Ladies and gentlemen, with you the incredible Growing Earth Theory!
According to this truly revolutionary theory with ever expanding new horizons, the coastal lines of the continents do not fit together only in the Atlantic ocean, but on the Pacific and in fact all of them. And if you join everything together, throwing away the oceans, you will end up with a perfectly joined sphere with all the continents, sans oceans, with nearly half the size of the current planet.
Therefore, it’s only obvious to assume that in the last few million years, instead of a fracturing supercontinent forming many moving tectonic plates that would be the world we know today, the Earth has in fact been expanding in size since the age of the dinosaurs.
Based on this “fact”, many interesting ideas have been advanced to explain how our planet could be growing at such astounding rates. The most adorable is the one advanced by Neal Adams, main proponent of the Growing Earth Theory.
Adams created a whole new Physics, according to which mass is being constantly created inside all the planets and stars, just as the Universe is expanding. He also rejects the silly idea of gravity, claiming instead that all celestial movements are due to magnetism and the iron core of the planets.
Incidentally, Neal Adams, author of the video at the beginning of this post, with an undeniable graphic quality, is a famous comics illustrator. Comparisons between Adams and geniuses like Galileo, and some more humble comparing him to Alfred Wegener are not in shortage in the many websites promoting this theory.
Ridiculous as it may sound, this theory do present a fascinating perspective on the development of science. Alfred Wegener, as you know, is an often cited example of a “modern-day Galileo”. And very modern: the acceptance of the continental drift advanced by the German meteorologist became universal among geologists only a few decades ago — check, for instance, this article on TIME magazine from 1970 in which the “revolution” on geology through the ideas of Wegener is mentioned.
It’s interesting to note that even though Wegener advanced several pieces of evidence in favor of his theory, such as fossils of the same species distributed in continents now thousands of miles apart, he also didn’t have a convincing mechanism to explain it. Just like Adams.
To Wegener, the continents were literally “drifting” over the planet, moved perhaps by the “centrifugal force” (!) of the rotating Earth and different densities of its layers. The lack of a convincing, even plausible theory, was one of the main obstacles to the acceptance of his ideas, and in fact they were only widely acknowledged on the renewed version of the tectonic plates, which finally gave a reasonable explanation for the fact that the continents are indeed moving. The tectonic plates would also explain volcanism and earthquakes.
Fact is, despite copious amounts of clear evidence, for decades the lack of a convincing mechanism meant that the evidence was simply ignored, being forcefully explained away by alternative theories (such as ancient land bridges between South America and Africa).
Truth be told, though Wegener was in fact ridiculed by some, he also had the support and his theories were viewed seriously by some other academics and established institutions. He publicized them openly, and wasn’t burned or even imprisoned in his home, like some previous scientific martyrs. Science is not perfect, but it’s not as imperfect as the Inquisition, which was long over anyway by the time Wegener was alive.
But back to the Growing Earth Theory. Even ignoring the absurd mechanisms advanced to explain it, one have to consider that there are a lot of evidence against the central idea that the Earth has significantly increased in size, and consequently in mass, over the last few million years. The continental drift does not affect the planet’s orbit, but a growing Earth would.
Also ironically, even though there are fossils of the same species distributed over South America and Africa, suggesting an ancient proximity, there is no equivalent evidence between Australia and North America, which according to the Adams were also connected.
There are also problems with geological evidence seen across continents that support Pangaea, but contradict a “continental planet”, such as glacial rocks in Africa and coal near the Poles.
All these counterpoints made, the main and most visual evidence in favor of the Growing Earth remains: the apparent perfect fit of all the current continental coastlines. This looks curious indeed, but it would be necessary to check if Adams and others are not distorting sizes and shapes to forcefully fit everything together. If they don’t, this sole element would be extremely interesting, and could actually be evidence of something — even if not of a Growing Earth.
From all this story, and going again to the history of science, a magnificent point can be made in the fact that if the idea of an expanding Earth sound ridiculous today, around a hundred years ago the idea of a Contracting Earth was actually advanced by respected scientists. The theory was that Earth, originally formed by hot molten material, was cooling and, in the process, contracting. Mountains would be formed in this contraction, much like wrinkles in emptying balloons.
Though the Contracting Earth Theory was never widely accepted, and no significant contraction such as half the size of the planet was ever proposed, the idea advanced by the American geologist Dana was reasonably well-received, contrary to that proposed by the German meteorologist Wegener.
The Contracting Earth was considered seriously in spite of the almost complete lack of evidence, but perhaps due to a plausible mechanism. It is in fact so plausible that to this day is the accepted explanation for geological formations in another planet, Mercury.
Those are all imperfections of science, which nevertheless is still the field that allowed for the most far reaching advance in human knowledge on all history. Wegener himself, so right, but also somewhat wrong, trusted in the very same scientific process and was sure that one day his ideas would be accepted as true by scientists.
He was right about that too.
Popularity: 2% [?]Posted in Science | 4 comments