Re: 5/5/2000

Anders Sandberg (
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 15:26:17 +0200 (MET DST)

On Wed, 16 Jul 1997 wrote:

> Hi, yes it will happen, but I heard that all the rest of the planets were
> gonna be on the other side of the sun than us. Either way there will be an
> allignment. Also, many people, including scientists and researchers, believe
> that there will be a pole shift on that day, in which the pole will shift on
> its axis with antarctica going to the equator.

Sigh. So much for critical thinking. 1 point to the millennial meme,
0 to basic physics.

Why would the alignment of planet induce the *huge* torques needed to
shift the axis of rotation? The Earth has a total rotational energy
of around 2.57e29 J; shifting the angular momentum vector would
require energies on this order. The Earth is nearly spherical, so
where would these torques be applied? Tidal forces won't do, since
they would simply rip apart the planet (and most other planets). Why
haven't we noticed *a lot* of evidence for immense changes in the
rotation axes and orbits of most planets (if the earth is affected,
what about the asteroids, mars and all the moons)? Why don't we
notice similar effects among the moons of Jupiter, which are more
massive compared to their central mass and have faster periods, and
hence would align quite often? Why haven't we noticed periodic mass
extinctions every few thousand years instead of tens of million years
apart (a pole shift would certainly cause such an extinction)?

> There's lots of stuff to back
> up this theory, such as there being trees on antarctica and the ancient
> egyptians saying that the sun used to rise in the west.

A nice example of belief bias. There are other, more likely
explanations in accord with known physics, such as fossils/stranded
logs from elsewhere in the case of antarctic trees (it was quite
balmy before the current ice age, I think) or mistranslations in the
case of the egyptians (wouldn't the chinese have noticed it too?).

That there are people who believe in pole shifts doesn't make it
likely. They hypothesis contradicts a lot of known physical laws
(elementary mechanics), predicts some things which are not observed
(like very noticeable geological upheavals in historical times),
explains away the lack of evidence in an ad hoc manner (Velikovsky
was a master of this; he claimed many disasters were forgotten due to
global amnesia!) and its proponents rely heavily on predictions by
astrologers and seers rather than observations.

It is very likely the millennium will pass with just the usual amount
of disasters, plus the results of a surge of more or less unlikely
doomsday predictions. I don't think this list is the right place to
debate this kind of rubbish.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y