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Cracking earth and crackpot ideas

by Donald Prothero, Sep 19 2012


Most educated people in modern society have no difficulty accepting the idea that the earth is roughly spherical, or that the sun is the center of the solar system and the earth moves around it. Nearly everyone laughs, or shakes their head in disbelief whenever you tell them about people who seriously believe in a flat earth or groups of people who still don’t accept the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus after 500 years. Yet both of these long-rejected ideas have strong adherents, mostly creationists who use literal interpretation of the Bible to deny any scientific reality that contradicts scripture. For these people to continue clinging to these long-discredited ideas, they must ignore the hundreds of photos from earth and space that show its true shape (the flat-earthers claim they are NASA hoaxes, although the other international space programs produce similar images). In addition, we now have space probes visiting all the planets on paths predicted by the heliocentric solar system, and some have looked back and taken shots that show the layout of the solar system, and the earth where it really is. But in this age of the internet, silly ideas like geocentrism can reach an audience of millions in seconds, without any fact checking or scientific peer review, which most mainstream media still practice. Any fool with a hot idea, a computer and possibly some decent graphics or animation can cook up a wild theory and instantly generate thousands of hits, and hundreds of favorable comments from those who can’t tell science from garbage.

Just one step less crazy that flat-earthism and geocentrism is another internet fad: the expanding earth model. Currently, it’s got huge popularity due to a viral (over 1.4 million views so far) internet video by a cartoon artist, Neal Adams. Using modern computer graphics, he put together a gee-whiz animation that appears to show all the continents fitting together in the past on a much smaller globe. The video even plays the trite, overused opening chords of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (famous from its use in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey”) to create the appropriate sense of awe and wonder. If you read further, Adams then takes the classic “fringe scientist” view of the world: all other scientists are wrong; they are in a great conspiracy to cover up the problems with their view of the world, and are under social pressure not to give his ideas a fair hearing. I’ve examined most of what he’s presented, and he clearly has no training or experience in geology or geophysics whatsoever, and no idea of the basic science of the earth he’s trying to rearrange.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the expanding earth notion was still not considered a truly crackpot notion. A prominent Australian geologist, S. Warren Carey, was the last legitimate scientist to be taken seriously on the idea of the expanding earth (his final book on the topic was published in 1975), since he pointed to the obvious fit between South America and Africa, and how other continental fit together as well. But Carey’s idea was soon overshadowed by the immense amount of data that led to the modern theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s and 1970s, and explained not only Carey’s fit of continents pulling apart, but also showed that other continents were colliding as tectonic plates converged and subducted beneath one another. When I was in graduate school in the 1970s, Carey’s ideas were already an object lesson in the history of our science, a case history about how some good observations can go badly wrong in the interpretation, especially when new data debunk an old notion.

Yet just as a notions debunked 500 years ago (flat-earthers and geocentrism) or 150 years ago (creationism) keep rising among those who know too little science, so too with expanding earth. Over 50 years after S. Warren Carey, it has new life thanks to the internet and cartoonist Neal Adams. And just like geocentrism and creationism, anyone with a few college courses in geology can easily debunk it, since Adams’ cartoon completely ignores geology (which he has no experience in), just as creationist “flood geologists” ignore 99% of geology just to explain the Grand Canyon in terms of Noah’s flood (see Prothero, 2007, Chapter 3).

If you mistake Adams’ slick cartoon for reality, it looks very convincing (although this video shows that there are lots of mismatches that you don’t notice since the animation goes by very quickly and is very fluid). But let’s consider some actual geology, rather than quibble over deceptive animations:

1. The fit of South America and Africa is of course, real. It was first noticed by cartographers when the first good maps of the South Atlantic were published around 1500, and was used as evidence by the early advocates of continental drift, including Alfred Wegener and Alexander DuToit, as well as S. Warren Carey. But the reason the fit is taken seriously is that there are geologic trends (such as glacial striations) and identical rock types in the bedrock on each side of the Atlantic that match up when you close the Atlantic to its configuration about 200 m.y. ago. There are also matches in the bedrock between the rest of the Gondwana continents (India, Africa, Australia, and Anarctica), and bedrock similarities found in eastern North American and North Africa that formed before the North Atlantic opened up. But no such matches in bedrock geology exist between the other continents that Adams’ animation squeezes together, especially those around the Pacific Rim, which geologic evidence shows has never been closed like the Atlantic.

