Tilt!

By Phil Plait | October 10, 2007 8:28 pm

I have received several emails about a website claiming that the Earth is tilting wildly from its usual 23.5º inclination, and that this is causing global catastrophe that has been covered up by the government.

Of course.

The website is called Divulgence.net. It goes on for page after page with breathless warnings of Doom and Coverups. From what I have read, it appears the author is claiming that solar activity has caused the polar ice to melt, tilting the Earth an additional 26 degrees, moving the positions of sunrise, changing weather patterns, and so on.

Image of the new tilt of the Earth from divulgence.net.

Now, you’d think you’d notice this, right? But as the site claims:

Why has no one noticed?

It did not slip all at once. It has been a slow change over the past 20 years, but two of the most significant axial shifts occurred between Dec 4 and 6, 2006.

Despite common misperception, an event like this can happen silently rather than a catastrophic sudden change. A 2000 mile shift would not be felt any more than you can feel the rotation of the earth. The earth rotates nearly 25,000 miles every day. About 1038 miles every hour. You cannot feel a 2000 mile change in the axis any more than you can feel the earth rotate or orbit the sun.

The star layout would only be a miniscule change which the average person would not notice. In the night sky, it would only be inches difference in the stars between the Dakotas and Mexico latitudes.

Sometimes, being a debunker is all too easy. This last claim is completely wrong, and leads to why the entire website is wrong.

The Earth spins on its axis once a day. This is why the stars appear to rise and set. If you were to stand on the North Pole, you would see all the stars in the sky appear to make big circles around you (neither rising nor setting). The point on the sky at the zenith, straight up, is the axis of this rotation. Very near this point is a middling bright star we call Polaris. It’s about a degree off the pole, actually, so it makes a small circle in the sky over the course of a day.

Now, if the Earth’s axis shifted 26º, this would shift the center of the sky’s rotation by the same amount. Polaris would now be 26º (+/-1º) from the north celestial pole, and all the other stars would shift accordingly. This is not a "miniscule change", but an epic one. It would be incredibly obvious to anyone who went outside at night and simply looked up.

There’s a lot more stuff on the site that can easily be shown to be wrong. The diagram above, for example, is totally confused. First, the author seems to think that if the Earth tilted over, the Ecliptic would change. This is wrong. The plane of the Ecliptic is the path of the Earth around the Sun as projected on the sky, or, if you prefer, the path of the Sun around the sky over the course of the year (these are the same thing). It is therefore independent of the Earth’s tilt! The Earth could flip over 90º, and the ecliptic would stay the same. So the labeling of the "Current Eliptic" (sic) is wrong.

The drawing of the "old" and "new" Ecliptics has made this diagram so muddled it has me completely baffled. It’s very difficult to interpret it, especially since it’s tilted oddly. So I fixed it! Kindof; my Photoshop skillz are less than mad. Still, here is how things are supposed to be:

The Sun is straight to the left, so the horizontal line is the Ecliptic. The green line marks the spin axis of the Earth, tilted 23º to the pole (the line perpendicular) of the Ecliptic. The purple lines mark the Tropics. These are lines parallel to the Equator of the Earth; on the northern one (the Tropic of Cancer) the Sun is straight overhead at noon on the summer solstice in June. The lower one (Tropic of Capricorn) is where the Sun is straight overhead at noon on the winter solstice in December. The drawing represents the summer solstice.

This is what things would look like if we tilted an additional 26º to give a tilt of 49º. I kept the Ecliptic the same, as it should be. Note how the Tropics have moved; the author of Divulgence got that part right. They would move away from the Equator, since at the solstices the Sun would be much farther north or south if the Earth tilted this much.

But notice what this does: take a look at, say, Spain. Now imagine the Earth spinning. As the Earth spins, Spain would stay in daylight 24 hours a day on the summer solstice! On the winter solstice, Spain would be in darkness for 24 hours a day.

I think someone might have noticed were this to be the case. ¡caramba! ¡cielos!

So again, this clearly shows the claims on this site are totally 100% bogus.

I could go on and on, but the unchanging position of Polaris is really all you need. We’re done after that no matter what.

Why would someone make claims like these? Sometimes, these web sites are from ornery cranks, or people trying to stir things up, and sometimes the person behind them is mentally unbalanced (so IOW let’s keep the nasty comments to a minimum). The problem is, there are lots of other folks out there who read stuff like this and swallow it whole– I present Nancy Lieder as Evidence A. Even though it seems like some ideas are so silly they’re not worth bothering over, I still wonder. Nancy had quite the cult following for a while.

Anyway, if anyone ever turns to you after an intimate moment and asks, "Did the Earth move for you?", call a friend or relative in Spain and ask them if the Sun is up. Then you’ll be able to answer with confidence.

