Monday, March 17, 2008

An Iron Core For The Sun And More?

Dr. Oliver Manuel
American Institute of Physics

Did you ever want to challenge established cosmological standards? Dr. Oliver Manuel, professor emeritus of nuclear chemistry at the University of Missouri at Rolla, Missouri has done just that for nearly 40 years. So what is this challenge to traditional cosmological thought? Think "sun"; think "iron" and the result is our sun having an iron core instead of the accepted notion of our sun being a gaseous mass of hydrogen and a further statement that our solar system is the result of the explosion of a supernova--not the sun.

I have been considering the following for some time principally to illustrate that despite an abundance of empirical evidence a proposed model of a particular hypothesis can still fall short of wide acceptance. A lot of radical models of scientific investigation fail to meet the requirements of sound science and are usually attributed to unqualified individuals and just plain “bad science”. Anyone can say anything and throw in a few formulas and empirical data--twisted and construed in bizarre structures to make some bold controversial postulate. The particular case that I have in mind stems from a reputable individual of strong academic background and an abundance of hard-core scientific data to analyze.

The particular case is one that concerns Oliver Manuel and his bold cosmological statement that our solar system is a product of just one star and not many stars: More heterogeneous than homogeneous. This stance is derived from meteorite data--spectrographic analysis of element isotopes. His data extrapolation yielded an odd idea that the standard concept of the sun is outdated and that it should embrace the new idea that the center most part of the sun is “iron”-based and not “hydrogen”-based. In a nut shell his model states that some 4.5 billion years ago the solar system was the by-product of a super nova and that the sun is the core remnant of the stellar explosion. That is totally different from the standard accepted position that our solar system was more likely formed from condensing gas clouds.

His position was spawned by his data collected regarding various element’s isotopes mixed with known data regarding the earth’s distribution of isotropic elements and their abundance compared to meteoric analysis and some strange hypothetical conjectures of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Further thought concluded that the planets closer to the sun are the heavy rocky debris [iron rich goodies]--including the sun’s core. Okay, this rocks the boat a bit in that the accepted model for many years has drawn the conclusion that the sun is mostly a hydrogen ball undergoing regular fusion--hydrogen to helium and huge quantities of released energy. Manuel believes that the surface is chiefly composed of hydrogen and the core is composed of heavier elements such as iron and the layered representation is a function of an elements mass. There is a problem here in that the energy required to change iron to hydrogen [and thus float to the surface] would be greater than the energy released. The situation becomes exasperated when Manuel claims some odd physics of neutrons and protons.

Ironically, some of Manual’s earlier data collection regarding isotope concentrations has yielded a position by many that the solar system is a composition of multiple supernova--heterogeneous. Nevertheless, the model that Oliver Manuel has proposed is radical and yet scientific. Consensus among his peers is that Manuel is not a crackpot though he does irritate many and his scientific methodology is sound. Models are models and are subject to modification and rejection. In this case, modification may be more the norm than outright rejection.


Anonymous said...

Having studied Dr. Manual's papers and numerous conversations with him, I do believe he has something. The data that the blogger mentions indicate the elements found in ordinary meteors and those found in samples of the solar wind retrieved from the moon have the same distribution of even numbered elements. The probability is extremely small (something like 10^-43-sorry I don't have the paper handy)that the two are not from the same source. Ergo the meteorites were from what made the Sun. The cradle of the nuclides illustrates his point about that neutron/proton thing the blogger refers to. It demonstrates the relative energies of the 2850 known isotopes and illustrates his claim of neutron repulsion. Dr. Manuel claims this is what supplies 2/3rds of the illumination from the Sun whereas only 1/3 is supplied by hydrogen fusion. This explains the neutrino deficit that has puzzled heliophysicists. But not Oliver. And that doesn't even include the movie that shows the solid surface of the Sun taken with a filter, 171 A if I recall correctly that could only be Fe originaly found by a Dr. Mazino (not sure of the spelling). A space probe has recently found significant O16 in the Sun. To many it is puzzling, but not if you have read Dr. Manuel's papers. Not puzzling at all. It is expected thereby confirming yet another part of Dr. Manuel's theory. I am not a nuclear chemist so I may have misrepresented a point or two but this is essentially the basics as I understand it. Test his theory and check the data but don't dismiss this out of hand. It is good stuff. It deserves a thorough review.It answers more questions than it raises. I suspect that the blogger may not have read his latest Footprint of a Local Supernova or he would not have made some of the comments he did. In this paper written with Dr. Hilton Ratcliffe they introduce a neutron core and an iron shell to the theory I had not previously noted.

Mercury said...


Welcome to this new venue.

"I suspect that the blogger may not have read his latest Footprint of a Local Supernova or he would not have made some of the comments he did."

The objective of choosing Dr. Manuel's hypothesis was not to lay approbation or disapprobation upon the unique analysis of his presentation, for validation is beyond my means too, but to illustrate how a functioning model operates and that prevalent theories can and should be modified in a body of scientific epistemology. As I wrote at the conclusion..."Models are models and are subject to modification and rejection. In this case, modification may be more the norm than outright rejection." As in most cases, outright elimination of a long-established theory is not abandoned but supplemented by modification and that may well be the case here. The link provided was to present the most current comments from peers and his single and co-authored academic papers specifically for the interested reader's analysis.

My contact with Dr. Manual has ben consistent and I am sure he will respond for he is most dedicated scientist and wishes to dialogue.

Hilton Ratcliffe said...

You are right - Oliver Manuel is anything but a crank. He is one of the finest empirical scientists I have ever come across. The evidence of nuclides tells us with as much certainty as science is capable of that the Solar System emerged from the iron-rich debris of a supernova, and settled in the normal way, with the greatest density in the middle. Just like the Earth - iron in the middle, atmosphere outside. Whoever heard of iron floating above hydrogen in a gravitational system? The collapsing gas cloud model defies known physics. What I really like about Prof Manuel's thesis is that there is no hocus-pocus. Just plain physics and chemistry. His measurements are meticulous and his conclusions directly drawn from them.
Thank you for drawing attention to a fine investigator.
Kind regards
Hilton Ratcliffe

Hilton Ratcliffe said...

Two corrections to Kirt Griffin's comments:
1. The title of the invited book chapter I co-authored with Dr Manuel is "Fingerprints of a Local Supernova."
2. The proprietor of the website showing the video and still images of the ferrite surface below the photosphere of the Sun is Michael Mozina.

Michael, Oliver, and I discovered the CNO nuclear fusion cycle (nearly 70 years after it was predicted by Hans Bethe)at the footpoints of coronal arches, and published under peer review in the Journal of Fusion Energy. Like Dr Manuel's breathtaking discovery of neutron repulsion (surely one of the greatest discoveries in physical science in the 20th century), the revelation of CNO fusion at the surface of the Sun is being ignored.
Kind regards
Hilton Ratcliffe

Mercury said...

Thank you Dr. Ratcliffe for your comments but it must be mentioned for the benefit of the casual reader of this thread that you are " known in formal science as co-discoverer, together with eminent nuclear chemist Professor Oliver Manuel and solar physicist Michael Mozina, of the CNO nuclear fusion cycle on the surface of the Sun, some 65 years after it was first predicted." I don't think bias is the goal here for you are correct that the methodology expressed in this hypothesis is soundly empirical and that is one of the crucial criteria for establishing evidence in the support of a novel hypothesis. After all, the best tools in establishing a sound knowledge basis in science is the scientific method.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Hilton for those corrections. I was away from my referene material when I wrote that. May I mention, slightly off topic, that I thoroughly enjoyed your book, "The Virtue of Heresy". It not only put an explanation point on the politics in the world of science but gave me a perspective from another point of view on Prof Manual's work which proved helpful.

Mercury said...

Dr. Manuel:

I am not particularly interested in the efficacy and quantity of the empirical evidence [fully cited and linked at WSS] for I am not a nuclear chemist and thus would be at a disadvantage in assessing the data and constructing an informed response. But what interests me is the selected methodology you have chosen. And I wonder if this could possibly be a flaw in preparing a model that would be more acceptable to mainstream and established "sun" theories. You have stated elsewhere that you limit your evaluations [of the sun] on measurements exclusively. "...I make measurements, not models. The interior of the Sun reveals itself in measurements---not models. Perhaps that is what distinguishes experimentalists from astronomers." [March 26th, 2004]. Wouldn't the adoption of a scientific model be heuristic [for yourself and others] if it were coupled with measurements. Why have you elected to abandon scientific models?

Oliver Manuel said...

Thank you for your kindness and your willingness to consider the experimental data that first suggested that our Sun exploded 5 billion years ago and then re-formed on the supernova remnant neutron star:

Here are key data that pointed to this conclusion in 1976:

1. Decay products of three short-lived isotopes from a supernova [I-129, Pu-244 and Al-26] had been found in the material that formed meteorites and the Earth at the birth of the solar system:

2. Two distinct types of xenon (Xe), Xe-1 and Xe-2, were trapped in meteorites at the birth of the solar system. Xe-2 (strange xenon) contained an excess of the isotopes that had been made by rapid nuclear reactions in a supernova.

3. Xe-1 accounts for most xenon in meteorites, in the Earth, and in the Sun (lower left corner of above graph). Incredibly severe mass fractionation had separated the nine stable isotopes of xenon in these three reservoirs. Xenon implanted in lunar soils from the solar wind also showed evidence of severe mass fractionation:

4. In 1975, measurements at the University of Chicago revealed that primordial helium (He) always accompanied "strange" Xe-2 in meteorite minerals, but little or no primordial He was trapped in meteorite minerals with "normal" Xe-1.

5. Measurements in another University of Chicago lab showed that meteorites trapped mono-isotopic O-16 from stellar He-burning.

[Later measurements would reveal distinctive levels of O-16 in six different categories of meteorites, planets, and the Sun.]

New measurements that explain solar luminosity, solar neutrinos, the solar cycle, the anomalous abundance of isotopes and elements in solar flares, and the high abundance of lightweight isotopes and elements at the surface of the iron-rich Sun are summarized in these recent papers:

1. "The Sun's origin, composition, and source of energy," 32nd Lunar & Planetary Sci. Conf., Houston, TX, 12-16 March 2001.

2. "Composition of the solar interior: Information from isotope ratios," Proc. 2002 SOHO/GONG Conference of Helioseismology, European Space Agency SP-517 (editor: Huguette Lacoste, 2003) 345-348.

3. "Solar abundance of the elements from neutron capture cross-sections," 36th Lunar & Planetary Sci. Conf., Houston, TX, 14-18 March 2005.

