The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Josef F. Blumrich
A native of Steyr, Austria, engineer Blumrich is the holder of patents on numerous inventions. Until recently the author was chief of the Systems Layout Branch at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. In earlier years, he devoloped the structural design of the Saturn V booster and participated in the design of Skylab. He has left NASA in order to spend his full time on research concerning extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times. He wrote the book Da tat sich der Himmel auf (The Spaceships of Eziekel)
References in some holy scripture to strange machines have prompted, throughout history, speculation and conjecture in order to lend acceptable, if not rational, explanations of the phenomenon reported. Modern technical knowledge and test procedures have been used to reconstruct a model of what was seen and experienced by one of the four great Jewish prophets two and a half millennia ago.
Any thoughts of visits to our planet by extraterrestrail beings is immediately stopped by the realization that existing scientific knowledge precludes that possibility. If such visits could be made at all, they would have to originate outside our solar system, and interstellar journeys would require unimaginable lengths of time. Yet this established knowledge is confronted with the wealth of mankind's myths and legends which claim the exact opposite, that "gods" came from the skies. Their appearances were frequently accompanied by fire, smoke and thunderous noise; their influence on man was, mostly, beneficial. If the source of this information is the ' primitive' peoples' we call it a fable; if the origin lies in religious scriptures of the more developed civilizations, we interpret the tales in a more spiritual or even holy manner.
That this attitude is unfair and wrong is manifest in at least two respects: it disregards the sincere and honest belief of the peoples who handed down the accounts, and degrades the tales to fictional stories. At its worst, the information is dismissed as the result of hallucination, the effects of drugs, or plain invention. But this attitude is also wrong and unfair with regard to man's future development because it denies even the possibility of progress in the corresponding fields of science.
Thus we seem to be at an impasse because of an apparent conflict between science and legend. Yet the way is not totally blocked: we can make progress in this very important field of knowledge once we realize that science and engineering are two separate (although not independent) activities, each with its own area of significance. We must acknowledge the present inability of science to help formulate answers to the question of extraterrestrial visitors, while realizing that engineering and industrial technology have not been introduced to the contoversy. The participation of engineers becomes an unconditional requirement in the evaluation of configurations and phenomena implying visits from other worlds. Here it is only natural that our fledgling knowledge concerning space flight emerges as a contributor of prime significance.
My interest is aroused.
My own involvement in the subject of extraterrestrial visitors began with a vehemently negative attitude. Having worked as an aeronautical engineer since 1934-first in the design and analysis of aircraft, then for the past fifteen years in the design and development of both launching vehicles and spacecraft-I was firmly entrenched in the camp of those who declare visits from outer space to be an impossibility.
It was in this frame of mind that I began to read Erich von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods? His claim that the prophet Ezekiel had encounters with spaceships prompted me to read the bibical book of Ezekiel carefully with the intention of proving von Daniken wrong. By the time I had got to verse 7 of the very first chapter, however, I found myself interpreting a description of the landings legs of some kind of flying vehicle:
"Their legs were straight. and the soles of their feet were round; and they sparkled like burnished bronze."Having designed and tested such structures myself, I could not deny that it was possible to read in this a direct, yet simple, technical description.
The contrast of that evidentaly clear passage with the quite hazy pictures sketched by the rest of the chapter made me realize that the prophet could not have known what it was he had seen, or could not have understood it. I realize the necessary consequences of this: the prophet could only describe his encounters with space vehicles and their crews in the terms available to him-with words and comparisons familiar to him and his contemporaries. So I began taking Ezekiel seriously, in an engineering sense.
Because I had to rely on translations, I used six diferent bibles, ranging in time from early in the last century to 1972, edited by Jewish, Roman Catholic, and protestant translators. Besides these, I used two highly detailed biblical commentaries.
