THE TILT OF THE EARTH'S AXIS
Its Orientation Brings The New Age
Its History Reveals The Flood and Explains The Magnetic Reversals
By Bill Overn
The cosmos has just entered the Age of Aquarius. A statement like that may make a Christian uncomfortable. But it should not make him any more uncomfortable than to say that today is Friday. The cosmos has indeed just entered the Age of Aquarius. Since the time of creation, when God took six days to create and then rested on the seventh, the human race has kept track of the days of the week. There is no reason to doubt that it has been accurate since the beginning. I am sure that Noah was able to keep track of it during the cataclysm. We should be equally ready to recognize that the cosmos has entered a new age. However, the Christian is certainly wise not to celebrate the New Age. But because it is so well accepted by the non-Christian communities, and because of the universal intrigue of the New Age, it is also wise for the Christian to understand it.
This paper is an introduction to the laws of astronomy which bring about such things as years, months, and ages. Hopefully it will give a better understanding of this electrifying anticipation all over the world - this universal consensus that something big is in the air. It is akin to New Year's Eve. A Christian may pray and attend church on New Year's Eve, and his neighbors may go out and carouse all night. But most people, whether they are Christians or not, contemplate the hope that the next year will be different and better. We all recognize this kind of intrigue when the Solar System is moving into a new cycle, a new year.
The New Age is equally real, but the Christian community has not paid attention to this. That is good in a way, because of its involvement with astrology, which is Satanic. But when we hear that this is the Age of Aquarius, and we say, "another pagan idea", we are not quite accurate. This paper will attempt to clarify that. The cosmic principles that bring about the New Age also bring about some very important geophysical effects which involve the Creation/Evolution controversy.
The paper will first describe the forces on the earth which cause its axis to slowly reorient itself. We then show that the earth has not historically followed the expected pattern. The majority of geophysicists have discarded the historical data as "primitive", rather than to face up to a cataclysmic recent event, Noah's flood, which could cause exactly the effects observed.
The first significant effect of ignoring the historic data is to cause astronomic dating of ancient structures to be in error by thousands of years, thus leading many historians to discredit the biblical record.
By studying the documented history of the earth's and applying well-known principles of physics to explain it, the many reversals of the earth's magnetic field are also immediately explained.
This paper describes how the history of the axis can only be explained by massive turbulence in the liquid core and also describes for those less acquainted with magneto-dynamics why the turbulence must affect the magnetic field.
THE PRECESSION OF THE EQUINOXES
Consider the orbit of the earth around the sun. The earth rotates daily around an axis that is tilted in respect to its orbital plane, and oriented toward Polaris, the North Star. Since the tilt and orientation do not vary significantly during a single orbit, in January the northern hemisphere is inclined away from the sun, causing winter. The opposite occurs in June, giving mid-summer. In March and September, the inclination is at right angles to the radius to the sun, causing the equinoxes.
Since ancient times, the astronomers have divided the sky into twelve sections to designate the months. They have also designated groupings of stars as constellations. It became convenient to name the sections of the sky by the major constellation contained in each. These are now known as the Signs of the Zodiac.
As the earth orbits the sun, the sun appears to move through these sections, or signs, spending approximately one month in each. It is quite common that a sign is called a house, giving rise to such expressions as "the sun is in the house of Capricorn". In this age, at the time of the spring equinox, we will observe the sun to be at the border between Pisces and Aquarius.
There are slow secular changes in the inclination of the axis -- both of the tilt and of the orientation. These will be discussed later. The change in orientation results in an effect called the Precession of the Equinoxes.
The Earth spins on an axis, which is tilted by about 23.5 degrees in respect to the plane in which it orbits the sun. Because it is spinning, there is a small bulge at the equator. This is caused by centrifugal force pulling on the semi-elastic mantle and the fluid oceans. The plane in which the earth rotates around the sun is called the ecliptic. It can be defined as the plane that always contains the direct radius from the earth to the sun. The very profound reason that this plane is called the ecliptic is that if the moon gets into the ecliptic when it is new, there is an eclipse of the sun. And if the moon gets into the ecliptic when it is full, there is an eclipse of the moon.