4. "Isotopes tell origin and operation of the Sun," AIP Conference Proceedings, volume 822 (2006) 206-225.

5. "Observational confirmation of the Sun's CNO cycle," J. Fusion Energy, volume 25 (2006) 107-114.

6. "The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass," Physics of Atomic Nuclei, volume 69 (2006) 1847-1856.

7. "Fingerprints of a local supernova," in Supernova Research [Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, NY] in press, 2008.

Oliver Manuel said...

Thank you for your comment.

You may be right. But experience suggests that models often block the natural evolution of science.

Blind belief in the standard solar model allowed an incredible backlog of experimental data to accumulate for two chemists to try to decipher in 1976.

[I was embarrassed to stand before well-known space scientists and astrophysicists at the AGU meeting in 1976 to suggest that the solar system formed directly from the debris of a single supernova.]

Blind acceptance of attractive interactions between all nucleons (neutrons and protons) prevented nuclear physicists from looking at the experimental data with an unbiased eye and seeing the clear evidence of repulsive interactions between neutrons.

If a model helps others to decipher experimental data, then they should use the model.

But my experience suggests that the absence of a model has been a valuable asset in my effort to understand nature. Lao Tzu was right,

"To know that you do not know is best,
To pretend to know what you do not know is a disease."
- Lao Tzu

Mercury said...

Hello Oliver:

I wish to emphasize that this blog's venue is focused on the philosophy of science for the most part and not a platform for vindication of a particular scientific perspective though specific references are allowed when discussing certain methodologies. In this case your material is well-documented at Worthy Science Sources and would be redundant in a restatement. What I wish to accomplish here is a discussion with a "bona fide" scientist on how science is performed--the tools of scientific investigation. I wish to explore in your situation why you have chosen to not make scientific models part of your analysis and subsequent conclusion. I wish to fathom your logical reasoning.

Ironically, despite your statement that you draw conclusions on strictly empirical data, that scientific models "are" being employed if by nothing else as an embeded part of your hypotheses, for what are hypotheses other than models of explanation. What I do discern here is your method of analytical reasoning in that it is deductive...that statements are concluded from observable events. One has to be careful here for a fallacy of composition may occur. I am assuming that the data sitting before you is accurate and suggests cumulating converging evidence [statistical evidence]. From this body of empirical data you are compelled to draw a particular conclusion according to the rules of logic and laws of physics. Perhaps, I should first ask you what your definition of a "scientific model" is and then we can proceed from there.

Hilton Ratcliffe said...

Thank you, Mercury and Dr Osadchey, for a well presented forum and fascinating blog. Thank you also, Kirt, for your kind words about The Virtue of Heresy. Perhaps you will allow me to quote a few paragraphs on the subject of theoretical models from my latest book The Static Universe, which I am writing in collaboration with Sir Patrick Moore. You saw it here first!
“My compatriot George Ellis at the University of Cape Town, having danced the dance of mathematical sophistry with Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Neil Turok, and others, came to an illuminating conclusion: Looking at the arrangement of material structures hierarchically with many small objects near the bottom of the tree, and fewer, larger creatures near the top, we find that we cannot fully deduce the properties of lower order structures from the characteristics of those higher up the ladder. This is clearly illustrated in chemistry. We can extract an array of properties from our study of a compound, but that will not give us the properties of the constituent atoms. The properties of compounds are always quite different, sometimes diametrically so, from those of the atomic elements from which they are formed. This fact should temper our scientific approach.
“Where we cannot observe the object of our investigation, because, for example, it is too small or too far (the same thing in effect), then we may have no choice but to model it mathematically: Witness quantum mechanics and Big Bang theory. Some may call it intellectual cowardice, but nonetheless investigators like me prefer to confine their field of study to things they can locate and measure, even if we cannot always see it optically. I think of it as scientific pragmatism.
“The danger of models conjured up from pure theory is that they proceed from arbitrary initial assumptions. Unless these assumptions are themselves soundly tested and verified, the conclusions that follow are a house of cards. Consider this: The cosmology of General Relativity assumes that the Universe started from dust particles and grew from there. Maybe it did, but there are in my view compelling arguments that it did not. There is strong observational evidence of emergence, that is to say, larger creatures giving birth to smaller ones, in the work of Hoyle, Narlikar, Arp, the Burbidges, and others. The Universe may likely propagate in a top-down manner rather than the bottom-up style of GRT and BBT. Consider also the case that GRT and its progeny BBT assume in their formalism the Cosmological Principle of isotropy and homogeneity at a scale of >30kpc (at which distance, let it be said, we may still find objects within our home galaxy). The entire Standard Model of cosmology is founded upon this assumption, despite the fact that every single deep sky survey shows structure and intervening voids for as far as we can see. And so on.
“The further weakness of theoretically derived models is the necessary consequence of having to ‘find’ observational data to support them. The imperative to reinforce one’s sense of right-ness is so great in man that he will stoop to dubious practice to achieve the prestige he earnestly seeks. The Hubble galactic redshift relationship is explained by the unverifiable and untestable phenomenon of space itself expanding. The notion cannot be empirically tested because it is forever unseen and does not occur within gravitationally bound systems like our galaxy, which of course is where our laboratory is. Another example is the CMBR, data massaged by horrendous mathematical surgery to contrive a fit. Yet another is the sudden appearance of neutrino flavour-changing, invoked to explain the measured deficit in solar neutrino flux, and thus sustain belief in the standard gas-fusion solar model. And so on, ad nauseum.”

Regards, Hilton

Lance Osadchey said...


I read with interest your last post and find it fascinating. The structure of matter from the simplest to the most complex is a very intriguing topic. Studying it one soon .is faced with deciding what the truth is and what is reality.
Let's take what science now thinks are the two smallest particles the electrons in the quarks. Let's just look at the quarks. If we knew all of the details and properties of the quarks would we be able to define the properties that a proton for instance would have. If we knew all the details the answer should be yes. And if we were intelligent enough and understood the properties of a proton why could we not deduce that it had to be made of a certain structure of quarks? There can be no mystical or spiritual intervention between these two directions of understanding.

As far as models go to me that is basically all we have to described what we think at the current state of knowledge is happening in reality. For instance the model of the iron core of the sun is based on formula and interactions and reactions between constituent parts and we hope that reproduces what we see in reality. If a model gives us a prediction of something we have not noticed and then we noticed it that is set to justify the model. Unfortunately computer simulations and models are bought to the table by science to understand reality as that is the only tool we seem to have at the present time that helps us.

We also have to consider whether or not our brains are making models of reality and we use those models to function. This then begs the question of whether people will ever know the truth or reality.


Oliver Manuel said...


I apologize for the misunderstanding. I will try to focus these comments on the philosophy of science in my life - a philosophy that was likely shaped by an unusual path to a career in science.

I had abandoned religion, dropped out of high school, and was working full-time as a laborer by time I was 14 years old.

My brother, a veteran of the Korean War, received GI benefits to attend college. By coincidence his psychology teacher was giving the placement exams to students who would enter college in January of 1956. Through him my brother arranged for me to take the exam. I started college that year when I was 19 years old.

Having a strong aversion to blind beliefs, I literally fell in love with the scientific method while an undergraduate student.

In January of 1960, when John Reynolds first reported the decay product of extinct iodine-129 in meteorites and a general anomaly pattern across the nine stable isotopes of xenon, I was a graduate student working with Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda at the University of Arkansas. Kuroda gave me Reynolds' two papers in Physical Review Letters [vol. 4, pp. 8-10 and 351-354] to study, sent me to Berkeley to learn the mass spectrometer in Professor Reynolds' lab, and gave me a piece of the meteorite that had fallen in Fayetteville, Arkansas to analyze in my graduate work.

Thus began my quest to use stable isotope mass spectrometry to decide the origin of the solar system, i.e., to re-write the book of Genesis from a scientific perspective.

I was shielded from the usual dogmas of the US astronomy and space science community by two fortunate coincidences:

1. I never had a class in astronomy, geology, or space science.

2. Professor Kuroda was considered to be an unwelcome enigmatic alien by leaders of the US space science community, who failed to grasp the significance of the US military's decision to identify and to relocate this unusually talented young Professor of Nuclear Chemistry to the USA from the University of Tokyo after the end of WW II.

My alienation from the US space science community was probably rooted in my own rebellious nature and in my admiration for the brilliance and humanness of Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda.

It was fortified by conflicts with the editorial policies of a major scientific journal in 1969-70, with NASA in 1972, and by events at the 1976 AGU Meeting in Washington, DC when Dr. Dwarka Das Sabu (another former student of Kuroda) and I tried to present the experimental basis for our conclusion that a single supernova produced the solar system in this manner:

The published schedule of presentations was changed on the day of the meeting, an astrophysicist with no abstract was inserted into the program to speak on a supernova trigger for the formation of the solar system, and our model received these negative responses from leaders of the space science community:

1. One well-known, but now deceased astrophysicist from Harvard stated at the 1976 AGU meeting that supernova debris is flung far from an exploding star and cannot possibly form into a planetary system.

2. Another famous astrophysicist from the University of Chicago, also now deceased, reported that computer calculations show that supernovae always explode symmetrically - in an isotropic fashion. The debris is completely mixed, like that in the Crab Nebula.

3. One of the leading space science groups at the University of Chicago reported that a "hypothesis, which derives the bulk of the sun and planets from a supernova remnant, is too extreme to merit discussion" [Science 195 (1977) 208-210].

Thereafter we did not prominently draw attention to our model of the birth of the solar system, although one careful measurement after another seemed to confirm its basic validity, e.g.,

"Isotopes of tellurium, xenon and krypton in the Allende meteorite retain record of nucleosynthesis", Nature 277 (1979) 615-620.

"The neon alphabet game", Proc. 11th Lunar Planet Sci. Conf. 15 (1980) 879-899.

"Noble gas anomalies and synthesis of the chemical elements", Meteoritics 15 (1980) 117-138.

"The noble gas record of the terrestrial planets", Geochemical Journal 15 (1981) 247-267.

"Terrestial-type xenon in meteoritic troilite", Nature 299 (1982) 807-810.

"Solar abundances of the elements", Meteoritics 18 (1983) 209-222.

"Terrestrial-type xenon in sulfides of the Allende meteorite", Geochemical Journal 30 (1996) 17-30.

"Strange xenon in Jupiter", Journal Radio-analytical Nuclear Chem. 238 (1998) 119-121.

"Origin of the solar system and its chemical elements", abstract 1974, 29th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Houston, TX, USA, March 16-20, 1998.

"The Sun's origin, composition and source of energy", abstract 1041, 32nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Houston, TX, March 12-16, 2001.

