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No. 6: February 1979

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Venus Has Uncertain Pedigree

The five instrumented Pioneer probes that plunged into the thick Venusian atmosphere in late 1978 discovered unexpectedly large quantities of the isotope argon-36. The significance of argon-36 is that it is supposed to be primordial argon; that is, an argon isotope formed when the solar system was born. Since argon-36 is radioactive, most of the original supply of this isotope should have disintegrated and disappeared over the 4-billion-year history of the solar system. Indeed, the atmospheres of earth and Mars have much, much smaller quantities of argon-36 than Venus. Venus, therefore, may have had an origin different from that of earth and Mars -- either a much more recent birth (such that the argon-36 has not all disintegrated), or an altogether different kind of origin in which more argon-36 was created than was the case for earth and Mars.

(Anonymous; "Venus Probes Solar System Birth," New Scientist, 80:916, 1978.)

From Science Frontiers #6, February 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987