To most, the above Apollo 16 photos 1, 2 show a cloud formation, but hollow earth proponents claim they reveal a massive hole into the hollow earth secretly hidden and guarded for years. We know our planet is not flat because it makes a circular shadow on the moon, because ships disappear in the distance and because we've seen it from space. How can a reasonable person know that the Earth is not hollow?
Due to a link from here (page now removed) mentioned on the Art Bell show by Dallas Thompson we had a record peak of 22,893 web hits in one day on Oct 5th, 2002. After that one angry email called this story "unbelievably unbelievable." Of course it is! That's the fun of it. There are also people who think the earth is flat. The intent of the Reasonable Person's Guide to Strange Ideas is to promote science and critical thinking on an Internet full of nutty fringe ideas. See our RODS article regarding another Art Bell guest. Now, just for fun, stretch your imagination ... around the HOLLOW EARTH.
YES, IT IS! The most well formed ideas on the subject claim that a crust 800 miles thick surrounds the hollow center. On the inside gravity, which is really a push force, causes the inhabitants to stick to the shell. Others claim it is the mass of the shell under the inner earth dweller's feet which keeps him on the inner ground. In either case, our up is the inner earth man's down. In addition to inner earth people (some say ancient races), there are UFOs, strange birds and even prehistoric looking mammoths walking around in inner forests, lakes and rivers. In some accounts a central "dusty" sun provides heat and light to the inner paradise where there is no night. Some expect that the inner earth contains the Garden of Eden and/or Hell. Proponents believe that large entrances are to be found near (but not at) the North and South poles. Many stories, ancient and contemporary and modern anomalies are cited as evidence.
NO, IT ISN'T! In contrast, modern science considers the Earth to be a solid pressurized ball of molten rock with a spinning liquid metal core. 24, 36 According to one geologist, the hollow earth model simply does not fit the seismic data scientists have collected over many years. Also, the weight of the rock in the shell would cause it to collapse inward on itself. A central star would eventually drift and collide with the inner shell. Based on what we know about gravity, anyone inside would either be weightless or would fall to the center. Inner earth dwellers could not walk around on an inner surface. Finally, there are no pictures of a giant hole into the earth and such a big secret could not be kept in this modern age.
The Reasonable Person's Guide to Strange Ideas uses this model for solving myseries. Step 1: Define the mystery. In this case, the mystery is that some people believe the earth is hollow, while others say it most certainly isn't. Step 2. Identify sources. Below we note key individuals who have proposed and who now keep the hollow earth theory going. Step 3. With Focused Immersion, collect different competing theories. Step 4. Investigate details and match against data from unrelated fields. Step 5. Weed out theories, pick your favorite. Step 6. State what would disprove your theory. Step 7. Conduct experiments or research to test your theory.
Here are some possibilities from tame to wild:
1. The modern view is correct, but there are some nice caves. The hollow earth view continues due to imaginative stories and a lack of science education. 2. There are vast underground and underwater caverns and hidden cities that would boggle the imagination within the known crust. 3. There are hollow pockets below the earth's crust (eg. where plates are pushed into the earth) that defy expectation by sustaining life. 4. Science has wrongly interpreted the data. After 800 to 1000 miles of super dense material and pockets of moving magama, the earth is hollow. We have a pact with the inner earth rulers not to reveal this fact. 5. We are actually on the inside of a hollow sphere.
Let's take a closer look at both sides.
Disclaimer | Introduction | Possibilities | 1. Seismic Data | 2. Gravity | 3. North Hole | 4. Old Stories | 5. People | 6. Anomalies | 7. Reality Check | 8. Earth Facts | 9. References
To fairly address the question, consider the modern view of the Earth's interior.
We believe the Earth's crust is typically about 25 miles thick beneath continents, and 6 miles thick beneath the oceans (which are on average about 2.5 miles deep). A rigid layer including the crust and upper part of mantle is called the lithosphere (picture).
Massive plates of lithosphere 50 to 186 miles thick cover the earth with no gaps. They move and float on the molten mantle. We know that plate movement is a reality because hundreds of satellite monitoring stations now measure the slightest movements of the Earth's crust.
Faults are places where moving plates meet. Over time, some plates are pushed up, and some are pushed down into the earth. (Could this have been the fate of Atlantis?) Earthquakes are sudden slippings of masses of rock along fault surfaces, most likely due to the mechanism of elastic rebound. Earthquakes cause compression waves to travel through the Earth.
Seismic waves are recorded by stations all over the globe and this data has been used to map the probable interior of the Earth. Most of what we know about the structure of the Earth deeper than the deepest drill holes ( 5 km or 3.1 miles ) comes from seismic wave data.
This data is a key to our question regarding the possibility of a hollow earth.
For more, see Lecture 16 Earth's Interior from UC Santa Cruz. I like the part about Xenoliths, "alien rocks", brought up in magmas that provide some mantle rock specimens.
How can recording earthquakes tell us what is inside the earth?
8,948 miles per hour in bedrock
4,474 miles per hour in glacial till
3,355 miles per hour or slower in soft sediment
There are 3,000 different stations around the world which have measured more than 86,000 earthquakes since 1964. ( Also see 45. Here are some local stations. ) Each event is recorded and archived automatically by many stations and with the exact time and distance between stations is known the speeds of the waves can be calculated. This system of open data sharing is important for world wide monitoring of nuclear tests as well. Using a system of linear equations, locations of seismic events are automaticly determined within minutes and are publicly released.
Analysis of quake travel times and amplitudes yields a three dimensional map of wave paths through the Earth. Traveling waves that move from a material of one density into a material of a different density will change direction according to Snell's Law, and seismic waves do change speed within the earth and follow curved paths.
The same data analyzed in different ways can reveal different things about the inner earth. For example, in December, 2003, Raffaella Montelli of Princeton University and colleagues mapped the locations of 32 moving mantle plumes (click to enlarge).
The first illustration under seismic tomography is taken from Jan Lamprecht's "A Feasibility study of possible Hollow Worlds." Lamprecht claims that a shell 800 to 1000 miles thick would not allow waves to be detected around the world as they currently are, but shows a hollow planet model that does.
Lamprecht on hollowplanets.com also cites some seismic puzzles that may be solved by the Hollow Earth theory, including tens of thousands of Earthquakes with epicenters deeper than 150 Km which should not exist because, due to the pressure and heat, below 150 Km there is no known material which will not flow. Another mystery addressed are waves which slow down instead of speeding up when passing through the denser--but more elastic(?)--core. Can over 30 years of collected seismic data be interpreted in another way, a way that permits a hollow earth? This does indeed seem unlikely, especially when you consider the richness of the data and the work of people like Montelli, but is it impossible?
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