Where’s the North Pole on Google Maps?

I’ve seen several posts on the internet asking about the North Pole on Google Maps: where is it? Why isn’t there any snow there? Where’s Santa’s house?

There’s a couple of reasons why the ice around the North Pole is not shown on Google Maps.

#1: The Arctic is weird

Antarctic bedrock

Icy Greenland.

Both Google Earth and Google Maps show “open ocean” north of Greenland, even though it’s normally pretty icy up there. A commonly cited reason is that the Arctic ice cap is floating on open ocean; there’s no land underneath that reaches sea level. Antarctica, on the other hand, does conceal land above sea level. Thus, the reasoning goes, the Arctic does not qualify as land, and is rendered as ocean based on depth data.

This explanation falls a little bit short, though, because to be consistent, Antarctica should be rendered very differently — if you stripped the ice away from Antarctica, you’d find a collection of multiple islands and archipelagos:

Antarctic bedrock

Subglacial topography of Antarcica. Blue represents bedrock that does not reach sea level.

The real reason that the Arctic and Antarctica are represented differently then, it seems, is a combination of several factors:

#2: Google Maps misses everything within 500km of the poles

This is a completely separate issue. It’s easy to assume that the top of the map stops at 90°N. But it doesn’t — it’s 85°N (85.0511° N, to be more precise.) The lines of latitude get more and more spaced out as you head away from the equator, and they never, ever quite reach 90°N, even if you go way off the map:

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Try zooming in, and notice how the lines get very spaced out near the top and bottom of the map. Also notice how 86°N appears off the top of the map, along with 87, 88 and 89. You’ll never find 90°N, it’s an infinite distance away!

So why did Google choose to space the latitude lines so unevenly? In short, when you take the three-dimensional, spherical surface of the earth and try to distort it onto a two-dimensional computer screen, you inevitably end up having to make compromises. It’s just like trying to peel the skin of an orange and press it flat on the table — it’s impossible to do without ripping.

Cartographers use many different techniques, called map projections, to project the three-dimensional world to a two-dimensional screen or page. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Mercator projection, which is the one used by Google maps, has the following advantages:

  • No matter where you are on the map, true north is always directly up the page.
  • The Mercator projection is conformal — this means that when you zoom into the map, the view doesn’t become distorted. This property is the reason why the lines of latitude are spaced out the way that they are; for example, any zoomed-in view of places close to the poles would be terribly distorted if evenly-spaced lines of latitude were used.

There are also some disadvantages to the Mercator projection:

  • It is not an equal-area projection, which means countries that are the same area in real life will not necessarily appear to have the same area on the map. For example, the size of Greenland is quite exaggerated.
  • Some latitudes near the north and south pole are missing. If you choose to crop your world map to a perfect square, you end up missing the world north of 85°N and south of 85°S.

Any map projection will always have some disadvantages like those listed above; for example it is impossible to create a projection that is both conformal and completely represents the entire planet in a finite page or computer screen. Google had to make a compromise, and they chose to ignore the top and bottom 5° of the planet.

Bonus mathematics: Where does 85.0511° come from?

The Mercator projection transforms a latitude \varphi and longitude \lambda into \left( x, y \right) coordinates on the page like so:

y = \ln \left(\tan \left(\frac{\pi}{4} + \frac{\varphi}{2} \right) \right)

x = \lambda

The longitude (\lambda) ranges between -180° and 180°, which is \pm \pi in radians. This means x also ranges between \pm \pi. If we want the map to form a perfect square, then y will also go between -\pi and \pi. So, the latitude at the top of the map can be found by subsituting y = \pi:

\pi = \ln \left(\tan \left(\frac{\pi}{4} + \frac{\varphi}{2} \right) \right)

\frac{\pi}{4} + \frac{\varphi}{2} = \arctan \left( e^\pi \right)

 \varphi = 2 \left( \arctan \left( e^\pi \right) - \frac{\pi}{4} \right)  \simeq 85.0511^{\circ}

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31 Comments

  1. Wow – this is pretty interesting. I did find a video which shows a map morphing to a globe which highlights the adjustment in visible size you mention. Greenland isn’t clear though unfortunately.

    I do think that your point is fair about the archipelago of the south pole being represented as a single land mass when the north pole isn’t even represented.