Comments (102)

  1. Crux Australis

    There is surely no way that site’s for real. If it is, where is my money from the government to keep me quiet? I’m pretty sure that if I were receiving that kind of dosh, I wouldn’t be rattling around in a high school classroom!

  2. Phil,

    All that nonsense is as this site too…
    http://axischange.wordpress.com/

    A few weeks ago a local meteorologist forwarded an email from a viewer who actually believes this stuff. What’s worse, it says..

    Don’t rely on government assurances or the statements of those experts on the gov’t payrolls or those who are dependent upon gov’t grants or gov’t contractors or licenses controlled by the government. Astronomers and astrophysicists are all dependent upon the gov’t and gov’t contractors to acquire access to satellites, observatories and other technical systems and data in order to remain in their field of expertise. Universities are dependent upon gov’t grant monies. Meteorologists and the media are licensed and governed by gov’t entities.

    How do we fight this?

  3. Dan

    Ya know, with a forty-nine degree tilt, I might actually be able to grow a couple of palm trees in my yard here in Milwaukee and open that tiki bar I’ve been dreaming about for ages.

  4. Quiet Desperation

    I dunno… this is a bit like kicking a puppy and then claiming to be a mighty hunter.

    >>> How do we fight this?

    I don’t think we really need to in this case. Anyone who buys into this malarkey is probably too far gone anyway.

  5. Gary Ansorge

    One might try pointing out that IF the earth tilted an additional 26 degrees, day and night time lengths would be totally messed with EVERYWHERE. More than just Spain in darkness, EVERYONE would wonder why daylight savings time extended their day length by 5 or 6 hours,,,

    Of course, that’s not even pointing out the drastic fracturing of the planet that would likely occur from tipping a 6 sextillion ton mass spinning at a thousand miles per hour, 26 degrees. Talk about armegeddon,,,

    Unfortunately, the mentally ill have no anchor to reality. This is either extreme silliness, satire or the aforementioned illness. I hope it’s just silliness,,,

    GAry 7

  6. Kevin, I suspect that blog is written by the same person. I’m not convinced, but the initials of the blog author are suspiciously close to that of the divulgence.net site.

  7. BA, if you notice, in the opposite side of Spain lies South America, particularly Chile. In the same solstice you say, Chile would be in 24-hour night. I am writing from Santiago, Chile and I can tell you it has not happened. For sure.

  8. TheBlackCat

    There is surely no way that site’s for real.

    After reading a bit of timecube I have never made that assumption again.

    And notice that not only Spain, but all of North America north of Florida would also be in perpetual sunlight in the summer. I can tell you that did not happen, although you would have noticed as well..

  9. bjswift

    Oh, how it hurts us!

    I’m not sure if this is funny or sad. Mostly sad. (1/2)|funny> + (sqrt(3)/2)|sad>

  10. “Polaris would now be 26º (+/-1º) from the north celestial pole, and all the other stars would shift accordingly. This is not a “miniscule change”, but an epic one. It would be incredibly obvious to anyone who went outside at night and simply looked up.”

    Actually, it’s amazing how oblivious most people are. I even know a few who wouldn’t notice the 24 hours of daylight.

  11. I couldn’t help thinking of that Madeleine L’Engle book, A Swiftly Tilting Planet the whole time I was reading this post.

    I think it’s funny how people think that because you’re funded by somebody means you’re willing to lie for them.

  12. zeb

    All I say is pfft.

  13. Mandy

    While the Tropics shift away from the equator, don’t forget that the arctic and antarctic circles shift away from the poles an equal angle. So if the tropics are now at 49°N/S of the equator, the polar circles are at 41°N/S of the equator. I live at 41.7°N, about the same as Chicago, IL, and I can tell you that while the days were long, I stay up late into the night, and there was total sunlessness for hours at a time at the beginning of the summer. If the winter nights end up being longer than 15 hours here, I’ll make sure to let you know. Doesn’t take a genius, although I am one. >_>

  14. Caesar

    The angle of axis of rotation is measured relative to the ecliptic. The axis of rotation changing, by definition, means the ecliptic changes relative to the rotation of the Earth, which is what the image shows.

    In the drawing, the axis of rotation isn’t changing (for practical reasons, since the illustration includes geographic features), so the ecliptic has to change.

    Not that this makes the claim correct, just that time wasted on that point detracts from the actual debunking.

  15. Robert

    I just noticed: if that were so, the Tropic of Cancer would now be within the Arctic circle! (the Arctic circle is the limit if 24-hour daylight on the solstice)
    That would make for one weird planet!

  16. Robert: Yes, we call it Uranus. :-)

  17. davidlpf

    The north star is still where it should be so debunked with my naked eye

  18. Lazy, lazy, off-topic comment. (Plus, I suspect it would be forever before you could sift through your email to find mine):

    I’m wondering about your thoughts on the first Malaysian astronaut:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Muszaphar_Shukor

  19. Jokermage

    Phil are you familiar with the book “What if the Moon didn’t Exist?” by Neil F. Comins? One of the chapters in the book describe what Earth would be like if it was tilted like Uranus.