The moon is not always in the ecliptic, but is very close to it at all times. The sun, by definition, is in the ecliptic as is the earth. All of the planets are close to the ecliptic. So the total gravitational force of the sun, moon and planets is lined up along the ecliptic. The earth's equatorial bulges which are 23.5 degrees off of the ecliptic are being continually pulled by these gravitational forces toward the ecliptic. These particular forces comprise a couple, or torque, which continually attempts to bring the axis to a direction at right angles to the ecliptic, or, in other words, to reduce the tilt to zero. This constant force on the earth, because of gyroscopic effects, cannot cause an actual change in the tilt of the earth's axis. Instead, it causes a change in orientation called the precession of the equinoxes.
The earth has the characteristics of a gyro because of its spin. In this case it is a free-free gyro because there is nothing constraining it. It is not like a top on a table because the forces of the table will not allow a top to be fully free. The earth is essentially free. When a torque is applied to this free-free gyro, that torque will not simply move it into an upright position. A gyro will react to a torque against its axis by translating it 90 degrees to the side. So in this case the torque causes the orientation of the tilt to rotate (or wobble), with no real effect on the angle of the tilt itself. The time it would take to wobble around once is 25,800 years. This does not mean that the earth is 25,800 years old, but rather that if left to itself for the next 25,800 years it will make one revolution at the rate at which it is going today.
Consider the orbit of the earth as a fixed circle in space, defined by the zodiac of fixed stars. The location where the spring equinox occurs within this circle slowly moves because of the precession. During the period when the Old Testament prophecies were being written, the spring equinox occurred when the image of the sun was in the House of Aries. This was therefore perceived as the Age of Aries. Christ was born shortly after the cosmos moved into the Age of Pisces. We are now entering the Age of Aquarius (see Fig. 1).
All ancient cultures marked the new year on the basis of the spring equinox. This includes the Jewish calendar, given to Moses by God Himself. The actual New Year started with the beginning of the new month, marked by the New Moon. Thus we have Easter fixed by the Jewish New-Year event, the Passover. Easter actually occurs on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the spring equinox.
Our modern calendar is contrived to keep the seasons lined up with the months. The spring equinox is on March 21, and the calendar was designed to keep it there. But the actual spot in space where March 21 occurs moves slightly each year. (This motion is backwards in respect to the heading of the earth, or retrograde.) We see, then, that the calendar year, the time between equinoxes, is slightly less than the time for the earth to make one complete revolution around the sun. The difference is on the order of 20 minutes.
Whether the system was actually working with this same orientation before the flood is not something that we can ascertain. Since the time of the flood, though, the age of the cosmos has moved from the Age of Aries to the Age of Pisces, and now to the Age of Aquarius, and the mechanics of this system of ages is the precession described above.
We Christians probably do not pay attention to our signs or our horoscopes. But most of us have been curious enough to determine what our signs are. However, modern astrology does not even accurately determine the sign that corresponds to the day of your birth. The signs of the Zodiac were recorded in 350 BC by the famous and very capable astronomer Eudoxus. This was modified by Hiparchus approximately 150 BC. He recorded the signs of the Zodiac in which Aquarius is January 21 - February 20, Pisces is February 21 - March 20, etc. These are still accepted by astrologers. But none of these signs are correct today because of the precession of the equinoxes. Every one of these. has moved about two months. So they are all wrong. The practice of astrology started in its present form about the time of Eudoxus, and apparently the astrologers do not know enough about the cosmos even to keep the signs straight. If anyone is tempted to dabble with astrology, this alone should give pause for thought. How can the sign you were born under have any significance? It's wrong anyway.
The cosmos has entered the Age of Aquarius. Since shortly before the birth of Christ it has been the Age of Pisces. Now that we understand the mechanics of the transition, we should also mention the reaction that a large sector of society has in regard to the New Age. We often hear it referred to as the New Age Movement. It is important for us to note what's going on because it's invading our culture, including our churches, and we should be very alert to it. The world makes the statement that the Age of Pisces was characterized by the death of Jesus, a very morbid theme. They say that the Age of Aquarius will be characterized by the accomplishments of man, a much more uplifting theme. Statements like this proliferate in the literature.
