- Information circulated on the cambridge-conference network is for
scholarly use only. The attached text may not be reproduced
or transmitted without prior permission of the copyright holder.
Date sent: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 13:30:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: NEO RESEARCH & ACTIVITIES IN FRANCE
NEO RESEARCH & ACTIVITIES IN FRANCE
Should you have further information regarding to Neil Forsyth’s
quiry, please be so kind and get in touch with him directly
from: Neil Forsyth <Neil.Forsyth@ANGL.unil.ch
There was a good, basic programme on Swiss-French Television last
night about the possibility of collision with NEOs and the network in
France, partly in Lyon, organizing to take action. Talked about past
collisions, the 94 Jupiter impact, Tunguska, etc. I think it was
made for the local channel, but focused on activity in France.
Unfortunately I didn’t copy it, but have asked a friend who works for
the same team to come up with a tape and also to let me know what the
terms are if other channels want to buy it.
Did you get any other info about it? Are you in touch with the
astronomers and people in France? There was nothing about
Spaceguard, by the way.
University of Lausanne
+41 21 692 29 88
The European English Messenger
Date sent: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 11:15:31 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: WILLIAM COMYNS BEAUMONT: BRITAIN’S MOST ECCENTRIC & LEAST KNOWN
WILLIAM COMYNS BEAUMONT (1873 – 1956)
BRITAIN’S MOST ECCENTRIC AND LEAST KNOWN COSMIC HERETIC
By Benny J Peiser
Liverpool John Moores University
School of Human Sciences
It is generally believed that the American scholar and founding
father of meteoritic studies, H.H. Ninninger, was the first
20th century scientist to have associated mass extinctions with
cosmic impact catastrophes. In his paper “Cataclysm and Evolution”
(Popular Astronomy 50/1942, pp. 270-272), Ninninger reviewed the
new research on Apollo asteroids and the handful of the known (and
relatively small) meteorite craters. He added one and one together and
“[…] it is not at all improbable that the Earth bears many
scars of far greater dimensions than the largest known
meteorite craters. […] If the dimensions of the lunar
craters are to be taken as any indication of the sizes of
the bodies that the Earth has encountered, then there must
have occurred great changes in the shore-lines, the elevation
and depression of extensive areas, .[…] Violent climatic
changes would have resulted, locally at least, from the heat
of the impacts and from changes in the content of the
atmosphere. Many general changes might have resulted from a
possible shifting of the poles, in the cases of the largest
impacts. These changes would have necessitated faunal and
floral readjustments. Species would have disappeared and new
ones would have developed to take their places. Changes in
geographical range would have brought about new adaptations,
and we should expect, in general, just those breaks in the
series that are actually found in the rocks”.
That was back in 1942. It took almost 40 years, when, in 1980, Luis
Alvarez and his colleagues arrived on the stage of mankind’s global
debating club, before the scientific community was ready to engage in
a general discussion about Ninninger’s original suggestion. Harvey
Ninninger, however, was not the first 20th century catastrophist to
speculate about impact triggered mass extinctions. As early as 1925,
one of Britain’s leading scientific publishing houses (Chapman& Hall)
released a rather inconspicuous book (“The Riddle of the Earth”) by
William Comyns Beaumont, an English super-eccentric, in which he
anticipated most of the current neo-catastrophist paradigm:
“Geologists all agree that the termination of the later
Tertiary Age witnessed one of these startling and
revolutionary changes on the face of the earth, and I submit
that the occasion of such a change and of all the sudden
geological ages was due to the fall of enormous bodies of
meteors, or, perhaps, to the earth’s appulsion with a great
solid body falling through space, and that such a body or
collection of bodies came from the direction of the present
north-east, fell mainly upon a certain position of the
Northern Hemisphere, occasioned vast earthquakes, and
deposited not only certain mountain ranges but also
volcanoes, causing among other matters the sinking of some
land and the uprising of others.” (Beaumont/Way 1925, 90)
The book, which was, as far as I am aware, never reviewed in any
scientific journal or newspaper, fell out of the press still-born.
Without any feedback from the scientific community, Beaumont
turned to even more eccentric theories. In his next book, “The
Mysterious Comet: Or the Origin, Building up, and Destruction of
Worlds, by means of Cometary Contacts” (Rider & Co), published in
London in 1932, Beaumont – almost prophetically – summed up his
conclusions of more than 20 years of cometary research:
“The science of meteorism is of utmost importance to the
world. It is in fact the only philosophical science of real
importance because modern astronomy largely reduces itself to
mathematical calculations as to the relative distance of
celestial bodies, and these seem to have little practical
value to anyone. It uses geology where geology is useful and
discovers its weak spots as it does vulcanism and seismology.
It explains much of the past which archaeologists and
biologists cannot do, and reveals a great deal of the future.