  20. jmd

    ‘Anyway, if anyone ever turns to you after an intimate moment and asks, “Did the Earth move for you?”‘

    Wait, why am I in bed with a crackpot?

  21. Thomas Siefert

    Well, the Earth is just one big stew pot for the human race and idiots (and jerks) are the spice that makes life tasty. Although, I prefer my stew with a dash of science and common sense.

  22. Wait, why am I in bed with a crackpot?

    Because he/she is really hot?

    J/P=?

  23. Silvia

    BAB fan reporting from Barcelona (Spain!). It’s now 8:30 am on the 11th of October, and although it’s cloudy, there’s light. So, there you go! No strange tilt evidence on this part of the globe (aaaaw)

  24. AstroSmurf

    I’m afraid you’ve mixed up the tropics and the polar circles somewhat, but in this example the effects are pretty much the same, as noted by others. The location of the tropics affect the northernmost latitude where you can see the Sun at zenith at any point during the year, *not* the 24-hour darkness/sunlight episodes. The point still stands – the Spaniards would see the midnight sun, but that’s because they would now live north of the polar circle, not because they’re south of the tropic. A simple rewording would resolve the confusion.

    To use your diagram, the tropics extend from the point where the surface intersects the ecliptic, while the polar circles extend from the intersection points of the *normal* of the ecliptic. For axis inclination angles less than 45 degrees, the polar circles are outside the tropics, but for angles greater than this, the opposite holds.

  25. I remember reading a book by Kit Pedlar thirty-ish years ago (unfortunately I can’t remember its title). His argument was that changing the tilt of the earth’s axis would require so much energy it probably would split the planet apart (after all, that would require a huge change in angular momentum). His hypothesis was that, as the crust is floating on a large mantle, the whole crust could simply slip (what should cause this is open to debate) while the cpin of the majority of the planet (the core, mantle etc.) would remain the same. This would require far less energy and would also explain why the earth’s magnetic field has “flipped” over the years.

    I don’t know what the maths on this are (or why it should have happened so often as the analysis of the magnetic properties of the earth would suggest).

    Of course, if the magnetic field of the earth did change, it would be quietly hushed up by compass manufacturers painting the red and white ends of the needle in opposing colours. :-)

  26. josephdietrich

    Gods, I *wish* the tropics were only a few degrees south of us here in Germany. It’s cold, grey, and dreary here.

  27. antaresrichard

    Quick someone, inform Leo McKern, Edward Judd, and Janet Munro! I guess the corrective mega nuclear detonations failed to realign the poles ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’ in 1961! We now know which headline banner to run: “World Doomed!”

  28. Bill Bones

    OMG…! now I know that the reason why in Madrid couldn’t see the sun last winter was not just smog… ::)

  29. Brian Fane

    Dang. I’m going to have to go adjust my satellite dish….

  30. Quiet Desperation

    This makes me want to create my own hoax web page and see how far I can propagate the meme. Any ideas on what to hoax?

    How about something involving government nanotechnology used to control the population via the water supply? Put some tap water in a small dish and let it evaporate. See the white residue? NANOBOTS!!! I could even fake up some electron microscope images.

  31. Tim G

    I wonder what areas would be habitable with a 49 degree tilt. The general effect of such a tilt would be a more even distribution of average annual temperatures across the globe but with greater differences between summer and winter.

    Cities near the equator like Nairobi, Singapore and Panama City should cope as well as cities heavily moderated by oceans, like San Francisco (provided prevailing winds aren’t altered in a bad way).

  32. Quiet Desperation

    >>> here in Germany. It’s cold, grey, and dreary here.

    And the weather’s not so good, either!

    (rimshot)

    Thank you!

  33. boggis the cat

    @ Brian Fane

    You’d obviously rearrange the satellites to cover up the issue. Nobody is really going to notice that it is pitch black when they go outside during the day / sunny at night, but they would raise hell if the TV reception stopped!

    (Yours has been the best comment yet, BTW. LOL.)

  34. Nick Cross

    Actually being inclined at 49deg would be interesting. The tropics would extent to 49deg (US/Canadian border or ~Paris) and the arctic circle to 41deg. So anywhere between 41deg and 49deg (north or south) would be both in the tropics and the artic. Living in Edinburgh (~56 deg N) in winter time it should be pretty dark most of the time, but we have had some nice sunny days recently.

  35. I am forever amazed by people who insist that the government that can’t seem to get my tax return straight can cover up something this huge.

  36. KaiYeves

    Rotating is different from tilting. I have a friend who despises science class. He likes to say “astronomy” only because it contains a certain word… I’ve tried to explain to him how important it is to know how to “think scientifically”, but no dice. THIS is why it matters to think scientifically- so you won’t be fooled by these charlatans.