Data from the 1996 Galileo Mission to Jupiter were made available to us in 1998. Those results matched our 1983 prediction and left little doubt about the validity of our model of the birth of the solar system.

But we still did not understand the source of energy, neutrinos, and hydrogen pouring from the surface of the iron-rich Sun that formed on a neutron star.

To solve that part of the puzzle, masses of all 2,850 different types of stable and radioactive nuclei were re-examined in 2000 to see if these nuclear data might offer an explanation for solar luminosity, solar neutrinos, and the solar wind that would be consistent with our model for the birth of the solar system.

These are the experimental data:

Our study suggested that repulsive interactions between neutrons had been previously overlooked and might to trigger a series of reactions in the core of the Sun that would produce the measured values of solar energy, solar neutrinos, and solar-wind hydrogen pouring from the surface of an iron-rich Sun.

"Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy", Journal Fusion Energy 19 (2001) 93-98.

"Neutron repulsion confirmed as energy source", Journal Fusion Energy 20 (2003) 197-201.

Mercury said...


"Having a strong aversion to blind beliefs, I literally fell in love with the scientific method while an undergraduate student."

Well, that is good...scientists should not accept everything on faith. But I still don't understand your methodology. It appears that you conduct experiments, gather data, and analyze the data...and then "wallah" the evidence reveals the hypothesis. Surely, somewhere in your analytical process you have envisioned a model of your concepts. Your colleague Dr. Ratcliffe above provided an extensive discourse on scientific models and their relevancy. Perhaps I am just fussing over semantics but I just wanted to be clear on your perspective of the use of models...despite what I quoted above.

Mercury said...

Dr. Ratcliffe:

I appreciate the explanation and expect a complimentary copy of the published text for review :). I think my issue with Oliver over the use of scientific models may simply be one of semantics and a vast misunderstanding...that's why I initiated this thread to acquire the answers of "doing science" rather than a discourse on the relevancy of the "Iron Sun Hypothesis" which has been discussed at many other venues on the Internet.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury said:

"But I still don't understand your methodology. It appears that you conduct experiments, gather data, and analyze the data...and then "wallah" the evidence reveals the hypothesis."

"Surely, somewhere in your analytical process you have envisioned a model of your concepts."

1. Your first paragraph above correctly describes the method by which we discovered severe mass fractionation in isotopes in 1964-1980 and later repulsive forces between neutrons in 2000.

Better-educated scientists discarded clear evidence in the 1964/1982-time period that abundances of isotopes had been altered by mass fractionation because they knew of no site where such severe mass fractionation could occur. We did not know the site either, until 1983, but we allowed the data to guide our interpretation.

This difference in methodology is illustrated in our 1980 review of evidence for severe mass fractionation in neon isotopes ["The neon alphabet game," Proc. 11th Lunar & Planetary Science Conf, vol. 15 (1980) pages 879-899].

By 2000, experimental data indicated that:

a.) The Sun is mostly iron (Fe-56),
b.) The Sun emits heat and light, and
c.) Iron (Fe-56) is "dead" nuclear matter and could not be the source of solar luminosity.

We therefore re-examined nuclear mass data and discovered that repulsive forces between neutrons (N) had been overlooked.

In reporting our results, we showed that nuclear stability could be explained by counting the number of repulsive N-N and P-P interactions and the number of attractive N-P interactions ["Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy", J. Fusion Energy 19 (2001) 93-98].

We now believe that N-N repulsion powers the Sun and probably powers other stars, galaxies and the cosmos.

2. Your second paragraph better describes the method that was, or should have been, used to discover:

a.) "Strange" isotope abundances of tellurium in meteorite minerals that contain "strange" xenon (Xe-2) [Nature 277 (1979) 615-620],

b.) The presence of "normal", Earth-like xenon (Xe-1) in iron-sulfide (FeS) inclusions of diverse meteorites [Nature 299 (1982) 807-81; Geochemical Journal 30 (1996) 17-30],

c.) Evidence that Earth accreted its iron core first and then accreted its silicate mantle on top of the iron core [Geochemical Journal 15 (1981) 247-267], and

d.) Evidence of "strange" xenon in Jupiter (Xe-2).

Isotope data from the 1996 Galileo Mission to Jupiter was not made available for study until I requested the data from NASA Administrator, Dr. Dan Goldin, at the 1998 AAS meeting in Washington, DC, while C-SPAN was filming Dr. Goldin's speech and reply to questions [See: D. S. Goldin, "Future of Space Science" (Speech at the 191st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Washington, DC, 7 January 1998) C_SPAN Tape 98-01-07-22-1, Purdue University Public Affairs Video Archives, item 98526]

The latter illustrates that a model is not needed to make a "wallah" observation. We had predicted the presence of Xe-2 in Jupiter ["Solar abundance of the elements", Meteoritics 18 (1983) 209-222], but NASA scientists in charge of the Galileo probe did not seem aware of our 1983 paper.

Mercury said...


I think what this boils down to is semantics...and that you do employ scientific models whether you wish to refer to them as models or not. Models are most likely mere hypotheses [yours or those from the scientific community e.g.. Hoyle/Eddington postulation of an iron rich sun] explanation of phenomena via a statement based on the rigors of the scientific method. Nevertheless, I will let that issue fade. Now to another query.

This is probably the most boring part and often delegated to the poor graduate collection. I can assume that this includes first-hand data collection from instruments in your employ as well as published and shared data from various government affiliated agencies and universities [and private institutions as well]? The concern that I have always had was the efficacy of the data collected [first-hand] or supplied. A case in point is one you supplied to me recently concerning the data collected from the ill-fated Genesis Probe. Good epistemology would question the compromised data gathered after its unsuccessful return to Earth and its contents breached by a container rupture. Just how much contamination occurred? And who decided the extent of contamination? Hypotheses, theories, and laws may depend upon good decisions of the retrieved data. When data is supplied to you and your researchers do you assume and trust its integrity? Do you have a given criteria for garnered data from any source?

Hilton Ratcliffe said...

Good morning Mercury,
You may have a review copy of The Static Universe with pleasure, as soon as it is done. I appreciate your interest. I have printed vast tracts from your site and am reading them in the comfort of my living room with a cat on my lap and pot of tea to hand. Thank you for giving us your insights.
I would not be so bold as to reply to your questions on Oliver’s behalf. Trust me, he is more than capable of asserting his own points of view. Perhaps an abbreviated account of how I came to know Oliver would be useful. More out of misguided youthful rebellion against my long-suffering physicist father than anything else, I commenced my tertiary education in the liberal arts instead of the expected physical sciences. Two years of psychology and sociology as majors before I switched to physics and mathematics were certainly not a waste of time, and if nothing else, showed me that those approaches to knowledge may be usefully applied to enhance our understanding and solve problems. In fact, I have become increasingly aware that the problems manifest in the global approach to the physical sciences is more socio-political than empirical, and our choice of method is a manifestation of psychological bias rather than progressive logic.
In June 2005 I attended the landmark First Crisis in Cosmology Conference (CCC1) in Moncao, Northern Portugal ( and on the first morning found myself in the company of two respected academics, one a professor of philosophy from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, the other a Finnish professor of theoretical physics, as we walked the kilometre or so from our hotel to the conference hall. As is my habit at such events, I pre-filter from the programme abstracts those papers that sound particularly interesting, and we were discussing this amongst ourselves as we walked. We came to the abstract of Oliver’s presentation. Our response was immediate and decisive—what rubbish! Of course the Sun is not a ball of iron. It’s obvious. How can the conference organisers allow such rubbish? Oh well, that’s 30 minutes we can take for a walk in the garden and a cup of coffee. I can laugh about it now. I was about to be taught a lesson on prejudice that I hope I never forget!
I arrived early and sat in the front row, my books and papers on the seat next to me. The hall rapidly filled up, and just before the show went live, a bearded man with a Southern accent politely asked if he might use the seat housing my library. I had met Oliver Manuel, professor extraordinaire. At the first opportunity, he rose to his feet and declared at a volume practised in draughty university theatres with unsympathetic acoustics, “Tomorrow, I am going to stand here before you and tell you that the Sun is not a ball of gas but a sphere of heavy metals. I am going to say that it emerged as the product of a single event, an iron-rich supernova. To top it all, I will pin my hypothesis on the measured fact of nuclear chemistry that neutrons repel each other. Now, when I do that, I want you all to give me hell! Tear me apart! If there’s something wrong with my measurements, then I want to know about it. Thank you.” He sat down again, next to me of course. I was squirming with embarrassment, but at the same time, something about the unpretentious, in-your-face honesty of the man appealed to me, and I wondered whether he would be worth talking to about his crazy theories.
The following day, Oliver presented his paper, and I listened. “I am not an astronomer,” he said at the outset, “nor am I a physicist. I am not a cosmologist. I am an experimentalist, not a theoretician. I am a nuclear chemist, and my telescope is a mass spectrometer.” With that he brought up onto the screen a photograph of his spectrometer in the chemistry lab at the University of Missouri. “I work with measurements, not theories. These are the facts. Do with them what you will.”
Oliver spoke without guile and without trying to convince anyone that he was a good guy. I spent the next five days in the company of this challenging lateral thinker, and that was as long as it took to realise that although it might not be politically correct, I was going to pin my colours to his mast. It was the elegant simplicity of his approach to scientific investigation that appealed to me: Take measurements, and systematically analyse them using the laws of physics and chemistry. Oliver weights measurement over theory, and law over hypothesis. Whereas models are collections of interlocking hypotheses used to describe and define a system, laws are tested and verified theoretical elements describing less complex phenomena. So, we would say that sodium and chlorine can under specified ambient conditions combine to form sodium chloride, and this is a law of chemistry. If we have those conditions in our lab, and mix sodium and chlorine there, we can with complete certainty predict that the outcome will be NaCl. That’s a law, not a model. Now, to come back to the George Ellis hypothesis, the uncertainty would be this: NaCl is table salt, an essential part of our daily dietary requirement. From the known properties of table salt alone (including that we need to ingest it daily to survive), we could not deduce that the constituent elements, being the metal sodium and that gas chlorine, are both deadly poisonous to human beings. We cannot fully deduce the properties of a lower order object from those known about a higher order object. They may be completely contradictory. We are unable to say from the properties of a hadron alone what the spin, flavour, or up/down properties of constituent quarks might be. However, what we can assume with confidence is that quarks, if they exist, cannot be separated because we know from quantum theory that we do not ever have partial charge. So we might suggest what they are not without being able to say what they taste like.
In my view, Oliver’s approach to science is conservative but wonderfully dependable. I don’t say that because he is my friend and teacher. He became my friend and teacher because he behaves that way.
Kind regards, Hilton

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury asked:

"When data is supplied to you and your researchers do you assume and trust its integrity? Do you have a given criteria for garnered data from any source?"