[…] Meteorism will teach us the origin and evolutions of
planets. Meteor impact explains the existence of mountain
ranges not internal ‘crinklings,’ the existence of volcanoes,
earthquakes, the land surfaces, the seas, and the very air we
breathe. Nothing else does. Meteorism explains the creation
of species, of great saurians, reptiles, mammals, fish, birds,
and insects, as well as the origin of the human species. It
may astonish my reader if I assert that species are still
brought periodically by meteor agency into our world, and
that also plagues and pestilences come from a similar source.
But I will produce the evidence to such effect./ In spite of
the vast importance of the subject meteorism is scarcely
recognised as yet as a science. No encouragement is given to
the student to prosecute a subject which if it did no more
for humanity would doubtless save many thousands of lives by
the mere establishment of principles of meteorism.”
70 years ago, nobody took such heretic ideas seriously. Charles
Lyell and Charles Darwin’s theory of gradualist uniformitarianism was
still the scientific dogma of the day. Without any response,
Beaumont’s interest turned to even more occult ideas such as
historical catastrophism and revised ancient history.
I have recently published a brief paper on Beaumont’s ideas on
historical catastrophism and their influence on Immanuel Velikovsky’s
similar speculations (see attached text below). Some day, the
fantastic, bizarre and almost forgotten history of 19th and 20th
century catastrophism, in it scientific, religious and occult forms,
will need to be written. It is quite a story.
Benny J Peiser
from: Chronology & Catastrophism Review. Journal of the Society for
Interdisciplinary Studies 1996:2
WILLIAM COMYNS BEAUMONT (1873 – 1956)
BRITAIN’S MOST ECCENTRIC AND LEAST KNOWN COSMIC HERETIC
By Benny J Peiser
Did Immanuel Velikovsky knowingly present ideas someone else had
developed many years earlier? While this question seems
bizarre even to his most ardent opponents, it was recently raised
in a paper by Robert Stephanos (Stephanos 1994). Hardly anybody
has ever questioned the originality of Velikovsky’s flawed ideas
of planetary catastrophes in historical times. While some critics
have underlined that Velikovsky was mean with his acknowledgements of
earlier catastrophists (Michell 1984, 142), and others have stressed
that the claims of Velikovsky’s originality were spurious because
earlier authors had written about cometary catastrophes (Bauer 1984,
215ff.), many still believe that Velikovsky was the first proponent
of planetary catastrophism in this century.
The reader of Alfred de Grazia’s book Cosmic Heritics (de Grazia
1984) will therefore be surprised to learn that the first modern
catastrophist was inn fact a British super-eccentric, William
Comyns Beaumont, who is hardly known today but was a top-ranking
English editor. Some of his ideas seem quite quite mad – e.g. the
idea that the Egyptian dynasties up to the 13th century B.C. ruled in
South Wales and that Jerusalem was originally located in Edinburgh
(de Grazia 1984, 138). In view of this, readers may regard the
relative obscrurity of this bizarre catastrophist as rather fitting.
Yet one’s surprise turns into sheer amazement when we read that
William Beaumont – with the exception of his matchless biblical
exegesis – had developed almost identical ideas to those of
Velikovsky and some of his ideas were published 25 years before
Worlds in Collision appeared in print. In fact, Beaumont had
published no less than three lengthy books on colliding planets,
cometary catastrophes (which he associated with the Exodus
catastrophes), and revised chronologies – all of them published
before Velikovsky entered the cosmic arena (Beaumont 1925, 1932,
1946). De Grazia lists Beaumont’s main ideas as follows (de Grazia
- The geology of the world’s surface is largely catastrophic.
2. The catastrophe was caused by a cometary collision.
3. All geological formations were shifted as a result.
4. Cosmic lightning played a major role.
5. Hydrocarbons were present in cometary tails.
6. Ancient chronology was several hundred years too old.
7. The Ancient calendars had to be revised because of the
8. Many species were extinguished catastrophically.
9. Religion was born in cometary worship and tied to phallic
forms because of the shape of comets.
10. Fear of cometary collisions is inherited by mankind.
11. Vermin were deposited by comets which also provoked
12. Deities from Egypt, Greece, Meso-America, and elsewhere
were identified with planets.
13. Pyramids were both astronomical observatories and
“air-raid shelters” for nobility and kings.
14. Planet Saturn, as a comet caused ihe Noachian Deluge.
15. The Atlantis date (ca. 9500 B.C.) given by Plato had to be
16. Extensive legendary evidence pictures the “hairy,” “bearded,”
“blazing stars” that were comets.
17. Stonehenge, Avebury Circle and similar monuments were
18. Central American legends (and cultures) were contemporaneous
with those of the Old World.
19. The intercalary “five evil days” were cursed because they
coincided with a world disaster and the ending of an age.
20. The serpent, dragon, winged-globe, caduceus, and other
ancient symbols are traceable to cometary catastrophes.
21. Religious festival are dated by cometary catastrophes.
22. Cometary conflagrations are the origin of coal deposits.
23. The ancients had a true 360 day year.
24. The planet Venus underwent great changes in color, diameter,
figure, and orbit in the time of Ogyges.
25. Quetzalcoatl (Coculkan-Hurakan) commemorated the cometary
dragon for the Meso-Aniericans.
