THE HOLLOW EARTH: A MADDENING THEORY THAT CAN'T
BE DISPROVED
From OMNI Magazine (October 1983), Games section (p. 128)
If there were a hall of fame for pseudoscientists, surely Cyrus Teed would
deserve a place of honor. It was shortly after the Civil War that Teed
had his vision: The earth is a hollow sphere, and WE LIVE INSIDE IT. Everything
else in the universe is in here with us  planets, comets, stars  everything.
What's outside the sphere? Nothing.
Teed's cosmology had a particular appeal to religious fundamentalists.
It made the earth important again, rather than an insignificant speck
in the cosmos. And it eliminated the difficult concepts of infinite space
and aimlessly scattered worlds. We're all right here together in this
safe, spherical womb.
In 1870 Teed changed his name to Koresh (ancient Hebrew for Cyrus) and
started a cult. At its peak in the Nineties the Koreshan (pronounced kerESHan)
Unity movement had some 4,000 followers. Teed established a religious/scientific
community a few miles south of Fort Myers, Florida, and there founded
the town of Estero. He was determined to prove his theory scientifically
and launched his own geodetic survey in 1897 to do just that. Using his
"rectilineator," a set of doubleT squares made of large logs, he projected
a horizontal line until his calculations indicated that it would plunge
into the Gulf of Mexico, four miles from its starting point. This was
Teed's proof that the earth's surface is concave and that his rectilineator
line had intersected the earth's upward curve.
The scientists had gotten everything backward: It is centrifugal force,
not gravity, that keeps our feet planted on the ground. The sphere *is*
about 25,000 miles around, just as the scientists say. China is about
8,000 miles away, through the earth's center  straight up.
The Nazis entertained many occult theories in their quest for world domination,
and Teed's was one of them. At one point a Nazi expedition went to the
Isle of Man. Its mission: to get secret photographs of the United States
by pointing its powerful telescopes *up*.
...
What's most infuriating is that a little mathematical fiddling turns this
crazy theory into a proposition that is virtually impossible to refute.
The trick is done by *inversion*, a purely geometric transformation that
lets a mathematician turn shapes insideout. When a sphere is inverted,
ever point outside is mapped to a corresponding point inside, and vice
versa.
The geometry is quite simple. If a sphere's center is "C" and its radius
is "r," then every outside point "P" maps to an inside point "P'" such
that "CP x CP' = r2" {that's "r squared"  Foxx}. {My apologies for not
being able to include the accompanying illustration.  Foxx}
Here's a good way to visualize it: For any outside point "P" (on the sun,
or Pluto, or Cygnus X, for example), draw a circle that has "CP" as its
diameter. From one of the two points where this circle intersects the
earth, draw a line perpendicular to "CP." The intersection point {of this
perpendicular and "CP"} is the location of "P'".
By far the largest body in our inverted Earth is the moon; a bit over
half a mile in diameter and some 3,933 miles over our heads. The sun's
sphere is only eight feet across. The stars ar microscopic spots clustered
around the center, which is, of course, infinity.
Is there any way to prove we *aren't* inside a hollow earth? We asked
H.S.M.
Coxeter, mathematics professor at the University of Toronto and an
expert on inversion geometry. "I can't think of any," he said. "A rocket
flight, an eclipse, a Foucault pendulum, a Coriolis effect  any observation
we can make on the outside of the earth has an exact duplicate version
inside. There would be no way to tell which was the truth."
Just as the geometry of space inverts, so do all the laws of physics.
Toward the center of a hollow Earth, light slows down and everything shrinks
 atoms, astronauts, spaceships, and measuring rods. Light travels in
circular paths, producing some weird (but lawful) optical effects. Astronauts
on the moon looked back on what they thought was a blue sphere in the
distance. Actually it was the inside of the earth's shell, through sight
lines that flared like the bell of a trumpet, producing the *illusion*
of a sphere. The optical distortion is something like the wide angle view
through a fisheye lens.
As we look to the sky and the horizons, our visual field is filled with
a sphere some 4,000 miles in diameter. Celestial bodies that revolve around
the earth's center appear to "rise" and "set" as they enter or leave that
sphere.
Cyrus Teed said that the moon is an illusion, that gravity is really centrifugal
force, and that a horizontal line on the earth's surface eventually intersects
the earth's upward curvature. We like to think that if he were alive today
he would junk some of his earlier predictions to conform to inverse geometry,
thereby keeping his theory irrefutable.
The centrifugalforce idea is demonstrably false. If it were so, there
would be two points on the earth's surface where the force disappeared
 along the axis of spin. It is gravity of a peculiar kind that pulls
us all to the outside. Teed's rectilineator experiment must have been
in error. A line that appears horizontal actually curves in toward the
center and so gets farther and farther "above" the surface.
Teed would have embraced Einstein's view of a finite, bounded universe
in which light travels in circles and eventually returns to its starting
point. An infinitely powered telescope aimed straight up, Einstein said,
will eventually produce a view of the other side of the earth. That idea
might seem paradoxical to most of us, but it would have been intuitively
obvious to Cyrus Teed.
... the Australian Journal _Speculations in Science and Technology_ has
published an article by Mostafa A Abdelkader, of Alexandria, Egypt, that
considers in all seriousness the proposal that we really *are* in a hollow
Earth. Abdelkader says that the only way to test the theory's validity
is to drill a tunnel straight through the earth. Until such an experiment
is performed, he writes, "it seems ... that the odds are strongly in favor
of [a hollow Earth] being our actual universe."
