Thursday, July 17, 2008

Caves, Batman, the Expanding Earth, and Bugs


Spelunkers and cavers everywhere!

It just so happens that in the past two days, my friend Scott Nybakken saw Journey to the Center of the Earth and a certain already-acclaimed, very dark movie about a superhero known for living in a cave at times, and then tonight he and I both bid farewell to Ellie Hanlon, a cave-explorer (as were two friends of hers from Ukraine who were present) who’s moving to Austin, TX, home of Diana Fleischman (one of our panelists Tuesday at Lolita Bar) and L.B. Deyo (co-founder of the debate series itself).

But talk of Batman and caves in turn reminds me of something stranger: As if it weren’t odd enough that some people in Jules Verne’s day thought the Earth was hollow, one of the most famous Batman artists in our own day, the highly talented and influential Neal Adams, is a devotee of the fringe geological theory that the Earth is expanding — as most rocks do, according to the theory, due to a hard-to-detect internal crystalline structure that gradually pushes outward.

He is downright outraged at the purported conspiracy among mainstream geologists that is denying the expansion of the Earth, scientists instead hewing to theories such as plate tectonics at which Adams laughs.

Weirder still, from a physics perspective, Adams believes that the Earth is somehow gaining mass as it expands (sort of the way the Hulk somehow gets heavier without eating when he transforms — something eventually attributed in the legendary Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe [by Larry Hama, the writer best known for G.I. Joe] to Hulk drawing mass from an alternate dimension via a small wormhole during each transformation, which actually makes more sense than him just standing there getting more massive without eating anything).

This is my favorite passage of Neal Adams’ argumentation for a growing Earth, from his website (my day job obliges me to say that this argument is, shall we say, not widely respected by scientists):

Dragonflies the size of hawks. Spiders the size of Fed-Ex boxes, 5 feet long 7 inch wide centipedes and cereal bowl sized crawling bugs [in prehistoric times, as known from fossils].

Big Deal! Right?

Yes. What they don’t say is because insects don’t have internal skeletons they can’t grow much bigger than they are today. If THE GRAVITY IS WHAT IT IS TODAY!

Of course, if, 300 million years ago, gravity on Earth was less than half of what it is today

Then these gigantic insects could exist…

Increased oxygen will not produce gigantic insects because gravity won’t allow it.

Scientists are scratching their heads in total puzzlement over this phenomenon. It is not a puzzle if…

Speaking of giant Jules Verne-sized dragonflies, I recall some sage a century or so ago, observing how much disease and famine is caused by bugs, saying: Humans should stop fighting each other and start fighting insects.  Very sensible.

No comments: