Monthly Archives: June 2016

Retrograde Motion – An Attempt to Explain Something Simple by Making it Complex and Untrue

One phenomenon that ancient astronomers had difficulty explaining was the retrograde motion of the planets. Over the course of a single night, a planet will move from East to West across the sky, like any other celestial object near the ecliptic. Most objects in our sky appear to rise somewhere on the Eastern horizon and set somewhere on the Western horizon. The only exceptions are stars near the North celestial pole, that stay above the horizon all the time and appear to make counterclockwise circles around the celestial pole. As one travels further North, the region of the sky that remains above the horizon at all times becomes larger, until the entire sky appears -to an observer at the North Pole- to be simply circling the North star. As one ravels South, the region that remains above the horizon becomes smaller, diminishing to zero size for an observer on the Equator. If one continues South of the Equator, one would observe a progressively larger region surrounding the South celestial pole that remains above the horizon at all times. Stars in that region would appear to circle the South celestial pole in clockwise circles.)

If observed from one night to the next, however, a planet appears to move from West to East against the background stars most of the time. Occasionally, however, the planet’s motion will appear to reverse direction, and the planet will, for a short time, move from East to West against the background constellations. This reversal is known as retrograde motion.

Ptolemaic Explanation

The model of the solar system developed by Ptolemy (87 – 150 A.D.) was a refinement of Aristotle’s (384 – 322 B.C.) universe. This model consisted of a series of concentric spheres, with the Earth at the center (geocentric). The motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars was based on perfect circles. To account for the observed retrograde motion of the planets, it was necessary to resort to a system of epicycles, whereby the planets moved around small circular paths that in turn moved around larger circular orbits around the Earth. This accounts for retrograde motion according to the ancients.

In its final form, the model was extremely complicated, requiring many nested levels of epicycles, and with even the major orbits offset so that they were no longer truly centered on the Earth. Despite all of this fine tuning, there remained significant discrepancies between the actual positions of the planets and those predicted by the model. Nevertheless, it was the most accurate model available, and it remained the accepted theory for over 13 centuries, before it was finally replaced by the model of Copernicus.

Copernican Explanation

Copernicus replaced the geocentric universe of Ptolemy with one that was centered on the Sun (heliocentric), with only the Moon orbiting the Earth. His model was still based on circular orbits and therefore still required further refinement), but it was able to achieve superior precision than the Ptolemaic model without the need for epicycles or other complications. The explanation for retrograde motion in this system arises from the fact that the planets further from the sun are moving more slowly in their orbits than those closer to the sun. The retrograde motion of Mars occurs when the Earth passes by the slower moving Mars.

When combined with the refinements of Kepler (elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus, relationships between distance from sun and orbital speed – both within a single orbit and between orbits) this does, in fact, provide the correct explanation for the observed retrograde motion along with precise predictions of the positions of the planets.

Retrograde Motion

Geothermal Power 101

A geothermal power plant uses its geothermal activity to generate power. This type of natural energy production is extremely environmentally friendly and used in many geothermal hot spots around the globe.

To harness the energy, deep holes are drilled into the earth (much like when drilling for oil) until a significant geothermal hot spot is found. When the heat source has been discovered, a pipe is attached deep down inside the hole which allows hot steam from deep within the earth’s crust to rise up to the surface.

The pressurized steam is then channeled into a turbine which begins to turn under the large force of the steam. This turbine is linked to the generator and so the generator also begins to turn, generating electricity. We then pump cold water down a new pipe which is heated by the earth and then sent back up the first pipe to repeat the process.

The main problems with geothermal energy is that first, you must not pump too much cold water into the earth, as this could cool the rocks too much, resulting in your geothermal heat source cooling down too fast.  Secondly, geothermal power plants must be wary of escaping toxic gases from deep within the earth.

A very good way of thinking about geothermal energy is remembering that all our continents lie on molten rock deep within the earth; this rock produces tremendous levels of heat that we are able to extract, just think of your nation lying on a bed of fire. Geothermal power is one of the most renewable energy sources that exist on our planet today; the earth will contain this heat for our lifetime. If this heat disappears, our planet will become too cold to survive on.

You can purchase small scale geothermal equipment for your home yet this works in a different manner to geothermal power stations. The power stations extract the heat directly from deep within the earth, whereas home geothermal hot water equipment absorbs heat over a lengthy period of time from a few meters beneath your feet.

Here we shall discuss the different disadvantages of geothermal energy.

Geothermal heat is extracted from deep within the earth’s surface, and this is the main disadvantage concerning finding a suitable build location, so, the main disadvantage of building a geothermal energy plant mainly lays in the exploration stage. During exploration, researchers will do a land survey (which may take several years to complete) and then provide their findings to the company that contracted the survey.

Many companies who order surveys are often disappointed, as quite often the land they were interested in cannot support a geothermal energy plant. To extract the heat we have to find certain hot spots within the earth’s crust, these are very common around volcanoes and fault lines, but who wants to build their geothermal energy plant next to a volcano?

Some areas of land may have the sufficient hot rocks to supply hot water to a power station, but what if these areas are contained in harsh areas of the world (near the poles) or high up in mountains. Some very good proven spots have been found in New Zealand, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The questions that are usually asked during a survey are; is the rock soft enough to drill through, do the rocks deep down contain sufficient heat, will this heat be sustainable for a significant amount of time, is the environment fit for a power plant. If the answer to these basic questions is yes, a more in depth survey should go ahead.

Another big disadvantage of geothermal energy extraction is that in many cases, a site that has happily been extracting steam and turning it into power for many years may suddenly stop producing steam. This can happen and last for around 10 years in some cases.

Developers of such sites must be careful and aware that in some cases, harmful gases can escape from deep within the earth, through the holes drilled by the constructors. The plant must be able to contain any leaked gases, but disposing of the gas can be very tricky to do safely.

Theodore Sheldon Sumrall is a former Professor of Engineering and is the Chief Scientist for The Institute for Energy Independence


The Coming Economic Collapse

In his book “THE COMING ECONOMIC COLLAPSE”, Dr. Stephen Leeb predicted that the U.S. economy was standing on the brink of the biggest crisis in its history (which is now here). As the fast-growing economies of China and India pushed global demand for oil beyond production capacity, Americans experienced an energy shortfall far worse than the one in the 1970s. The result has been severe financial hardship for most people and the concept of “Trickle Up Poverty” has been realized.


The result of this has been the inevitable destruction of the economy of the United States.  This effort has not been due to the actions of one party or another but due to the complicit activities of leaders in both the Democratic and Republican parties.  In particular, the Bush family led the charge.  In Peter Schweizer’s book “Victory” about the late great President Reagan’s efforts to destroy the Soviet Union (their economy was destroyed by encouraging the Saudi’s to increase their oil production which caused the USSR to lose $1B per year in hard currency whenever the cost of Oil dropped $1/barrel) Mr. Schweizer documented how President Reagan’s VP at the time (George Bush Sr.) went behind the President’s back (at the encouragement of his Houston pals in the oil and gas business) and tried to encourage the Saudi royal family to slow down their production.  Of course President Reagan found out about this and instead of demanding the VP resign from office simply dressed him down in front of his senior staffers.

So – our enemies (who are funded by our reliance on petroleum) have switched things on us and instead of us wrecking our enemies’ economy, our economy is in ruins.  The only way out of this situation is to develop some type of renewable energy which will permit us to have sufficient electricity to convert to electric vehicles.  Until we do so, we will be held hostage by those who wish to see our economy in ruins which is pretty close to that point now.

~ Theodore Sheldon Sumrall