Is The Earth Really Hollow?
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008). Source: (youtube.com)
At some point during grade school, most likely elementary school, students are taught that the earth is made up of four layers: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. The crust is the part we live on and consists of dirt and rock. The mantle is part solid rock and part liquid. The outer core is liquid metal and the inner core is iron and nickel. Students are taught this and most of them accept it, even though no one has ever actually seen any of these layers except for the crust. But, throughout history, there have been people - scientists even - who were convinced that the earth is actually hollow.
Not only did they believe it is hollow, but they believed it to be inhabited. The ancient Greeks believed it to be the location of the Underworld, where the souls of the dead spent eternity. Similarly, while the Christian bible does not specify the location of hell, it is often referred to as “down there” indicating that it is far beneath our feet. There was enough association with this idea for several news networks to spread the hoax that the 1970 drilling of the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest borehole in the world at over seven miles deep, had ceased after microphones picked up the sound of human screams coming from the center of the earth.
But Christians and ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones to believe in a hollow earth. In the 17th century, Edmond Halley, the scientist who discovered Halley’s comet, first proposed the Hollow Earth Theory to explain abnormal compass readings. According to his theory, the earth is a series of spherical shells spinning in alternate directions around a central core. Between each shell, he believed there to be an atmosphere capable of sustaining life. He also believed his theory to account for the Aurora Borealis.
Halley’s theory was expanded on in 1818 by John Cleves Symmes, Jr. who published Circular No. 1 in which he declared the Earth to be hollow. His idea was similar to Halley’s with the addition of holes at the North and South poles by which the Earth’s interior could be reached. The holes came to be known as “Symmes Holes.” Symmes also believed the Earth’s interior to be capable of sustaining life and spent much of his own life campaigning for funding to launch an expedition to the North Pole and gain access to the hidden world. He was repeatedly turned down and died before he could begin his expedition.
The idea of Symmes Holes is supported by an alleged journal entry from Admiral Richard E. Byrd of the United States Navy in which he claimed to have sailed into one. According to the journal entry, he encountered a lush environment inhabited by an ancient human race and mammoth-like creatures. However, the validity of this diary entry is in doubt as it is dated February 1947, twenty years after Byrd’s flight over the North Pole. And that is assuming that Byrd actually reached the North Pole as many suspected he falsified his navigation records.
It has also been speculated that Hitler and the Nazis were searching for Agartha, the legendary city thought to be inside the hollow earth. This theory is supposedly confirmed by a letter from Karl Unger, a German U-boat navigator, who claimed that U-209 had successfully made it to Agartha and had no plans to return. Supposedly, the Nazis were searching for Agartha as a potential escape plan for Hitler and many believe that Hitler did not die but escaped into the underground world. There is, of course, no evidence to prove this; however, the most popular diagram of Agartha was drawn by a German scientist in 1935.
The most logical way to put the Hollow Earth Theory to rest would be to simply go there and find out. However, there is nothing simple about that idea. The aforementioned Kola Superdeep Borehole made it less than a third of the way through Earth’s crust. More recent attempts to reach the mantle have involved drilling through the ocean floor where the crust is much thinner. However, that is a complicated and expensive undertaking and so far all attempts have failed. In any case, the average Hollow Earth theorist would be unlikely to be a part of such an endeavor and would likely view any government-funded expedition with skepticism.
There have, however, been multiple attempts to locate the Semmes holes at the poles. In 2002, a man named Dallas Thompson spoke on a late-night radio show about a near-death experience during which he was granted knowledge of the earth’s interior. He went so far as to publish a book about his theories entitled Cosmic Manuscript and began raising funds for an expedition to the North Pole. At one point, he announced that he had received funding and would begin his trip on May 24, 2003. However, in December of 2002, he pulled his book from the shelves and, shortly afterward, he disappeared and was never heard from again.
Another Hollow Earth theorist, Rodney M Cluff, author of World Top Secret: Our Earth IS Hollow!, made two bids for the North Pole. The first time, he was turned away by a sign warning that it was a private road and not to go any further. The second time, the trip never even began. The expedition leader, Steve Currey, was diagnosed with brain tumors and died just before they were due to leave. A new leader, Dr. Brooks Agnew, was appointed but lost funding in his company after a major stockholder withdrew his money because of the planned expedition. The final straw was the death of another team member due to a plane crash. Whether due to mysterious forces or just strange coincidences, it would seem that a journey to the center of the earth must remain in the realm of science fiction for the time being.