2. The fit of continents in Adams’ animation is illusory, since he is matching the shape of the modern shorelines of the landmasses that are currently above water. The true edge of each continental plate, however, is the edge of the continental shelf and the shelf-slope break, which is typically 1500-2000 m below modern sea level. If you use this for the shape of the continent, the fit between South America and Africa improves (as geophysicist Sir Edward Bullard showed in the 1960s), but there is no fit for most of the other continents that Adams smashes together.

3. The expanding earth model ignores a gigantic amount of paleomagnetic data collected from rocks of every age on every continent in the past 50 years. These data clearly show that the earth has not expanded more 0.8% in the past 400 million years (McElhinny et al., 1978; Schmidt and Clark, 1980). I’ve collected, analyzed, and published some of these data, and you can tell from the inclination angle of the specimens the paleolatitude of any given sample. If you look at all the samples of the same age over a range of latitudes (say, 250 m.y. ago in the mid-Permian when Pangaea formed), there is no possibility of a significantly smaller earth radius at that time, or any other. Not only this, but the paleomagnetic data give precise positions and orientations of each continent through the past 600 m.y., and these data do not support the fanciful motions suggested in Adams’ cartoon.

4. Plate tectonics has successfully explained a huge amount of data from biogeography and the ancient distributions of fossils as well (such as the distribution of Cambrian trilobites across the Atlantic, which would only work if the proto-Atlantic had closed in the late Paleozoic before reopening in the early Mesozoic). The strange motions of the continents in Adams’ video do not explain these data in any sense.

5. Plate tectonic models of the past motions of continents has successfully predicted where the climatically sensitive deposits of the world should be found in the past: glacial deposits on the poles, swamp deposits in the equatorial low-pressure belts, and desert deposits in the subtropical high-pressure belts. The cartoons of Adams and others fail to explain any of this.

6. We can actually measure the diameter of the earth from hundreds of satellites with great precision now, and these measurements show no evidence of the earth getting larger. The satellite data are sensitive enough to see individual mountain ranges rising, and local subsidence of basins, so we can detect uplift rates in the order of meters or less—and the same data clearly show the earth is not expanding within the decades that such data were collected (Wu et al., 2011). At the rates of expansion suggested by the current expanding earth models, we should be able to detect such expansion even in a few decades.

7. Using growth rings in corals and many other types of fossils that record the number of days in a year, we can easily calculate the gradual slowing of the earth’s rotation due to the tidal friction from the moon’s gravity. From this we can estimate any changes in the earth’s moment of inertia over the past 500 million years, and there is no evidence that the earth has gotten any larger in that time (Williams, 2000).

8. Models of accretion or expansion on a scale required to significantly increase the radius of the earth do not match the known rates of accretion through geologic time. In addition, such expansion by accretion would release a lot of energy that would warm the earth’s interior much more than it actually is.

9. Models based on thermal expansion contradict the most basic principles of the rheology of the earth’s interior, and violate all sorts of constraints about the known mechanisms of melting and phase transitions within the mantle (Beck, 1961).

10. Even a beginning geology student can tell you that there are two kinds of fault systems: extensional faulting (found when the earth’s crust pulls apart) and compressional faulting and folding (formed when the earth’s crustal blocks collide to form mountain belts). Most of the world’s great mountain belts (especially the Himalayas and the Alps, and in earlier times the Rockies and Appalachians) show clear evidence of having been formed by continental collisions and show tremendous amounts of contractional folding, shortening, and faulting due to compression. If you look at any of the expanding earth models, the continents move apart but do not collide, and thus they fail to explain most of the world’s mountains.

