Some people claim UFOs come from the center of
Lee Krystek 1997
Perhaps some of the most bizarre scientific theories
ever considered were those concerning the possibility that the
Earth was hollow. One of the earliest of these was proposed
in 1692 by Edmund Halley.
Edmund Halley was a brilliant English astronomer
whose mathematical calculations pinpointed the return of the
comet that bears his name. Halley was fascinated by the earth's
magnetic field. He noticed the direction of the field varied
slightly over time and the only way he could account for this
was there existed not one, but several, magnetic fields. Halley
came to believe that the Earth was hollow and within it was
a second sphere with another field. In fact, to account for
all the variations in the field, Halley finally proposed that
the Earth was composed of some four spheres, each nestled inside
also suggested that the interior of the Earth was populated
with life and lit by a luminous atmosphere. He thought the aurora
borealis, or northern lights, was caused by the escape of
this gas through a thin crust at the poles.
Others picked up Halley's hollow-earth theory
often adding their own twists. In the eighteen century Leonhard
Euler, a Swiss mathematician, replaced the multiple spheres
theory with a single hollow sphere which contained a sun 600
miles wide that provided heat and light for an advanced civilization
that lived there. Later Scottish mathematician Sir John Leslie
proposed there were two inside suns (which he named Pluto
One of the most ardent supporters of hollow-earth
was the American John Symmes. Symmes was an ex-army officer
and a business man. Symmes believed that the Earth was hollow
and at the north and south poles there were entrances, 4,000
and 6,000 miles wide, respectively, that led to the interior.
Symmes dedicated much of his life to advancing his theory and
raising money to support an expedition to the North Pole for
the purpose of exploring the inner earth. He was never successful,
but after his death one of his followers, a newspaper editor
named Jeremiah Reynolds, helped influence the U.S. government
to send an expedition to Antarctica in 1838. While the explorers
found no hole there, they did bring back convincing evidence
that Antarctica was not just a polar ice cap, but the Earth's
1846 the discovery of an extinct woolly
mammoth frozen in ice in Siberia was used by Marshall Gardner
as evidence of a hollow earth. Gardner subscribed to the single-sun-inside-the-earth
theory and suggested that the mammoth was so well-preserved
because it had died recently. Gardner thought that mammoths
and other extinct creatures wandered freely in the interior
of the earth. This one had wandered outside by using the hole
at the North Pole, then was frozen and carried to Siberia on
an ice flow.
That same decade a new theory about the hollow-earth
appeared. It was the brainchild of Cyrus Read Teed. Teed proposed
that the Earth was a hollow sphere and that people lived on
the inside of it. In the center of the sphere was the sun, which
was half dark and half light. As the sun turned it gave the
appearance of a sunset and sunrise. The dense atmosphere in
the center of the sphere prevented observers from looking up
into the sky and seeing the other side of the world. Interestingly
enough, Teed's theory was hard for 19th century mathematicians
to disprove based on geometry alone, since the exterior of a
sphere can be mapped onto the interior with little trouble.
Teed changed his name to Koresh and founded what
might today be called a cult. After buying a 300 acre tract
in Florida, Koresh declared himself the messiah of a new religion.
He died in 1908 without proving his ideas.
after his death, though, some continued to subscribe to his
theory. A story is told that during World War II Hitler sent
an expedition to the Baltic Island of Rugen. There Dr. Heinz
Fischer pointed a telescopic camera into the sky in an attempt
to photograph the British fleet across the hollow interior of
a concave earth. He was apparently unsuccessful and the British
fleet remained safe.
After World War II there seems to be a continuing
connection between hollow-earth stories and Nazi Germany. One
author, Ernst Zundel, wrote a book entitled UFOs - Nazi Secret
Weapons? claiming that Hitler and his last battalion had
boarded submarines at the end of the war, escaped to Argentina,
and then established a base for flying
saucers in the hole leading to the inside of the Earth at
the South Pole. Zundel also suggested that the Nazis had originated
as a separate race that had come from the inner-earth.
As time has gone on the idea of a hollow-earth
has become less a theory of fringe science and more a subject
of science fiction and fantasy. Perhaps this has happened because
new discoveries continue to show there is no validity to most
of the hollow-earth ideas. United States Navy Admiral Richard
Byrd flew across the North Pole in 1926 and the South Pole
in 1929 without seeing any holes leading to inner-earth. Photographs
taken by astronauts in space show no entrances either. Modern
geology indicates the Earth is mostly a solid mass.
believer did seize on a NASA photograph showing a black hole
at the North Pole and called it proof of an entrance to a hollow-earth.
As it turned out the photo was actually a composite of several
pictures taken over 24 hours so that all sections were seen
in daylight and the black hole at the top was the portion of
the arctic circle never illuminated during the day over winter
Perhaps one of the most well-known books about
hollow-earth is Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the
Earth. The book illustrates a third theory of hollow-earth
which is more plausible than the other two. This is that passages
from the surface lead to caverns underground in which life thrives.
In the book three scientists climb down an inactive
Iceland volcano in an attempt to find a path to the center of
the Earth. They don't make it, but they do find an underground
sea populated with prehistoric creatures including plesiosaurs.
Verne may have been closer to that mark than most
expected. For years scientists scoffed at the idea of life thriving
underground without light to provide energy. Now explorations
have found rock-eating bacteria living as far as a mile below
the ground. In Romania a whole ecosystem, including spiders,
scorpions, leeches and millipedes has been found in a cave cut
off from the surface 5.5 million years ago.
In addition to this kind of a hollow-earth there
may be a "hollow Mars." A mars rock
discovered in the antarctic suggests that bacteria may have,
and might continue to, exist underground on the red planet.
Copyright Lee Krystek
1997. All Rights Reserved.