Beaumont’s theses are almost identical to those of Velikovsky. Yet
Beaumont developed and published them as early as the 1920s and
1930s. Could this extraordinary similarity have been a freak
accident? If this correspondence was not a fluke, how could it be
explained? “Could Velikovsky have read and forgotten Beaumont’s
books?”, de Grazia (1984, 139) asked. De Grazia tried to reconciliate
the evidence with the fact that Beaumont’s style and method were
entirely different from Velikovsky’s.
De Grazia pointed out that “too many of Beaumont’s conclusions are
the same to explain them as sheer coincidence”. He therefore
speculated as to how this parallelism could possibly be accounted for:
“I guess that either in the 1920s or 1930s, when Velikovsky was in
Palestine, the books [by Beaumont], published in England and dealing
with matters of interest to the Near East, made an appearance in the
bookstores and were seen by Velikovsky” (De Grazia 1984, 140).
According to de Grazia, Beaumont’s early books were not held by
Columbia University Libraries and only Beaumont’s third book, “The
Riddle of Prehistoric Britain” (published in 1946), appeared in the
Columbia University library catalogues, and “By that time ‘Worlds in
Collision’ had been written” (De Grazia 1984, 140).
However, according to de Grazia, “a note exists in his [Velikovsky’s]
archive, mentioning having read Beaumont’s 1932 book; the note
dismisses the work. Yet Velikovsky expresses his wonder whether
Beaumont had gotten his (V’s) ideas by telepathy” (de Grazia 1984,
140). But how could Beaumont have borrowed Velikovsky’s ideas as
early as 1925 or 1932 (let alone by means of telepathy) when –
according to Velikovsky’s own account – Worlds in Collision was only
conceived in 1940? De Grazia was suspicious: “Could there have been a
‘Bridie Murphy Effect” which might explain Velikovsky’s rather
irrational accusations against Beaumont?” (de Grazia 1984, 140). Had
Velikovsky simply ‘forgotten’ that he had already come across
Beaumont’s books (or ideas) in the 1920s or 1930s?
In hindsight, de Grazia was much too quick to rule out direct
influence. He failed to check whether Beaumont’s books were stored in
the Public Library on 42nd Street, the other big library which
Velikovsky had frequently used during the 1940s. It holds all of
Beaumont’s early books, so they were readily available to Velikovsky
during his ten years of research.
Bauer, H.H. (1984), Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public
Controversy (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois
Beaumont, W.C. [=Appian Way] (1925), The Riddle of the Earth (London)
Beaumont, W.C. (1932), The Mysterious Comet (London: Rider & Co)
Beaumont, W.C. (1946), The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain
(London/New York/Melbourne/Sydney: Rider & Co)
Beaumont, W.C. (1947) Britain the Key to World History
(London/New York/Melbourne/Sydney/Cape Town: Rider & Co)
Beaumont, W.C. (1948) A Rebel in Fleet Street (London: Hutchinson&
de Grazia, A. (1984), Cosmic Heretics (Princeton: Metron)
Michell, J. (1984), Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions (London:
Thames & Hudson)
Stephanos, R.C. (1994) Catastrophists in Collision: Did Velikovsky
borrow from Beaumont’s original works? In: Fate [March 1994],
Velikovsky, I. (1950), Worlds in Collision (London: Victor Gollantz)
————- MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WILLIAM COMYNS BEAUMONT
JERUSALEM IN SCOTLAND AND OTHER FINDINGS OF A REVISIONIST GEOGRAPHER
By John Michell
from John Michell: Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions
(London: Thames and Hudson 1984), pp. 136-143
In the winter of 1910 Dr Orville Owen of Detroit was engaged in the
Great Baconian Treasure Hunt around Chepstow Castle. He was hoping to
discover valuable relics concealed there by Sir Francis Bacon,
together with documents proving his authorship of the works of
Shakespeare. Owen’s excavations in the bed of the river Wye became a
rallying point for mystics and adventurers and soon attracted the
press. Keenest of the journalists was a leading staff-writer on the
Daily Mail, William Comyns Beaumont. He agreed to contract with Dr
Owen for the results of the treasure hunt to be reported exclusively
in his paper and arranged to write a series of articles about the
discovery of Bacon’s hoard. Beaumont had an advantage over other
journalists in being himself a confirmed Baconian. He fell readily
under the spell of Dr Owen, developed complete faith in his cipher
and, even after the search was abandoned with nothing to show for it,
remained a true believer. Years later he wrote a book, The Private
Life of the Virgin Queen, upholding the established belief among
Baconian decoders, that Francis Bacon was the natural son of Queen
Baconianism, however, was the most conventional of Comyns Beaumont’s
heresies. None of the other unusual thinkers mentioned in this book
can rival him in the number and strangeness of the unorthodox
theories he propagated. Like lgnatius Donnelly he believed in
Atlantis and in the past destruction of civilization on earth by the
impact of a comet; but to these theories he gave peculiar twists of
his own, and in the field of speculative geography his imagination
outreached even that of the great Minnesotan.