11. Whenever you hear the expanding earth models explained, the advocates argue vehemently that there is no subduction (the process whereby one tectonic plate slides beneath another and is re-melted in the mantle). If they knew anything about earth science, they would realize that subduction is one of the best-documented processes in geology. Since the 1940s, the seismic Benioff zones have given us images of one plate plunging beneath another. The great Alaska Good Friday earthquake of 1964 first demonstrated one plate violently subducting beneath another, and the seismic evidence clearly showed that the plates were moving the manner predicted by subduction. Since then, every earthquake on a subduction zone (including the big Sendai, Japan, quake of 2011) has shown similar behavior, and the seismic data clearly show the way the plates have moved. We can even use seismic imagery to see the plates sliding beneath one another (Van der Lee and Nolet, 1977). Without subduction, there would be no explanation for not only the seismic evidence of one plate plunging beneath another, but also the gravitational anomalies associated with subduction zones. Finally, there are many instances of ancient subduction zones that have been smashed into mountain belts and uplifted on land (as in the Coast Ranges of California). These ancient subduction zones have a characteristic suite of rocks, especially blueschist metamorphics, which could only be formed in the high-pressure but relatively cool regions of a subducting plate.

These are relatively simple problems with the expanding earth model based on basic geology that any advanced geology student could enumerate. There is a much larger problem that the expanding earth models fail to address: the source of energy to drive the expansion. The video by Adams proposes childish ideas about physics and particle-particle interactions powering the idea of earth expansion (lampooned and debunked in this video). This completely ignores the huge amount of evidence to show that the earth’s interior is not composed of hydrogen fusing into helium (as in the core of the Sun), but a core of both solid and liquid iron and nickel that is incapable of either expanding much, or producing that much heat (Beck, 1961).

In summary, the ideas of the expanding earth advocates strikingly resembles those of the creationist “flood geologists”: propose one simplistic model to explain a small part of the data, and then ignore the other 99% of the data that don’t fit. No one with even a rudimentary education in geology considers these ideas plausible, since they contradict so much of reality. Not surprisingly, many of the “expanding earth” websites are also creationist websites, some of which use the “decreased gravity” of the earth to explain why dinosaurs could be so big! Pushing the expanding earth as an unscientific mechanism to explain myths handed down from illiterate Bronze Age shepherds is certainly no way to enhance your credibility.

More importantly, the expanding earth model fails to explain the “consilience of observations” that has built and supported plate tectonics for the past 70 years. Like evolution or heliocentrism, plate tectonics is not just a single idea with only one line of evidence, but a multi-faceted theory that explains thousands of observations, and makes successful predictions about new observations. After decades of such observations, and the successful predictions that they produced, the burden of proof is on the expanding earth advocates to disprove every bit of evidence supporting plate tectonics. Likewise, after 150 years, the burden of proof is on creationists to explain away the entire edifice of observations and successful predictions that support evolution. And the tired old tactic of calling scientists “close minded” and “conspiring against” the idea is not going to convince anyone who knows the real data and how science (with all its internal criticism, peer review, and willingness to listen to crazy ideas that might be plausible) actually works.

A word of advice to Neal Adams: stick to cartooning. You’re out of your depth in geology.