Mercury, your question reminds me of the Chinese parable about good fortune and bad fortune.

In 1972 we had a small NASA grant and published two papers that were unpopular at NASA.

1. Nature, vol. 240 (1972) 99-101.
2. Third Lunar Science Conference, vol. 2 (1972) 1927-1945.

BAD FORTUNE: NASA declined all our requests for research funds, travel funds, lunar samples, and page charges for publications after 1972.

GOOD FORTUNE: After 1972 we used data that we could still generate in our lab and combined it with published data from laboratories that were well funded by NASA, NSF, DOE, etc. I took on administrative duties in the university in order to be able to maintain our research into the origin of the solar system without NASA's support.

RESULT: The experimental basis for our conclusions is generally sound. Published data from the best labs in the world support the conclusion that the debris of a single supernova formed the solar system, the iron-rich Sun formed on the remnant neutron star, and repulsive interactions between neutrons generate an outpouring of solar energy, solar neutrinos, and solar-wind hydrogen.

Mercury said...


"Published data from the best labs in the world support the conclusion that the debris of a single supernova formed the solar system, the iron-rich Sun formed on the remnant neutron star, and repulsive interactions between neutrons generate an outpouring of solar energy, solar neutrinos, and solar-wind hydrogen."

If this is the case, why has it been so difficult to sway your colleagues. If the data is giving a different and sound picture of the established, why isn't it embraced more openly.

And, do address the issue I had regarding the potentially corrupt data from Genesis.

Mercury said...


Another item to consider. Would there be any bias in data collection and analysis?

Mercury said...


In conjunction with my last post...what gave you confidence of the compromised data from Genesis? Shouldn't any extrapolations from such data be marked with an asterisk stipulating the potential of contaminated data? Why not just totally dismiss the data?

Mercury said...

Dr. Ratcliffe:

"Oliver weights [sic. weighs] measurement over theory, and law over hypothesis. Whereas models are collections of interlocking hypotheses used to describe and define a system, laws are tested and verified theoretical elements describing less complex phenomena."

Indeed, "models are collections of interlocking hypotheses used to describe and define a system"...a fine tool for doing science. And they are certainly used by Oliver in his own work and referencing to other's works. Even the title of one of his papers is called "Why the Model of a Hydrogen-Filled Sun Is Obsolete".

You said that "measurement" is favored over "theory" and "law" over "hypothesis". ARGH. From an epistemological perspective the latter is correct but it [hypotheses] cannot be discarded in value in scientific is a standard criterion of the scientific method. I am confused over the former. Without laws, theories, or even hypotheses, measurements are totally worthless and void of form and direction. It is the "measurements" that yield, hypotheses, theories, and laws based on existing, accepted scientific rules through logical processes.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury asked:

1. "If (published data from the best labs in the world support the conclusion that the debris of a single supernova formed the solar system), why has it been so difficult to sway your colleagues"?

2. "Would there be any bias in data collection and analysis?"

3. "...what gave you confidence of the compromised data from Genesis?"


1. A single supernova origin for the solar system is based on data from our lab, UC-Berkeley, Caltech, the University of Arkansas, the University of Chicago, UC-San Diego, the University of Tokyo, the University of Bern, the University of Paris, the Physical Research Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory (National Nuclear Data Center), the Galileo Mission to Jupiter, the Apollo Mission to the Moon, Solar Spacecraft, Australia National University, Washington University, etc.

My own belligerence generated a lot of the opposition at Caltech, the University of Chicago, Harvard, NASA, the editorial office of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Washington University, and the University of Bern. I grew up "on the wrong side of the tracks," like an alley cat that learns to use offense as defense. I became as intolerant of scientific dogmas and the abuse of power by editors and federal grant agencies as I had been of religious organizations in my youth.

Some research groups - like those at the National Nuclear Data Center that generated the beautiful data set of rest masses for the 2,850 stable and radioactive nuclei - did not take offense when we showed that their published data supported the concept of an iron Sun.

The "Cradle of the Nuclides" defined by those 2,850 data points belongs in every textbook of physics, chemistry, and astronomy.

2. Yes, there is surely bias in my selection of data to cite. But I doubt if there is bias in data collection and analysis that would favor the iron Sun by research groups who oppose the idea of an iron Sun.

3. I agree that it would have been much better if there had been no terrestrial contamination of the silicon wafers used to collect solar wind oxygen in the Genesis Mission.

However, Marc Chaussidon at the Geochemistry Research Centre in Nancy, France had reported an enrichment of O-16 in the solar wind in 2006.

The March 2008 news report in Nature said that Kevin McKeegan and his group at UCLA used a beam of caesium ions to erode away the top 20 nanometres of the silicon wafer to remove contamination before using a mass spectrometer to see an enrichment of O-16 in the isotopes of oxygen that the solar wind had implanted.

Hilton Ratcliffe said...

Good morning Mercury,

The correct verb is "weights", not "weighs". It means that he assigns greater importance to measurement than to theory, without rejecting theory. It is a prioritisation.

You are correct in stating that hypotheses cannot be discarded, and I did not mean to imply that they are in our work. Theory, educated conjecture, and resulting models have a role to play without question; what Oliver has done is get a realistic perspective on them.

Regards, Hilton

Mercury said...


This contamination issue of the Genesis Probe is still troublesome. There was a science article on March 15th, 2008 from BBC NEWS / SCIENCE/NATURE [ ] that briefly discussed the captured data. It makes reference to " instrument known as the concentrator...". "The concentrator was an electrostatic mirror designed to focus solar wind particles on to a special target. Its job was to enhance the density of heavy ions, particularly oxygen, that were to be collected." And, from April 20th, 2005 SpaceRef ""Finding these concentrator targets in excellent condition after the Genesis crash was a real miracle," said Roger Wiens, principal investigator for the Los Alamos instruments. "It raised our spirits a huge amount the day after the impact. With the removal of the concentrator targets this week, we are getting closer to learning what these targets will tell us about the sun and our solar system," he added." [ ] I am very skeptical about some instruments that are introduced "to save the day". What enabled this instrument to be insulated from the external contamination? Furthermore, can you explain the significance of removing "...the top 20 nanometres...with a beam of caesium ions to remove terrestrial contamination."? Why 20 nanometers? What is special about caesium ions?

It is still my contention that such data used in analysis and statement formulation be supplemented with a disclaimer of the outcome of the Genesis mishap. Every single source of data must be verified and exonerated of doubt of efficacy.

Mercury said...


"Yes, there is surely bias in my selection of data to cite." Hypothetically, what if in reviewing the data, some contradictory data appears? Is it scrutinized for value? Is this contradictory data flawed? Is it inconsequential? Is it statistically irrelevant? Ah, this is the value of peer reviews for such questions will be raised or should be raised.

If all your data is true and all your conclusions are true, I still cannot fathom why the scientific community is sluggish in embracing your hypotheses. It certainly cannot be a previous personality issue...scientists are "supposed" to be mature enough to follow a good path of scientific epistemology.

Mike R said...

As a silent (until now) observer of the ongoing dialogue on the Iron Sun hypothesis, I must ask Mercury why, with all the other data sources to examine, you have focused solely on the one item that may be questionable. Have you accepted the other research listed by Oliver? Is there anything you can find besides the contaminated Genesis data to question? Let's go on to those other data sets if we can.
Thank you.

Mercury said...

Mike R:

If you have been following this thread, you would have recognized that I have been attempting to avoid discussing the validity of Dr. Manuel's hypotheses for that perspective has been exploited over the Internet in various others forums, blogs, and websites. [Worthy Science Sources has a lengthy presentation.] That is not the locus of attention that I wish to explore here. What is of value and concern are the methodologies involved. I am not qualified as a peer to properly evaluate Dr. Manuel's conclusions but I can certainly explore how the conclusions were obtained and some of the issues involved. I have questioned the role of "models", data collection, analysis, role of the "scientific method", etc. Your complaint is unwarranted for this thread is young and unfolding and the questions that I ask are very relevant.

"Is there anything you can find besides the contaminated Genesis data to question?"

Don't dismiss this query. If samples are contaminated or even suspect of contamination, conclusions can be compromised. If such samples are suspect, a disclaimer should be incorporated into the body of the conclusion. This is a sound approach to the epistemology of science. All parameters must be known and disclosed. It is not unreasonable to question data sources and data collection methodology. Would you construct a timber framed house if you suspected larva infested lumber? Of course you wouldn't. The same apply build your house [hypotheses] from sound lumber [scientific data].

"...with all the other data sources to examine, you have focused solely on the one item that may be questionable."

In general, even if there is just one questionable item, it is worthy of question and examination.

Mike R said...


Accept my apology if you understood my post as a complaint, as it was not meant to be one. It did seem though, that we were spending a great deal of discussion on a single point that I don’t think is in dispute by anyone. If it makes you uncomfortable to include the data from Genesis, then let us all exclude it and discuss whether the hypothesis still stands on sound scientific research. That’s all I was hoping to bring to the postings. I have enjoyed this discussion up until it seemed bogged down on this one source. If Oliver would put an asterisk next to this data set when using it in his presentation, would this then be adequate methodology?

Your question:
“Would you construct a timber framed house if you suspected larva infested lumber? Of course you wouldn't. The same apply build your house [hypotheses] from sound lumber [scientific data].

My answer:
No, I wouldn’t, but if the same applies here, then it does appear as though you are attacking the entire hypothesis. Are we using this analogy to address the Genesis data, or by saying “infested lumber” do you mean the complete sets of all data presented?

Most builders would toss the infested board, look more carefully at the other boards, and then keep building. You wouldn’t walk away from a mostly completed house on one board’s condition, would you? All I meant by my previous post was to agree together on each other’s stand on the Genesis data and examine the other boards.
Thank you

Mercury said...

Mike R:

There is never any time wasted when it comes to establishing a sound platform of knowledge--even on a single issue if there is a question. If there is concern [doubt] then science is being done and all avenues must be checked. You falsely assume that I am the sole proprietor and harbor such concerns regarding tainted samples--I am not alone in this matter. Dismissing such concerns is poor science and illogical.

"If Oliver would put an asterisk next to this data set when using it in his presentation, would this then be adequate methodology?" It would be the correct procedure for it alerts the reader of a potential compromise.

"Most builders would toss the infested board, look more carefully at the other boards, and then keep building."

If you equate "most builders" with scientists, then this is unscientific for when applied to "doing" science such statements must be categorical and all inclusive--there is no room for a margin of error or dealing with partials.