  37. Not that I’m even vaguely attempting to lead credence to this silliness, so please take this in the sort-of what-if light it is intended:

    If, for the sake of argument, lets imagine the author’s diagram is wrong, but in a different way than you described. Rather than the Earth’s spin axis tilting, the orbital axis tilts (so the ecliptic reall does move… sort-of). The season and daylight effects would still be whacked (same relative change in the two axes), but Polaris would still be where it’s supposed to be.

    Wow. It’s still pretty hard to imagine that just slipping under the radar.

    Isn’t their a much slower effect of some kind of axial wobble (technical term) that changes this geometry over time? I know the axis is precessing to point at different pole stars over time, but I seem to recall that the cone angle remains ~23 degrees.

  38. Sci_Tchr

    I knew I was a little tipsy back in December. Now I know why – A 26 degree shift in the Earth’s axis???? I’m sure glad it was miniscule!

  39. Michelle

    I love it when people make silly claims that can be destroyed by just staring up at the north star. It’s so easy!

    Unless… *GASPS* Polaris is involved in the conspiracy as well!

    Seriously, if the tilt was that big I wouldn’t have had to wear sunglasses yesterday.

  40. Ken B

    Kevin F.:

    >I am forever amazed by people who insist that the government
    > that can’t seem to get my tax return straight can cover up
    > something this huge.

    But don’t you see? This whole “incompetent government” is all part of the coverup, to make you believe that they’re not capable of maintaining such a coverup! They’re brilliant, I tell ya.

  41. Richard B. Drumm

    I just left a comment on:
    http://axischange.wordpress.com/
    Here it is:
    ——————————-
    Richard B. Drumm Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    October 11th, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Do you know someone who lives in Boston, Chicago or Seattle? They live inside the Arctic Circle now. Give them a call and ask how they survived in 24 hour sunlight this summer (the “Midnight sun”) and see how they react.

    Might make ya think.
    Rich
    ——————————–
    Notice how it says “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”???
    Let’s see if this neutral comment survives the immoderate moderator’s ministrations. The comment doesn’t call them nutjobs and even “seems” to agree with them by saying that their friends live inside the Arctic Circle. It just might slip past their radar.
    Rich

  42. Rob

    I recall, about twenty years back, The Guardian newspaper (now theguardian) running something similar as a front-page story – although there the extra tilt was only about 10 deg. and it was a government plot to help British farmers by giving them more sun in the summer. The date of the article was, of course, the first of April.

  43. Ken B

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/45792

    Rotation Of Earth Plunges Entire North American Continent Into Darkness
    (February 27, 2006)

  44. People don’t notice that all the scientists owned by every single government in the world is giving out the same fraudulent story!
    Chalk up another victory for Canadian Military Intelligence.

  45. This makes me want to create my own hoax web page and see how far I can propagate the meme…

    Please, please do not do this. You’ll succeed. No matter how idiotic the proposal, someone will believe you. Quite possibly, a lot of someones…

    And then, even if you do tell them at the end you were just having them on, it probably won’t even make a difference. They’ll either think you were ‘bought’ by the Man, or are *now* deluded or what have you…

    Please practise safe memetics. Do not promiscuously start conspiracy theories. You can’t ever count on killing them again.

  46. Irishman

    Caesar beat me to it. I agree, the artist’s depiction isn’t trying to claim that the orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun(ecliptic) is different, but rather he is (clumsily) trying to depict the axial tilt shift of Earth. Rather than refer to the ecliptic and show the two versions of tilt, he has attempted to depict both tilts in one image, and use the same globe picture to depict the change. This requires him to refer to what the two ecliptic angles would be, since the constant in his image is the Earth orientation.

    Your efforts more clearly depict what he is trying to convey, but by the method he has chosen to show the tilt, he is correct to show two different lines for the ecliptic – the prior version and the current version. It’s an Earth-centric view.

    Chris said:
    > If, for the sake of argument, lets imagine the author’s diagram is wrong, but in a different way than you described. Rather than the Earth’s spin axis tilting, the orbital axis tilts (so the ecliptic reall does move… sort-of).

    That would be really difficult. You are either stating that the Sun moves with respect to the stars so it is visually closer to Polaris, or else you are putting the Earth to orbiting something other than the center of mass of the Sun. The word “impossible” comes to mind, but I could be wrong. Maybe a black hole instantaneously appears in just the right place to steal the Earth from the Sun. Err, right.

  47. Thorin

    “I love it when people make silly claims that can be destroyed by just staring up at the north star. It’s so easy!

    Unless… *GASPS* Polaris is involved in the conspiracy as well!”

    Of course this means that “Polarians” have been in on the conspiracy for quite some time since they’re 430 ± 30 light years away.

