Fortean Times, April 2001
The talk of the galaxy
- an ET message for us?
Alexandira, VA: Starlane Publications 2001
pb, $16.00, pp 192, illus, index, bib, ISBN: 0 9642025 3 0
When the first pulsar was discovered in 1967, its source was labelled LGM 1 - standing for "little green men". The pulsating radio signal seemed too regular to be a natural phenomenon, and the possibility that it was a beacon established by some extraterrestrial intelligence was, for a while, seriously considered.
A host of rather more physical explanations were rapidly produced, with the hypothesis that pulsars are rapidly spinning, highly dense collapsed stars emerging as the most satisfactory. This "neutron star lighthouse" model has however struggled to account for certain observed aspects of pulsar behaviour, and has been so drastically fine-tuned that, according to LaViolette, this simple cornerstone of pulsar astrophysics now resembles the intricate epicycles of pre-Copernican astronomy.
It's obvious then, to LaViolette at least, that the astronomers' first hunch was correct after all. Pulsars are beacons set by ETIs. What's more, they have been set to give us a very particular message.
That message will be no surprise to followers of LaViolette's own sub-Velikovskian cosmology, as detailed in books such as Earth Under Fire: Humanity's Survival of the Apocalypse (Starburst 1997). In these epics of astronomy, myth and prophecy, LaViolette demonstrates that the usual clutch of ancient mythologies actually describe a global climatic disaster some 16,000 years ago, caused by an explosion in the galactic centre that showered us with cosmic rays and radiation.
In this latest tome, LaViolette proposes that pulsars have been created and positioned specifically to remind us - or civilisations in our immediate neighbourhood - of the existence of this catastrophic "galactic superwave" and to warn us that it will happen again.
Although the idea that pulsars are of ETI origin continues to be a fascinating and unprovable one, the case that they have been specially created for our edification is less than convincing. Even LaViolette admits that the fact that observed pulsars are clumped in certain areas of the sky is largely because these are the areas that have been most intensively studied.
As a bonus for the ambitious DIYer, LaViolette also outlines how to build your own pulsar - and suggests that the US military is already working on the basic technology, throwing the fortean perennials of UFOs, HAARP and crop circles into the mix. Anyone interested in one of the genuine mysteries of astrophysics should stick to the first three chapters and the appendices. The rest is strictly for fans of LaViolette's earlier work.