IN MEMORIUM: Vellum Manikowski, the “Cosmic Pie” Man

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IN MEMORIUM: Vellum Manikowski, the “Cosmic Pie” Man

by A.S. Kaswell
drawing by Jim Bredt

There have been many attempts to explain how the earth and its sister planets came into existence. None has been more original — and more influential, albeit very briefly — than the cosmic pie theory proposed by Dr. Vellum Manikowski. Dr. Manikowski died last month of complications arising from a long battle with gout. His passing leaves a curious void in the intellectual cosmos.

Manikowski often said he felt a “palpable hunger” for knowledge. His cosmic pie theory explains that the planet Jupiter, under constant baking from the sun, erupted and expelled a giant pie. This pie travelled close to the earth on several occasions, colliding with the moon, scraping the surface of Mars, and eventually cooling and congealing to become the planet Venus.

Manikowski believed that his theory explained the parting of the Red Sea and many other events chronicled in the Bible and in ancient legends of many cultures. The theory also held that hot pie juices rained down on the earth, seeped below ground, and formed the pools of petroleum that later became the economic driving force of modern civilization.

Manikowski's book “Crusts in Collision” took the scientific and literary worlds by storm when it was published in 1950. Professional astronomers were initially amused at what they took to be a clever spoof. Their good humor turned to rage, however, as it became apparent that Manikowski was quite serious about his ideas, and that many prominent educators, theologians and publishers were eagerly promoting the Manikowskian view of the cosmos.

Within a few short months, “Crusts in Collision” reached the top of the best-seller lists, and Manikowski was offered professorships at universities in the United States, in France, and in his native Hungary.

As his celebrity grew, though, Manikowski's interest in astronomy diminished. He spent much of his time eating pies sent him by admirers. Within a few months, he withdrew completely from intellectual life. In the halls of academia, his influence waned.
At the memorial service, Manikowski's one remaining disciple, Jan P. vanDerHaupt, a published astrologer, delivered a eulogy that describes Manikowski as well as anyone ever has: “He was as a giant pastry, passing through the intellectual solar system of the twentieth century.”

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