    Of course in 1576 someone definitely sent a message asking them to kindly realign their star system for our 2007 conspiracy. (Assuming of course that in 1576 would had subspace communications equipment capable of speed of light transmission at that distance). And they were definitely able to implement said changes on the spot.

  48. Thorin

    Strike that, I should have said 1147. Since the message had to take 430 years to get there, they implement the change immediately and we see if 430 years later.

  49. Amy

    I’ve had “encounters” twice with the woman who made this website in “Ask an Astronomer”-type forums. She is of the “I’m right, all you stupid scientists are wrong, what do you have to say about that?” ilk.

    Shudder.

  50. OH … MY … GOD.

    So now we don’t need to go to Alaska to see the “Midnight Sun.” From the looks of the diagrams, it seems like I’ll be able to see the sun on the horizon at midnight here in li’l old CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA!

    So help me, if anyone emails me crap like this, claiming it’s a big government conspiracy … I just may have to disown them for good.

    CHUCK ANZIULEWICZ

  51. Quiet Desperation

    >>> Please practise safe memetics.

    Where the sport in that?

    Seriously, I want to see if I can effect an election somewhere.

    >>> Do not promiscuously
    >>> start conspiracy theories. You can’t ever count on
    >>> killing them again.

    Kill them? Why would I want to do that? :)

    If anyone cares, I’m posting this from the control room of a radio telescope. :)

  52. Lurchgs

    This would explain my dizzy spells.

    As for not seeing any change in the postions of the stars, c’mon! everybody knows the government filled the sky with tiny, precisely aligned prisms to make it APPEAR the stars were all in their usual places!

  53. In response to Jason Adams: Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Swiftly Tilting Planet” is a wonderful book that never poses any situation like this. The title refers to the perception of a brain-damaged child who ends up suffering a tragic death. I just wanted to clear this up because L’Engle, who died in September, was no advocate of ridiculous conspiracy theories.

    In the case of this “Divulgence” web site, is it possible someone has decided to start celebrating Halloween early?

  54. Maybe we collided with Mars and no one noticed! The Martians didn’t invade, they threw their planet at us to generate Hurricane Katrina!

  55. Amy

    Laurel: No, the Divulgence site has been around for at least a couple of years.

  56. If anyone cares, I’m posting this from the control room of a radio telescope.

    Well, all right… if I simply can’t plead with you not to do this, can you at least try to make yours really bizarrely entertaining?

    I mean, I understand there are requirements. The Templars have to be involved–this is mandatory, I get that… I’ve read my Eco.

    But can we also maybe get Elvis involved? And Pauley Shore? And there needs to be a password used by the adherents of the conspiracy, in some dead language or other which, it so happens, actually translates to: “If you can understand this, you should know you’re being had”? That would amuse me.

    Oh. And the secret messages to the shadowy members of the conspiracy were actually broadcast during the airing of the TV series Flipper. It was in the dolphin’s squeaks, man… The squeaks. Morse code. Check it out yourself… See… Right there… Slow it down, play back…

    I-W-A-N-T-M-O-R-E-F-I-S-H-stop.

    Oh. Wait. Wrong one…

  57. Bill Bones

    The trouble with authoring a fake hoax site is that, unless the author is utterly deprived of the art of writing a story, it’s going to be TOO GOOD to be mistaken for the real stuff…

    Now I think: why not wirte it under severe intoxication? That could help reach the appropiate degree of internal coherence… ;)

  58. AJ, I thought the message was “So long, and thanks for all the…” ;)

  59. Michelle

    “Laurel: No, the Divulgence site has been around for at least a couple of years.”

    Wow. How come we’re still alive then? :P

  60. Inertially Guided

    I tried to think of something intelligent to add to this discussion, but quite simply couldn’t. Oh, then again…

    “…I’m laughing at the superior intellect…”

    That works. I think…

  61. uudale

    Why do these crank, conspiracy, and pseudoscience websites always use multi-colored text on black backgrounds (i.e., Hoagland)?

    Hurts just to look at it.

    QD, when you create your own hoax page, at least make it look professional.

    Dale

  62. QD, when you create your own hoax page, at least make it look professional.

    While I feel your pain, I suspect that would be something of a tip it was a hoax. Conspiracy theorists might well be suspicious of a site that was too well designed. Clearly, a sign of involvement of big gummint…

    Or possibly the Rosicrucians. They’re the Ultimate Power behind all typefaces but Comic Sans, doncha know.

  63. I remember having an argument with my neighbour a few years ago over something similar. He was quite an intelligent chap to give him his due, so I listened to his “theory” that nuclear explosions had caused a shift in the Earth’s orbit. His evidence? He had painstakingly noted down the sunrise and sunset times every day for a whole year, and noticed that the day of the ealiest sunrise did NOT coincide with the longest day, but a few days before (or after – I can’t remember now and I’m too lazy to look it up. No doubt someone here will know.)

