Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Embiggening Earth Redux

A few years back, at the Dawn of this Blog, I posted a little piece about the ridiculously pseudoscientific idea of the "Expanding Earth".  Apparently there are crazy people with no understanding of science or rationality who think, for a variety of insane reasons, that Plate Tectonics is yet another example of a Big Science Conspiracy that seeks to bury the truth: namely, that the Earth is getting bigger through time, and that everything we know about geology, chemistry, physics, biology, etc, is all a BIG LIE!!!!!!!!   It's pretty weird stuff, and some of the comments on the above linked post were so nutty that folks with peanut allergies shouldn't read them.

Anyway, to the vast corpus of evidence in support of plate tectonics (i.e., predictability/explicative power of sedimentary basins, mountain belts, and a whole lot of tectonic features, apparent polar wander, geophysically observed subducted crust, sea-floor spreading, etc, etc, etc) we can NOW add a DIRECT MEASURE of the changes in the Earth's radius.  The rate of change, according to this JPL/NASA study, is ~0.1 mm/year, which is within instrument error and not statistically significant.  In other words...the Earth ain't embiggening.

It's a pretty nifty example of detailed geodetic measurements, gravity measurements, and complex data processing that provides a pretty robust direct measure of everything we already knew about the Earth.  The paper, which goes into all the nitty-gritty goodness of complicated geo-math, was published in Geophysical Research Letters, and can be found here.

Of course, as we all know, their ain't no gettin' through to the True Believers, and they will no doubt see this as more evidence for the vast science conspiracy that seeks to thwart their brilliance and hid the importance of their unified field theories of everything.  Oh well.  

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