Who Built the Moon?
WHO BUILT the moon? It shapes our lives, governs our behaviour and keeps the Earth on an even keel. Now a new book poses the mind-boggling question:
Byline: JONATHAN FOREMAN
MAN HAS always been fascinated by the Moon, and viscerally aware of its powers. Cavemen tracked its movements on cave walls. Stone circles were built to reflect its rhythms, and the cult of Moon Goddess is thought to have dominated humanity for thousands of years.
Primitive tribes as distant as Mexico and Mesopotamia worked out that the Moon’s movements influenced the tides and correlated with women’s menstrual cycles – indeed, most civilisations until ours had used lunar months to measure time.
Even today, seeds are sown by ‘ biodynamic’ farmers in Germany – and by the Prince of Wales at one of his Gloucestershire farms – at certain times of the lunar cycle in the belief that crops grow better ‘in the face of the moon’.
Early man was terrified by eclipses and pondered the strange way the Moon mirrored the Sun. The Sun is at its lowest and weakest in midwinter at the very time when the full moon is at its highest and brightest, and the reverse in midsummer.
Many cultures attribute supernatural powers to the Moon: staring at it could send you mad (hence the word lunatic), and full moons could trigger transformations into werewolves and vampires.
Some observers claim there is a significant increase in violent crime and animal bites at the full moon even today, and psychiatric visits increase at the same time.
But is the Moon the key to the very evolution of the human race and human civilisation? That is the startling conclusion of a new book which claims, incredibly, that the Moon is, in fact, an artificial construction.
In other words, it is not like other celestial bodies – the planets, the stars, suns and asteroids – formed by natural processes. Someone or something made it, and placed it in the heavens.
Hokum? Certainly the book’s authors, Ian Butler and Christopher Knight, are arch conspiracy theorists, having previously written books about the Masons, the Knights Templar, and the Holy Grail.
They claim the Moon was manufactured by what they call an ‘Unknown Creative Agency’, primarily to serve as an ‘ incubator’ for life on Earth.
You can almost hear the guffaws of professional scientists, but some of the authors’ arguments, though outlandish, are thought-provoking. The Moon has been described by astronomers as ‘one of the most peculiar bodies in the solar system’, and its origins have long been debated.
Most scientists believe it was formed when an object the size of Mars smashed into the Earth 4.6 billion years ago. The bits of Earth knocked into space eventually formed a sphere – as do all large objects under force of gravity – and began to orbit Earth.
The authors call this the ‘Big Whack’ theory, and have strong doubts about it. Their main objection is that the Moon is made of the same materials as the Earth, and seems to contain no rock from any object or objects that might have hit it.
They also cast doubt on the theory used to explain the Moon’s position, that of ‘double impact’.
This holds that the moon was created by the impact of a Marssized object and was then bashed into by a second body coming from another direction, sending it spinning around the Earth in the direction it follows today.
That would be a most extraordinary coincidence, Knight and Butler point out.
As is the fact that this second object also left no unfamiliar materials on the moon. Whatever their difference over the Moon’s origins, scientists would generally agree with Knight and Butler that its existence is crucial for intelligent life on Earth – for several reasons.
Most importantly, the Moon’s gravitational pull stabilises the axial tilt of the Earth – meaning that the Earth doesn’t wobble more wildly on its axis.
FOR IF the Earth weren’t at the exact angle it is in relation to the Sun – if it were upright like Mercury, for example – there would probably be no seasons, and extreme variations in temperature. Our oceans would be frozen, but the equatorial regions would be too hot to sustain life.
As it is, the Earth’s position and angle of tilt in relation to the Sun allows a comfortably narrow band of temperatures and an average temperature of 14.5C (58F).
Scientists also believe the ebb and flow of tides on Earth caused by the Moon’s gravity have played a vital role in evolution. The first organisms to come out of the oceans and live on land were probably mollusc-like creatures stranded in rock pools at low tide.