    Anyway, I checked with an astronomy book (this was before the days of the Internet) and found the relevant facts to confront him with. The longest day is NOT the day of earliest sunrise, surprise surprise. Logic might tell you it is, but it isn’t. But even with the facts in front of him in black and white, he still held on to his belief that those “crazy scientists” had altered the Earth’s tilt, and we were all doomed. He’s “seen” the evidence with his own eyes, and that was good enough for him. He even got angry with me for trying to put him right. Luckily for me he moved out shortly afterwards, and I didn’t have to put up with him after that! I think the moral of all this is “never underestimate the power of human stupidity”

  64. AJ Milneon says: “‘This makes me want to create my own hoax web page and see how far I can propagate the meme…’
    Please, please do not do this. You’ll succeed. No matter how idiotic the proposal, someone will believe you. Quite possibly, a lot of someones…”

    I first encountered Richard Hoagland about ten years ago. I was fairly active on the board of a site dedicated to ’50s SF on television (any other Solarguard cadets out there?). Someone pointed to a website that was using a View-master reel set of a “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” story (told using puppets) to “prove” something about pyramids on Mars. I wrote to the board that I found it hilarious and one of the best parody sites I’d ever seen. One of the other board members gently told me that it wasn’t a parody and that the author was deadly serious. I sat in stunned silence for a while after reading that, letting it soak in.

    Nothing Hoagland says or does after that has surprised me.

    - Jack

  65. Quiet Desperation

    >>> QD, when you create your own hoax page, at least
    >>> make it look professional.

    I’m actually pretty good at web design, but there’s a balance to be struck. It can’t be too slick. I’ll probably use Hoagland as an archetype: big home page packed full of high bandwidth crap. No Flash, but some Javascript might be allowed.

    >>> Well, all right… if I simply can’t plead with you not to
    >>> do this, can you at least try to make yours really
    >>> bizarrely entertaining?

    I’ll try. I’m told I knack for “believable” satire.

    Posting from a Residence Inn, now. :)

  66. Jasini

    Wasn’t there a Rocky & Bullwinkle episode which had this exact same plot?

  67. Bob

    “If, for the sake of argument, lets imagine the author’s diagram is wrong, but in a different way than you described. Rather than the Earth’s spin axis tilting, the orbital axis tilts (so the ecliptic reall does move… sort-of). The season and daylight effects would still be whacked (same relative change in the two axes), but Polaris would still be where it’s supposed to be”

    Shhhh! You don’t wanna send Ms. Lieder off on another conspiracy tanget…next thing you know she (or her nutjob followers) will be shrieking to the heavens that the eeeeevil government MOVED the Earth’s orbit JUST SO HER PLANET X ARRIVAL TIME WOULD BE DISRUPTED!!!

    Maybe a new term “SDS” (Scientific Derangement Syndrome) is needed here….

  68. BaldApe

    Some ideas are just too stupid.

    Look up once in a while!

  69. Folcrom

    Funny how the Sun still rises in the East and sets in the West.

    North is still north and South is still south.

    The Sun still tracks it’s course across the sky unchanged.

    The pole star still sits where it has been for eons.

    Nothing appears to be out of normal.

    Folcrom.

  70. I have not, and don’t intend to waste my time reading that site, but just out of curiosity, do they have any explanation as to where the energy came from to do this tilting, and how, exactly it was applied? As anyone who has bumped a child’s top when it is spinning knows that it doesn’t just lie over, it starts precessing all over the place. The only way to keep it from doing that is to torque it around the center of mass, and even then it would take some fancy torquing to just rotate the spin axis in one plane.

    As others have noted, it’s doubtful that the Earth’s structure could take the forces involved without shattering. And even if the solid core held together, wouldn’t it just spin inside the liquid core? That would surely mess up the magnetic field long before the planet started moving and…

    I think I’m over-thinking this.

    - Jack

  71. Nadia

    Of all the ridiculous claims being made out there, this has got to be the most hilarious. I can’t believe some people buy into this stuff.

    If it was true, I guess we would no longer be in The Land Down Under. :(

  72. Justin

    Yeah, we have been having some odd weather recently…unfortunately, if that site were true, it would mean colder in winter and warmer in summer…but I recall being in shorts and t-shirts last January during a heat wave (I live in southern Canada…which according to his diagrams should receive 24 hours of daylight in summer and 24 hours of night in winter…)

    That site sounds like it was written by a crotchety old guy who has a bone to pick with the gov’t.

  73. I want to e-mail them and say “That’s funny, because I’m watching a beautiful sunrise this morning, and it’s coming up right where I expected it to, and has ever since I knew enough about astronomy to know why the sun comes up where it does.”

