Stopping the Spin of the Earth?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Tired of hurricanes, tornados, draught and bad weather? One website claims to have a solution.
It sounds outlandish at first, even ridiculous: stop the spin of the earth. Although it was initially a joke, StopTheSpin.org has gained a worldwide following. Conservative estimates state that close to 100,000 people participated in the last "stop the spin day."
"The earth kills 250,000 people a year" claims the website. It identifies the spin of the earth as the problem: "Stopping the spin would stop all natural disasters." The website also argues the merits of stopping the spin: "Because the weather would never change, you could choose a home in a location with your favorite climate."
One reason for the website's success appears to be its use of analogies in conjunction with scientific explanations: "Consider what happens if you place a coin on the outside of a stopped record and then turn on the record player. Because of centrifugal force, the coin is driven off. The earth is similar to the spinning record. The earth's spin is quickening, and will eventually cause everything to be flung off."
"Surprisingly, the science is entirely correct" says Walter Hansing, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Even if the website was created as a joke, it makes several good points." Hansing adds, "Although the suggested method of stopping the spin is not the most efficient, it appears to work; Just check out the webpage's results section."
Yuk E. Ziao, a professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology warns of the dire situation that could result. "Stopping the earth's spin would be disastrous. Half of the planet would experience complete darkness for six months, and the other half would be sunny for six months. One half will freeze and the other half will burn to a crisp." Although stopthespin.org mentions such potential problems, it plays them down. Ziao is worried that people won't get the joke: "If enough people take this website seriously, the spin of the earth WILL slow down."
The FBI has also taken notice of the website, and released this comment: "The party responsible for this appears to be located in Springfield, Maine. We are working closely with local and state law enforcement agencies. I'm confident that we'll catch the smart aleck who made this website."
Until the responsible party is identified and the site is removed, there is little anyone can do. The police are "attempting to spread the word about this website. People need to realize that it's a joke" says Noah R. Warner, Chief of State Police in Maine. "Otherwise" he adds somberly, "all life on this planet will be wiped out."
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