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The earth: Now it's all going pear-shaped
Science ^ | FR Post 8-2-02 | Editorial Staff

Posted on 08/01/2002 6:55:48 PM PDT by vannrox

The earth: Now it's all going pear-shaped



American scientists say the earth has suddenly become fatter round the middle in the last four years.

Like a pumpkin, the planet is a little bit wider around the equator than a perfect sphere would be.

For 19 years its waistline shrank, but since 1998 it has been expanding, according to a study in the journal Science.

Christopher Cox and Benjamin Chao noticed the bizarre phenomenon after studying space-based observations from the past 25 years.

They found that a measurement of the Earth's width called J2, which excludes tidal effects, has generally been decreasing for most of that time.

The main reason is that the melting of the ice caps has caused the mantle - the thick layer of nearly-molten rock between the crust and the Earth's core - to rebound.

But they subsequently discovered that around four years ago the Earth's "dynamic oblateness"- its girth - began to increase.

The study adds that the trend is continuing to the present day.

According to their calculations, neither global sea level rise nor faster melting of glacial ice could have produced such a sharp change.

Mr Cox, of Raytheon Information and Scientific Services, and Nasa scientist Mr Chao suggest that shifting of mass at the boundary between the Earth's core and the mantle may be responsible.

Story filed: 00:07 Friday 2nd August 2002


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: changes; earth; pear; science; shape; unusual
Tis is very perplexing and interesting. If true, then some theories are discarded, and others are profoundly validated.
1 posted on 08/01/2002 6:55:48 PM PDT by vannrox
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To: vannrox
Maybe Mother Earth is with child.
2 posted on 08/01/2002 7:01:30 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: vannrox
Just think. This planet will soon be shaped like everybodys mother-in-law.
3 posted on 08/01/2002 7:04:27 PM PDT by TomServo
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To: jwalsh07
Maybe Mother Earth is with child.

Or reaching middle age...

4 posted on 08/01/2002 7:05:41 PM PDT by operation clinton cleanup
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To: vannrox
Yep...'she's gonna swellup and pop'! Thats whats she's gonna do...
5 posted on 08/01/2002 7:06:08 PM PDT by RCW2001
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To: vannrox
A geological (I guess its geological) phenomenon that hasbeen documented to have occurred for FOUR YEARS? Thats like saying a person is dying because they havent taken a breath in a second. May be true but it will take a lot more data before the observation has any meaning.
6 posted on 08/01/2002 7:07:16 PM PDT by pepsi_junkie
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To: RCW2001
Aliens.

BTW, is global warming simply a fatter mother earth sweating more?
7 posted on 08/01/2002 7:11:15 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: vannrox
The main reason is that the melting of the ice caps has caused the mantle - the thick layer of nearly-molten rock between the crust and the Earth's core - to rebound.

Supposedly a change in the molten flow of the earth's core, a gazillion years ago, reversed the earth's magnetic poles. That wouldn't be any fun.

But I was under the impression that the overall volume of the ice caps has not changed.

8 posted on 08/01/2002 7:27:03 PM PDT by lizma
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To: Diddle E. Squat
This may cause the creation of the "Fat Earth Society".
9 posted on 08/01/2002 7:36:33 PM PDT by capt. norm
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To: capt. norm
This may cause the creation of the "Fat Earth Society".

LOL! :-)

10 posted on 08/01/2002 7:45:41 PM PDT by Jay W
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To: jwalsh07
Go to any elementary school in the country, look for a globe of the earth. What do you see? Wing nuts on the north pole and the south pole. The answer is simple.

SOME KID TIGHTEND THE WING NUTS TOO TIGHT!!

(perhaps my wing nut is too tight)

11 posted on 08/01/2002 8:31:30 PM PDT by Lokibob
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To: vannrox
She's really let herself go.
Let's leave the old bag for a younger planet with a better figure.
12 posted on 08/01/2002 8:37:29 PM PDT by mrsmith
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To: vannrox
Increased number of fast food resturants, mother earth becomming pear shaped. Causation or correlation?
13 posted on 08/01/2002 8:40:23 PM PDT by luckodeirish
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To: mrsmith
argentinian cattle are the cause. Mc. D's and BK changed the fries a few years ago. the cows have recently been genetically (sp?) altered to gain mass have pulled the earth via gravity toward doom. sue all fast food companies for the sake of the children.
14 posted on 08/01/2002 8:44:48 PM PDT by davisdoug
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To: lizma
The North magnetic pole has moved about 800 miles since it was first visited. The Earth's magnetic field is rather weak. It does switch though, providing one of the direct evidences of continental drift.
15 posted on 08/01/2002 8:45:31 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic
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To: davisdoug
now that makes about as much sense as the current lawsuits being filed. tort reform now.
16 posted on 08/01/2002 8:49:11 PM PDT by davisdoug
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To: lizma
The Arctic ice cap seems to have shrunk by about 40% since first measured. (It's thinner rather than being less widespread.) There's no known connection with climate change; it may just be a fluctuation. Of course, melting of the Arctic cap has no effect on ocean levels; melting of the Antarctic ice cap or Greenland ice cap would have an effect.
17 posted on 08/01/2002 8:49:38 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic
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To: davisdoug
It's no use making excuses for her.

We've been a very successful race, I think we're ready to move on to a "trophy planet". Sure Earth was fun, stood by us through all our early struggles, but we can do better now.
And she'll still have a nice large settlement after we leave.

You know, I've had my eye on Venus for a long time- now there's a hot number, sharp dresser too!

18 posted on 08/01/2002 8:57:02 PM PDT by mrsmith
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To: mrsmith
But does she have arms?
19 posted on 08/01/2002 9:12:43 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic
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To: vannrox
Maybe I should invest in a hot-air balloon. Then I can watch the fun.
20 posted on 08/01/2002 9:17:07 PM PDT by apochromat
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To: luckodeirish
deep very deep
21 posted on 08/01/2002 9:17:49 PM PDT by davisdoug
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To: vannrox
American scientists say the earth has suddenly become fatter round the middle in the last four years.

I know exactly how she feels. I've got to lay off the fat pills (donuts) at work.

God Save America (Please)

22 posted on 08/02/2002 7:39:58 AM PDT by John O
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