Born in 1873, Beaumont went to public school but avoided university
by accepting the post of private secretary to a rich American
diplomat. He travelled with his employer to India, America and other
parts of the world, meeting many of the important people in politics
and finance, and began his career in journalism as foreign
correspondent to the New York Herald. His next job was at Newcastle,
writing for a local paper. There he met the daughter of an old
Catholic family from nearby County Durham, and proposed marriage. Her
family objected, not because of religion – Beaumont had earlier
converted to Catholicism – but on account of his poverty. So the
couple married in secret, and immediately parted, the bridegroom
going off on a mission abroad while the bride returned innocently to
her family. It was three years before they met again, by which time
Beaumont had obtained a good position in London, on the Daily Mail.
The marriage was successful, and so was his career.
He became an intimate aide to the newspaper’s proprietor, Lord
Northcliffe, and made his name over many years in Fleet Street as
founder and editor of numerous journals concerned with politics
and the arts. As editor of The Bystander he was the first to publish
a story by Daphne Du Maurier, who was his niece, his sister’s
To the public eye Comyns Beaumont was handsome, talented, worldly,
well-connected and the last sort of person one would normally suspect
of heresy. Yet in his mind strange ideas were brewing. Some are
hinted at in his autobiography, A Rebel in Fleet Street, which is
mostly an account of his professional career, but also includes
warnings about a Zionist plot to subvert the British Empire and a
brief outline of his unusual opinions on earthquakes and volcanoes.
In 1909 he had been to the scene of a disastrous earthquake at
Messina in Sicily, which had killed 200,000 people the year before,
and had come to believe that all such upheavals were caused by
‘meteoric impacts which in turn are closely related to cometary
movements’. That belief was the cornerstone for Beaumont’s
revolutionary theories of history and geography.
Family reminiscences tell of Beaumont returning from work to his
large, comfortable house and, after dinner, retiring to his study
for long spells of reading and writing. His main subjects were
mythology, early history, geology and ancient astronomical records.
In all of them he found convincing evidence that the earth had
suffered many cataclysms in the course of its history, the most
recent having occurred in about 1322 BC. These were due to bits of
dismembered planets striking the earth in the form of giant comets
and altering its size and orbit. When his children asked about his
writings, he terrified them with tales of collapsing worlds and the
prediction that a monster comet would crash to earth in December
1919. The uneventful passing of that date only intensified his belief
in the rest of his theories – as is invariably the case with doomsday
prophets – and in middle age he published two books on world
catastrophes, directing them at geology professors who unanimously
ignored them. It was not until he was retired and over seventy that
he undertook the great work of his life, a massive trilogy in which
every supposed fact about ancient history was overturned.
In the first of the series, The Riddle of Prehistotic Britain,
Beaumont identified the British Isles as Atlantis, the original
paradise and cradle of the Aryan race by which civilization was
spread to all other lands. Some of its members were giants,
responsible for building the great rock piles on the tors of Devon
and Cornwall, and among them were skilled artificers who invented
bombs, firearms and flying machines. Their merchant navies traded as
far afield as South America, and everywhere they planted colonies.
Nationalistic writers of many different countries have made sweeping
claims for their own people as the original culture-bearers; but, in
the audacity of his pretensions on behalf of the British, Beaumont
surpassed them all.
He stripped the entire ancient world of its history, myths, culture
and sacred sites and transferred them wholesale to Britain. Egypt and
its Pharaohs were not, as commonly believed, located in North Africa
but in western Scotland. Also in that land were ancient Greece,
Israel and Babylonia with all their legendary heroes. Mount Olympus,
throne of the gods, was really Ben Nevis, the first site of Athens
was the town of Dumbarton, the battle of Thermopylae was fought at
Glencoe, and Ur of the Chaldees flourished near the Stones of
Stenness in the Orkney Islands. From that former Atlantean centre
Abraham migrated to Wiltshire and settled near the stone circle at
Ayebury, which Beaumont identified as Mizpah, Thebes, the dragon’s
teeth sown by Cadmus, an astronomical temple to Saturn and the image
of a destructive comet. Having appropriated the whole of antiquity
for Britain, Beaumont had the problem of finding enough British sites
to accommodate the cities and landmarks of many different lands. This
he solved by giving each of the prominent places in Britain several
names from a variety of ancient cultures.
The conspiratorial cast of mind which caused him to perceive a
Zionist plot against Britain a so revealed to him the extent to which
the Old Testament had been tampered with. The Holy Land was not
originally Palestine but in the British Isels and a part of
Scandinavia which, in antediluvian times, was separated from Britain
by a narrow stretch of water known to antiquity as the Hellespont.