"You wouldn't walk away from a mostly completed house on one board’s condition, would you?"

Analogous to a scientific hypothesis--yes. Establishing a body of scientific knowledge is far more important that building a house--even if it had some defective element.

If you are bored with the current thread status, be patient for it will probably change when this area of concern is satisfied. But understand, as I said before, I am not interested in establishing the efficacy of Dr. Manuel's hypotheses.

Mercury said...


This would be debatable in "doing" science, but the importance of “chance, luck, happenstance, serendipity, and being in the right place at the right time”...EUREKA!...are significant.

Even you said:

"When facing unexpected research findings, such as the link of
primordial He with specific isotopes of Xe (Xe-136) in meteorites, I
will often "sleep on it", "mediate on it", "ponder it".

When my mind is not in active pursuit of the solution, a solution
will suddenly appear from "nowhere" like a bolt of lightening."

Perhaps this is the undiscussed methodology of discovery.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury commented:

"If all your data is true and all your conclusions are true, I still cannot fathom why the scientific community is sluggish in embracing your hypotheses."

"It certainly cannot be a previous personality issue...scientists are "supposed" to be mature enough to follow a good path of scientific epistemology."

Mercury, I too am an idealist.

Errors are likely to be found in a few of the data points we have used, but I am confident of the basic validity of our conclusions.

I became disillusioned with religion as a young man, but I have learned that scientists are no more moral and "mature enough to follow a good path" than are priests, TV preachers, or ordinary prisoners. They are not at fault.

I am still not fond of religious or scientific dogmas, but I have experienced a spiritual dimension to my own life that assures me -Truth will be victorious, never untruth [Mundaka Upanishad, III.1.6; See also Qur'an 17.85].

I will be eternally grateful that measurements allowed us to "see" that "what is" was not what we expected.

Not in the Sun.

And not in the atomic nucleus.

It is okay that the scientific community is sluggish to embrace our conclusions. They will eventually discover that they have only hurt themselves and their reputations by ignoring the experimental data.

Today is Easter, the Christian way of celebrating rebirth and the eventual victory of truth over untruth.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury quotes Oliver's previous statements,

1. "When facing unexpected research findings, such as the link of primordial He with specific isotopes of Xe (Xe-136) in meteorites, I will often "sleep on it", "mediate on it", "ponder it"."

2. "When my mind is not in active pursuit of the solution, a solution will suddenly appear from "nowhere" like a bolt of lightening."

Mercury suggests "Perhaps this is the undiscussed methodology of discovery."
- - - - - -

Mercury, I agree. Almost all my discoveries have been like "manna from heaven." I did not deserve these flashes of insight.

In fact, I am slow and have overlooked obvious solutions.

For two decades I knew that isotopes of many elements in the solar system had been sorted by mass, before finally realizing in 1983 that isotopes might be sorted by mass in the Sun itself.

For four decades I knew that there was a flaw in nuclear binding energy, before finally realizing in 2000 that neutrons repeal each other.

That is why I do not fault other scientists for failing to endorse our conclusions. But that does not excuse their failure to address the unexpected experimental data and to offer their own interpretation.

Unknown said...

In astronomy, even amateurs read of the pioneers of the modern science with names like Wilson, Herschel, and Bode. These three, and other lesser luminaries, subscribed to a notion of the sun being a dense black ball with a hot, glowing photosphere because of the perception on their part that the dark spots on the sun’s surface were holes in that photosphere. We have obviously moved away from the holes on the sun idea long ago. Still, others early in the previous century, or late in the century before, were in awe of the enormous energy and that the full consequence of such mass and energy was beyond the scope of their understanding.

From that context we have some notions of nuclear fusion and stellar processes observed and surmised from looking at stars far more distant than the one we are so closely attached to. Some element isotopes are the way they are because of certain environments for the nuclear synthesis. The nuclear decay, meanwhile, provides a trail of dating. Some isotopes are daughters of older elements, or distinctly unique isotopes of them that were derived from specific types of synthesis.

Unlike Hilton Radcliffe, I was unable to appreciate the specifics of Oliver Manuel’s science, but I was able to grasp that something is wrong when the reports show things that don’t belong according to the common view of how things have come about. Like Radcliffe, however, I have come to know that Oliver Manuel is not a crackpot or publicity-seeking zealot. Still, he politely persists because science builds further models of understanding on previous models of convenience. If one of those models comes in question, then that affects a crowd of people using it, and perhaps coming to erroneous conclusions elsewhere. I admire and applaud his pluck and persistence, as a gentleman who clears his throat to communicate that someone needs to pause and reassess where they are and what they are about to do. I had an astronomy professor that discussed a star that he did his doctoral dissertation on, saying, “I had to make 77 assumptions in order to calculate the distance to that star.” What if one or more of those “assumptions” were wrong? It might be good to know.

Science has come a long way from accusing Galileo of some sort of heresy when he discovered blemishes on the surface of the previously assumed pristine sphere of the sun. Copernicus and his crowd likewise suggested that we have the cart before the horse in relation to the motions of the earth, sun, and planets. I’m not suggesting that Oliver Manuel will some day join the ranks of such scientific luminaries, but what if looking again helps some future scientist from building an important model or theory on wrong assumptions? While I know accountants that loathe or dread auditors, I know some accountants who appreciate the second look to see that they were doing things right. Oliver Manuel appears to me to be an auditor that says, “Let’s look at this a little closer.” For that we should applaud him.

Hilton Ratcliffe said...

Hi Larry,

Sunspots are indeed holes or indentations in the photosphere, and the central penumbra is not only recessed from the surrounding umbra, but also, mysteriously, some 1,000K cooler. I take your point, though, that the penumbra is not the surface of a "black ball" - to see that you might look at Michael Mozina's site

Regards, Hilton

Mercury said...


Resistance to change, including science, is a strong force save under the threat of a sharp sword. The result may well be a mixture of several tenable elements existing under the same umbrella. A view of the universe may well accommodate both Newtonian Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics...that there is no single perspective [a TOE] least discernable by humans.

The book references are appreciated but can you point to the significant parts from "The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge" and John Heywood's "Science Lectures for the People" that apply to this discussion? Most of these will be added to Worthy Science Sources's links. If you discover other complete, free texts in the sciences or philosophy of science just email me or my colleague [addresses are at WSS] for consideration and listing.

I also wish to remind participants that the context of this thread is to be focused on philosophical an scientific methodology rather than a podium for the analysis and/or verification of Dr. Manuel's hypotheses. Certainly references may be made for exemplary purposes but avoid the hardcore discussions.

"I had an astronomy professor that discussed a star that he did his doctoral dissertation on, saying, “I had to make 77 assumptions in order to calculate the distance to that star.” What if one or more of those “assumptions” were wrong? It might be good to know."

That is exactly one of items that has troubled me. I suppose this is where statistical analysis is relevant and something called "cumulating converging evidence" or "historical regularity".

Mercury said...


Your moments of time delay in formulating an hypothesis is a good exercise for sometimes one cannot see the forest for the trees and in time things do become clearer. I don't think those are serendipitous moments all the time. Serendipity does happen though:

Remember the "Oroboros" and Friedrich August von Kekule?

“I turned my chair to the fire [after having worked on the problem for some time] and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly to the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by repeated vision of this kind, could not distinguish larger structures, of manifold conformation; long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together; all twining and twisting in snakelike motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lighting I awoke... Let us learn to dream, gentlemen.”--Friedrich August von Kekule.

Those words written by chemist Friedrich August von Kekule. Most probably don't know who he is but his role in the development of organic chemistry is extremely important, specifically the structure of the “benzene ring”. Every modern textbook on organic chemistry uses the Kekule “tinker toy” models. 150 years ago the puzzle for chemists was the activity of atoms in a chain and a ring and the activity properties of double bonded carbon atoms. And the particular thorn for chemists was the chemical benzene for it didn't correspond to the familiar long chain carbon representations. Now this is where the dream comes into the picture for it is stated that in 1865 while in transit he was lulled into a non-conscious state whereby his dream of the Oroboros happened. Visions of swirling carbon atoms suddenly joined and formed a “ring” of atoms and he suddenly realized the significance of the dream and a cool explanation for the behavior of benzene and benzene derivatives. Thus organic chemistry was split into two major fields: The “aromatic” hydrocarbons [benzene ring structure] and the “aliphatic” hydrocarbons [non-benzene ring structure]. The illustration is to emphasize the “Eureka” phenomena and to ponder the role in a non-conscious state and it’s role in the creative process.

"The Science of Serendipity" by, Carol Hay


A free book:

Descartes's Imagination: Proportion, Images, and the Activity of Thinking by, Dennis L. Sepper

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury commented:

"What I wish to accomplish here is a discussion . . . on how science is performed--the tools of scientific investigation. . . . I wish to fathom your logical reasoning."


The people and the events that are summarized in this photo gallery shaped my life and my approach to science:

Mercury said...



"Yes, there is surely bias in my selection of data to cite. But I doubt if there is bias in data collection and analysis that would favor the iron Sun by research groups who oppose the idea of an iron Sun."

Okay, you agree that there is "bias" in your methodology and probably agree that it would occur in most individual scientific methodologies. One has to wonder if there is a conscious or unconscious urge to be biased. And I suppose bias can be benign...the innocent selection of data that even though there are documented cases where experiments and data were skewed to reach a desired conclusion. I assume that if you discovered data that was contrary to your analysis that you would not overlook such data.

I am curious to know if there is a waiting time between your written conclusion[s] and publication and if there are gross errors or doubt, that the paper will be modified or totally suspended until corrections are performed.

Unknown said...

Inspiraton is the genesis of man's successful search into the unknown, and it is often an inexplicable inspiration that arrives from pondering a mystery of the moment, as well as a longer fraught search for an answer. After that inspiration of insight, we then search for data to corroborate the real to the imagined. Such is the nature of the scientific method. Revelations are the quantum leap our brains and hearts initially take, then we work to prove or disprove them, find substantiation or falsifacation. Condemn not the revelatory inspiration, only condemn the 'stuckness' to a previous idea that has been shown to be incorrect. Present day science is 'stuck' on several aspects of cosmology and astrophysics, and as a result new ideas are met with stubborn resistance to being heard for what they are.

I have been quite amazed by the work of Oliver Manuel, Michael Mozina, Halton Arp, John Dobson, and several others these last 8 years. Good data and good theories will survive the slings and arrows of present day 'stuckness'.

Keep up the good work guys !!!!

Oliver Manuel said...

Thanks, Kovilhelm, for your kindness and your words of encouragement.