References

  • Beck, A.E. (1961) Energy requirements for an expanding earth. Journal of Geophysical Research 66 (5): 1485-1490.
  • Carey, S.W. (1975) The Expanding Earth. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  • McElhinney, M. W., Taylor, S. R., and Stevenson, D. J. (1978), Limits to the expansion of Earth, Moon, Mars, and Mercury and to changes in the gravitational constant, Nature 271 (5643): 316–321.
  • Prothero, D.R. (2007) Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters. Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Schmidt, P. W. and Clark, D. A. (1980), The response of palaeomagnetic data to Earth expansion, Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 61: 95–100.
  • Van Der Lee, S., and Nolet, G. (1997), Seismic image of the subducted trailing fragments of the Farallon plate, Nature 386 (6622): 266.
  • Williams, G.E. (2000). Geological constraints on the Precambrian history of Earth’s rotation and the Moon’s orbit. Reviews of Geophysics 38 (1): 37-59.
  • Wu, X., X. Collilieux, Z. Altamimi, B. L. A. Vermeersen, R. S. Gross, and I. Fukumori (2011), Accuracy of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame origin and Earth expansion, Geophysical Research Letters 38, L13304, 1-5.
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39 Responses to “Cracking earth and crackpot ideas”

  1. bshistorian says:

    I seriously doubt that the current FES believe the Earth to be flat.

    Maybe it’s a British sense of humour thing, but read their FAQ page and tell me they’re serious;

    http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/wiki/index.php?title=FAQ

    For example;
    “Q: “What is underneath the Earth?”
    A: This is unknown. Some believe it to be just rocks, others believe the Earth rests on the back of four elephants and a turtle.”

    Come on people, it’s a bit of fun!

  2. bshistorian says:

    PS – clearly FES isn’t British – the humour of it though, strikes me as such.

    • Donald Prothero says:

      Keep reading further, BSHistorian. This group is descended from the very serious group of flat-earthers led by the late Charles Johnson who was a hard-core Biblical literalist. Their site may seem kooky, but if you click on more links about their history and their membership, and read the posts on their site, it’s clear they are dead serious. I’ve also seen them on the local news, and although they sound kooky to even the reporters, they spout Bible verses with a straight face. And the statement about rocks and turtles is NOT tongue-in-cheek–they simply have no explanation or curiosity for questions like that!

      • Marco Langbroek says:

        Just a note: the statement about the Earth resting on elephants and turtles is a direct reference to British novelist Terry Pratchet’s “disc-world” fantasy books. So yeah: British humor and tongue in cheek. The rest of that bunch seems dead serious though.

      • Carl says:

        Marco, Terry Pratchett didn’t invent that. It’s an ancient world-model, I believe Sumerian but I wouldn’t swear to it.

      • bshistorian says:

        Thanks for the reply Donald. I agree that there are mixed messages here, and I’m sure they convince in interviews – I haven’t seen one myself. Each time I come across them, my opinion changes.

        But I really think that FAQ page, which I remember from several years ago before it was on a wiki, HAS to be a joke.

        Even the first Q:

        Q: “Is this site a joke?”
        A: This site is not a joke. There are people who seriously believe the earth is flat. However, there are also people who do not.

        Despite the initial denial, this seems deliberately ambiguous and evasive.

        I’m not alone in thinking that the new FES are part taking the piss, and part engaged in an intellectual experiment of sorts – arguing for argument’s sake. Or perhaps it’s theatre?

        I still think it could be an elaborate ‘troll’. There was once a whole article written on the subject of ‘Humpty Dumpty’ being a real cannon from our English Civil War. Most agree that the author wrote it in fun, but many have taken it as serious.

      • Donald Prothero says:

        OK, assuming the current FES is a Poe, my point is still that there have long been a lot of fundamentalists who are true believers in the flat earth. If you look up the WIkipedia article on the topic, they have a long history in this country, and there’s no question they were deadly serious true believers. IF the current FES website has been co-opted to become satire, it doesn’t change my point that there are still a lot of people out there who are flat-earthers…

      • gdave says:

        I’d recommend “Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea”, by Christine Garwood, for a pretty thorough run-down of the most prominent flat earthers of the 19th and 20th centuries.

        There’s no doubt that in its original incarnation, under Samuel Shenton and then Charles K. Johnson, the FES was intended to be entirely serious – but it’s not really clear how many of the members were entirely serious. It seems likely that even then, when membership meant meant paying actual dues, at least some members were in it “for the lulz”. Still, according to Garwood, it also seems likely many, and probably most, members (in the hundreds to low thousands at its peak, if memory serves – my copy of her book is packed away at the moment) were entirely sincere.