The destruction of Atlantis, Noah’s flood and similar catastrophe
legends all over the world referred to one and the same event, the
fall of a huge double comet made up of fragments from a collapsed
planet. It landed in Scotland, not far from Edinburgh which in those
days was called Jerusalem. The accident was considered a miracle
because Jerusalem was then under siege by a colonial army, equipped
with superior firearms and led by a brilliant but sinister character
whom Beaumont identified simultaneously as Moses, Zoroaster, Silenus
and Odin. By the storms, floods and earthquakes which followed the
invading host was destroyed, and so was much of Atlantis-Britain. The
bulk of the comet increased the size of the earth and knocked it
further away from the sun, lengthening the period of its orbit from
360 to 3651/4 days and altering its climate. The British Isles, which
had previously enjoyed sub-tropical weather, became cold and misty.
Many of the surviving population migrated south, founding colonies
which they named after districts of their homeland, Egypt, Israel,
Greece and so on. Yet the stricken lands of the North continued to be
the centre of world culture. Jerusalem was rebuilt on its ancient
site in Edinburgh, York flourished as Babylon, Lincoln as Antioch,
London as Damascus, Bristol as both Sodom and Tarshish, and Bath as
the Philistine city of Gath. The Holy Family settled near
Glastonbury, where Jesus was born, and his entire mission took place
in Somerset, then known as Galilee.
In the second and third parts of his trilogy (Britain the Key to
World History and the still unpublished After Atlantis: the Greatest
Story Never Told) Beaumont closely identified the geography of
Somerset with that of the Holy Land. Glastonbury was Bethel, the
fortress of Abraham, the birthplace of Christianity and the original
site of the Garden of Eden. Its Tor hill was formerly known as Mount
Tabor, and it was to this spot that Joseph of Arimathaea sailed from
Jerusalem (Edinburgh), navigating the inland waters of Somerset, then
called the Red Sea, after passing through the Bristol Channel or Sea
of Galilee. On his route was the land of Gadara, situated at Clifton
near Bristol, where the Gadarene swine had earlier plunged into the
Avon Gorge near the present Suspension Bridge.
The Romans invaded Britain for the sake of its rich minerals, and at
about the same time they are recorded as having besieged and
destroyed Jerusalem. The Emperor Hadrian, who built the famous wall
against the Picts and Scots, was also active in the campaign against
the Jews, and several of the Roman generals were said to have served
both in Britain and at Jerusalem, even though the journey from
Britain to Palestine was long and arduous. In Beaumont’s opinion they
did not have so far to travel, because Jerusalem in those days was
still situated at Edinburgh. This became one of the main pillars of
his thesis. Ancient descriptions of Jerusalem, he found, applied far
more closely to Edinburgh than to the ‘squalid and provincial’ city
in Palestine. Arthur’s Seat, for example, was more worthy to be the
true Mount of Olives than the insignificant hill which now bears that
name, and Beaumont was gratified to discover that a seaside suburb of
Edinburgh, Joppa, had the same name as the traditional port for
Jerusalem. The London Daily News (13 November 1950) published
Beaumont’s offer to conduct any qualified archaeologist round Britain
and prove to him ‘that this island and not Palestine is the Holy Land
of the Bible’.
If Beaumont was right, the obvious question is why everyone else
should believe that Jerusalem and the Holy Land were always where
they are today. Beaumont’s answer was that Britain was systematically
robbed. Among those responsible was Hadrian, who moved Athens away
from Dumbarton, not only in name but physically, transporting some of
its finer buildings for re-erection in Mediterranean Greece. But the
main culprit was Constantine the Great. According to Beaumont he was
a Yorkshireman, by upbringing if not birth, and his mother, Helena,
was the daughter of that popular British ruler, Old King Cole. He was
thus well aware of the true location of Jerusalem, at Edinburgh, but
he found that fact inconvenient. It was too far from his own capital
in Asia Minor. He engaged therefore in one of those grand
conspiracies so dear to the heart of Comyns Beaumont, tricking his
old mother into finding the supposed True Cross in Palestine and
announcing that on that barren spot was the Jerusalem of old. He then
gathered together the writings of every ancient and contemporary
chronicler, destroyed every text that placed the Holy Land in
Britain and severely censored those documents he spared. Beaumont
compiled a long list of classical works known to have existed but
now lost, and suggested that they had fallen victim to Constantine’s
literary purges because they did not fit in with his new pattern of
sacred geography. All that has come down to us of the original early
histories is a few doctored fragments.
Religion had no interest for Beaumont personally, since in his
opinion all legends of gods and their interventions on earth could be
explained in meteorological terms. Successive cataclysms, caused by
falls of comets, had traumatic effects on the minds of their
survivors and on the human memory over many generations. Stone
monuments were first constructed as places of refuge from an
elemental upheaval, and later to record the event and placate the
gods. Records of the most recent disaster, identified as such by
Beaumont, included the ancient Golspie Stone of Sutherland and other
monuments of the same period and district, bearing mysterious carved
symbols, notably a pair of linked circles which he took to be an
image of the double comet of 1322 BC. Cometary impacts were preceded
by strange disorders in nature, such as earth tremors and volcanic
eruptions, which were remembered in history as portents of divine
wrath. Thus he interpreted the Old Testament stories of the plagues
of Egypt and the destruction of Pharaoh’s host in the Red Sea as
references to the great disaster, described in other myths as the
ruin of Atlantis and Noah’s flood, caused by the fall of a comet on
the northern part of Britain.