    Still – great article round!

    awe

    Reply
  2. Saq

     /  April 13, 2012

    Does this mean there is no hole in the north pole? Doesn’t it seem kind of strange that we can’t see a picture of it from space… even at an angle? I can understand the map thing somewhat, but not the lack of satelite images. Something strange going on there.

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  April 13, 2012

      Not really; all the planets spin around their own axis and orbit around the sun about roughly the same axis (except for some particular exceptions, like Neptune’s spin.) This means that all the planets lie roughly on a flat plane. This, in turn, means that any probe sent out to look at other planets will stay in this plane as well, to go elsewhere would be a complete waste of fuel. So, when they look back at earth, it’s always going to be pretty much a side-on view.

      As for satellites orbiting earth, polar orbits (orbits which go over the poles) are considerably more expensive to achieve because launching rockets can’t take advantage of a kick-start from the rotation of the earth, which tends to help satellites along a east-bound trajectory. Polar orbits also spend a disproportionately large amount of time over the poles, a pretty bad trait considering that there’s just a bunch of ice up there.

      So either way, getting a look at the pole costs megabucks, and it’s unsurprising that few satellites have managed to justify this cost.

      Reply
  3. juan

     /  September 26, 2012

    why there not showing the north and south pole in google map? because they dont want people to see that there is a big hole in the north pole and south pole of the earth.

    Reply
  4. Rob

     /  June 28, 2013

    I dont believe this for one second. They’re considering other Galactical exploits to other planets etc etc etc. Any youre trying to tell me they cant have a FEW good pics of the North pole? reallly? Lack of funds or waste of fuel is the most ridiculous idea i have ever heard. Studying earth is “what nasa does”. Its silly to think they spend billions of dollars to get up there only to not go investigate there jut cuz “it isnt worth it”.

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  June 30, 2013

      Just to be clear, you’re one of these north pole conspiracy people? Proposing that NASA would “obviously” have a satellite to take a picture of the whole earth, as a single photograph? Keep in mind, there are a few specific sorts of space missions:
      A. Missions to other planetary bodies or Lagrangian points, which all travel roughly in the plane of the solar system. Naturally, these will see the earth edge-on. The famous Blue Marble photo was taken on the way to the Moon, for example.
      B. Geostationary satellites, whose purpose and position are obvious, and are dead above the equator.
      C. Missions to study the earth. It turns out that if you want to get a good, detailed look at the earth, you want to be close to the earth. Think about it, if you want to read a book, do you set it down at one end of the room, and then run to the other end and read it with binoculars? It’s kind of stupid to spend millions of dollars to boost the satellite the tens of thousands of kilometres away from the pole it would need to see the whole earth in a single frame of a photograph, only to have to spend millions of dollars on better equipment that would work at that sort of distance…
      D. Other? The onus is on you to fill this section in.

      In order for this photo you want to exist, there would have to be a satellite travelling over the North pole at an altitude of tens of thousands of kilometres. Now, seriously, please tell me: what the hell is that satellite doing there? Why is it there? Oh, and why is there a visible-light camera on board?

      BTW, we don’t have the Starship Enterprise. It turns out that you can’t, using your words, just take a satellite that’s “up there” to “go investigate” the North Pole. That sentence betrays a complete lack of understanding of orbital mechanics on your part — changing from an equatorial orbit to a polar orbit requires more delta-V (think “fuel”) than launching from the earth’s surface to a polar orbit. You need a full rocket stack to deliver that sort of delta-V — once in orbit, all the satellite can do is tweak and maintain that orbit.

      Every space mission, like any good bit of engineering, is optimized for the specific objectives of that mission. Being thousands of miles above the North pole is optimal for no mission, bar none. Oh wait, I forgot: placating conspiracy theorists. And NASA has far too many interesting things to study, and far too many interesting mission ideas that it cannot fund, to waste time on this.

      Reply
  5. Gerard

     /  July 18, 2013

    Hi Robert,
    few people know much about orbiting the earth.
    Today I heard of this theory about the hole in the poles and it too fantastic for me to believe.
    But, it was the reason to stroll around in internet, searching for ploe pictures, which I could NOT find, and so I found this site. I can’t really believe that NASA or NSA won’t be able to watch the entire earth! Impossible! That sounds fantastic, too.

    The paranoid humans always fear to be attacked from where they can’t see. So, what happens is, they install their systems to watch every corner from every angle. They also want to know, who is exploring the poles and especially the undiscovered resources that are there under ground.