        The modern (re-)incarnation is of rather more doubtful authenticity. Regardless of the intent of the founder, given modern internet culture, the website is almost certainly patronized by a mixture of true believers, covert parodists, and open parodists who don’t realize everyone else isn’t in on the joke.

      • gdave says:

        Incidentally, around the same time Shenton founded the FES, a group of Canadian intellectuals also founded a Flat Earth Society (later the Flat Earth Society of Canada, to differentiate it from Shenton’s group). Unlike Shenton’s FES, FES-C was intended as a sort of elaborate piece of performance art, using an intentionally ridiculous idea to make a serious point about how we know what we know.

        The founders decided to “promote” the idea of a flat earth because everyone “knew” that it was a ridiculous idea, but almost no one could explain why it was ridiculous, or how they knew it was ridiculous, other than to say it was something “everyone knows.”

  3. Greg Laden says:

    If you came upon the Earth from elsewhere where there are no Earth-like planets (geologically speaking) and saw the expanding Earth video, it would be necessary to seriously consider it as a viable hypothesis.

    But then you’d collect some data and it would be disproved pretty quickly.

  4. Rob Gay says:

    “Any fool with a hot idea, a computer and possibly some decent graphics or animation can cook up a wild theory”
    I feel slightly awkward saying this, considering I know you know, but doesn’t that not meet the definition of theory? I am not saying it just to nitpick words. I think it is important to, as scientists, not slip into the habit of using the vernacular version of theory (any wild idea you come up with) – it gives those who like to discredit a real theory they don’t like some ammunition. “See, that scientist uses theory like we do – just some crazy idea! So evolution is ‘just a theory!’” That sort of thing.
    I hadn’t heard much about the expanding Earth idea though, so I thought this article was interesting. I had no idea it was still considered to be a serious thought as late as the middle of the 20th century!

    • Donald Prothero says:

      This audience should understand the differences between the vernacular and scientific usages of the word “theory”, and recognize that I”m using it in the vernacular context (especially since I modified it with the word “wild”). But when Carey proposed it, it was a serious scientific theory in the other sense of the word.

      • Rob Gay says:

        I should hope that this audience understands the distinction! I guess I was more concerned with inadvertently giving “the other side” some ammo.

    • kraut says:

      jesus fucking christ, which hole did you crawl out of? You still think a scientific theory is something cobbled together by some wild eyed and bushy tailed nutters that call themselves “misunderstood and supressed?”
      If you post that on a scepticel web site yoiu should be punished by writing a thousand times:”A scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

      • Rob Gay says:

        I am confused by your reply. Are you suggesting that I need to write out, Bart Simpson style, the Wikipedia definition of theory because I pointed out my dislike for the vernacular? Or are you suggesting something else?

  5. tmac57 says:

    potholer54 had a fun go at Adams as well:
    http://youtu.be/epwg6Od49e8

  6. Trimegistus says:

    You’re really tackling major issues now. What’s next, the Time Cube guy?

    • Donald Prothero says:

      Yes, the issue is not a serious scientific one any more, but over a million hits is not trivial, either. Michael Shermer ASKED me to write it because it keeps appearing again and again, along with other woo and pseudoscience, on the internet and in the media. I’m surprised you didn’t find a way to trash it already, as you have all my other posts!

      • oldebabe says:

        You should learn to expect banter, and even criticism, pro and con, when you write posts and blogs on the internet, as others do. ASK Michael Shermer…

        Interesting post, tho. I had not heard of this inflating/expanding earth idea in all my years of study.

      • Ian says:

        Just found the video in question on my facebook feed. So this post was quite useful!

    • Beelzebud says:

      Honest question for you. Why do you continue reading this site? You seem to come up with a negative reply to every single story posted here.

