Science: Can the Earth Capsize?

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Scientists seem to enjoy making people's flesh creep with predictions of horrible catastrophes—scheduled for millions (or billions) of years in the future. Last week Electrical Engineer Hugh Auchincloss Brown of Douglaston, N.Y. warned (and got his theory broadcast by the normally cautious New York Times') that the earth is about to upset—any minute now—like an overloaded canoe. The trouble, Brown believes, is the weight of ice accumulating in the Antarctic: the earth is bottom-heavy.

Engineer Brown first got alarmed when he heard that woolly mammoths had been found frozen in Siberia. Their healthy appearance and the good cold-storage quality of their flesh indicated, he says, that they must have been "quick-frozen" like Birdseye peas.

Obviously, concludes Brown, the earth's poles were once in different places. Siberia was warm, and the mammoths fattened on greenery. But little by little, ice accumulated near the cold poles. Then, to balance the mass of the ice, slightly off center, the earth toppled over. The oceans sloshed out of their beds. When things quieted down, the earth was a sad mess, rotating on a new axis. The North Pole, settling near Siberia, quick-froze the mammoths.

This capsizing of the earth happens periodically, Brown believes. The last time it caused Noah's flood. One pole was then in the Sudan, and Noah and his family lived in temperate South Africa. "In the 600th year of Noah's life . . . were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."* No geophysicist, Noah did not realize that the poles had shifted.

Now, says Brown, the thing is about to happen again. The ice in the Antarctic is getting thicker and heavier. The earth is wobbling. Soon the great slosh will come. Most of mankind will be drowned and the rest will enjoy new climates.

Is there no hope? Yes, says Brown. For only $10 million, expeditions can be sent to the Antarctic to measure accurately the accumulation of ice. Then the dangerous excess can be removed by atomic blasting.

Geologists were not alarmed nor even much interested in the Brown theory. The Antarctic icecap is shrinking, they insisted, not growing. Even if it were growing, it could not upset the earth; geologists are confident that it never has.

* Genesis 7:11