miles?
Answer to Puzzler from Episode 94: This puzzler is a continuance and will be addressed in Episode 101.
Q&A: This episode's question comes from Asim Alam who asks: "You and some feedback have referenced "first principles". What are "first principles"?
This is a case where a term I use nearly every day is one that I forgot is not commonly used, so it's a great question. "First principles" means basic principles, or basic ideas or concepts. For example, in a physics class, one might be asked to derive Kepler's Third Law from "first principles," which means to start from Newton's basic Law of Gravity.
It's often invoked as a way to step back from something complicated to take a more basic look at something. Sometimes in this podcast, it's to take a more overview approach to see if something is possible. At other times, it means to - again - just go to the most basic of physics principles to try to derive the answer.
For example, the Puzzler in Episode 74 was, can you derive from first principles what the sky color of Mars should be? What this means is, can you go to basic physics, look at the composition of the atmosphere, how each molecule scatters light, how the particles in it scatter light, and determine what the color of Mars' sky is. As opposed to just take a picture.
- Logical Fallacies / Critical Thinking Terms addressed in this episode: Special Pleading, Quote Mining, False Dichotomy
- Relevant Posts on my "Exposing PseudoAstronomy" Blog
Claim: Back in Episode 23, I talked about perhaps one of the most infamous stories about Planet X, the claims made by Zecharia Sitchin. I visited other versions of Planet X in six subsequent episodes, and I thought I had exhausted most of the material. In each one, I addressed different reasons why we are pretty certain that the Planet X that these people claim is not actually real. And then, a few weeks ago, I was sent an e-mail that was BCC'ed to Michael Heiser, whom you'll hear from in January. The e-mail was sent by someone who claimed that he was "on a quest to find logical reasons ... to not accept Zecharia Sitchin['s] theories." While he had no responses to the points that I raised for why it can't exist as claimed, he pointed to several articles on Sitchin's website that claimed that new astronomical discoveries confirmed his ideas. Since many of these are ones I have not yet discussed on this podcast, and the general format was similar to a certain UFOlogist's claims of prophecy, I'm going to go through a few of them now.
Geysers on Saturn's Moon Enceladus
Perhaps one of the most unexpected results of the Cassini mission at Saturn - at least so far - is that the moon Enceladus has active geysers shooting liquid material into space. This provided material for Sitchin who, in March 2006, wrote the following:
The assertion that the Anunnaki came from a planet (Nibiru) whose orbit extends far out in our solar system has repeatedly led to the question: How could life exist so far away from the Sun, where it is extremely cold and everything freezes?
My answer has been that we need not go that far out to freeze to death, just rising above Earth’s surface would do the trick. It is the planet’s atmosphere that retains the warmth, be it warmth obtained from the Sun, or from an internal source of heat. The crucial issue for the Anunnaki, I explained, was to prevent the loss of Nibiru’s atmosphere; they sought to do that with a shield of gold particles, and they came here to obtain the gold.
Now comes news that made headlines worldwide: WATER GEYSERS ON SATURN MOON HINT LIFE POSSIBILITY.
The exciting news came from a report in the journal Science (10 March 2006), in which NASA revealed that its Cassini spacecraft discovered that Saturn’s fourth moon, Enceladus, spouts water geysers — “which hints at pockets of liquid water under the surface.” For that the temperature below the surface must be above freezing. In fact, even the moon’s above-surface temperature turned out to be 100 degrees warmer than what had been expected!
While planets generate internal heat from radioactive materials in their cores, the Saturn moon, it is now theorized, may be warmed by magnetic reactions as it orbits Saturn. One way or another, the astounding discovery corroborates scientifically the information that I have reported based on Sumerian writings: Yes, even that far away from the Sun, it can be hot enough for water to flow and life to emerge!
So, Sitchin is arguing against something that many others, including myself, have brought up as a problem for his ideas: You need a heat source for life. And, he thought that the discovery of geysers on Enceladus is evidence that heat can exist beyond Earth.
Anything that is active requires energy to power it, and geysers are no exception. That energy is almost certainly heat energy generated by tidal forces from interacting with Saturn, not magnetic reactions.
The reason that this is NOT evidence that Nibiru can still be warm is that it is not tidally heated. Sitchin's model is that Nibiru is a singular planet on an elliptical orbit that takes it well beyond the orbit of Pluto. It has no other body with which it could interact to give it tidally or even magnetically driven heat. It is true that the object, if it existed, would probably have some radiogenic heat source, but an atmosphere is like a blanket, not some forcefield that's 100% effective.
The basic rules of thermal physics still apply and any planet so far from the sun, receiving much less than 1% the heat energy from the sun that we get at Earth, would require an enormous atmosphere to keep it warm, just like piling more blankets on top of you during the winter. This also is not something that would have been a recent event half a million years ago, when the Anunnaki allegedly came to Earth to mine gold: The Anunnaki would have had to evolve on such a planet and then somehow also survive on Earth under an atmosphere that would be equivalent of us on Earth going to perhaps Mars, which has an atmospheric pressure 0.05% that of Earth's.
In other words, there are some special pleading ways to solve the heat problem, but NONE of them have anything to do with geysers on Enceladus.
Kuiper Belt Planet
Another story on Sitchin's website dates to May 2001, and it is entitled, "The Case of the Lurking Planet." Sitchin wrote about others who wrote about an analysis of comet 2000 CR/105, which has an orbit that takes roughly 3,345.87 years to complete. Sitchin says that it comes as close to the sun as Neptune and as far as 4.5 billion kilometers. (He happens to be wrong on that point at least, since 4.5 billion km is the orbit of Neptune, but the comet only goes as close as 6.6 billion, around the orbit of Pluto, but it goes as far as 60.3 billion km from the sun.)