    The same way as you ask people, if they are from those conspiracy theorists, I would like to ask you, if you are representing the interests of USA. Because you want to make people believe, that the USA don’t have money enough to spend on the watch out for enemies.
    Have a nice day!

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  July 23, 2013

      Right, so the USA will send a satellite up and take a photo of the entire world at once. Because that’ll be useful for finding out who’s going to attack them. At least, the enemies that are giant 10km-wide brightly coloured balls.

      No, actually, that’d be a stupid and pointless idea. Here’s how missile defence works: link. If you want to see something, you don’t stand back 20,000 km.

      Seriously, these replies aren’t interesting to me while no-one does a modicum of intellectual legwork and proposes a mission which would benefit from being HIGH above the north pole (high enough to take a photo of the whole planet at once) with a visible-light camera on board (a camera that will provide no scientifically or economically useful information over that provided by specialised sensors orbiting much closer to earth). It’s just boring. This was supposed to be an article about Google Maps’ use of the Mercator projection, not the world’s stupidest conspiracy theory.

      Reply
  6. \M/

     /  August 26, 2013

    Completly avoided the question. Real simple here. We want satellite images of the North pole. No reason you can’t do it…

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  August 26, 2013

      Oh, it could be done. But it’d be an idiotic thing to do.

      Sorry, I don’t own a satellite, rocket or launch facility, so I can’t help you out. Who do you think you should ask, and why would they do it?

      Reply
  7. Conspiracy fan

     /  August 28, 2013

    “It costs lots of money to send satellites up there n’ stuff… NASA is all about bargains. They, ya’ know, save up government money and clip coupons n’ stuff so they can afford to go to space. I saw an astronaut selling candy bars outside of Wal-mart the other day to help pay to his trip to space. ”

    Send a plane… a plane? Anyone? Would it cost billions and eleventeen trillion dollars to send a plane over to take pictures?

    “Well… well no… I guess not… I guess they could probably send a plane over that part… I guess…”

    The first ones to call “CONSPIRACY THEORISTIST!” are always the same ones to call “RACIST!”, “BIGOT!” or “SINNER!”.

    Admittedly, the “hollow earth” stuff seems completely whacked out, tinfoil hat stuff… until you start to actually do your own research on the subject.

    Good luck finding CONSISTENT, satellite ariel images of those regions. Oh yea, “it costs too much… our government hates to spend money on things they don’t need.” Talk about your wacky, crack-pot theories that don’t hold water.

    Then take a gander at the warm spot directly over the North Pole. Seems like that would be the COLDEST spot on the earth (next to the South pole)? Like, that would be the SECOND TO THE LAST PLACE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH THAT WOULDN’T FREEZE OVER?

    “Global warmi… errr… climate change”… Yea, that’s it.

    It’s not a “crack-pot conspiracy theory”… it’s just a REGULAR “crack-pot theory”.

    So to make a long story short, I seems that someone in the government is trying to hide something (go figure, that almost NEVER happens). Maybe it’s HAARP, Maybe it’s the hollow earth, maybe it’s UFOs or it could be Santa Clause. At any rate… something isn’t right up there.

    If you do you own research and use cognitive thinking skills and deductive reasoning… you should come to the same conclusion.

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  August 28, 2013

      You’ve made the same logical error over and over again here. Governments may do stupid and wasteful things all the time, but that doesn’t mean they’ve done every possible stupid and wasteful thing. It’s like saying that people get murdered all the time, therefore you’re dead. Huge and invalid logical leap.

      Similarly, NASA has a lot of money, let’s say eleventeen trillion dollars. But it has lots of interesting ideas that would cost, in total, twelveteen quadrillion dollars to finance. Real interesting, worthwhile missions get cancelled by NASA, seemingly generally because of lack of funding. The missions that do get launched achieve an amazing array of separate missions. And all this time, while these missions are just reaching the standard to receive NASA funding, the mission to send a satellite to take a picture of the North pole for some reason get canned!? Unbelievable! Rubbish. “Well they should take a picture while they’re on the way to somewhere else!” And travelling over the north pole is on the way to… nothing interesting at all! Whoops.

