Aug 20, 2007
The Expanding Earth Debate - Part One
Images of Jupiter's moon Europa have sparked interest
in an unusual theory. Are
some celestial bodies, including Earth expanding? Or is
electricity a better explanation?
What is the
origin of the Earth? How long has it existed? How did it
come to be the celestial body that we inhabit today?
similar questions have been on humanity's mind since we
began to think. As the process of scientific investigation
has developed and instrumentation invented, the structure
and behavior of our planet has been deduced and theories
affirmed to explain our evolution.
For the past 100
years or more, scientific advancements have revealed
features on Earth and
other planets that seem to indicate the crust is
cracking and spreading in a continuous movement.
Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain the
observations. In this series, we will look at two: Plate
sea floor spreading and the
drift" was an attempt to explain the observation by many
explorers and cartographers since the days of Magellan that
the edges of the continents seem to fit together like the
pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. In 1915,
Alfred Wegener formally proposed that the continents
were moving around on the surface of the earth, alternately
cracking apart and crashing together over millions of years.
He did not explain how they moved, or what force could be
involved, only that the observations supported his
paleontologists found that some continents, now separated by
oceanic gulfs, contained
fossils on or near their coastlines that were identical.
The conclusion was that the extinct animals had once lived
side-by-side on one giant landmass, so the theory of
Pangaea was created.
geological processes such as volcanic
rock correspondence on continental shelves were also
considered confirmations that there has been a breakup of
one single continent over a long period. Later, discoveries
that the bottoms of the oceans were marked with "magnetic
striping" and that the
magnetic poles of the Earth seem to wander from place to
place and reverse themselves periodically lent credence to
the theory. If the continents do not move, how did the poles
drift" theory gradually metamorphosed into a new version in
which the continents were like gigantic corks
bobbing on a molten ocean. According to the theory,
continents are supposedly built from lighter elements and
the mantle made of denser materials -
sima are the two
substances said to enable the continents to slide around. It
is now known that the two materials are not separated in
layers, but gradually merge into each other near the mantle
continental "roots" extend down into the interior of the
Earth for upwards of 700 kilometers, the force required to
move those billions of tons is so improbable that plate
tectonic models have been developed that depend on
unsuspected crustal "subduction zones" and not on movement
(for example: Lowman, P. D., Jr. Plate tectonics with fixed
continents: a testable hypothesis-I. Journal of Petroleum
Geology 8:373-388). Just as with Wegener, though, evidence
is lacking for such zones.
nineteenth century, at least three different reasons for the
alignment of the continents were proposed.
Expansion – the Earth is being heated because of its
internal radioactivity, or because of some other
external force yet unseen, and increases in size because
of its thermal coefficient of expansion.
2. Aether Absorption – some kind of energy that we
haven’t yet identified is absorbed by the Earth and
changes into matter, causing it (and presumably other
bodies) to expand. This theory relies on versions of
mechanical gravity or Le Sage gravity.
3. Mass Creation – in an unknown process involving the
creation of matter from nothing, there is an addition of
material to the inner shell of the Earth’s crust,
causing it to expand like an inflating balloon.
S. Warren Carey's Mass Creation theory has gained
prominence in some circles as a viable alternative to the
theory of Plate Tectonics. Because of the problems with
subduction and the apparently random distribution of
magnetic stripes on the ocean bottom, Plate Tectonics is
coming under increasing pressure. In part two we will
consider both theories in contrast and how Jupiter's moon
Europa has been used to support both,
By Stephen Smith
Please visit our
The Electric Sky
and The Electric Universe