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Who was first with continental drift?

On page 110 of the February 12, 1994 issue of Science News, there is a note entitled “Getting the drift on continental shifts.” The notion that the continents were once together and have drifted apart (Continental drift theory) is usually attributed to Alfred Wegener who wrote of it in 1912. Prior to that Sir Francis Bacon had noted that the continents seemed to “fit” together, but he did not propose that they had drifted apart. Now James Romm, professor of classics at Bard College in Annadale-on-Hudson, New York, has found that a Dutch cartographer, Abraham Ortellius, suggested the separation of continents back in 1596. He wrote of it in his book, Thesaurus Geographicus, in connection with the lost continent of Atlantis.

The Ortellius reference is earlier than two early French references I found years ago, namely, La Corruption du Grand et Petit Monde, ou il est montre que dévant le deluge, l'Amerique n'était point separée des autres parties du monde which was published by P. Placet in 1668, and also, though much later, La Création et ses Mysteres Dévoiles: ouvrage ou l'on expose clairment la nature de touls les etres, les elements dont ils sont composes, et leurs rapports avc le globe et les astres, la nature et la situation du feu du soleil, l'origine de L'Amerique et de ses habitants primitifs, la formation forcee de nouvelles planetes, l'origine des langues et les causes de la variete des physionomies, le compte courant de l'homme avec la terre, etc. by Antonio Snider, 1859. (Paris: Librarie A. Franck & E. Dentu).

Years ago, after careful study, I concluded that the Bible allows for a continental split. This I based on Genesis 10:25, which states:

And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.

My reason is simplicity itself, for the passage says that it was the earth which was divided. Now some have claimed that Genesis 10:25 speaks of the division which took place at the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:8 and 9 report that men were scattered:

… abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

But if Peleg's division happened in the days of the tower, then Genesis 10:25 should properly say that it was the world which was divided, not the earth.

Now a recent continental drift presents a real problem in the minds of Creation Scientists, more so than for evolutionists. That the continents seem to fit together is a given, evident to anyone who cares to look closely at the form of the edges of the continental shelves. Even the same layers of rock are found on both sides of the split. Creationist and evolutionist acknowledge such alike. What bothers Creationists is the energy released in such a rapid division and drift. The energy would have to go somewhere, and there is no residual evidence for it.

For example, G. R. Morton1 concluded that any continental drift since Peleg would have to be miraculous, since the heat thus generated would be too high to dissipate. Now Morton proposed that the earth itself expanded (increased in size). He proposed that the expansion involved each atom, and that it was caused by a change in the “permittivity of free space.” Such, it was claimed, would solve viscosity problem. The trouble with that solution is that if it were so, the surface features would also expand at same rate and so no separation of continents should occur. Morton concludes that if continents “were at one time joined, then either God separated them in a manner in which the laws of nature were not involved or the earth expanded in such a way that the viscous forces were not involved.”

The problem is that these creationists assume that convection cells in the mantle of the earth would cause the drift. In that case, for a 5,000- year motion to proceed to the point we see today, a temperature of 18 million degrees Kelvin is required. This is too hot as it would cause the surface of the earth to be much hotter than observed. This objection can be overcome if water played a role in the continental split. Suppose, for example, that the waters which were trapped under the land mass after the flood, turned to steam and that the continents rode on a mixture of steam, liquid water, higher forms of ice, and lava, reaching large separations in a matter of years to a few centuries. This would not leave the earth in a steamy state, because the rapid release of pressure of any steam rising to the surface super cools the steam. Thus we could account for the apparent cooling of the earth shortly after the flood.

True, the released water from under the earth would cause the level of the ocean to rise. But there is evidence that sea level actually did rise after the split. The continents best fit together at the edge of the continental shelf which is about 600 feet below sea level. So it seems likely that the water level has risen at least 600 feet since the continental break-up. So all told, there is more evidence for a continental split than against it.

Newly detected radio waves

ALEXIS, a satellite traveling 800 kilometers above the earth, has recorded a new type of atmospheric radio signal. Dan Holden and a group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have observed the waves to be 10,000 times stronger than radio waves associated with lightning. Each emission is actually a pair of emissions, separated by 40 millionths of a second. Most of the events have been recorded over Africa and the Pacific Ocean. The rest of the earth is too noisy with human radio signals. Because the signals occur mostly in the afternoon and early morning, the times when thunderstorms occur most often, Holden and his colleagues suspect that they radio signals originate from storms, but not lightning. For years pilots have been reporting flashes resembling glowing auroras (northern lights) over the heads (anvil-shaped clouds) of thunderstorms. Five years ago the first “scientists” saw the flashes and so the pilots were “confirmed” (typical of today's scientific arrogance). These above-cloud flashes range from 12 km to 60 km above the ground and cover an area 10 to 50 km wide. Are the two phenomena related? Are they related to several biblical references such as Luke 17:24 which reads: “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”

Dick Tracy's magnetic propulsion unit

Some of us “old timers” may recall that the comic strip Dick Tracy introduced us to some high-tech equipment before there was high tech. For example, there was the two-way wrist radio. Later, there were hover craft which looked like an over-sized garbage can and which hovered by fighting the earth's magnetic field.
Now Frederic Jueneman, writing in the December 1993 issue of R&D Magazine, (page 23), suggests a most intriguing way that such a propulsion unit may actually be implemented. Electron pairs traveling through a structurally pure hexagonal metallic crystal matrix (bear with me, folks,) can enhance the diamagnetic effects of such crystals by several orders of magnitude, and the resulting field could “grapple with even our weak geomagnetic field to effect a magnetic repulsion of a physical mass encountering and entering the Earth's environment.” Having thus tantalized a handful of techies among us, it's time to relate to the rest of us. What that means is that there are certain crystals which can act as Dick Tracy's “antigravity” machines when electrons are shot through the crystals. Also, Jueneman reflects that the drive could have strange effects on nearby electromagnetic devices, including the human brain. He speculates on the nature of reported UFO sightings and how the expected effects of his magnetic drive would be similar to the reported effects of UFO encounters. Still, it may be possible to shield the occupants of the craft ….

