The earth's degree of tilt has changed?

Could there be any truth to this? I’m guessing it’s a hoax but what would the Earth be like if it were true? Would there be enough noticable differences that it would be obvious if this actually happened?

It would be obvious. For one thing there would be a 50[sup]o[/sup] region of 24 hour a day darkness around the south pole in the southern hemisphere’s winter.

But…But… Maybe this explains my dizziness?

26 degrees? No way.

But the earth does shift on occasion. Especially after earthquakes. I learned this when I visited a government facility that monitors the position of the North Star. (FYI, the government spends millions of dollars every year measuring the precise position of the North Star. There is a good reason for it, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you.)

Well, for starters, every single celestial body (the Sun, the Moon, all the stars and planets) would appear in the sky in a completely different position than they ever had before. Anyone with any passing familiarity at all with the sky would notice. Folks at high latitudes would notice the Sun not setting or rising at all, and folks at low latitudes would notice the Sun getting directly overhead (a condition which can only occur within the tropics).

Not to mention that any phenomenon which could shift the Earth’s rotation by that much that abruptly would have cataclysmic effects in its own right, on the order of melting the entire surface, or so.

Even the largest US and Soviet nukes, detonated simultaneously, at the poles, only caused a tilt of 11°. Expecting a bigger shift from the mere melting of polar ice is the stuff of Science Fiction.

Right, but surely no one would notice that for obvious reasons. :wink:

I particularly like this bit from the web page the OP cited:

Excuse me?! Reading that makes me wonder if our confused friend thinks that “down” is toward the south pole; otherwise what in h–l does he mean by “slipping downward”??

Except maybe a few astronauts.

Perhaps he’s forgotten that the ice at the North Pole is free-floating?

Funny no one noticed the loss of the entire GPS system last December. Notice there were no links on the claims.

I’m sure people in Washington state, for example, would have noticed not only the sun being directly overhead at noon on the summer solctice, but also the sun not setting that day, either.
And folks in Australia might have missed the sun that same day.
At 49.5 degrees, the Arctic Circle would be farther south than the Tropic of Cancer. :rolleyes: (But shhhhhhh… only the gubmint knows about this.)

[spoiler]Apart from TimeCube, why does every whack-a-doodle-doo site have a black background with BIG COLORFUL LETTERS?

It’s like they all went to training courses at Nutjob Web Design, Inc. [/spoiler]

(And is there any truth to the received wisdom that most letters received by celebs from loonies use green ink?)

And Earth’s melting ice causes solar flares. Okaaaay…

Of course you guys hadn’t noticed.


There is no way we could not notice this happening. The seasons are a consequence of the Earth’s axial tilt. You’d get much longer summer days and much shorter winter days in the US and Europe if the axial tilt was increased.

As an aside, the Earth does wobble a bit on it’s axis over long periods of time.

If anyone is interested a friend of mine has a theory about the Earths tilt actually being less than 23.5 degrees. (and has always been). The 23.5 degrees that we see is the total of two angles one being the tilt of the earth itself I think he has calculated it at 18.5 and another angle made up by the earth moving faster and slower then the sun as it maintains a heliocentric orbit.

I’m not mentally equipped to present the theory in its entirety. He is an MIT graduate and has been arguing this theory for a number of years now and has yet to find anyone to disprove it. If this happens to fall into anyone’s area of expertise let me know and I could send a paper copy summery. He is against publishing it on the internet and it is copyrighted material.

Earthquakes cause a shift measured in tiny fractions of an arcsecond, though. As for the reason the government spends money on measuring the precise position of the North Star (and other stars as well) I think they’ve already spoiled the ‘secret’ by naming a certain ballistic missile system after it. The specifics of the celestical system are likely classified but the general scheme is the same used by scientific and commercial satellites and probes for stellar orientation. Kayton and Fried’s Avionics Navigation Systems is the classic reference on spacecraft navigation avionics including stellar/inertial systems, and if I recall correctly Spacecraft Attitude Determination and Control has a treatment of this topic as well.

To be far, Dr. Gene Ray (“Cubic and Wisest Human”) also goes for the wacky fonts and a subtle but still less-than-spartan graph paper background. I can’t say as I understand the reasoning behind it, as compared to, say, John Baez’ no-frilled Usenet Physics FAQ, except that it’s a way for loonies to attract one another, or perhaps to compete like opposing peacocks.

Back to the o.p.'s question, you’d see some drastic effects from such a shift, not only on the climate change (which would likely kill off all complex life) and the change in position of the Sun and stars, but also from the vast quantity of energy it would take to suddenly alter the Earth’s rotational momentum. You would literally shear or shatter tectonic plates, open up divergent boundaries, and generally muck things up quite a bit. It’s a nonsensical claim at best.


I’d say that your friend is on crack, but I suspect that he is misunderstanding what the axial tilt is in reference to. The 23.45 degree axial tilt of the Earth is the angle between the the axis of the Earth’s rotation and the eliptic plane of the Sun and Earth; that is, the plane in which Earth’s orbit with respect to the Sun lies, or if you want to be pedantic, their orbit about their common barycenter. The Sun’s axial tilt with respect to the Sun-Earth ecliptic is about 7.25 degrees, so their compound angle as the bodies go through their orbital motion varies roughly between 16.2 and 30.7 degrees. Note that this has nothing to do with the Earth’s velocity, nor does the Sun’s axis being out of the ecliptic plane have any significant effect on the Earth’s orientation or orbital characteristics. We proles stuck here on planet Earth are not primarily concerned with the axial tilt of the Sun; there are some modest differences in the Sun’s magnetic field and coronal emissivity relative to axial tilt, but we have a protective magnetosphere and a nice thick atmosphere as a radiation shield so it’s not a big deal for us. We’re more concerned with how the overall visible and near-visible radiation which penetrates Earth’s atmosphere is impingent upon the Earth’s surface; the more extreme the angle, the more extreme the termperature and climate behavior, or what most people call “weather”.


The earth’s current axial tilt of about 23.5 degrees is not permanent. It changes naturally in a range of about 22-24.5 degrees in a 41000-year cycle.