The New Age movement is a very important emerging culture. It is a religious belief system; it's becoming a political force; and is certainly a rapidly dominating world view. We must study and pay attention to it. It is a universal consensus, except in the Christian culture, that the Age of Aquarius is a time for change. They say that Christianity has failed, Secular Humanism has failed, and that we need an optimistic future. The alternative is nuclear war, starvation, economic collapse. - Now is the time when everybody should cooperate to do something about it. Generally, it is a spiritual revival, but the spirit is not the Spirit of God!
One consequence is a change in the environment in the university classes where evolution is being taught. In the past, the professors were able to handle the few Christians in the class who were Creationists by allowing the rest of the class to ridicule them. There were so few. Today, in many university classes there may be about a third of the students who are new agers, and they oppose evolution as well. They give the professor a hard time also. He cannot call it a religious issue, because the new ager does not consider a belief in reincarnation as religious. Basically Buddhist doctrine and Hindu religion is taking over the culture. Behind the whole thing, I contend, is Satan himself.
THE TILT OF THE AXIS
We will now discuss the variation in the actual angle of the tilt of the axis. The forces we have been discussing, that couple in a direction toward bringing the axis of the earth into alignment with the ecliptic, actually have little or no such effect. The gyroscopic effects translate the entire effort into precession. The actual angle of the tilt would be highly stable if it were not for another factor. The other planets are not precisely within the ecliptic, wandering sometimes on one side or the other. At times they all gang up on the same side and pull the earth in that direction. The result is that earth's ecliptic actually moves. The angle that the axis points in relation to the ecliptic changes because of motion of the ecliptic, whereas the tilt of the axis in relation to inertial space is relatively stable.
This paper will develop a theory that there was a special event in the past that displaced the axis of the earth; that effects of that displacement were observed in the past but are no longer evident; and that the only change in the tilt of the axis that is recognized by the scientific community is the wobble of the plane of the ecliptic described above.
In the following discussion we shall simply refer to the tilt of the axis which we shall understand as the angle between the axis and the ecliptic, without regard to the inertial frame.
J. N. Stockwell, in 1873, accurately calculated the history of the tilt of the axis for the last 70,000 years (assuming that history went back that far), based on all known forces. He also projected it for the next 70,000 years. These calculations were fit into an empirical formula and published by Simon Newcomb. Newcomb's formula has been accepted for many years as the international standard. Although Newcomb's formula accounts for all known forces, it ignores the data that have been gathered since antiquity. The data depart drastically from Newcomb's formula.
These data were recorded by a number of outstanding ancients. Among them were Thales, Hipparchus, Eudoxus, Ptolemy and Pythagoras. It has been easy for modern astronomers to examine one or another of the data, and to assume that the ancient measurement was crude enough to be in error. At first glance the "errors" seem small. Pythagoras measured the tilt in 515 BC as 24 degrees, 0 minutes, 0 seconds. Newcomb's formula gives 23 degrees, 45 minutes, 30 seconds. Indeed one could easily be misled into considering this difference of 0 degrees, 14 minutes, 30 seconds as being insignificant. But careful examination reveals that in measuring the sun's shadow, such an error would require Pythagoras to have made an error of 1.9 inches in 15 feet. Such a large error would have prevented him from confirming his famous Pythagorean Theorem, and is very unlikely.
In 1936 the late South Australian Government Astronomer George F. Dodwell made an amazing discovery. He examined hundreds of data, many of which were very ancient, and found that they correlated, giving a consistent pattern of history differing from Newcomb's formula. Rather than random departures, the data show a consistently greater angle of tilt in respect to Newcomb, the farther back in antiquity. (See Fig. 2) (These data were most recently reported by Barry Setterfield1 based on Dodwell's unpublished manuscript.)
These data are compelling. They represent a history of change in the tilt due to some force no longer present, and a recovery to the present behavior, equilibrium occurring about 1850.