      You want aerial photos of the arctic? Try googling it. Oh, you want a systematic aerial photo map of the entire arctic circle? The arctic circle, which has an area double that of the USA (20Mm^2 vs 9.83Mm^2). Again, I’m going to explain this carefully again for you, darling, but that is an enormous undertaking. Some private company, or government official, would have to go through some little bit of process to get that sort of money. Something like:

      Jimmy: I propose that we take aerial imagery of all of the arctic circle and stitch it all together.
      Bobby: Um, why?
      Jimmy: < This is me talking again here, what goes here? Funny how all these angry arguments avoid this question >
      Bobby: Er, OK, but isn’t all that sea ice in motion? Won’t it all be out of date within a month? Wait, why are we doing this again?
      Jimmy: And then, we’re going to make it available to the public.
      Bobby: For what reason?
      Jimmy: < Again, please someone help me out here. You have to fill in both these boxes to win this game. >

      Keep in mind that much of the aerial photography that you’re used to seeing is taken by companies for profit — selling to councils, Google Maps, urban planners. Polar bears don’t have credit cards. I mean, seriously, you’re telling me that my “theory” doesn’t hold water!? Lol. I don’t even have a theory of my own, I see nothing that is out of place — I’m just critiquing others’ wild speculation.

      As for this “warm spot” over the North pole, I googled for “arctic warm spot” and “arctic hot spot”, and I’m none the wiser. If you could clarify what you mean that’d be helpful. Still a lot of ice up there, which makes it pretty much the coldest place on earth, so ah, just can’t imagine what you’re referring to. Here’s a few hints I’m going to throw out in advance: Ice floats, salt water has a low melting point. There is sea under the north pole, and land more-or-less under the south pole. That means ocean currents deliver a lot of warmth to the north pole, and keep on buffeting and breaking up the ice (when submarines aren’t). The Antarctic is protected by land, so it really is just static, thick ice there. This is just me making stuff up, I haven’t even gone to the internet for any of this, again, the onus is on you to deliver extraordinary evidence to back up your extraordinary claims; and “people do dumb stuff all the time, taking pictures of the north pole is dumb, deduction woo” doesn’t quite cut it.

      Reply
  8. Sjoerd

     /  October 22, 2013

    i think it’s because the north pole isn’t land it’s pure ice

    Reply
  9. day

     /  October 27, 2013

    There are pics of Mars poles. Why is that worthehile but not our own planet?

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  October 27, 2013

      A question of reasonable originality, I’ll grant you that. But again, when you try to expand on this question, it falls apart. Why is it not worthwhile to look at our own planet’s North pole from space? Because it’s cheaper and easier, and you get a far better look at the place, by going there in a boat. Does that same logic apply to Mars’ poles? No, you can’t travel to Mars on a boat.

      Next.

      Reply
  10. Juni

     /  November 14, 2013

    What about a stationary satellite. They work for dish tv providers. Seriously, there is something very wierd about the fact that No one, even NASA has any satellite imagery of the North Pole. Then there’s the fact that when ever anyone asks about it, it is always nay-sayed and discounted as perfectly normal.

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  November 14, 2013

      Geostationary satellites aren’t actually stationary, they orbit the earth around the equator with an orbit time of 24 hours, the same amount of time it takes for the earth to spin once. This means the satellite appears stationary to an observer rotating along with the Earth, but it’s not stationary. That’s why the “geo-” part of the word is important; it’s only stationary relative to the Earth.

      The most important point here is that geostationary satellites are all directly above the equator, that’s why the page that lists them gives the location as a single number, longitude, to specify their location. They’re all at latitude zero, above the equator, and at the same altitude, around 36,000 km. Hovering above the equator is the worst possible viewpoint for photographing the earth’s poles.

      So, geostationary satellites are in the wrong place, and the onus is on you to tell me a satellite’s mission that would take it over the poles, equipped with a camera.

      If you had read my other responses above, you’d realise this is the other thing. A visible light camera on a satellite is a very expensive and risky thing, and they don’t put on one unless there’s useful science to be gained (hint: a photo of white clouds above white polar ice is not scientifically useful). You can’t hide it in the climate-controlled innards of the satellite, because it has to look outside. It’ll get very cold and very hot in the vacuum of space, its lens will get bombarded by micrometeorites unless it has an expensive, failure-prone lens cover on it. You’d have to be a monumental idiot to go to all that bother to take a white-on-white photo; and fortunately, the committees that decide these things just aren’t that stupid. Also, there’s no money in it.