    But I’ve read BA long enough to know logic doesn’t work on folks like this. :)

  74. Michelle

    “The season and daylight effects would still be whacked (same relative change in the two axes), but Polaris would still be where it’s supposed to be”

    Are you sure about that? If the axis has a normal tilt and the orbit gets tilted, I’m pretty sure Polaris won’t be the north star any longer as well.

  75. disownedsky

    A big, slow, docile fish in a small barrel. Don’t know why you bother…

  76. MichaelS

    Jack Hagerty: Apparently, global warming has thawed the Artic icecap so much that it unbalanced the Earth and caused it to tilt. If I’m reading the site correctly, they’re saying the heavy equator region got pulled “downward” by some mysterious force (maybe those turtles to infinite regression produce a significant amount of gravity?), rather than simply wobbling a little less (or more–not sure which it would be).

    Oddly, they acknowledge that (in the northern hemisphere) it should be perpetually day during summer and perpetually night during the winter.

    I find it funny though, that they don’t even bother to check their own math: according to them, the Sun rose and set at 26° north of Dallas, TX. Dallas is at ~33°N, which would put the Earth’s tilt at 59°, not 50°.

    Also, I like how they want you to get on Google Earth or similar to find the “compass true north direction”. Erm, last I checked, compass north and true north are only the same direction at 2 longitudes (well, probably more like 2 meandering lines that roughly follow those meridians). A silly detail, I know, but I thought it was funny.

    They say that we wouldn’t notice the star shift because they are so much farther away than the sun that the angular shift is barely noticable. They also say that if you moved from one location to another location 2000 miles north or south (supposedly that’s the 26° difference–google won’t calculate the distance) you wouldn’t see a difference in where the stars appear.

    Really though, I doubt most people would notice the difference in locations on the sky, unless they instantly teleported and saw the shift. I probably wouldn’t; I recognize some constellations, but unless the area around Polaris disappeared, or I suddenly saw some constellation I recognize but have never seen in person (like the southern cross), the difference probably wouldn’t be obvious to me. Likewise, the only way I’d know the Sun was north of me would be if the shade appeared on the wrong side of my house–although I see the sun in the sky all the time, I don’t have any intrinsic method of determining angle.

  77. MichaelS

    Well, I’m going to correct myself a little now: when I said I wouldn’t notice the difference in star positions, I was thinking of the difference between viewing from say Mexico and Canada. Sure, the north stars would be closer to the horizon from Mexico, and some stars would disappear from Canada, but it wouldn’t be something I would likely see as obvious.

    However, in this scenario the Earth is shifting with respect to the sky, so the point around which all the stars appear to rotate would change. That would be pretty obvious, even to me, though I haven’t been up late enough into the night in the last 6 months or a year that I would have noticed.

  78. > How about something involving government nanotechnology used to control the population via the water supply? Put some tap water in a small dish and let it evaporate. See the white residue? NANOBOTS!!! I could even fake up some electron microscope images.

    They’re nanobots that work on an obscure reaction between flouride and arsenic, and have been in the works since 1946… Communist conspiracy or proof of government dabbling in extraterrestrial technology… or perhaps BOTH? Here’s the evidence, you decide!

  79. There’s lot’s of all this “junky” stuff that is pseudoscience and plain wrong all over the Internet. I really HATE these things. I doesn’t feel justice to my senses.

  80. Jan

    After reading this site it has become clear to me why all my Meade SCT go-to’s are 26 degrees off this year. This explains all!

    /OMG do people actually believe this stuff?

  81. Buzz Parsec

    These people have a particle of brain lodged in their skulls. It will have to come out. Surely there is a website somewhere that explains brain surgery for Gumbys?

  82. Cascadian

    Has anyone looked at the page concerning his “proof” pertaing to his observations from his home near Dallas? He assumes that the pole has shifted because the sun rises in the northeast and set in the northwest during the summer solstice. I was in Alaska near summer solstice about 9 years ago, where the sun sets well to the north and rises a little while later, well to the north. From my observations, I could argue that that the pole has shifted at least 80 degrees, and more than 9 years ago.

    This guy should take some pictures of where the sun rises and sets during winter solstice and then he might begin to understand the dynamics of our planet’s movement around the sun. Or at least take a measurement of the sun at zenith and know his theories are completely wrong.

  83. Jenn H

    I just learned about the extreme light pollution in LA, so I think the irony for them is that with the exception of noticing that the days and nights would be getting awfully long/short, they wouldn’t even notice the change. They can’t even see the night sky.

    Me, the second I read that nobody would notice the change in the stars, I knew that that was wrong. I look North and up and, by golly, there’s Polaris right where it always is and has been (an hour later there is still is). Proof enough to me that the claim is wrong and I don’t get any government money to say that.

    Anybody wants to argue with you about tilt wait for a clear night (or drive away from LA to the boonies) and show them Polaris and how it doesn’t move (much) all night long.

  84. BruceGee

    This is actually one that should be disprovable by anybody with a backyard and a paper towel or wrapping paper tube.