It is highly inaccurate to depict the ancients as ignorant of the mechanics of the solar system. Not only were the measurements of the axis of the earth made on a regular basis in a wide variety of ancient cultures, but other important observations were made as well, leading to predictions of new moons, and to some degree, eclipses. For example, the circumference of the earth was measured to better than 25 miles of its presently-known value by Eratosthenes in 230 BC.
The first significance of these data is that they compel us to reject the idea that the earth's axis has followed a pattern based on all known forces (uniformitarianism). Rather, the axis has been recovering from a significant singular event, probably occurring at the time of the flood reported in the Bible, and associated with Noah. Some authors1 will attempt to explain the event that caused the disturbance. Perhaps that can be done. The important point is that we know it occurred. The data are compelling.
CORRECTION OF ARCHEOLOGICAL DATES
An important consequence of having an accurate history of the tilt of the axis is the ability to date ancient civilizations. Many ancient buildings were built to align with solar events. An example is the great temple at Karnak in Egypt. On the evening of the annual summer solstice, the Pharaoh would stage a ceremony establishing him as the Sun-god. On this one day, predicted by his astronomers months in advance, the sun would illuminate the golden altar, shining down the great hall one-third of a mile long. The Pharaoh, garbed in a jeweled and golden robe, would share the spotlight, according to the inscriptions on the wall.
The change in the tilt of the axis prevented the sun from shining into the temple after a certain date. According to Newcomb's formula, this would place the cessation of the ceremony at 4000 BC, the date of creation. The data, on the other hand, place the time at 2045 BC, three hundred years after the flood.
This makes the accurate history of the axis extremely valuable. Christian archeologists are prone to accept dates based on Newcomb's formula because of its compelling scientific stature. They, in turn, have caused widespread credence for these elongated dates. However, there is more violence done to the belief in inerrancy of Scripture by these elongated historical dates than by the geologists' billions of years. Billions of years can be dismissed by noting the difference in philosophical perspective. But a civilization that is "proven" to be thousands of years before the earliest date for creation, as allowed by the Bible, is often too compelling to resist. Especially is this true when the "proof" is on the basis of measured orientations and on "sound" astronomical principles.
An interesting aside is the controversy associated with Stonehenge. Archeologists agree that this structure was an observatory or temple built by the Druids about 350 BC. The astronomical date is around 900 BC. There are too many other data fixing the true date, that the archeologists are unwilling to accept the results of Newcomb's formula. The Dodwell curve places this date at the accepted 350 BC era. This is another excellent indicator of the accuracy of the historic data.
THE EARTH'S MAGNET
By explaining the historical behavior of the axis, a new and better understanding of the earth's magnetic field emerges.
The earth's magnetic field is very interesting. It is not as well known or understood as many people think. Both the magnitude and the direction of the field are in constant change. Some of the causes of this are known. For example, there is a daily cycle of change caused by the earth's rotation and a monthly cycle caused by the moon. Field changes accompany the eleven-year sunspot cycle. Sunspots and solar storms have a random influence on the field. In addition slow secular variations occur for which there are conflicting theories as to cause.
Because of the complex nature of the field, it is not possible to represent it with a simple model, such as a dipole. The main component of the field is a dipole (the type of field generated by a simple bar magnet), but to accurately represent the field at all points, some modelers include up to twelve additional smaller dipoles, which when empirically sized and placed give a reasonable (though temporary) picture of this complex magnet.
One important point is universally accepted. That is that the earth is an electromagnet, not a permanent magnet. No hot material, such as the earth's core, can support permanent magnetism. The temperature must be below the so-called Curie Point.
There are two models that can be used to describe the earth's field, the source of the earth's field, and the secular variation. One is the so-called free decay model and the other invents a self-sustaining dynamo capable of generating the current in the electromagnet.
These are sub-models, however, of more significant models. The major models are the young-earth and the old-earth models. If you support the old-earth model, you are not allowed to support the free decay model of the earth's field because it won't fit into an old earth: the field will have been gone by now. So you must use the self-sustaining dynamo. If you endorse a young-earth model, you have a choice of the two. Either one could be useful in describing a young earth. However, the free decay model is usually preferred by a young earther because the self-sustaining dynamo is not very satisfactory. The electrodynamicists who have constructed models for a self-sustaining dynamo are not accepted by others. There is really no self-sustaining dynamo that is acceptable to the entire community.
