Professor Pickering’s Prehistoric Aliens

Pickering's Prehistoric Aliens

Since scientists now know everything and since the whole universe and all of the cosmos has been scientifically explained reality can seem pretty boring*. But, a hundred years ago when scientists were questioning reality, history and their own beliefs they came up with some really awesome ideas. Of course none of these ideas are real since we now know the universe is mechanical and simply a series of chemical reactions acting upon each other at a subatomic level according to the fixed laws of mathematics**. BUT, back when scientists were challenging ideas they really did come up with some pretty entertaining thoughts.

One of those scholars who was challenging ideas was William H. Pickering. Pickering was no slouch, he taught physics at MIT, discovered Phoebe, one of the moons of Saturn, was a fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences and established a number of observatories. He also thought he  found vegetation on the Earth’s moon, believed craters on the moon were made by bugs, discovered multiple other planets in our solar system and thought dinosaurs probably lived on Venus.

Dinosaurs on Venus

Dinosaurs on VenusFor a guy who has craters on the moon and Mars named after him, and his brother, you would think scientists would talk a little bit more about him. Unfortunately like most scientists who challenge ideas, (and he obviously had some bad ones), those bad ones are enough to footnote him over the cliff of history and into relative obscurity.

When Pickering started discussing Dinosaurs on Venus he was pretty much signing his pink slip as a serious scientist.

Certainly there are many physical reasons.” said Professor Pickering, “for thinking that if any other planet besides the earth is inhabited, it is probably Venus. As to the existence of intelligent life, the question is still open.”

Whether or not all of Pickering’s ideas were correct at least he was thinking creatively. Using the information he had to construct new ideas which led future scientists to a deeper and greater understanding of our world and that alone is an accomplishment we should all strive for.

Whether Dinosaurs live on Venus or not we should still celebrate the creativity of Professor Pickering and the “wacky” scientists like him.

Read about Pickering’s ideas about vegetation and life on our moon here.


*Science has really not explained everything. 96% of the universe is “dark matter/dark energy” which is kind of a made up thing.
**The “fixed laws” aren’t really fixed and, again, due to the “dark matter/dark energy” idea 96% of everything is still unexplained.

1 Comment

  1. Chuck Pogan

    I remember Carl Sagan mentioning this on his original Cosmos series back in the 80’s. The rational being that Venus was observed to be cloud covered and Pickering knew it must be hot because it was closer to the sun than us, so perhaps it too was going through a similar evolution because it probably was a primordial swamp like environment. Sagan was bemused that the end result was “dinosaurs” because we couldn’t see the surface through the clouds. Of course he was bemused at folks claiming to have seen flying saucers too.

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