In deriving all religion, mythology and the history of our era from
one single cataclysmic event, Beaumont produced a simplified,
materialistic theory of cosmology with the same type of appeal as the
belief in extra-terrestrial origins of culture, pioneered by Brinsley
le Poer Trench and popularized by Erich von Däniken. Yet Beaumont’s
reputation and the sales of his books never approached those of the
latter author. An evident reason is that he buttressed every item in
his thesis with such a large body of evidence that much of his
writing, despite its stunning originality, was inclined to be
long-winded and tedious. No doubt also the times were against him.
Among contemporaries, however, he was not entirely without allies.
The psychic archaeologist, J. Forster Forbes, also wrote books
showing the British to have been culture-bearers to the world as
heirs to the wise Atlanteans, and Beaumont’s work found favour among
some of the British Israelites, even though his notions on the
origins and destiny of the British people were diametrically opposed
to their own. But in his lifetime he attracted no significant
following, and it is only recently that his works have found a
champion, a man prepared to devote his life to the restoration of
Jerusalem to Edinburgh.
In 1975 a Comyns Beaumont society was incorporated at Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Its founder and moving spirit was Mr Robert C.
Stephanos, an American psychologist of Albanian descent – which may
be significant, in that the Albanians now claim to be the only nation
practising pure atheism, having pulled down all their mosques and
churches; and because of their traditional associations with Scotland
or Alban, evident in the name of their country and their liking for
kilts and bagpipes. Stephanos had long been interested in theories of
former terrestrial cataclysms and was an early supporter of the most
recent catastrophist, Immanuel Velikovsky. When Velikovsky’s fortunes
were at their lowest ebb, when his writings were boycotted by
academic publishers, and college professors refused to permit his
fantastic theories to be aired in front of their students, Stephanos
came to his rescue. In 1973 he talked the authorities of
Philadelphia’s Temple University into inviting Velikovsky to lecture.
The audience was large and enthusiastic, and Velikovskv followed up
with a series of lectures at other colleges, also arranged by
Stephanos. The novelty of his ideas, and the reputation he had earned
as a martyr through the attempted suppression of his first book,
Worlds in Collision, were attractive to his young listeners. But as
his cult grew, Velikovsky became nervous and suspicious. He quarreled
with Stephanos who, thus deprived of a cause, looked round for
another. Velikovsky was mean with his acknowledgments, referring only
once, in a disdainful footnote, to his great catastrophist
predecessor, lgnatius Donnelly, and not at all to Comyns Beaumont.
Yet Beaumont’s theory of destructive comets was the same as
Velikovsky’s in all but some minor details. His books were hard to
find, particularly in America, but Stephanos finally succeeded and,
having read them, became a convert to Beaumont’s entire thesis, his
eccentric geography included. After founding The Beaumont Society:
Scientific Endeavours Inc., he set off for England to research
He interviewed members of the family, including Beaumont’s niece,
Dame Daphne Du Maurier, and his daughter, Ursula Pike, who lived in
Tipperary. Mrs Pike had exciting news, of a kind which all literary
Date sent: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 09:00:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: MORE ON THE EL PASO FIREBALL
from: David Morrison <email@example.com
FURTHER INFORMATION ON EL PASO BOLIDE OF OCTOBER 9
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 1997 09:00:42 -0600 (MDT)
From: Mark Boslough <firstname.lastname@example.org
I just returned from El Paso where I spent the last 6 days with Alan
Hildebrand, Peter Brown, Doug ReVelle, David Crawford, and a few
others gathering field observations, videotapes, seismic data, etc.
to make a trajectory determination of the Oct. 9 event (“ground
truth” for CTBT infrasound network measurements). We agree that this
was probably a kt-class event, and we are continuing to refine the
entry angle, burst altitude, and azimuth of the ground-track. We
have a preliminary fall area defined and believe that there are
There are at least 6 videotapes of the “puff” from the terminal
explosion, from which we have gotten quantitative information. A
security tape that we obtained yesterday from a business almost
directly beneath the terminal burst gives us the “flash-to-boom”
interval, which will yield a precise burst altitude when we correct
for atmospheric wind and temperature.
We think that the mean recurrence interval for events of this
magnitude is on the order of a month (not days). The frequency of
occurrence over a major city like El Paso-Juarez is therefore quite
low, and we hope to extract as much useful information as we can from
this lucky circumstance. [Morrison comment: the standard
Shoemaker/Spaceguard model for average frequency of kiloton events is
about 10 days, consistent with Mark’s number, but more recent
estimates (Rabinowotz et al. in the 1994 Hazards book) increase the
population by about an order of magnitude, making their kiloton event
frequency just a day or two.]
The human reaction to this event should also concern us. The
majority of witnesses that I interviewed along the border believed
that they had seen a rocket or missile exploding. Some were worried
about fallout, and many thought that Fort Bliss had had an accident
that was now being covered up by the government. In one border town,
many residents got sick afterwards, some with headaches, upper
respiratory and allergic symptoms. This was almost certainly due to
dust (and probably asbestos) that was shaken out of the ceilings of
old buildings by the sonic boom.