Every self-sustaining dynamo model proposes very unique patterns of flow or turbulence in the core. The core is liquid, and it must be flowing in a particular way in order to form the dynamo. Any change will destroy it. Because it requires a particular flow pattern, it is very improbable. None of the models show how it could get started. But, because the earth's field is there and is assumed to have been there for billions of years, it logically follows that it is self-sustaining. This is the real reason that the self-sustaining dynamo is generally accepted. I accept the free-decay model and will briefly describe it.
If an electrical conductor is placed between the poles of a magnet, the field will penetrate it as easily as if it were not there. If the magnet were instantaneously removed, the field would remain in the conductor, due to a fundamental law that says that a magnetic field cannot change in a conductor, except over time. If the conductor has no resistance (a superconductor), the field has been observed to last for months (theoretically forever). But in ordinary conductors, with size dimensions on the order of inches, the field decays away in a few thousandths of a second.
Over a period of time, in conformance with the second law of thermodynamics, the field will eventually die away. When the source of the field is removed, the conductor generates an electric current which operates as an electromagnet and has just the right value to form a field identical to the original field. Over a period of time, the energy in that electrical current is slowly dissipated in the resistance of the material, and the field decays away.
The physical principle states that a magnetic field cannot change rapidly in a conducting medium, but will generate circulating electrical currents which will oppose any imposed change of magnetic field. This will continue until the energy is dissipated, in the form of heat, in the resistance of the material. In a conductor the size of the earth's core, the field can persist for thousands of years.
The measured half-life of the earth's field is 1420 years, which is compatible with the resistivity of molten iron, the supposed major component of the core. This free-decay model has been adequately defended by Dr. Thomas G. Barnes2.
Extrapolating the decay back in time we see that at the time of Christ the field was more than twice its present value, and 10,000 years ago the currents would have been generating enough heat to literally melt the surface. This places an upper bound on the age of the earth of less than 10,000 years.
Evolutionists counter this argument first with the self-sustaining dynamo. Secondly, they point to increasing amounts of data showing magnetic reversals in the past.
THE MAGNETIC REVERSALS
There is much compelling data that show that indeed the earth's field has reversed many times. How can we square that with the simple dipole and its free decay? A true but oversimplified answer is that the dipole has not actually changed, but that there was some "noise" that has affected the surface. And that is what has caused the apparent reversals to happen.
It is certainly a misleading statement that there are observations of the field having reversed on the order of every million years over the past several hundred million years. That is not an observation, but rather is a conclusion. A precise and accurate statement is that variations in the field, even reversals, have occurred during the formation of certain rocks. It is often the case that a rock is removed from a site and its physical and magnetic orientation carefully recorded. It is found that the direction of the field in that rock is different from the earth's field at that site. The conclusion is that at the time the rock was formed, the field was in the direction currently found in the rock.
If a material is heated above the Curie point and is cooled through the Curie point in the presence of a magnetic field, the material will end up magnetized in the direction of the field. One cannot claim, however, that the magnetization of any individual rock sample is a true indicator of the ambient field when it was formed. There are a number of well-known processes that can alter the magnetization with time. Most materials change their magnetic state when subjected to physical strain. (Magnetostriction). When temperature changes accompany the strain, these changes become permanent, especially in direction.
Minute compositional changes which are very common in crystalline material (aging) have dramatic magnetic effects. Lightning will completely remagnetize the material over a large area.
On the other hand, paleomagnetic researchers have found many cases where a large number of samples have excellent correlation. It would be perverse not to accept much of this evidence as real. The data indeed indicate that there have been wide variations in the field during the formation of certain rocks.
Most rocks were formed during the flood. Russell Humphreys3 has pointed out that million-year episodes of standard geological development translate into weekly periods during the cataclysmic flood events. He also suggested turbulence in the core as a mechanism for producing random local field reversals throughout the world, and on the required weekly frequency. He did not suggest a mechanism, outside of possible excess heating, for the turbulence.