The following quote from Michael Crichton's Michelin Lecture at Caltech on 17 January 2003 expresses a similar sentiment:

"Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."
--Michael Crichton, The Caltech Michelin Lecture, 17 January 2003

Oliver Manuel said...

Postscript to Kovilhelm,

Life experiences have convinced me that I had little or no choice in the role I would play in life.

From birth, a series of events beyond my control -

- shaped me to swim upstream. A different set of events molded others to float along downstream, to "go with the flow."

As Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

It is my responsibility to play the role assigned me, and not (as I did most of my life) to criticize those designed to play other roles.

Mercury said...


As you have indicated, the scientific process is not necessarily a product of a rigid set of rules such as the scientific method but subject to serendipity and creative imagination.

"So many of his witnesses observed the utter freedom of his flights of thought, yet when Feynman talked about his own methods not freedom but constraint ... For Feynman the essence of scientific imagination was a powerful and almost painful rule. What scientists create must match reality. It must match what is already known. Scientific creativity, he said, is imagination in a straitjacket ... The rules of harmonic progression made for Mozart a cage as unyielding as the sonnet did for Shakespeare. As unyielding and as liberating - for later critics found the creator's genius in the counterpoint of structure and freedom, rigour and inventiveness."--James Gleick

"If you're teaching a class, you can think about the elementary things that you know very well. These things are kind of fun and delightful. It doesn't do any harm to think them over again. Is there a better way to present them? The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can't think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class. If you do think of something new, you're rather pleased that you have a new way of looking at it."--Richard Feynman

Indeed, the creative process involving science is quite complex and varied as the grains of sand on a beach.

I was going through some back issues of "Smithsonian" and discovered an article about renaissance man Ralph Waldo Emerson and the romantic notion that Emerson antedated the likes of Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, the propagators of quarks, and the "Big Bang" hypothesis. That's an eighty year spread. Emerson wrote in his essay "Nature" ..."Compound it how she will, star, sand, fire, water, tree, man, it is still one stuff, and betrays the same properties," and "Without electricity the air would rot." Such foresight is not uncommon as seen by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, or the Star Trek writers, but is it a "good guess", future serendipity, coincidence, keen insight? Is something unexplained here in that some individuals can [albeit by poetry or prose] intimate future generalized hypotheses and theories?

Mercury said...


I meant to post this earlier but forgot as it has to do with the possible changes in the epistemology of science--sort of a knowledge base from the populace.

From Wired Science:

"The Internet Is Changing the Scientific Method" by, Alexis Madrigal

March 6th, 2008

If all other fields can go 2.0, incorporating collaboration and social networking, it's about time that science does too.

In the bellwether journal Science this week, a computer scientist argues that many modern problems are resistant to traditional scientific inquiry.

"There is an enormous success story for Science 1.0," Ben Shneiderman, a University of Maryland computer science professor said. "But the Internet is changing both the methods we use and the things we need to study. The challenge for the next 400 years is to understand how trust and empathy work."

In an editorial titled, "Science 2.0," Shneiderman argues that studying the interactions between people will be more important than studying the interactions between particles in bringing scientific solutions to big problems like disaster response, health care and energy sustainability.

The editorial comes amidst growing usage of the Internet to disseminate scientific information through open-access publications like the Public Library of Science. But Shneiderman wants to transform not just the way that scientific information gets to the public, but also the way that scientists go about their work.

"How do we measure the progress of society not by megahertz but by contribs and collabs?" Shneiderman asked, slipping into wiki-slang for contributions and collaborations. "What is it that made Wikipedia so successful? How do we make sure the wave of Wikipedias are successful, not failures?"

The internet is providing access to vast amounts of data about human behavior that Shneiderman argues provide the opportunity to study our interactions with the rigor seen in the natural sciences. He points to the success of design testing by prominent websites like Facebook and sees a future where scientist-designers move quickly from basic to applied research.

"Design science looks at how to make the world a better place," he said. "How do we do sustainable energy? We are going to design a world where the right things happen."

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury asks:

"Is something unexplained here in that some individuals can [albeit by poetry or prose] intimate future generalized hypotheses and theories?"

Mercury, I am convinced that we understand only an infinitesimal fraction of nature, and we have no way to know what fraction that is.

I am delighted that new mysteries continue to be exposed and that life is a continuous learning process.

It appears that we are each born with a unique set of creative talents, and the good life comes from applying those talents to the mysteries that life brings us. That was also my understanding of J. Krishnamurti's note on "Creative Happiness" at the opening of the Second Series of books entitled "Commentaries on Living."

Here are the spiritual advisors who helped me maintain some emotional balance during my struggle to understand the origin of the solar system and the operation of the Sun.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury suggests that the inter-net may change the epistemology of science into sort of a knowledge base from the populace.

I agree and I wholeheartedly applaud that change.

Nature has recently started to ask for inter-net comments on their science news stories. That policy will quickly improve the accountability of authors for the "discoveries" that scientists have so freely described in the past to poorly trained science reporters.

I expect the impact on astronomy, astrophysics, space sciences, particle and theoretical physics to be immediate.

These fields may become less like astrology, as the public is allowed to comment on wildly speculative stories about the nature of matter and events in the first infinitesimal fraction of time following an imaginary "Big Bang" birth of the universe.

Mercury said...


I guess you and I will disagree on the matter of science knowledge partially emanating from the public. That crucible of committee decision making would be a terrible mistake for it would contain bias [fueled by individual agendas or corrupted by economic persuasion]. Bridging the gap between the science community and the populace would be difficult...just look at the issue with global warming. Skewed information, disinformation, secret agendas would cloud sound decisions. There would be a problem, as usual, with definitions. More likely, value would be technological...the application of science--building a better "mouse trap".

"Nature has recently started to ask for inter-net comments on their science news stories. That policy will quickly improve the accountability of authors for the "discoveries" that scientists have so freely described in the past to poorly trained science reporters."

Overall the "scientific method" and "peer review" work good.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury believes that, "Overall the 'scientific method' and 'peer review' work good."

That has not been my experience, Mercury, nor the experience of several other scientists I know.

However, I share your concerns about removing all of the current constraints in favor of science based on public opinion.

There may be a better way to fix the flaws in the review system.

I will ask Dr. Marvin Herndon, who recently published an essay on this matter, to comment.

Mercury said...

Well Oliver, this can end in an equivalent in given return and for some an expression of "sour grapes" and frustration. Peer review is not perfect especially recent issues in the biomedical realm [ ]. One cannot argue that peer bias, personal agendas, corporate and institutional agendas and strong ties to economic funding do play a role in peer judgement. Those are the areas mostly concerned with technological implications and in some cases academic snobbishness. But overall, it does work. Certainly, old traditions are hard to shake...ask Galileo or Einstein [ ]. It is tough bucking an established religion or traditional physics. Furthermore, issues with peer review are not limited to the scientific world but throughout academia and my experience there has been positive and beneficial for the individual. On the whole "peer reviewing" is a good process for it does review papers for errors, poor logical thinking, or corrupted data--even print errors. Sometimes science is a committee process.

Anonymous said...

Many people do not know that "peer review" is not an inherent part of the science process. Peer review, and anonymous peer review, was invented by the U. S. National Science Foundation in the 1950s and was rapidly adopted by subsequent government funding agencies and journals. To many, it must have seemed like an administrated stroke of genius, but it is a flawed system that does not take into account human nature. It is a system that provides a means for unscrupulous individuals to get rid of their professional competitors and rewards them for doing so. It is a system that instill fear in the scientific community causing people not to challenge the "consensus view". There is another way, which I describe in a communication intended for India, but which is a protoptype for use world-wide. You may download a copy at

Mercury said...

Dr. Herndon:

Actually, the peer review process dates back to the middle of the 17th Century initiated by the The Royal Society but that is not that important here. The function of the peer review process is to authenticate submitted scientific literature and not endorse an acceptance of the materials in the paper as an accurate and new epistemology of science to be accepted by the scientific community and a stepping stone to be published in the premium scientific publications. However a website [arXiv] offers authors of scientific materials to prepublish their papers. The problem is that the papers have not been subject to the peer review process and do not carry the stamp of approval of expert colleagues. Dr. Manuel and you have published several documents there.

The fulcrum of complaint is as you mentioned: "It is a system that provides a means for unscrupulous individuals to get rid of their professional competitors and rewards them for doing so." That is a bit harsh. I will agree that there have been some mistakes [especially in the medical field] and that some cronyism occurs but those indictments do not have to scuttle the value of peer reviewed papers. Peer review does catch fraud and poor academics.

It is also curious to note that such complaints chiefly lie in the sciences and not the humanities. Perhaps there is more at stake there...academic recognition [a place in the history of mankind], money via the sharing of the technological applications or research grants.

[For readers of this topic it should be noted that Dr. Herndon is likewise finding difficulty in establishing a novel hypothesis that being "...that a nuclear fission reactor may exist and operate at the Earth's core and serves as the energy source for the geomagnetic field." Like Dr. Manuel, Dr. Hendron is fighting an uphill battle despite scientific sincerity. It is no wonder that criticism of the peer review process is strong. Being a maverick in science carries a lot of frustrations.

Dr. Hendron's homepage: ]

For reference:

"Epistemological Distinctions Between Science and History" by, Michael Courtney


"This article describes epistemological distinctions between science and history. Science investigates models of natural law using repeatable experiments as the ultimate arbiter. In contrast, history investigates past events by considering physical evidence, documentary evidence, and eyewitness testimony. Because questions of natural law are repeatably testable by any audience that exercises due experimental care, models of natural law are inherently
more objective and testable with greater certainty than theories of past events."

Granted the point of this paper is to contrast the epistemology of science and history but the fact remains that "The epistemological arbiter for scientific investigation of physical laws is repeatable (or reproducible) experiment."

I need to review the complaint against "anonymous peer reviews" and the suggestion for change you have provided.

Oliver Manuel said...

Thanks for the comments.

Major impediments to the natural advancement of scientific knowledge over my career have been:

1. The concentration of power in the National Academy of Sciences over the budgets and the research projects that federal agencies (e.g., NSF, NASA, DOE, NIH, etc.) will fund for investigation.

2. Anonymous reviews of proposals and papers.

3. Organized efforts to protect popular models (e.g., the standard solar model) by keeping all unfavorable experimental data out of print and then refusing to cite any article that manages to get past this first blockade.

Mercury said...


Specifically, what is the complaint about "Anonymous reviews of proposals and papers."

Mercury said...