      Don’t believe me? You know geostationary satellites exist, you even mentioned them in your question. And there are indeed lots of them, over a hundred, because they’re so great for telecommunications. So find me a photo taken from one. You’ll find imagery from the purpose-built GOES weather satellite, which has black-and-white visible light images (colour is pointless, so absent), and more useful infrared stuff. But you won’t find anything from a random telecoms satellite. Surely one random telecoms company would fit a camera for a laugh? Live webcam on the website? Nope. If you think you can just tape a smartphone to the outside of a satellite and expect it to work, you don’t know enough about space to be having this debate.

      Pro tip: if people always say an idea is wrong when mentioned, that’s not inherently suspicious. It just might be because it’s wrong. Example: “All chemists I’ve talked to have told me that water is not poisonous. How suspicious!“. Looks pretty dumb, doesn’t it?

      Reply
  11. nogame

     /  November 25, 2013

    It’s a ball, the “top” could be anywhere you want it. These explanations are utterly rediculas in so many ways. What-ever, they lie, reason for lie?

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  December 1, 2013

      I don’t quite follow your point, but I think this is relevant: the Earth is spinning. The North (and South) pole form the axis around which the Earth is spinning. So the North pole will never “come around to meet you” if you just stand still and wait.

      Reply
  12. Jimbojones

     /  December 5, 2013

    Just reading threw the thread, I do a lot of math based logic and have worked on 3D representation on 2D space.. The Mercator math although does hold water “literally” is not a valid reason the same math could be applied in reverse at little to no overhead… Putting the South Pole at its centre point.

    Granted I do not not know the orientation of the satellite but the sheer detail of Antarctica and the complete lack of anything in the arctic is extremely strange.

    As for the idea that “it cost too much or is a waste of money” I find a weak argument at best. Global warming is a global political and environmental concern… If anything it would make much morse sense for government to monitor the region much more closely than anywhere else on the face of the planet…

    I would go as far to say they do monitor the region…. The imagery is simply not shared with the general public.

    Reply
  13. Robert

     /  December 5, 2013

    Yes, it is possible to rotate the earth before applying the Mercator projection. But then instead of the poles (the desolate parts of the world of no interest to any normal map user), some other place would be badly distorted/completely absent. Furthermore, the (original, true) lines of longitude and latitude would no longer go vertically and horizontally. For the same reason, zooming into this map would no longer always show North as directly up. So yes, it’s perfectly possible, but it’s kind of pointless.

    It is indeed interesting that Antarctica and the Arctic are represented differently, but there’s plenty of perfectly reasonable speculation on why this is in my post.

    Yes, global warming is a big issue. If you had actually read the thread above, you’ll note that taking a visible light photo from a high enough altitude to see the whole earth at once is completely pointless. So yes, it is a complete waste of money.

    They’ve got satellites measuring ice cover and all that, you can find that data easily online. It’s in the form of useful, colour-coded diagrams, not plain, featureless, entirely pointless white photographs.

    Reply
  14. Pieter-Paul

     /  April 9, 2014

    Robert, I thank you for all your clarifying responses and your persistence in answering a number of questions that have gone in completely the wrong direction.

    Reply
  15. Richard

     /  May 30, 2014

    I know this is an old post but i couldn’t help but write this. Roberts replys to nearly all comments give little reply to their statements, instead you seem to just re-write the same gibberish about a worldwide photo being useless. A plane can cover huge areas of land in one fly-over if its high enough as reconnaissance planes do this regularly for entire warzones. The cloud cover argument is complete crap as you could just wait for good weather. Finally the idea that space probes only see us side on is also a nonsense argument because if they wait 12 hours they will see the over side and with the tilt this will have covered every inch of the planet. I do not believe in any of the conspiracy’s written here but your lack of any real argument to these comments made me no longer trust anything you have written here. It is clear to anyone that the technology is available and affordable as the south pole is much larger and has been photographed. The most likely reason is that the north pole has many tactical opportunities for Russia and the USA and both countries maybe test weapons here (this is just guesswork on my part but it seems more likely than both the holes in the earth crap or your because no-one really cares enough argument).

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  May 30, 2014

      What? You meant the post where someone suggests a geostationary satellite, and I point out that geostationary satellites must be stationed over the equator? The suggestion to “just send a plane”, I point out how big Antartica is? If you find a specific point that I haven’t addressed, how about you explicitly re-ask it rather than making some ridiculous assertion that I’ve missed things?