    Go into your backyard.
    Find Polaris through the tube.
    Nail the tube to a tree or balcony so that you can still see Polaris through it.
    Check the tube three or four times during the night. Polaris still there? If it is, then the north pole is still pointing in the same direction it always was.

  85. Tom Marking

    I agree that the website is completely bogus. Did it provide any physical mechanism for how the change in the earth’s tilt (the technical term is obliquity) was achieved?

    In any case, the more interesting question is whether large changes in the Earth’s tilt can happen over geologically small periods of time. Suprisingly, there are scientists who believe the answer is yes. It’s called the Inertial Interchange Event or IIS for short. Dr. Joseph Kirschvink of Caltech proposes that the earth’s axis shifted by 90 degrees relative to the continents during the Cambrian Explosion half a billion years ago. Here’s an interesting website that talks about it:

    http://mr.caltech.edu/media/lead/072497JLK.html

  86. katesisco

    I read the above and noted I can’t access the antimated version. As this is proposed back when, is there any current comments on this ‘true polar wander’ due to internal mass realigning itself since the lithosphere would not be of sufficient mass. I think.

  87. cr

    i stumbled upon divulgence.net while searching for info on the earth tilting on its axis. a couple of years ago, a man who used to work for the civil service who was the head of his department told me that this was happening and i decided to see if i could find anything on the net about it. he was not an idiot. the civil service does not make an idiot the head of a calibration laboratory responsible for calibrating a machine that balances the rotors of military helicopters among many other things to complicated for him to have made up. anyone can be had i guess, but this guy is pretty intelligent. i totally agree with the fact that 49 deg. is just stupid. but what about 1? what about axial wobble becoming more pronounced? and what about the fact that the climate is indeed changing, along with the “4 seasons” becoming a thing of the past. what about the fact that there HAS been an ice age, and there WAS a time when much of the earth was tropical rainforest, and that maybe these extremes were not the last? changes aren’t permanent, but change is. maybe fossil fuels is responsible for some of it, maybe nuclear testing wasn’t so smart either, imo, but maybe we are on a rock, hurtling around the sun, and no matter what, this rock and this sun and an uncanny ability to adapt or die trying is all we got. but we gotta know what to adapt too. so f*&% the cause. lets figure out what the damage is gonna be and make sure our government is working with us and for US and not just saving their own asses. cuz ‘o boy is onto somthing when he says its looking that way, imo.

  88. IzaK

    Wow. Whata buncha wack-jobs.

  89. lifereaper

    we are at 23.5 degree it will tilt from winter to summer the new tilt 30 degree but the pole flip to north to south the tropic of cancer move to 30* parole line and Capricorn the ting thats going to make this is the volume of water in the ocean floor there a ribbon of 0 grave now at the Ecliptics this will start see the change now the big things start 2011 and end 12 12 2012 but we may not last long after 2012 2 13 no one will have a baby for 15 years

  90. Has anyone even thought about the arrival of Nibiru, AKA Planet X, noting that even Norway has decided to try to save its population by building a large underground base…completion date 2011.

    Extreme: perhaps. The bottom line we do not know. We don’t know what kind of impact this planet is going to have.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYAD_uCdonI
    I am looking for the truth. Apparently…the governments think we are not going to be able to handle this truth…and in the end, what will and can be done??? Planet X no longer can be hidden…and even though it passes us once every 3600 years, we simply do not know…what kind of impact this planet will have.

    Yes, there feels like there will be a harvest…of some sort.

    We have to stop destroying ourselves…yes, these are strange and wonderful times. It matters.

  91. Dave Jerrard

    Marilyn:
    I’d like to direct you to the following page that has thoroughly discussed this.
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/

    He Who Wonders Why No-one Has Seen This Planet That’s No Longer Hidden.

  92. DexX

    Damn it. I wanted to make a joke about how Tasmania is living in the dark anyway, but it turns out the southern tip of Tasmania would be just outside the 24-hour winter darkness region. (This is the Arctic/Antarctic circle, right?) Oh well.

  93. I live at 36° 30′ 29.55” N / 04° 53′ 24.25”W and the Sun still tracks the South and it’s its tilt top the Cancer (Gemini)Tropic. Excepted this question of one more modern nomenclature, ’cause the Northern Tropic is nowadays at the Gemini Region, nothing has fortunately changed.
    Regards.

  94. vernon

    Greetings! Astronomy and physics is not my field and I don’t know much about anything that has to do with the two. But what happens if the change in the tilt of the earth and its slowing down a beat of its normal pace happens simultaneously? Is it likely to occur in the near future? Thanks.

  95. clair

    I live in the equator area. The sun’s orbit is very stable here, we have sun everyday for the whole year. But the change is obvious now. I no longer see the sun rise & set at the same point as the usual. no matter how we deny it, it is actually happening.

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