I don't see the significance of the complaint against anonymous peer reviewers. The system is not like a judicial situation where the accused is given the right to know the accuser; submitter is given the right to know reviewer[s]. This is a totally different situation. I know that submitters scream of total transparency and often invoke Galileo’s famous statement that "in the questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual". But science is not a lone gunman enterprise. Is it not the right of the submitter to reject anonymous peer reviewers? I know that many peer review journals have this option. What is feared of the anonymous peer reviewers?

Mercury said...

Dr. Herndon:

I have read your paper and offer these thoughts.

"Peer review is based upon the false premises that reviewers will provide objective and honest appraisals of others’ work, even when those others may be professional competitors."

"...but where important advances in science are concerned, the real expert(s) are the report’s author(s)."

"Some others, usually the competitors of the author(s), may be reasonably knowledgeable, but certainly not “expert”, or they would have made the discovery."

"Peer review is based upon the false presumption that generally an editor can solicit reviews and make reasoned judgments therefrom."

The novelty of an hypothesis does not make it unique to one individual [or small groups of individuals in the case of co-authorship]. Just because another person has not discovered merit or interest in publication does not make the reviewer a non-expert.

"It is a pervasive, corrupt system that encourages and rewards the worst elements of human nature and instills an element of fear throughout the scientific community."

Egads, that is harsh and categorical. I would question the parameters of "worst elements of human nature" for mankind can certainly express things far worse than the suggested elements of bias, greed, or fear such as "man's inhumanity to man" involving murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc.

Do you know the ratio among the submitted manuscripts to bona fide peer review journals of the rejected to accepted? Are reasons given for the rejections in a formalized reply by the journals? And if so, what was the omphalos?

Your proposed solution using scientific Indian journals...

"I would like to suggest that the Indian Government consider establishing an e-journal template for each and all of her institutions, which would serve as the primary mechanism for publishing Indian scientific and technological results. At each research institution, every institutional researcher would be able to publish his/her/their research results without any review, other than the internal reviews and standards imposed by the respective institution."

Well, there is one good grass root example in the USA and that is "arXiv" [which even has a blog for interactive communication] and I am sure that with some effort more venues may be established. But such prepublish portals do not carry the "stamp of approval" that a peer review journal would offer that carry clout for sources of funding. By the way, how many scientific journals are there in India as compared to the United States? Suggesting that twenty or so journals change their formate may be a bit easier than convincing hundreds in the United States. Who knows, maybe solitary David could slay Goliath. Many of these journals are old and set in their ways and I grant that bias and corruption does happen, but overall it is a good idea and does work. Many of these journals are surrogate stewards of public monies and are careful in what they do. Financial decisions generally are based on accepted published manuscripts, long range results of projects, and projects benefiting the most. Sitting side by side, NASA would choose Mars rover programs over a program too narrow focused and limited in benefits to the scientific community.

I believe I can now see what this is all about based on knowing Dr. Manuel for several years and his polemics against Federal funding of his projects and reading your difficulties in obtaining similar funding for your novel hypothesis as well as your expressed displeasure of the peer review process--one of the mechanisms that can open or close the door for financial assistance.

Perhaps, instead of complaining about "peer review" [the scientific verification process and source of potential Federal funding], that legitimate scientists such as yourself and Dr. Manuel hire a sales team that could secure independent funding...break out of the box and find an alternate way of raising funds.

You proposed questions: 1.) "What is the importance and uniqueness of this report?", 2.) "What approaches were tried but did not work?", 3.) "What are the competing and conflicting ideas?", and 4.) "What are the lessons learned?". How do you know that those questions are not being asked? Is that merely an assumption.

And, would altruism be missing in that there is a sense of a loss of ethics by having no regard for co-authors [even graduate students of rank] that are involved if the manuscript is rejected and given a blanket of negative remarks; that those individuals will bear the mark of a questionable manuscript and may experience academic issues in the future.

And finally, would those sweeping changes apply to "all" peer review journals...including all science journals and those dealing with the humanities?

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury said, "I don't see the significance of the complaint against anonymous peer reviewers."

It is no more valid than the complaint against:

a.) The anonymous one who steals a car with keys hanging in the ignition and the car door unlocked, or

b.) The anonymous child who steals a cookie or piece of candy.

As noted earlier, ". . . scientists are no more moral and 'mature enough to follow a good path' than are priests, TV preachers, or ordinary prisoners. They are not at fault."

We have no legitimate complaint if we leave keys hanging in the ignition of a car, or cookies and candy within the reach of a child, or the right/responsibility to publish our findings in reputable journals to anonymous reviewers, and the control of US taxpayers funds for research to the NAS [National Academy of Sciences, a private club].

But we might want to change these destructive habits.

Mercury said...


I'm sorry, but I do not follow your examples. Your last statement appears to imply responsibility for indulging in risky business. Well, I can understand that: If one goes into unsafe areas of the Internet, one runs the risk of acquiring nasty viruses, Trojans, worms, zombies ultimately corrupting computer functions and sharing personal data--but it's one's own fault isn't it? Sure it is. But I don't see what that has to do with the "anonymous peer reviewer".

Even if all peer reviewers were disclosed, what would that accomplish? It would indeed disclose individuals whose academic record and expertise would be revealed. But if one objected to a member of the reviewers what is to be done? Can a petition be made to remove that individual? Who would be the ultimate arbiter? Certainly wouldn't be the scientist for that just might involve bias--stacking the deck in one's favor. The peer review process just can't be totally eliminated for then everyone would demand to be published and chaos would erupt.

It just appears to me that you look upon, say the NAS, as the sole avenue for funding to test your hypotheses and when it is not forthcoming, you begin to cast dispersion on the methodology such as the peer review process and especially the anonymous peer review process. I grant that it is not a "perfect" process, but it does work. As I mentioned before you might consider an alternate methodology until the whole process is debugged and made more acceptable or a grassroots movement could be championed by you and those that wish to make changes. Corruption is difficult to eliminate.

[As one related example is the access of the public to all journals at no charge especially electronic editions. I have great issues with this and find restricted access to many scientific and philosophical journals who require a subscription or a "huge" fee for the article. Changes are being made such as a Federal law making all articles open to the public that are financed by the government.]

As a final note, even if the submitted papers are accepted and put to paper and ink, the review continues. So just getting published is not a guarantee of smooth sailing to the money vaults of the Federal government.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury said, "I grant that it is not a "perfect" process, but it does work."

We all agree with the first part of this statement, but Hilton Ratcliffe, Marvin Herndon and I noted that parts of the process might be changed so it works better. Why not?

Why let scientists use our tax funds and their political influence to ignore the experimental data that we paid for?

If it works, why is there a backlog of experimental data that have been ignored for decades?

Scientists are human. Why put them in powerful positions without safeguards to prevent abuse for selfish gain?

My interpretation of experimental data may be wrong, but what is the advantage of allowing the same data to be ignored by leaders of solar and nuclear physics, astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology?

The Iron Sun is based on experimental data from top-ranked labs and spacecraft with plenty of funds for equipment, personnel, travel and publications.

Those making the measurements knew that future funding would cease if they brought attention to data that discredit the NAS members who review and recommend the budget of the federal agencies (NASA, DOE, NSF, etc.) that support their research projects.

Here are a few experimental data that form the empirical basis for the Iron Sun - data that are ignored by scientists who want the public to believe that the Iron Sun is simply "crackpot science":

a.) All primordial He was closely linked with excess Xe-136 at the birth of the solar system, an important discovery first made in 1975 by careful measurements at the University of Chicago:

b.) Primordial He and excess Xe-136 still co-exist in the outer planets, another important finding that cost US taxpayers $1 billion for the Galilleo Mission to Jupiter to collect the data that NASA and NAS scientists then ignored.

c.) The Galileo probe that entered Jupiter in 1996

confirmed a 1983 prediction that Jupiter contains excess Xe-136 ["Solar abundance of the elements", Meteoritics 18 (1983) 209-222].

d.) Lunar samples from the Apollo Mission to the Moon revealed a systematic enrichment of lightweight isotopes in the solar wind.

e.) Nuclear and astro-physicists found in 1957 that lightweight products of neutron-capture are systematically enriched in the solar photosphere.

f.) The highest quality nuclear mass data from the National Nuclear Data Center shows clearly that repulsive interactions between neutrons is the greatest known source of nuclear energy and the probable energy source for the Iron Sun and the rest of the cosmos.

Can we all agree that the current review system would be improved if it encouraged scientists to address such experimental observations?

Mercury said...


Frankly, I have not received any post replies from them since I have posted new material. Nevertheless, there are parts of my comments that you haven't addressed, fundamentally...the reason for your discontent is that you have not received funding and you blame "exposure" and the inability of those in the process to embrace your "empirical evidence" and hypotheses as you feel they should. It appears that indictments have been made of those peer review journals and those reviewing the submitted papers...that some are anonymous, that some are not qualified, that some may not meet your approval. It just appears that all the eggs [chances for funding] are placed in one basket [Federal funds]. That doesn't make sense Oliver. Find alternative channels...private industrial funding or private investors. If you believe in what you have spent years researching, then branch into other venues of funding especially if there are some potential technological advantages which I doubt since your ideas are conceptual. I don't think you or your colleagues will change anything by yourselves but consistent, thoughtful exposure may interest others and some sort of grassroots movement will form to make some of the changes you wish were different. But even so in your case if all were as you wish, that still may not generate interest just on empirical data alone.

"Here are a few experimental data that form the empirical basis for the Iron Sun - data that are ignored by scientists who want the public to believe that the Iron Sun is simply "crackpot science"...."

I have been familiar with you and your hypotheses for nearly five years and have never considered your presentation as "crack pot" science. I exhibited this at the old physics forums and currently as a home page feature and a internal dedicated website at Worthy Science Sources and here at Philosophy of Science Portal. All the venues except the one here were an avenue for exposure and discussion of your position. The one here is different in discussing all but the contents except as in the form of illustration. I am not the only venue for there have been other places on the Internet that have allowed you to express your novel ideas and receive feedback. Even though the debates were often heated all have agreed that you are not a "crack pot" and very sincere in doing your science. Even all the articles I have read, though raising the radicalness ["crack pot"] aspect, have negated dismissing your findings. And I do recall many technical challenges. What I am interested in discussing here are methodologies. I don't think it is a conspiracy by scientists to discredit you--that is just paranoia.

"Why let scientists use our tax funds and their political influence to ignore the experimental data that we paid for?"