      I have several similar responses pointing out that taking photos of the north pole is an out-of-the-way and stupid thing for NASA to do. That’s because I got asked over and over again, “NASA do all sorts of mind-blowing stuff so they must do every thing that can be done so they must have photos of the north pole but I don’t have them so they must be hiding something ooooooh??!?“. It doesn’t matter if they express a profound misunderstanding of how things orbit over and over again, because the objection to their ridiculous argument runs much deeper than that. It would be a colossal waste of money, and even the fools that end up in government know that.

      “…a worldwide photo being useless. A plane can cover huge areas of land…” — Make up your mind, do you want a single photo taken by a distant satellite, or a montage formed by many images from planes?

      Thanks for your helpful statement that “a plane can cover huge areas of land in one fly-over if its high enough as reconnaissance planes do this regularly for entire warzones.” There are so many numbers, so much precise reasoning in that sentence that I can hardly argue with it. Oh wait, let me fix that. A single plane flying at 30000 feet at the speed of sound, taking photos 30000 feet square, would take 52 days of 24/7 flying to map the area of Antartica. Factoring in refueling stops, and getting to and from the fueling stops, and crew rotation, etc, it’d probably take around a year at least. Feasible? Yes, of course. I’ve never argued that imaging Antarctica was a feat beyond the capabilites of humanity. But wouldn’t it be a mind-blowingly idiotic way to spend a year of someone’s life? Sorry for repeating the same reasoning again, but if you don’t pick a hole in my reasoning, I’m just going to repeat it. Which organisation would do this, and then release it to the public, and why? ANSWER THIS QUESTION, OR YOU LOSE.

      I don’t think I ever really claim that these photos absolutely haven’t been taken. I’m just pointing out that it’s a logical leap to assume that they obviously must exist just because we have photos of Jupiter’s North pole. Also that it’s a logical leap that these photos would be taken by government agencies that would want to admit doing it, another that the images would be something stupid like visible light images, and yet another to expect the imagery to be released, and yet another to expect the imagery to be organised and made available by some commercial entity. A ridiculous amount of effort to go to to serve hundreds of thousands of featureless white map tiles.

      Maybe there’s some weapon testing going on up there. As long as you don’t propose the lack of photography as evidence (because that reasoning is completely flawed, see above and tell me where I’m wrong), then I don’t have any particular objection to that theory. All I’m saying is, the lack of photography is the expected, default situation, not something that needs careful explanation or justification.

      Reply
  16. Richard

     /  May 30, 2014

    after writing that comment i would like to end any chance of an argument on the basis that there are pictures on the internet of the north pole both close and from space, i really should have searched properly first. Oh well at least iv proved that it can be done. Google maps doesnt have it for the reason stated above. Robert your still a half-wit for your idiotic replys but your original post is very well written and thought out.
    I’m leaving the internet now, farewell.

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  May 30, 2014

      I’ve searched for photos of the North and South pole, and I haven’t found any actual, non-computer-generated images, so I’d be very curious to see some links to your claimed photos, and in particular, I’d love to know which satellite took them. In the mean time, I’ll assume that you’re just trolling or realised that my responses actually make sense after all.

      I’m a half-wit, am I? Let’s assume, for the moment, that there were no nice, clear, wide-angle photos of the north and south pole on the internet. And that some people visited your site, and said “NASA does all sorts of amazing things, surely they’d have photos of the North pole, ‘they’ must be hiding a hole at the North pole?”. What would you respond with? Pointing out that taking those photos would be highly pointless seems like a pretty reasonable move to me.

      Reply
  17. Justin

     /  September 17, 2014

    What happens when you spin a bucket of water by the handle in a Pete Townshend windmill fashion? What if this is any way representative of the way planetary bodies form? Hollow in the interior with openings in the axis due to the laws of centrifugal force? What the government made an open statement tomorrow that there are openings in the poles? How would the people of the world react?