Regardless, Sitchin latches onto the speculation of what caused the comet to be on the orbit. The journal Science headlined it, "Comet's Course Hints at Mystery Planet." He quotes from Ron Cowen who wrote in Science News: "Such an oblong orbit is usually a sign that an object has come under the gravitational influence of a massive body."
And planetary dynamicist Dr. Brett Gladman, who said, "The comet's orbit could be the handiwork of an as-yet unseen planet ... that would have to lie some 200 A.U. from the Sun."
And from Dr. Hal Levison, who I'm still working on getting on, who said, "Undoubtedly, something massive knocked the hell out of the [Kuiper] Belt."
This is something that I've talked about before: It IS entirely possible that there exists a planet beyond Neptune, embedded within the Kuiper Belt, with a semi-major axis several times farther away from the sun than Pluto. However, this object canNOT be Sitchin's Nibiru. That's because Nibiru has to come into the inner solar system during its orbit - it must be on a highly elliptical orbit, and yet the hypothetical planet that would cause the various orbits that we see out in the Kuiper Belt would need to stay in the outer solar system. If it were as elliptical as needed by Sitchin, then these various objects on these weird orbits shouldn't even be on the weird orbits, they should have been cleared, ejected from the solar system by now, due to the very large Nibiru passing through the area so much over the solar system's history.
A third article I was sent is what Sitchin entitled, back in 2000, "The Case of the Layered Asteroid." He opens it with, "It is not every day that I get an overseas call with someone shouting; Congratulations!" The occasion was that Sitchin thought that findings of the NEAR spacecraft and announced by NASA on February 17, 2000, "corroborated an ancient cosmogony pieced together in my 1976 book The 12th Planet" because the asteroid that NEAR was investigating, Eros, had hints of a layered structure. That strongly suggested that it had been melted at one point, which isn't possible for an asteroid of its size (33x13x13 km), so it would have had to have been part of a much larger object. For example, the second largest asteroid, Vesta, is differentiated with a core, mantle, and crust.
But with Eros, Sitchin then said:
Now little Eros tells its robotic visitor from Earth: Yes indeed, I was once part of a beautiful planet that broke up; yes, I originated as a result of a fiery collision, as the Sumerians described thousands of years ago; and that is why I am layered! And this, my friends is only the latest modern discovery that corroborates the amazing ancient knowledge.
Only, there's a problem. The scientist was wrong in that NASA news conference. The exact quote was, "There are also tantalizing hints that it has a layered structure, as if it were made up of layers, like in plywood."
But that is likely not the case now that we have more data, and more people have looked at the data. In fact, so far as one trusts encyclopedias, to quote from Encyclopœdia Britannica: "A significant discovery was that Eros is an undifferentiated asteroid—i.e., it was never subjected to extensive melting and segregation into layers of distinct composition—and so may be a pristine sample of primordial solar system material."
This is the problem that we see so often in not only astronomy but science and skepticism in general: Preliminary results, "tantalizing hints," and other new discoveries have yet to be vetted by the community. But, they are pounced on by pseudoscientists and others if it helps to bolster their case. You never hear about the follow-up when they say they were incorrect, that new data changes the original interpretation. And you certainly never hear that from the pseudoscientists. For example, years now after the Large Hadron Collider faster-than-light neutrinos were shown to be an instrumentation error, the initial results are still being used by claimed psychics and other new-agers to say that "science proves things can travel faster than light!"
There were a few other links, and there are a few other stories on Sitchin's website related to then-current events that allegedly bolstered his claims. Unfortunately for Sitchin, just like these three examples, they do not do what he says, or at most, they are consistent with a Nibiru that could harbor Anunnaki, but they are also consistent with what astronomers actually think is going on.
And despite all that, one still cannot overcome the evidence AGAINST Sitchin's Nibiru, such as the stability of the asteroid belt, lack of any culture writing about this other than what Sitchin interprets from the Sumerians, and a heat source.
However, this kind of information typically fails to convince those who believe Sitchin's ideas, and despite the claims of open-mindedness, the man who e-mailed me would not accept that Sitchin was wrong. Even after I went through his questions and material in addition to what I've now explained to you. And in this particular case, that's despite the second paragraph in his final e-mail where he stated:
Your explanations have been both clear, and convincing, for which I have no logical defense against them. Despite freely admitting the persuasiveness of your information, I have to say .......... I still cannot let go of Sitchin’s theories. I like to think of myself as a reasonable thinking person so let me explain why I can’t dismiss Sitchin’s theories as just made up junk. ... In short, Sitchin’s theories plausibly explain so many things about humans and our ancient history: ie, who we are, where do we come from, why did we come about. So many things just make sense with Sitchin’s theories.
To be fair, I somewhat expected that this would be the case, as did Michael Heiser, with that particular e-mailer. As with any belief system, it's hard to let go even when confronted with inconsistencies and evidence against it. But, as far as I was concerned, it was still a worthwhile exercise to look into more of the claims, and to his credit, the e-mailer was polite.
With that in mind, starting in two episodes (Episode 97 for January 1), you will hear from Michael Heiser, an ancient languages and texts scholar, and hear how even the textual evidence that was claimed to support Sitchin's original ideas is found to be, well, not found.
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