MORE ON 19TH CENTURY CATASTROPHISM
From: Paolo Farinella <email@example.com to Duncan Steel on Byron’s
comments on comet impacts:
I have just one comment. I doubt Byron was really influenced by
Cuvier’s catastrophist school, as you say, since at that time the
British and French communities of scholars didn’t interact very
closely. More likely, Byron knew the work of William Whiston,
Newton’s successor at Cambridge, whose writings were widely read and
praised throughout the 18th century by British intellectuals
(including Newton himself and John Locke; Jonathan Swift didn’t like
Whiston and satirized his comet catastrophe theories in his
`Gulliver’s Travels’). Whiston was also forecasting that the
apocalyptical prophecies of the Bible would become reality in the near
future, under the form of a comet impact which would burn the Earth’s
surface and change its orbit. It’s no wonder for me that, given
Byron’s heroic and romantic frame of mind, he would imagine that
humankind would struggle against the impending cometary catastrophe.
I have read Whiston’s story in the beautiful essay of S.J. Gould
reprinted a few years ago in his book `Bully for Brontosaurus’
(pp.367-381). Here and in his other book `Time’s Arrow, Time’s
Cycle’, Gould also mentions Lyell’s harsh dismissal of Whiston and of
all cometary impact hypotheses in 1830. A very interesting episode,
which I think would deserve to be better known by today’s scientists.
Date sent: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 08:52:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: NEO Grant Press Release
Copies to: firstname.lastname@example.org
from: Linda Wong <email@example.com
The Planetary Society
65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301 (626) 793-5100 Fax
(626) 793-5528 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Embargoed Release: October 11, 1997
Contact: Susan Lendroth
Planetary Society Grants Will Honor Shoemaker by Helping
Astronomers Continue the Search for Near Earth Objects
The Planetary Society will honor the late planetary geologist, Eugene
Shoemaker, and his quest to better understand near earth objects
(NEOs) with a new program called the Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object
Grants. The first grant recipients will be announced by Apollo
Astronaut and former U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt at the Celebration
of Life service for Dr. Shoemaker at the U.S. Geological Survey
Flagstaff Field Center in Arizona on October 11, 1997.
The grants, totaling $35,000, will be given to four researchers from
around the world with programs to search for NEOs — asteroids and
comets with orbits close enough to Earth to pose a potential hazard
to our planet. Only about 5 to 10% of the estimated number of
one-kilometer or larger objects in Earth’s orbit have been found and
tracked so far.
The four recipients are Gordon Garradd, Australia; Kirill
Zamarashkin, Russia; Walter Wild, Chicago, Illinois; and Bill
Holiday, Corpus Christi, Texas. Thirteen grant applications were
reviewed by a selection committee comprised of seven eminent
NEOs have crashed into the Earth in the past with devastating
results. Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatan was made by an object some
10 km across colliding with Earth 65 million years ago. That impact
probably contributed led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Even
far smaller objects can wreak widespread havoc. Dr. Shoemaker’s
landmark studies, extending the early work of Daniel Moreau
Barringer, proved conclusively that the mile-wide crater in Arizona,
now known as Barringer Meteorite Crater, was caused by an impact of
an iron-nickel meteorite about 150 feet across with Earth nearly
50,000 years ago. Prior to Dr. Shoemaker’s work, the crater was
believed by many to be the remnant of an extinct volcano.
Discovering and tracking all NEOs will allow scientists to better
understand these bodies and the role they play in the evolution of
the solar system. Mapping their orbits will also give us early
warning if any of these bodies poses a future hazard to Earth.
Garradd currently operates the only NEO observing program in the
southern hemisphere. Based in Loomberah, New South Wales in
Australia, Garradd will use his Gene Shoemaker NEO Grant to complete
a 45-cm Newtonian telescope currently under construction and to
acquire a larger, higher-grade imaging sensor called a CCD.
Zamarashkin is the project coordinator for a joint Russian-Ukrainian
search program at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. This team
of scientists has been studying NEOs for 30 years and has discovered
910 minor bodies, 12% of the currently numbered minor planets. The
grant money will be used to help construct the first element of an
automatic complex to search for NEOs.
Wild, an astronomer at the university of Chicago, leads a group of
amateur astronomers who are conducting an NEO search from Yerkes
Observatory in Wisconsin. The grant money will be used to refurbish
their 24″ telescope and to bring their spectrograph to operational
capacity for use with a 41″ telescope used for follow-up
classification of NEOs.
Holiday is an amateur astronomer based in Texas. Working from a
home-built rotating roof-observatory, Holiday will supply additional
data to professional astronomers to help them make orbit predictions
for NEOs. The grant will be used to upgrade his equipment.