My application of aircraft (specifically, helicopter) and spacecraft engineering principles to the reports of the prophet resulted in the penetration of Ezekiel's visual descriptions, and the replacement of these by known structural configurations. The final result is shown by the drawing at the beginning of this paper. There we see a quasi-conical main body, supported by four helicopter units, which carries the command capsule atop its rounded upper portion. We should consider that Ezekiel first saw this vehicle at a distance of about 1,000 meters; at the moment the nuclear engine fired, probably with some white clouds of condensation (because of the engine's "chilldown" phase) shooting past the craft's main body.
In these fiery, dynamic surroundings Ezekiel notices the moving rotors, see the landing legs and mechanical arms attached to the helicopter units. His first reaction is to compare the helicopters with man-like figures, but he then finds in the term 'living creatures' an expression of admirable vagueness to reflect his uncertainty. During final decent and landing, Ezekiel observes the protective covers of the helicopter's gear mechanisms, which he able to describe best by comparing them with human faces. he notices the red-hot radiator -glowing coals- (Chapter 1, verse 13)
13. "As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning."covering part of the lower central body; the prophet is fascinated by the wheels which, in their basic form, are the only element he recognizes and thus describes in great detail.
The visual description of the wheel has been
numerous paintings and texts. Yet no one has ever taken
seriously the functional
description which indicates that the wheels could move,
in any direction,
without being turned or steered. The latter has led me
to develop a precise
engineering interpretation, and for which a patent was
granted by the United
States Patent Office no. 3,789,947, Feb. 5, 1974. A
application of this interpretation, incidentally, would
be to facilitate
considerably the mobility of wheelchairs for the
Prototype, analytical research
Ezekiel ends his technical description with comments on the command capsule and on the commander himself. The amount of detail he includes is astounding. It is significant that the prophet describes features which are of little engineering importance but which, to the eye, carry the same weight as true structual elements. The quasi-conical shape of the spacecraft's central body-ideally suited to permit its combination with the helicopters, and thus a most important feature of the vehicle-is an existing engineering product. It was developed at the Langley Research Center of NASA, and has been studied analytically and in a series of wind-tunnel tests.
After establishing the general configuration of the spaceship, I made an analytical investigation; although the configuration appeared to be structurally and functionally sound, its feasibility could be proved only if weights, dimensions, performance and other basic characteristics turned out to be within reasonable limits. The analysis was performed parametrically, that means dimensions, weights and performance were varied in steps over a wide range of possibilities. From the first crude calculation to the final detailed analysis, the results left no doubt of the vehicles feasibility: they revea; a general technology of spacecraft construction not far beyond our current, most advanced capabilities. The only element we are incapable of building is the nuclear reactor within the propulsion system. Although this would be a fission reactor, it would require a specific impulse, of at least 2,000 seconds against the about 900 seconds of today's nuclear engines. It is reasonable to assume, however, that we could have this capability within a few decades if we were to invest enough effort in its development.
The over-all result, then, is a space vehicle technically feasible beyond doubt and very well designed to suit function and purpose; its technology is in no way fantastic but, even in its extreme aspects, lies almost within our own capabilities of today. The results indicate, moreover, that Ezekiel's spacecraft operated in conjunction with a mother vessel orbiting the earth. We have no point of firm reference for an exact determination of the dimensions of the landing craft, but we can approximate these within the range I investigated analytically. The illustration at the top shows the shape and proportions. The diameter of the central body would be about 18 m, that of the rotor of a helicopter unit would be 11 m, total weight from the time of lift-off from the earth for the return flight to the mother ship would be 100,000 kg, the engine's specific impulse would be 2,080 seconds, and the craft would carry two or three passengers.
With these conclusions, I had to declare defeat; I wrote to Eric von Daniken, explaining that my attempt to refute his theory had resulted in a structural and analytical conformation of a major part of his hypothesis. Determining the form, dimensions and functional capabilities of what Ezekiel saw makes understanadable a number of passages in his text that are otherwise meaningless; it also aids considerably in separating the prophetic or visionary parts of Ezekiel's book from those concerning encounters with spaceships. (I confined my study to the latter.) Being an engineer, I am not qualified to investigate the non-engineering portions.
In the book Divine
Encounters by Zecharia Sitchin there is mention
of Blumrich's work
on page 204.
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