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  September 17, 2014

      Basic physics tells us that, for a given angular speed, the centrifugal force increases as distance from the center of rotation increases. If Pete Townshend had another bucket attached to his elbow, he’d have to spin his arm a heck of a lot faster to keep the water in that bucket too. In other words, if matter near the center of the Earth was flung out to the surface, us humans on the surface of the Earth would most certainly be flung out into space. Why does the matter get flung out to the surface, and then stop there? If the Earth is the water, what’s the bucket? Also, how does your explanation explain the near-spherical shape of the Earth? Why isn’t the Earth cylinder-shaped? Try putting a lump of clay on a potting wheel and spinning it up, and see if it turns into a hollow sphere by itself. It won’t. It’ll stay as a solid ball, until it suddenly flies apart into pieces. So it is with planets, if you were to spin a planet up faster and faster, it would get fatter and fatter and then the equator would start getting flung off into space. At no point does it become hollow.

      Do you really think all of the scientists and engineers in the world could miss such a basic idea?

      No, the spin of the Earth causes the Earth to be slightly fatter at the equator — the equatorial radius (6,378 km) is 0.34% more than the polar radius (6,356 km). That’s what the spinning Earth does. Sorry.

      I’ll ignore your last question because your idea is ridiculous on purely physical principles. The fact that an idea would be massively disruptive if true does not ever lend any strength to the idea that it is true. Suggesting so makes you sound like a stupid conspiracy theorist.

      Reply
  18. Justin

     /  September 18, 2014

    Rob, what’s the explanation for our magnetic compasses being attracted to the poles? It would make sense that there is something of great magnetic force or size at the poles? Also is it not true that science has only managed to bore only a couple miles into the earths’ surface? Which leaves how many more miles of unexplored depth into the crust and mantle. Doesn’t this mean that it is only a theory that the earth is completely solid? Back to the centrifugal force, does the laws of attraction factor in to your idea about things being flung out to space? If everything in matter can be deduced to positive and negative pieces, does this shine any light on how the earth stays together? Thanks for responding to all these questions, you seem to be providing some good constructive criticism to our logic.

    Reply
    • Robert

       /  September 19, 2014

      The Earth isn’t completely solid — entire layers of the Earth are molten (i.e. liquid). Heat from the core causes convection currents in the mantle that push the plates of the Earth around, creating continents, mountains, fault lines, earthquakes and volcanoes. Similar convection currents nearer the core create the Earth’s magnetic field. Our understanding of the internals of the Earth are based on analysing the way that earthquakes waves travel through the Earth, analysing lava and magma and other material brought up to the surface, analysing the gravity field on the surface of the Earth, and indeed, the magnetic field as well. Links are dotted all through this paragraph to pages explaining this in more detail. Note how there are references, and you can go as deep as you like, as far as the countless scientific observations and papers that propose and corroborate these ideas. Note how the pages are not phrased as series of stupid questions.

      What on Earth do you mean by “only a theory”? I’m flabbergasted that you would call the known structure of the Earth “only a theory” while, in the same paragraph, saying “how does a compass work? I dunno, the Earth must be hollow”. That is only a theory, and a incredibly pathetic one at that. You’ll notice that Wikipedia describes the geodynamo theory and the plate tectonics theory. But to scientists, gravity is just a theory too. Only absolutely logically unquestionably provably true theories graduate to theorems, which is why you only see theorems (absolute truths) in mathematics. If you think gravity being called a theory makes it untrue, you’re welcome to jump out of a 10th story window.

      The positive and negative pieces of matter are protons and electrons, they bind to form neutral atoms. From that point on, there’s only gravity at planet-sized scales. The laws of attraction don’t magically change at 6378 km away from the centre of the Earth. That’s just random words you’re stringing together. The laws of physics are extraordinarily well understood; if you take a planet’s worth of dirt and let it collapse on itself, you end up with a solid/liquid Earth that spins slowly. That’s it, sorry. There’s no way generations of seismologists could hone and develop the theory of the structure of the Earth, seeing the inner core, outer core, mantle and crust, if there’s just nothing at all in the middle. To think every single seismologist in the world is “in on the conspiracy” is so stunningly stupid I just can’t even believe that a sane person would admit thinking that.

      BTW, Emirates operates a flight from San Francisco to Dubai that goes via the North Pole. Look it up if you want to see a picture of the North Pole. Boring ice.

      You’re not the ones providing “logic” here, I am. Wondering how compasses work or how we can know about the structure of the Earth are questions that can be answered with a simple Google search; not amazing counter-science zingers or “logic”, and certainly not evidence that “there’s something strange going on at the poles”.

      Reply

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