Comet Shoemaker-Levy: another dud?

The comet Shoemaker-Levy (so called because it was discovered by two people with the last names of Shoemaker and Levy, and Shoemaker reported it just ahead of Levy), passed close to Jupiter in 1992 and broke up as a result. In fact now, it seems that it is still breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces. Now the pieces are scheduled to fall into the far side of Jupiter toward the middle of July this year, particularly, they'll be scattered in time between July 19 and 23. But as the pieces become smaller and smaller, the “splash” on Jupiter is going to also be smaller and smaller. The chunks now seem to measure no more than about 2.5 miles (4 km) across. Astronomers will still look for the ripples expected from the splash, but there will be no flashes visible to earth since the collisions will all, according to the best computations, be on the backside of Jupiter. That means we'll have to wait for the planet to rotate the effects of the event into view. If the pieces get to be too small, the ripples may be too shallow to see from earth. Jupiter will be in the constellation Virgo at the time, about halfway between Spica and a Librae.

The photo on the next page was taken by the Hubble telescope after it had been repaired by the crew of the Space Shuttle. The images are far superior to photos taken by the shuttle before the repairs, but the original problem with the Hubble telescope is akin to changing a wheel on an auto and not fastening the lug nuts.

Professor Holden

Well, no, he really wasn't a professor, you see; for he only had an elementary school education: but his friends and neighbors dubbed him ”Professor.” The story goes this way. About 140 years ago Joseph W. Holden (1816-1900) placed a pan filled to overflowing with water on a fence post and noted in the morning that not a drop of water had spilled.2 But because the water had not spilled, the Professor concluded that the earth is not moving and that it must be flat.

In 1893, dressed in a red vest and top hat, he presented his theories at the Chicago World's Fair, whence he returned his his home town of Otisfield, Main. When he died he left $3 to the East Otisfield Free Baptist Church for a Sunday school picnic. Instead of a one-time affair, the picnic has become an annual affair, held on the last Sunday in August. Up to 200 people attend. They place a bow on the Professor's grave and read the inscription on his tombstone: “Prof. Joseph W. Holden, born 8-24- 1816, died 3-30-1900. Prof. Holden the old Astronomer discovered that the Earth is flat and stationary and that the sun and moon do move.”

One Nessie hits the dust

Wilson's 1934 picture of Nessie Recognize the photo at left? It is one of the most widely reproduced of the Loch Ness monster. The photo, attributed to Robert Wilson, a London gynecologist, was taken in 1934. Now a deathbed confession has revealed the photo as a hoax. The picture was the brainchild of Wilson's friend, film maker Marmaduke Wetherell who had been hired in 1933 by the Daily Mail to hunt the Loch Ness monster. Wetherell was assisted by his son, Ian, and stepson Christian Spurling. It was Spurling who made the model for the photo, and it was Spurling who confessed to the hoax.

Significantly, this confession does not mean the end of Nessie. On the contrary, the photo has always caused enormous problems for researchers because it is inconsistent with other sightings.

The earliest report of the monster involves Columba, a missionary to Scotland who was trained at one of the schools founded by Patricius (St. Patrick, AD 389-465) and who evangelized Scotland and sent missionaries in groups of 12 or 13 into Roman Catholic Europe to convert them to Chris tianity. It is noised about that Columba rescued a farmer from the monster by rebuking the monster.

Are you ready for grey holes?

You've heard of black holes, stars which have compressed their mass and energy so much that light cannot overcome the gravity field and escape? Now Kenneth Brecher of Boston University, has announced the possibility of grey holes, stars which did not collapse far enough to become black holes, yet collapsed beyond the neutron star range. These grey holes would have masses over 3 times the mass of the sun. They would exist in a twilight zone where light would orbit the star without falling back and without escaping. Any light which would escape, as some will, would he highly redshifted. Stay tuned, but don't hold your breath waiting to observe one of these creatures, or a black hole, for that matter. They could well exist, but they are by definition almost invisible.

The Earth's Place in Space

That is the title of a 10-page 8.5 by 11 inch booklet by Daniel T. Lewis of The Objective Science Society, 109 Morningside Drive, Suite 6, Chattanooga, TN 37404, U.S.A. Lewis's work is technically correct and serves as a brief introduction to what historically were the major scientific issues up through Sagnac's experiment early this century. He does not deal with geosynchronous satellites, the Foucault pendulum, and the like. The booklet can be ordered from its author at the above address for $1.00 each ($1.75 outside the U.S.) Please do not order this from us, we have none in stock.


1 Morton, G. R., 1981. “Creationism & continental drift,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 18(1):42-45.

2 This is a subtle experiment, it assumes that the turning of the earth would twist the water out of the pan. But if you stop to think about it, you could balance a pan of water on a smoothly-spinning merry-go- round without the water spilling as long as it was angled into position properly — as Holden would have done in the first place. It's jerkiness of motion which spills the water, not an on-going turning.

Converted on 6 January 2005 by GDB