Indeed, turbulence can easily account for the field variations and reversals. Recall that the liquid core is a conductor. Also recall the principle that time is required for the magnetic field to change in a conductor. We can visualize the surface of the core in the form of contiguous spheres, perhaps ten miles or more in diameter. Turbulence can invert all these spheres in a region. When all the spheres in a region are inverted, the magnetic field emanating from each sphere is reversed, since the field in the spheres cannot change immediately. At the outer surface of the globe above the inverted region, the magnetic field will be reversed.
The dimensions and magnetic parameters are consistent with weekly periods. We do, however, need a reasonable source for the turbulence.
TURBULENCE IN THE CORE
We also need a reason for the tilt of the axis to recover from a previous disturbance, as indicated by the historic data. When we examine both of these questions, the solution fairly shouts out. Dodwell and Setterfield1 describe recovery from an axis displacement as a natural property of a gyro. Although this is true in a top, it is definitely not in a free-free gyro like the earth.
The answer lies in the liquid core. Just as a bucket containing water can be turned without moving the water, so would the mantle of the earth when externally forced to change its axis, do so without the core following its action. This was undoubtedly the case. The core and the mantle were now spinning on axes having two separate directions. Hydraulic coupling between the two spheres gradually brought them to a neutral point between the two directions. Accompanying the hydraulic coupling was the massive inter-surface turbulence that caused the magnetic reversals.
The data from the ancients regarding the tilt of earth's axis definitely show a recovery from a disturbance. We can speculate about the nature of the disturbance, but the data compel us to accept the fact that whatever its cause, the disturbance is an historical fact.
Speculation as to cause includes asteroid impact, close encounter, external flood waters descending at an angle, unbalance from asymmetrical flow from the "fountains of the deep", and others.
The time of occurrence is also undetermined. Opinions include creation, the fall, the flood, the "day" of Peleg, the exodus (Joshua's long day), and others. Circumstantial evidence can be brought for any of these viewpoints.
Keeping track of the historical data on the tilt of the axis is valuable for correcting archeological dates.: It indicates dates highly compatible with the Scriptural record.
Paleomagnetic data indicate anomalous magnetic fields and reversals during rock formation. There is sound scientific reasoning that this can be completely explained by turbulence in the core giving local reversals on a weekly basis during the flood, when the rocks were being formed. The only available scientific explanation of the historic behavior of the axis demands this.
There are 140 years of data showing the exponential decay of the earth's magnetic field. However, there are archeomagnetic indications that the field was lower in more ancient times. This history of the magnetic field is completely compatible with the free-decay model, interrupted by an episode of disturbance. As Humphreys3 has pointed out, the free decay of the main dipole has persisted to the present from ancient times. When the turbulence occurred, the field on the surface diminished, accompanied by large local fluctuations. As the turbulence decreased, the fluctuation died out, and the magnitude again rose, reaching the normal free-decay values again about the time of Christ. From that time on the free decay has persisted. This is the only explanation compatible with all the data presently on hand.
1. Setterfield, Barry, "The recent change in the earth's axis", SCIENCE AT THE CROSSROADS (Proceedings of the 1983 National Creation Conference, Onesimus Publishing (Bible-Science Association), Minneapolis MN, 1985, pp. 82 - 84.
2. Barnes, Thomas G., ORIGIN AND DESTINY OF THE EARTH'S MAGNETIC FIELD, Institute For Creation Research, San Diego CA, 1973.
3. Humphreys, G. Russell, "Reversals of the earth's magnetic field during the Genesis flood", PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CREATIONISM, VOL II, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh PA, 1986, pp. 113 -123.
From "Proceedings of the 1992 Twin Cities Creation Conference," pages 83 - 87, Sponsored by The Twin Cities Creation Science Association, The Genesis Institute, and Northwestern College Assisted by CreationHealth Foundation. Used by permission of the author.
For articles on The New Age Movement, see http://rossolson.org/new_age/.