And four billion years ago, when the newly-formed Moon was much closer to the Earth than it is now, massively stronger tides may have caused fluctuations in the salt content of sea water, causing ‘double-stranded ‘DNA molecules – the key to all life on Earth – to form out of more primitive singlestranded ones.
Even today the lunar tides exert a powerful influence on global climate.
It is also accepted that the Moon’s gravitational force has slowed the spin of the Earth.
If the Moon did not exist, the Earth would spin so fast that a day would take about eight hours.
Butler and Knight argue that with such quick days, and the constant interruptions of equally fleeting nights, complex life forms would not have evolved on our planet.
The authors argue that all these effects depend on the Moon being the exact size that it is, and being in the exact position that it is between the Earth and the Sun, and that this simply cannot be just a fortunate fluke. Above all, they point to what happens during-a total eclipse of the sun – such as the one in Britain on August 11, 1999 – when the Moon, as seen from Earth, appears to be exactly the same size as the far larger Sun.
This might seem to be a happy coincidence, an optical illusion with no purpose, but the authors believe that it is more significant.
It derives from the fact that the Moon is 1/400th the diameter of the Sun, yet the Moon is 400 times closer to Earth than the Sun.
This breathtakingly neat symmetry, say the authors, is a mathematical ‘letter from the stars’ to the human race from the Unknown Creative Agency – a celestial clue that this has all been carefully designed for our benefit.
One of the more bizarre-sounding suggestions made by Butler and Knight is that the Moon is hollow like the Star Wars’ Death Star. Though this idea may sound laughable, scientists accept that the Moon is only about 60 per cent as dense as the Earth – and only 3.3 times denser than water.
The authors’ contention that it is completely hollow is based on an incident during the Apollo 13 mission, the Moon landing that almost ended in tragedy when some of the spaceship’s oxygen tanks exploded.
After the astronauts had overcome their ship’s problems and were on their way back to Earth, a disposable section of the rocket that had brought them there was jettisoned and crashed on the Moon’s surface. This 15-ton piece of metal landed close to where a previous Moon mission had established a seismometer – an instrument similar to that used to measure earthquakes. NASA documents quoted by Knight and Butler say that ‘The Moon rang like a bell’ after being struck, and reverberations lasted for three hours.
According to the authors, space scientists have ignored this supposed ‘evidence’ of lunar hollowness merely because there is no way that a naturally-formed satellite could be hollow.
So who could have been the architect of this extraordinary, hollow, artificial moon? Knight and Butler believe that there are three candidates: God, extraterrestrials, or human beings who travelled back in time.
The authors think that God is just too easy an answer. They cannot understand how a deity as traditionally conceived would go to the trouble of creating a moon to encourage human life and then allow natural disasters like tsunamis to wipe it out.
ALIENS are seen as more likely moon-makers. But the problem with this explanation is that any possible extraterrestrial life-form would have had to come from so far away that, even with faster-than-light travel, it would take millions of years to get to Earth.
It would be impossible for a civilisation that far away to monitor the development of life on Earth, and Knight and Butler believe that whoever or whatever made the Moon was also a fairly frequent visitor to this planet, ‘seeding’ our earliest civilisations.
It is for this reason that the authors go for the third option: time-travelling human beings.
Somehow our descendants in the distant future discovered the secret of time travel and came back through black holes, parallel universes or ‘wormholes’ to a time when our planet was just a ‘young lump of unstratified matter’ and made the Moon.
Unfortunately, the authors fail to explain why we would have to go back through time to create ourselves and our planet (or why the humans from the future don’t just turn up again and give us the cure to the common cold).
If this all sounds rather more like science fiction than science, it’s because it is.
Certainly much about the Moon is strange and wonderful and there is much about evolution that we do not understand.
Moreover, there is often a value in examining things ‘outside the box’ and Butler and Knight’s book does throw up some tantalising facts and paradoxes.
But it’s also worth remembering the advice of one scientist who said it’s important to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.
* WHO BUILT THE MOON?
by Alan Butler and Christopher Knight, is published by Watkins Publishing