Did local petroglyphs depict plasma? 

Published 3:30 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

Last Tuesday, Kentucky author, artist and amateur archaeologist Al Cornette gave a talk at the library about his interpretation of The High Rock Petroglyph, a large rock carving found in Powell County and now housed in the Red River Museum in Clay City. 

Al believes the petroglyph depicts a face that incorporates stylistic elements used by Mayans, and so the High Rock Petroglyph suggests descendants of the Mayans of Central America once populated the Red River Gorge.

You can read all about his theory in his book “The High Rock Petroglyph” (call # 979.901 Corn).

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Al also left four new paintings to exhibit in the library’s Rose Mary Codell Brooks Community Room through the month of November. One of the paintings depicts the High Rock Petroglyph. The other three have their own unusual story.

Those three paintings contain images from petroglyphs found all over the world. They look like stick figure people with round heads and bodies. For many years, that was how the images were interpreted.

But, in the 1990s a plasma physicist named Anthony Peratt noticed those images also depict electrical discharges that occur when high energy plasma bursts (like solar flares) interact with the Earth’s magnetosphere. Plasma is the most abundant form of ordinary matter in the universe. It is one of the four fundamental states of matter — the others are solid, liquid and gas. Plasma can be created by heating a gas to above 5,000 degrees centigrade or subjecting it to a strong electromagnetic field. We are most familiar with plasma as lightning.

Peratt believes ancient people around the world observed plasma bursts in the sky and depicted them with the figures like the ones Al has incorporated into his paintings.

Peratt is not a pseudo-scientist sensationally exploiting abracadabra. He is a life fellow of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an emeritus member of the American Astronomical Society. In 1998, he was the acting director of the National Security, Nuclear Nonproliferation Directorate, and from 1999-2002, a member of Los Alamos National Laboratory Associate Directorate for Experiments and Simulations. 

If you want to explore his theories, go to his website, The Plasma Universe, www.plasmauniverse.info.

If you’re interested in finding out about some of the “out there” theories out there, try Margaret Wertheim’s great book, “Physics on the Fringe” (call # 530.1 Wert).  In 1993, Jim Carter, a trailer park owner in Enumclaw, Washington, sent out to a select group of scientists a letter announcing the publication of a book in which he proposed a complete alternative theory of physics. Gravity and matter, the periodic table and the creation of the universe — all these Carter explained through wildly creative ideas perfected through backyard experiments using garbage cans and a disco fog machine to make giant smoke rings.

Sound nutty? As Neils Bohr once said to Linus Pauling: “We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.”

What’s happening this week?

— AT 2 p.m. Wednesday, Kentucky Picture Show presents a movie many think is one of the best and funniest of 2016. A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. Rated PG-13.

— At 10 a.m. Friday, The Pantsers writing group meets to follow their imaginations wherever they go, down the block, into the bush, into the Cosmos, or, like Don Williamson, into a ’57 Chevy.

What’s in your imagination?