Whitehead has a rather...
uh, INNOVATIVE... plan to
save Earth from solar
The Earth Mover
From the Files of Fortean Slips
by D. Trull
Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. The same goes for scenarios of planetary doom inevitably set to unfold in the far-flung future. These are the reasons why the spectre of global warming puts us in a doubly confounding pickle. Eventually the Earth is going to get too hot for our descendants to survive, but as long as we've got the A.C. pumping, most of us here today don't really give a rat's ass.
So when some saintly visionary comes along with a plan to nip this global catastrophe in the bud several millennia ahead of time, we should all stand up and cheer. Even if his survival scheme sounds certifiably insane.
Lorne Whitehead, a physics professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, isn't so much concerned with the widely feared greenhouse effect caused by the burning of fossil fuels -- that's an issue for more short-sighted scientists to trifle with. Whitehead has his hands full with the natural increase in the sun's heat, which rises infinitesimally with each passing moment of the star's lifespan. Even if we all recycle our aluminum and ride bikes to work and write big checks to Greenpeace, the Earth is still going to get too hot to sustain life in about 1,500 million years -- through no fault of our own. Sort of takes the pressure off, doesn't it?
For you and me, maybe, but not for Dr. Whitehead. The heroically vigilant physicist intends to spare our great-to-the-nth-power grandchildren from this cruel and sweaty demise.
"I don't believe they will want to get into spaceships to leave the planet, even if they were are very large and comfortable spaceships," says Whitehead. "A far more practical idea is to move the Earth."
Whitehead may have drawn inspiration from Archimedes, who said, "Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth." His plan suggests that humanity could get the job done with its feet firmly planted on the Moon. Since it's probably impossible to propel the Earth itself from its orbit, Whitehead advocates whomping La Luna with so much explosive force that our planet is inexorably dragged along with it.
"Our descendants would fix matter/anti-matter rockets to the far side of the Moon," Whitehead explains. "These would convert matter into anti-matter with 100 per cent efficiency, in accordance with Einstein's equation. (Nuclear bombs convert only a tiny fraction of their mass into energy.) But a pound of matter, on coming into contact with anti-matter, can be converted into the energy equivalent of 300 million gallons of petrol."
Man! It seems like that much firepower would simply bust the Moon wide open, but I ain't no scientist. Assuming our trusty satellite could perform its duty as a celestial tugboat, the Earth would be hauled into a further out and cooler orbit, but wouldn't just stop when it landed in the most ideally comfortable groove. You'd think Whitehead would call for some kind of retro-rocket secondary explosion to cancel out the inertia, but no. And here's where it gets really good.
Whitehead says we should just let the Earth and Moon keep right on truckin' out into deep space. His idea: turn the Moon into a surrogate sun, by blanketing its surface with really, really powerful heat lamps. He even names a place in Vancouver, a company called Vortex Industries, which is making the necessary argon arc lamps today. Whitehead believes that firing up a trillion of these boys on the lunar surface would cause the Moon to give us just as much heat and light as the sun.
To support his theory, he makes a big deal about the Moon and the sun coincidentally having the same apparent size in the sky from Earth. He believes we wouldn't hardly know the difference, once we lit up the Moon. He does allow that the tides would be weaker, and that there would of course be no moonlight. But other than that, Whitehead claims, "Everything on the planet would look the same, golden sunshine, blue sky, fleecy clouds and rainbows."
Hoo boy. You know, he actually had me going there with the Moon Slingshot trick, but that lunar lightbulb crap is way too much. Either that Vortex Industries lamp outfit is owned by Whitehead's brother-in-law, or this guy's crazier than a load of green cheese. Anyway, no matter how this whole situation plays out, it's comforting to know this is one move none of us will have to bother packing for.
(c) Copyright 1996 ParaScope, Inc.