That is a curious statement and one that is fairly simple to address. I cannot think of a single Federally funded project that was solely dedicated to some theoretical issue. There has been popular and technical attachments. Don't blame the scientists and their support teams...blame the quirks of the system...the very things you and your colleagues wish to change. But even if all were perfect Oliver and you got your funding and you were proven wrong...then what? Would those that financed the project incarcerate you or worse? Suppose you were proven right? Is the reward of correctness personal or truly "for the sake of scientific epistemology"?

"Can we all agree that the current review system would be improved if it encouraged scientists to address such experimental observations?"

What makes you think they don't...based on the fact that no funding has been approved?

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury said, "fundamentally...the reason for your discontent is that you have not received funding and you blame 'exposure' and the inability of those in the process to embrace your 'empirical evidence' and hypotheses as you feel they should."

I deeply regret it if I gave you the false impression that I am discontent and feel like a victim.

In fact, I am invigorated and feel victorious every morning when I see the Iron Sun rise in the East to begin another day.

I have obviously failed to communicate the joy of living a life devoted to science. On that path you try to identify and accept what is, whether or not you like it. On that path you cannot be defeated by the failings of others.

For they too will eventually have to accept what is, whether or not the like it. That will be a bitter pill for NAS, NASA and DOE to swallow. But they can not change the Sun to fit their model.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my path through life. I did not waste it writing proposals and begging for money after NASA decided to end our research program and access to their samples in 1972.

However on two later occasions, I tried to give NASA an opportunity to correct serious past mistakes so we could move forward together:

1. After our controversial paper, "Solar abundance of the elements" was published [Meteoritics 18 (1983) pp. 209-222], I requested lunar samples from NASA. We wanted to measure Mg isotopes that had been implanted from the solar wind to see if they also showed the severe mass fractionation that we had observed in He, Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe.

NASA declined our proposal.

2. In the late 1990s, I wrote a proposal with the late Professor Paul K. Kuroda as a co-author. I had to use all my persuasive powers to get Prof. Kuroda to agree to this. NASA had previously rebuffed all of Professor Kuroda's efforts to obtain lunar samples.

Again NASA declined the proposal, although Dr. Kuroda had already established an excellent tract record in research on the early solar system and extinct radioactive elements.

Who was the victim?

Me for wasting my time trying to get NASA to change its destructive and self-defeating course?

Or NASA for continuing down a path that would lead them to regret the dawn of each day when a giant ball of iron would start its journey across the sky and announce to the world how little NASA really understood about the Sun - the only star close enough for detailed study?

Mercury said...


"For they too will eventually have to accept what is, whether or not the like it. That will be a bitter pill for NAS, NASA and DOE to swallow."

I assume the "what is" is your hypotheses based on your empirical evidence. If "what is" is the truth it should become self-evident and meaningful to others besides you and your colleagues. What has been the stumbling block all these years? What is it in your data, analysis, and conclusions that repel peer interest? You have traversed several political and NASA administrations and you are still being denied funding and even access to lunar samples.

[This will certainly annoy you as it does me but it is relevant to reproduce here as an example of an individual making a fantastic claim that has drawn federal funding and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The only difference between you and this individual is that his hypotheses carry huge technological possibilities and solution to the energy issue whereas yours is more academic.

This is one of those curious anomalies of science that generates considerable interest, draws reputable and well-educated personalities, upsets current cosmological hypotheses, casts doubts on certain aspects of physics, stimulates the prospect of hope for a better and prosperous future of unlimited energy. These types of individualistic claims are common, but this one is getting considerable attention for the above reasons and the fact that big bucks are being funneled into the project. I get a bit suspicious when one size fits all, but here are the salient points briefly.

Randell Mills's claim is akin to the old "cold fusion" observations several years ago. If you remember "cold fusion" was a serendipitous event discovered by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons [University of Utah] and initially and falsely determined to be a heat producing model and the result of nuclear fusion--star fuel. What a deal: Huge thermal energy releases and the absence of massive harmful radiation. And all accomplished with a platinum electrode and heavy water at room temperature. Too good to believe and it was. Most physicists consider this phenomena an unexplained anomaly--"...highly reproducible excess heat phenomenon in gas plasma systems...."

But now, Randell Mills has come along and rekindled the quest for unlimited energy not by fusion but "chemically" and something quite brazen regarding the physics of the hydrogen atom and the formation of the "hydrino". [I have yet to find the exact chemistry involved other than that potassium is utilized and all of the process of carried out in a vacuum.] Quantum mechanics claim that for hydrogen the lowest possible energy state is 13.6eV bound with the single proton and nothing lower has ever been discovered. Mills claims that there is a lower state and that what happens is that an electron somehow is pushed further into the nucleus releasing energy--abundant and clean energy. Well, there goes the history and heuristic values of quantum mechanics right out of the window. No wonder so many authoritative notables such as Steven Weinberg are skeptical.

Argh--is it a sham, voodoo science, P. T. Barnum in disguise? Maybe not, for there has been a tremendous interest and influx of revenue into this proposed technology from the private sector and government: Mid-Atlantic utility Conectiv. and a proposal by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter recommending a public stock offering. And such a theoretical claim would certainly change cosmological hypotheses.

I question the burst of this new approach being attributed to a single person's evaluation of the experiments and data and extrapolated to a new physics and cosmology. It took Einstein some time to formulate the "Theory of Relativity" and he was not alone--much background material had been presented. It just appears that Randell Mills is the "sole" proprietor of this revolutionary discovery. He alone gleans credit and will reap, if correct, the rewards: Monetary wise and as "the man who challenged Quantum Mechanics and won". Science is not comprised of the Dr. Baron von Frankenstein types creating the monster himself...there must be many Igors. I emphasize this for Randell Mills is basically a physician with no credentials in the realms of physics.]

I won't even repeat his cosmological claims but the example shows that perhaps motivation for funding goes hand-in-hand with the potential for technological opportunities.

I don't know Oliver, but you exhibit a great deal of bitterness towards the failure of Federal agencies to embrace your hypotheses--to get the funding to prove or even disprove.

I don't believe that NASA is on a "...destructive and self-defeating course...." I don't agree with a lot of their programs: ISS, Space Shuttles, moon/Mars mission but I look at the magnificent Mars rovers, Messenger, Voyagers 1 & 2, Cassini-Huygens, etc. and I am impressed with their accomplishments...I wish they would do more of those types of programs than trying to get man into space at this time. NASA is beginning to discover that space and space activities are not limited to them but to all able nations of the globe. I still believe that finding alternate funding would be a viable option.

Have you ever been told "why" your proposals were being turned down--special programs or even a piece of a moon rock.

Now, I do not wish this thread to disintegrate into a "bash the government" thread but to return to "scientific methodologies" of which I will pick up after you have posted a reply.

Mercury said...


"...I requested lunar samples from NASA. We wanted to measure Mg isotopes that had been implanted from the solar wind to see if they also showed the severe mass fractionation that we had observed in He, Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe.

NASA declined our proposal."

I am still confused by the "moon rock" problem. Why would they deny your petition for a small sample from a specific collection site? Granted, these samples are considered priceless but access to samples have been given to bona fide researchers. Again I suggest involvement of private enterprise to purchase a small sample...they are periodically sold at auctions. Have you petitioned the Soviet Union science community...samples were taken by Luna 16 in late 1970 or Luna 20 in early 1972?

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury asks,

1. "Why would they [NASA] deny your petition for a small sample from a specific collection site?"

2. "Have you petitioned the Soviet Union science community...samples were taken by Luna 16 in late 1970 or Luna 20 in early 1972?"


1. I do not know the answer. NASA may. My request was made in the 1980s, probably over 20 years ago.

2. No, I did not request samples from the Soviet Union. That probably would not have been a wise decision.

Finally, Mercury, those questions are moot now. I retired in 2000 and then closed my laboratory a year or two later, after over 40 years of studying isotope abundances.

I started those studies in 1960, when I was 23 years old. This fall I will be 72 years old.

I have been busy with 2007 income tax forms and will probably be unable to return to this forum for a few days.

Mercury said...


One may close the laboratory and leave the building, but one never retires when one is passionate about something. Okay, the data collecting and experimenting days are over but I can still see the passion and the consistent monitoring of events. And questions on methodology can always be asked which, as I have said, is the objective of this thread. I have always asked questions and no scientist is immune from such questions--even Einstein would be challenged.

As far as the lunar samples are concerned, I am mystifyed. Surely, an explanation from NASA would have been proper. I know that I would have asked questions.

Shortly, I will try to tie all of this together.

Oliver Manuel said...

Mercury: ". . . you exhibit a great deal of bitterness towards the failure of Federal agencies to embrace your hypotheses--to get the funding to prove or even disprove."

I do not feel bitterness toward Federal agencies, Mercury. That would be self-defeating.

Holding on to resentments is as rational as taking a poison pill and hoping that the other guy dies.

That would have destroyed me long ago.

The poor souls who work for Federal agencies had no choice when they denied our requests for funds and samples.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) controls the budgets of Federal agencies, including NASA, DOE, NSF, NIH, etc.

Program directors in those agencies might lose their positions or have their budgets slashed if they provided funds to me or to anyone else who seriously challenged the exalted opinions that NAS members have of their own infallibility.

The abuse of power by NAS members damaged a lot of people--my wife and children, students that were working with me, program officers at Federal agencies, etc.

Although NAS is powerful, a Higher Power controls the universe. That now seems to be unfolding in a way that NAS had not planned:

A giant ball of iron rises in the East each day.
Everyone sees Earth's heat source in the sky.
Politicians peddle global climate change.
Everyone is interested in the weather.
Politicians lose the election.
Global warming ceases.
NAS still feels the heat.

Mercury said...


Okay, lets is move on and do some summation.

1.) Despite the semantics of a "scientific model" it is agreed that models are used.

2.) That you do not like the current "peer review" process.

3.) That "bias" is a real entity in your formulation of hypotheses.

4.) That some data may be suspect.

Again, "What I wish to accomplish here is a discussion with a "bona fide" scientist on how science is performed--the tools of scientific investigation. I wish to explore in your situation why you have chosen to not make scientific models part of your analysis and subsequent conclusion. I wish to fathom your logical reasoning."

It still puzzles me that, if your documentation of the evidence is accurate and correct, why the scientific community does not embrace the hypotheses. It is more than politics...there must be some specific reasons for their skepticism. Have these criticisms ever been enumerated or noted by you or your staff?

Mercury said...

This thread is temporarily closed to ponder a social issue of significance and whether further discussion is merited.

To Mike R.: You have failed to understand that the function of this thread is "not" to discuss the merits of Dr. Manuel's hypotheses but to critically understand the processes involved. No scientist is immune from scrutiny.

Mercury said...

Sometimes ethical decisions are difficult to make as is this situation. Thus, this topic is permanently closed.