Services celebrating the life of Dr. Shoemaker will be held in
Flagstaff on October 11. Dr. Shoemaker was killed in a traffic
accident last July in Australia, where he went to study ancient
The Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grant selection committee
members are Richard Binzel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
Andrea Carusi, Instituto di Astrofisica Spaziale; Clark Chapman,
Southwest Research Institute; Brian Marsden, Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics; Alain Maury, Telescope de Schmidt –
Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur; Syuichi Nakano, Japanese astronomer;
and Jorge Sahade, La Plata Observatorio Astronomico, Argentina.
Observers interested in applying for future NEO grants in the program
should contact the Planetary Society for an application by writing
the Society at 65 North Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, California 91106
or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Society in
1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue
the search for extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members in over
100 countries, the Society is the largest space interest group in the
The Planetary Society
65 N. Catalina Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626 793-5528 (Fax)
Date sent: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 08:47:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: Los Alamos Array Detects Large, Bright Meteor
from: Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov
Public Affairs Office (PAO)
Los Alamos National Laboratory
CONTACT: James E. Rickman, 505-665-9203 (97-155)
Los Alamos array detects large, bright meteor: Laboratory researcher
joins the search
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 10, 1997 — Researchers at Los Alamos National
Laboratory were able to use an array developed to listen for
clandestine nuclear weapons tests to help locate a large meteor that
flashed in the sky Thursday afternoon above Southern New Mexico.
The object — presumably a large, bright meteor known as a bolide —
was seen in the skies Thursday at about 12:47 p.m. Witnesses said the
object was at least as bright as the full moon or as bright as the
“The meteor made a huge sonic signal,” said Doug ReVelle, a
meteorologist in Los Alamos’ Atmospheric and Climate Sciences Group.
“They heard it like a freight train in El Paso.”
Using data from Los Alamos listening stations originally set up to
monitor nuclear explosions, ReVelle and other researchers in Los
Alamos’ Atmospheric and Climate Sciences Group analyzed the
infrasonic signature created when the meteor entered the atmosphere.
When a meteor enters the atmosphere — or when a large explosion is
detonated — it creates a sound or pressure wave that is below the
range of human hearing. This infrasonic wave travels through the
atmosphere and can be detected by special microphones that are set up
in an array. By looking at the time of arrival of the sounds at
different stations and the frequency of the infrasonic boom,
researchers can pinpoint the location of the source and the determine
the amount of energy that created it.
“The data from our array puts the meteor 441 kilometers due south of
Los Alamos,” said ReVelle. “We’ll be looking for it in a location
we’ve identified near El Paso.”
ReVelle will join researchers from Canada, the University of New
Mexico and Sandia National Laboratory on a search this weekend for
any meteor fragments that may have reached the ground.
“The object’s infrasonic signature was equivalent to the explosive
yield of about 500 tons of TNT,” ReVelle said. “That means the object
was somewhere around one half to three-quarters of a meter in
Thanks to the infrasound array at Los Alamos, researchers at the
Laboratory were able to narrow down the location where it may have
landed pretty well.
In addition to searching for remains of the meteor — which may have
exploded into tiny bits in the sky — the researchers will interview
witnesses about the object: how bright it was; what it sounded like.
The object created a brilliant light as it streaked toward Earth.
Witnesses in Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Albuquerque, El Paso and points in
between saw the object in the sky.
ReVelle and the others will search all weekend for the object and
collect other data as well.
“It could take weeks to find, but it could take a day or less,
depending on how lucky we get,” ReVelle said.
Infrasonic waves are very low frequency sounds that exist somewhere
in the realm between hearing and meteorology, ReVelle said. The
sounds are well below the range of human hearing, which ends at about
30 hertz, but actually can be detected as small changes in
atmospheric pressure. If someone had a barometer that was sensitive
enough, that person would be able to see fluctuations of several
microbars when infrasonic waves arrive.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, before the rise of the satellite
era, the United States Air Force operated a network of stations to
listen for nuclear weapons tests. The listening stations were the
nation’s first line of detection for nuclear explosions worldwide.
The four arrays of listening stations operated by Los Alamos are the
only infrasonic network left in full-time operation in the world.
They can detect meteors that are as small as a few centimeters in
diameter. The stations are useful because they can help validate
other non-proliferation and verification techniques, and they cost
very little to operate and maintain.
The Los Alamos stations, around since 1983, still are enlisted in the
nation’s nuclear non-proliferation efforts, but have provided a way
for scientists to detect bolides, larger-than-average space debris
that slams into Earth’s atmosphere and creates brilliant fireballs in
Each year a number of large meteors enter the atmosphere and are
detected by the Los Alamos array. Some meteors are tens of meters in
diameter. ReVelle said each year about 10 meteors that are two meters
in diameter — with an energy equivalent of a one-kiloton blast —
enter the atmosphere. Most burn up or explode in brilliant flashes.
Some hit the ground.
For this weekend’s search, ReVelle will join Peter Brown of the
University of Western Ontario; Alan Hildebrand from the National
Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario; a researcher from University of
New Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics; and Mark Boslough of Sandia
Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of
California for the U.S. Department of Energy.
CCCMENU CCC for 1997
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