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Giants, Germans, and paradise all await within the Hollow Earth. (Rainy Season in the Tropics by Frederic Edwin Church)

Last day, I promise.  Lux is back tomorrow.

Today, the Hollow Earth.  Don’t snigger, it’s been considered quite seriously over the centuries, and it is in fact more plausible than a flat one.

Modern science holds that that the Earth is an unbroken series of layers, crusts, and liquid magma surrounding a dense, hot core made primarily of iron and nickel. But not everyone is convinced. In the 17th century, some of the leading scientific minds of the time came up with a new theory—that the planet is actually hollow. This idea has proved incredibly durable.

Even today, there is a small cadre of Hollow Earth believers who are fighting valiantly to validate their ideas through books, websites, meetings and some extremely ambitious travel plans.

Possibly the first person to scientifically speculate about a hollow earth was none other than Edmund Halley, of Halley’s Comet fame. Proposed in 1692 as a way of explaining anomalous compass readings, Halley’s theory is that the planet is a series of nested, spherical shells, spinning in different directions, all surrounding a central core. In his estimation, based on readings of the magnetic field and what he knew of the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon on the Earth, this model could account for any inaccuracies in his readings of the magnetic fields of the planet. He also posited that the space between each shell may have had luminous atmospheres capable of supporting life.

Illustration from Symmes's Theory of Concentric Spheres

Illustration from Americus Symmes’ Theory of Concentric Spheres. (Image: Wikipedia)

Halley’s strange idea was expanded upon over the next few centuries, tossing out the messy view of multiple spheres for the much funner vision that the entire interior of the Earth is just one, impossibly large cavern. Generally, this new view of the hollow Earth is accompanied with the theory of a small sun that hangs in the very center, creating a lush, livable environment on the flip side of the Earth’s surface. According to a number of hollow Earth websites, this vision was developed among famous mathematicians and scientists such as Leonhard Euler in the 18th century and Sir John Leslie in the 19th century, although the sources for these accreditations seem to be somewhat nebulous.

Regardless of where it originated, the model of a Hollow Earth managed to grow and survive. In 1818, John Cleves Symmes, Jr. published his Circular No. 1, declaring to the world that the Earth is hollow. Symmes, a veteran of the War of 1812 and unsuccessful trader, soon became maybe the most famous and successful proponent of the Hollow Earth theory. His initial vision of the Earth’s interior was like a simplified version of Halley’s multi-layered model, with the exception that Symmes’ version included huge holes at the North and South poles which allowed access to the hidden world inside. These holes, his unique addition to Hollow Earth theory, would even come to be known as “Symmes Holes.”

Symmes’ Circular No. 1 (Image: John Cleves Symmes, Jr/Wikipedia)

In his very first declaration, Symmes proposed to mount an expedition to the North Pole, where he was sure they could locate one of these apertures, and gain access to the inner Earth. He too believed that the interior of the Earth not only could, but did support life, saying in Circular No. 1, that the inside of the Earth would be “stocked with thrifty vegetables and animals if not men.” Symmes believed that his theory was not science fiction, but science fact, and that it applied not only to the Earth, but too all planetary bodies. To him, the whole universe was hollow.

Even in the 19th century, Symmes’ theories were greeted with derision from the public and scientific community, but he would not be silenced. Symmes continued to campaign, giving lectures and publishing letters about the Hollow Earth, always angling for an expedition to the North Pole that would prove his theory. Barrelling right through the skeptics, Symmes was eventually able to convince enough people of the possibility of his Hollow Earth that in 1822, he and his supporters actually got Congress to vote on funding for his expedition. The grant was shot down, but Symmes’ belief in the inner Earth never died. He continued to campaign for the theory until his death in 1849.

Giants, Germans, and Paradise all await within the Hollow Earth. (Image: Wikipedia)

Even after Symmes’ death his idea continued to thrive amongst believers. Students and admirers of Symmes’ work, and even Symmes’ own son continued to publish materials explaining the increasingly odd theory.

Jules Verne has explored it in literature, and Rick Wakeman put that story to music.

True or not, the Hollow Earth is still an idea that captures our imaginations.

 

– atlasobscura.com

 


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  • Dan

    I wonder if when the polar caps melt, that we will see these Symmes holes for real. This is surely a postive that comes out of Climate Change. Or perhaps the Climate science fraternity is actually a race of people from the netherworld that fears being discovered and are tying everything in their powers to prevent global warming and melting the icy plug to their secret lair.

    There, the science is settled.

    • taxpayer

      Maybe when the icy plug melts all the world seas will flow in to the hollow earth like water out of a bathtub.
      No need to worry if you live on a low lying atoll then, you will be fine.

      • WeaselKiss

        And a bonus to that: All the water in the world will gush down into the centre and get heated up, then it can be pumped back up to our house in Te Puke and my step-daughter can use it to shower with – see if you can run THAT lot out dearie!

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