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No. 6: February 1979

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Earth, the magic top

The Journal of Physics is a most respectable British scientific publication, but in a recent issue we find an article that would warm the heart of Ignatius Donnelly, to say nothing of Hapgood, Brown, Velikovsky, and more recent catastrophists. Employing a wide span of data from complex top theory to ancient legend, Warlow suggests that the earth has undergone many violent catastrophes, some of them within the time of man. Flood legends, geomagnetic reversals, tektites, paleoclimatology, salinity crises, and other familiar standbys of the catastrophists force P. Warlow to examine the stability of the earth in the presence of astronomical collisions and near-collisions.

He shows that the earth rotates slowly and that, even with the stabilizing equatorial bulge, our planet is rather sensitive to outside forces. It is, he says, like a tippe top or magic top; a 8,000-mile-diameter top that turns over repeatedly in response to external influences. Did not the ancient Egyptians write that the sun once rose in the west? Are there not massive faunal extinctions? Have not stray solar-system bodies left scars on all the inner planets?

(Warlow, P.; "Geomagnetic Reversals," Journal of Physics,11:2107, 1978.)

From Science Frontiers #6, February 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987