John Brandenburg

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The woo is out there
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Aliens did it...
...and ran away

John E. Brandenburg is a plasma physicist who went somewhat off the rails in 2012 and started proclaiming that he saw clear evidence of a thermonuclear war on Mars in the distant past. This off-beat idea attracted the attention of woo-peddlers and gave a mighty boost to sales of his books—both the non-fiction books and the science fiction books that he wrote using the nom de plume Victor Norgarde.

In his 2015 book, Brandenburg declared himself a devout Pentecostal Christian.

Career and credentials[edit]

Brandenburg got his BA in Physics from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, his MS in Applied Science at University of California at Davis and his Ph.D. in Theoretical Plasma Physics at the UC Davis extension campus at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. The title of his thesis was A Theoretical Model of a Reversed Field Ion Layer Made of Monoenergetic Ions. Its topic was magnetic confinement of plasmas for controlled nuclear fusion.

Brandenburg held positions in a variety of high-tech companies specializing in plasma physics: Mission Research Corporation, Sandia National Laboratories, Research Support Instruments (RSI), The Aerospace Corporation, Florida Space Institute, and Orbital Technologies in Madison, Wisconsin. His work encompassed studies of the microwave electrothermal plasma thruster for space propulsion, rocket plume-regolith interactions on the Moon and Mars, vortex theory of rocket engine design, and Kaluza-Klein theory of field unification for purposes of space propulsion. As of 2015 he was situated at Morningstar Applied Physics in Vienna, Virginia (no relationship to the error-prone psychologist Robert Morningstar.) He is a part-time instructor of Astronomy, Physics and Mathematics at Madison College, Wisconsin.

That thermonuclear war[edit]

Analyzing data from the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, which carried a gamma ray spectrometer, Brandenburg observed a local concentration of radioactive uranium, thorium and potassium in two specific areas on Mars. His first idea was that there was at least one natural nuclear reactor on Mars, analogous to the one discovered in Gabon in 1972. At the 2011 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference he published a poster on these findings.[1][2]

Later, he proposed that the elevated ratio of 129Xenon to 132Xenon in the atmosphere of Mars could only be explained as the after signature of a nuclear weapon. He suggests that massive explosions occurred in in Mare Acidalium at approximately 50°N 30°W, near Cydonia Mensa and in Utopia Planum at approximately 50°N 120°W near Galaxias Chaos, claiming they are both locations of possible archaeological artifacts.[3][4] This idea has been challenged by astronomers and other scientists who have shown that there is another more likely and more mundane explanation for the observed xenon isotope ratios.[5][6][7]

In December 2014 he also wrote:

Vitrified soil, etched with acid, has been found at the sites of both hypothetical explosions, but nowhere else on Mars. This mineral resembles "trinitite", the melt glass found at the site of nuclear explosions. So I consider my hypothesis is being supported by new data.

Brandenburg has cited a paper by Horgan & Bell from Geology 2011 but the article offers no real support for his contention. Horgan & Bell report widespread volcanic glass and do not even mention trinitite. The entire Northern hemisphere of Mars shows evidence of past volcanism—there is nothing special about the two areas Brandenburg focuses on.

His submissions have not been accepted by peer-reviewed journals. J. Cosmology doesn't count.

External links[edit]



  • Brandenburg, John E; Paxon, Monica (1999). Dead Mars, Dying Earth. Crossing Press. pp. 311. ISBN 978-1580910668. 
  • Brandenburg, John E (2011). Beyond Einstein's Unified Field: Gravity & Electro-Magnetism Redefined. Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press. pp. 320. ISBN 978-1935487425. 
  • Brandenburg, John E (2011). Life and Death on Mars: The New Mars Synthesis. Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press. pp. 324. ISBN 978-1935487364. 
  • Brandenburg, John E (2015). Death on Mars: The Discovery of a Planetary Nuclear Massacre. Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press. pp. 276. ISBN 978-1939149381. 


  • Norgarde, Victor (2003). Morningstar Pass: The Collapse of the UFO Coverup. 1st Book Library. pp. 736. ISBN 978-1414019086. 
  • Norgarde, Victor (2009). Asteroid 20-2012 Sepulveda: The cosmos plays hardball. AuthorHouse. pp. 736. ISBN 978-1438978857. 


  1. Could Natural Nuclear Reactors Have Boosted Life on This and Other Planets, Clara Moskowitz for Astrobiology Magazine, in, 2 December 2011
  2. Brandenburg, J. E., Evidence for a Large, Natural, Paleo-nuclear Reactor on Mars, 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2011)
  3. Brandenburg, J. E., Evidence of a Massive Thermonuclear Explosion on Mars in the Past, The Cydonian Hypothesis, and Fermi’s Paradox, Journal of Cosmology, 2014, Vol. 24, No. 13, November 20, 2014
  4. Brandenburg, J. E.,Evidence for large, anomalous nuclear explosions on Mars in the past, 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2015, poster session
  5. Xenon has nine stable isotopes, 124Xe, 126Xe, 128Xe, 129Xe, 130Xe, 131Xe, 132Xe, 134Xe and 136Xe. Only 131Xe, 132Xe, 134Xe and 136Xe are fission products of 238U. 131Xe can also be a decay product of 131Iodine or 131Cs. 132Xe can be a decay product of 132Iodine or 132Ba. 129Xe is exclusively produced by beta decay of 129Iodine (half-life = 16 Myr) see USGS isotope resource
  6. Was Mars Murdered?, episode #86 of the Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast
  7. Comment on the Emoluments of Mars blog, May 2016