  7. Bill says:

    The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe interviewed Neal Adams on one of their 2006 shows. It’s a pretty fascinating dive down the rabbit hole. Check it out here:

    http://media.libsyn.com/media/skepticsguide/skepticast2006-07-12.mp3

  8. NickMatzke says:

    I too thought Expanding Earth Theory had died a well-deserved death back in the 1970s, about the same time as plaid tuxedos.

    But then I saw this:

    Biogeography in a Changing World (Systematics Association Special Volumes) [Hardcover]

    Malte C. Ebach (Editor), Raymond S. Tangney (Editor)

    http://www.amazon.com/Biogeography-Changing-Systematics-Association-Special/dp/0849380383

    Somehow or other, some very respectable biogeography/phylogenetics people (e.g. Ronquist, Sanmartin; the editor, Ebach, is an old-fashioned pattern cladist which is probably part of the problem), and the Systematics Association, got suckered into a bit of not-so-subtle Expanding Earth propaganda, specifically:

    (a) the cover

    (b) After the Preface, there is a 1 page piece about the cover, by Neil Adams himself! Here’s the text:

    =============
    A Pangea That Covers the World

    Neal Adams

    Among the theories of tectonics that come and go is the tenacious “Growing Earth Theory” most famously promulgated from the 1950s to 1980s by Professor S. Warren Carey from the University of Tasmania. Although the scientific community rejected this theory with the advent of the theory of subduction, this old concept has found new adherents who contend:

    1. That the question of whether subduction keeps pace with seafloor spreading or even occurs at all still remains open.

    2. With the Big Bang now being attacked from all sides, perhaps the answer to, “How was the universe created?” may be related to, “How can the Earth grow?”

    After all, if the sun grows, if the universe grows (rather than explodes), if Jupiter has grown to become a meteorite umbrella to Mars and Earth, if dinosaurs existed 100 mya that appeared much too large to support their weight, if mountains are a ‘new’ feature on Earth, and so on, is it not incumbent on the scientific community to address the possibility of Earth Expansion and research the same tectonic and biotic links across the Pacific as was done for the Atlantic more than 80 years ago? Is it not incumbent on planetary scientists, who have recently discovered gross tectonic rifting and spreading on Mars, Ganymede, Europa, etc. — but not subduction — to relate these discoveries to the Earth? Is it not incumbent on the scientific community to explain why all of the continental plates fit neatly together on a much smaller Earth or what happened to the missing Archaen crust? We need an all inclusive theory, based on many different disciplines, that will answer these questions.

    This cover illustration was created by artist, Neal Adams, in his graphics studio. The figure makes use of prominent maps of the USGS and the maps of Marie Tharpe. Seafloor spreading isochrons and fracture zones are like multiple railroad tracks that lead backward in time to their points of origin. Continental plates were moved back along those very lines, era by era, across ocean depths, until, 180 million years ago, all the oceans disappear, and only the continental plates remain.

    Perhaps, the theory of a growing Earth is an idea whose time has finally come.
    =============

    (c) the last chapter is some classic crazed anti-dispersalist stuff:

    Chapter 8 Are Plate Tectonic Explanations for Trans-Pacific Disjunctions Plausible? Empirical Tests of Radical Dispersalist Theories

    Dennis McCarthy

    …which contains various uncritical references to an Expanding Earth; and the chapter by John Grehan (another pattern cladist type I think) also contains such a reference.

    • Donald Prothero says:

      Nick: I saw some of this stuff too. Back when I was a grad student in the late 1970s, Amos Nur and his “Lost Pacifica Continent” was trendy and Gary Nelson et al. latched on to it as a means of explaining some vicariance patterns–except that the fragments assembled around the Pacific Rim would have been down the Sclater curve and under water for millions of years, ruling out the “Noah’s ark” model of vicariance. Then it quietly died out, only to be revived by the new-generation pattern cladists who know no geology, but try to force vicariance where the timescales and the geologic data don’t allow it. This debate has been going on for 35 years and never seems to go away…

  9. MadScientist says:

    I would say that Carey very obviously did not understand physics. If the earth were expanding, what was causing it to expand? Where was this energy coming from? Gravitational acceleration would also change, but if the alleged inflation is slow enough we wouldn’t be able to measure a change in the few hundred years since the likes of Galileo and Newton had measured gravitational acceleration.

