Too Hot for Conventional Thinking
See earlier postings on why I think there's good reason to
is a young planet.
Mike Miller sent me the following comment on a mail he received
from from Zbigniew Jaworowski, a professor at the Central Laboratory for Radiological
Protection in Warsaw, Poland, who has served on the United Nations Scientific
Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. (Jaworowski has a good article
on today's exaggerated fears concerning this subject, "Radiation Risk and Ethics,"
in the September 1999 issue of Physics Today.)
Mike also maintains a site of interesting science at http://www.quackgrass.com/roots/qrn.html.
Venus emits forty times more energy than it gets from the Sun.
THAT hurls an observational fox into the planetological henhouse!
One of the shocks scientists received when space vehicles went
out to the planets was Venus' high surface temperature--hot enough to melt lead.
Until then, Venus' extreme cloudiness was thought to indicate the kind of steamy,
swampy planet portrayed in 1950s science fiction, lots of liquid water. Wrong-o!
And not just a little bit wrong: wrong by a country mile!
Planetologists cobbled together an ad hoc explanation for Venus'
extreme temperature in terms of a "runaway greenhouse effect." According to
this notion, the CO2 in Venus' atmosphere just kept on trapping more
and more solar radiation until its temperature reached the current astounding
The notion of a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus is beloved
by advocates of catastrophic global warming on Earth, but it never did make
a lick of sense. The greenhouse effect can only help to retain solar heat that
makes it into an atmosphere in the first place, and not much heat makes it into
Venus' atmosphere; Venus' cloud tops are highly reflective. Technically, Venus
has a high albedo. That high albedo is what makes Venus so bright in our skies;
almost all the solar energy that hits Venus bounces right off into space where
we can see it.
Now the notion of a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus is dead,
dead, dead. The hotter a thing, the faster it radiates heat. Venus is hot enough
to radiate heat 40 times faster than it gets it from the Sun. There
is no way Venus could get that hot by absorbing sun beams! Period!
The observation leaves open two general possibilities. First,
Venus may have an (unknown) internal heat source that is keeping its temperature
far above the level that sunlight could push it to. Second, Venus may be in
process of cooling down from some fairly recent (unknown) convulsion that heated
it up to today's extreme temperature. Each possibility is as shocking as the
We needn't look to distant galaxies for scientific surprises.
Our own backyard, the Solar system, has some dandies!
[Original, enclosed by Mike, from Jaworowski]
I traced the paper from which I got the information on
Venus emitting forty times more energy than its get from the Sun. This is a
paper by prof. Gunnar Heinsohn, Bremen University, Germany, a politologist.
His source of information was probably a New York Times/Science Times issue
to which I do not have access. Below is an excerpt from Heinsohn 1997 paper:
"Anfang und Ende des Klimawahns", published by MZSG Management Zentrum St. Gallen,
Venus has a smooth surface: only about 900 impact craters, when Mercury, Mars
and Moon have myriad of them. This suggest that the surface of Venus has about
ten times shorter age than the surface of these other bodies. The younger surface
of Venus could be an effect of a giant impact, the energy of which boiled the
planet (Gerald Schaber et al., US Geological Survey Flagstaff AZ).
Venus irradiates forty times more energy than it receives
from the Sun, as is indicated by the data from Magellan Sonde between 1990 and
1994 (Broad, W.J. 1996, "Venus's remade face offers hints of cataclysm: Earth's
twin planet, with its surface radically remade by inner heat, is no twin after
all" in New York Times/Science Times, 16 July, 1996).