Erich von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods?":
Fact or Fiction?
Was God an ancient astronaut? Do legends centuries old, of gods and heroes tell of space travelers who came to earth from distant parts of the Cosmos? Are some of the ruins of antiquity remnants of great airfields, the favoured landing sites of extraterrestrial craft?
"Yes!," writes Erich Von Daniken in his runaway best selling book, "Chariots of the Gods?". Von Daniken's sequels to this book, "Gods from Outer Space" and "The Gold of The Gods" appear to be of imitations. The popularity of such a sensational theory should not be surprising. It has been over twenty-seven years since "flying saucers" burst into the public's awareness, and UFOs still continue to generate excitement and controversy. Sensational hypotheses such as these generate such levels of interest that they tend to become self-sustaining, quite apart from the question of whether they are true.
Established science has always shied away from such remarkable claims.
"It took courage to write this book. and it will take courage to read it", says Von Daniken. "Even if a reactionary army tries to dam up this new intellectual flood, a new world must be conquered in the teeth of all the unteachable in the name of truth and reality. Does science avoid Von Daniken because it is afraid to face up to the truth? Let's examine some of his many claims, to see if they are serious scientific theories, or mere humbug.
On page 9, Von Daniken serves up a "basic rocket equation," derived by one Professor Ackeret, purporting to show how time slows down for space travelers who zip along at velocities near the speed of light. This is an important consequence of Einstein's theory of relativity. Yet a quick glance at this "rocket...