from the world's big
85 - Inside the Hollow Earth
If the Earth is hollow, where does all that magma spewing out of all those volcanoes come from? Somebody must have a half-convincing answer to that question, presumably that handful of people who still believe the Earth is an empty shell. The idea seems quite ludicrous now, but in pre-scientific times, it at least appeared to make sense: if Heaven was a place in the skies above, where else would Hell be than somewhere deep below our feet?
Harder to understand is why the idea survived several centuries of scientific progress, including the powerful notion of nature’s horror vacui. In a 1692 scientific paper, Edmund Halley – yes, he of comet fame – put forth the idea that Earth consists of a shell about 800 km thick, and of two inner concentric shells and an innermost core with about the same diameter as the planet Mars.
Halley did have scientific grounds for his rather bizarre thought-construct. It tried to explain why compass readings could be so anomalous: each of the inner spheres had their own magnetic poles and rotated at differing speeds. To compound his error, Halley proposed that the inner spheres might be inhabited and that the inner atmosphere was made up of luminous gases that, when escaping outward, cause the Aurora borealis.
Later theorists came up with variations to Halley’s model. In the seventeenth century, Leonhard Euler proposed a single-shell hollow Earth with a small sun (1.000 km across) at the centre, providing light and warmth for an inner-Earth civilisation. Others proposed two inner suns, and even named them: Pluto and Proserpine.
In the early eighteenth century, American John Cleves Symmes Jr supplemented the theory with the suggestion of ‘blowholes’: openings about 2.300 km across at both poles. Symes apparently was utterly convinced by his own theories: he campaigned for an expedition to the North Pole. The intervention of president Andrew Jackson was needed – to stop it, that is.
Quite unbelievably, the hollow Earth idea persisted into the twentieth century, when the study of plate tectonics and the like made it obvious that the Earth couldn’t be hollow. Yet hollow Earth books and theories multiplied, many based on Symmes’ work. In 1913, Marshall Gardner wrote A Journey to the Earth’s Interior, even built a working model of his hollow Earth – and patented it.
More recent theories suggest a hollow Earth inhabited by the creatures that fly UFOs across our skies, or by dwarves, dragons, other ‘lost races’ or ‘ascended masters’ of esoteric wisdom. Some proposed new ‘blowholes’ are located in Mount Shasta (California), Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), the Mato Grosso (Brazil), Mount Epomeo (Italy) and the pyramid of Giza (Egypt).
The pulp science fiction magazine Amazing Stories ran with a fantastic tale called the Shaver Mystery from 1945 to 1949. It entailed a series of supposedly factual stories by Richard Sharpe Shaver, claiming a superior prehistoric race had built subterranean caves, now inhabited by the ‘Dero’, their degenerate descendants. These ‘Dero’ use the advanced machinery inherited from their superior forefathers to torment us on the surface of the planet.
The hollow Earth theory was quite popular in twentieth-century Germany; it’s even claimed that Adolf Hitler gave the Hohlweltlehre credence in so far as that he ordered an expedition to spy on the British fleet by aiming cameras at the sky – a claim without historical proof, however. An even crazier theory holds that Hitler and other top Nazis escaped the Allies by fleeing to the inner Earth via an entrance in Antarctica.
The hollow Earth theory has a particularly strong hold on the imagination of writers (such as E.A. Poe, Jules Verne, E.R. Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft and Umberto Eco, who have all used the idea in their fiction). A sub-genre postulating a hollow Moon seems to have died out after the 1969 moon landing.
In some hollow Earth theories, there is a city or civilisation at the core of the Earth called Agartha (sometimes spelled Agartta, Agharti or Agarttha). This seems to derive from Aryavartha, which to the Hindus is the place of origin of the Vedas. An alternative name for this city is Shamballa (or Shambalah), which is Sanskrit for ‘place of peace’. Chinese, Russian and Kirgiz folklore all have their own names for a similar place. Sometimes, both names are used simultaneously (as in this map), with Agartha designating the whole interior and Shamballa the main city.
Despite its age, the name of Agartha pops up in relatively recent popular culture, indicating that is was popularised probably only in the twentieth century. ‘Agartha’ is the name of a Miles Davis album, a song by Afrika Bambaataa, and is mentioned in Umberto Eco’s book ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide with techno-acceleration.