    • MadScientist says:

      Just a note: if the creationists believe the earth is expanding, then dinosaurs were in an environment with much higher gravitational acceleration. I’m too lazy to do calculations on how gravity would be affected via accretion (offhand I’d guess that it would increase since the mass would increase as a cube of the earth’s radius while the acceleration at the surface decreases with the square of the radius) but the amount of material needed to grow by accretion, even over millions of years, is so large that we’d expect far more extinction events and far more meteorite and meteor trails to be visible even in our era.

      • Donald Prothero says:

        You’re both right. None of these crackpots gives ANY reasonable model for why the earth is expanding, just vague ideas about nuclear fusion (in violation of all the data), or in the case of creationists, just supernatural BS. I guess they figure if the mass is the same and the diameter smaller, then there is less distance between the bodies and g is smaller (not that they did the calculations to show this is plausible). But if you increase the mass in any way to make the volume increase and earth expand, then g is LARGER, not smaller.
        If you google “dinosaur” and “expanding earth” you’ll find the site of the crazy creationist engineer (NOT a geologist or paleontologist) who pushes this model. It’s also linked in my post…

  10. d brown says:

    no body asked, ‘if the earth is expanding,’ where is the fill coming from?

    • Donald Prothero says:

      See answer above. They don’t usually address this at all, or in the case of Neal Adams, give a lot of BS about nuclear fusion as if the Earth had a H-He core like the Sun…

      • LovleAnjel says:

        Adams once said he thought the Earth just got hollow in the center. Still leaves the forces unexplained.

  11. Andre says:

    I believe the Ancient Aliens came, created everything and the blew the earth up to its current size as they noticed there wasn’t just enough space for all the ignorance.

  12. a chemistry professor says:

    Beyond the geological arguments, there is a fundamental problem with thermodynamics in considering the plausibility of an expanding Earth. Additional matter input, far above beyond that arising from captured micrometeorites and meteorites, would be implied, it seems to me.

    Once you properly regard as minimal, even over geologic time, matter accrued by gravitational forces (and matter also lost to space by such forces, and lost to radioactive decay), the Earth is to a first approximation a mass-stable system, albeit with enormous radiant input to drive matter transformation by many mechanisms.

    Unless the expanding earth proponents have the Earth also losing density at a rapid (and surely measurable!) rate during this expansion, there is no way to reconcile their claims with the most basic concepts of thermodynamics.

  13. Phil says:

    Adams is a comic book artist and illustrator not a cartoonist. Charles Schulz who created Peanuts was a cartoonist. Alex Raymond who created Flash Gordon was an illustrator. While we realize Adams is wrong, by using the term cartoonist you are implying he draws funny animal pictures for the kiddies and must be some sort of simpleton. He’s not. He went to art school and was instrumental in shaming DC into giving the creators of Superman a pension after they made millions off Superman and fired Siegel and Shuster.

    However he is a complete science crackpot. Which just goes to show even intelligent people are susceptible to faulty reasoning.

  14. Loren Petrich says:

    If you want to see expanding-earthers in action, here is a place to go: Expanding earth. Do the continents wind back to a sphere : Pseudoscience • Rational Skepticism Forum – http://www.rationalskepticism.org/pseudoscience/expanding-earth-do-the-continents-wind-back-to-a-sphere-t8539.html It’s now at 6346 posts.

    I’ve tried to interpret some of the expanding-earth diagrams, but I found them full of visual clutter. I asked for simple line diagrams, but I didn’t get any. Simple line diagrams like the illustrations of plate tectonics that you can find in many places.

    I also asked about the deformation that the continents would be subjected to as the Earth expands, but I didn’t get a response.

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