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January 18, 2008

The Hollow Earth

The Hollow Earth

Our understanding of the world around us, and of the Universe itself, has been transformed Planetary Courtrepeatedly throughout history, and continues to change as new theories are proposed and new data is sent back to Earth from observatories and robot explorers sent into outer space.

Once upon a time theories of cosmology prompted heated debate (and stern religious decrees) over some very basic geometry – what is the true shape of the world, and of the universe, and what is our place in it? Are we Very Important Creatures at the center of our universe, with all things revolving around us, or are we just ordinary residents of an average planet revolving around one of innumerable stars in infinite space?

Founder's House - PorchYou might expect, after such an introduction, that this article would be about Galileo or Hubble, Hawking or Ptolemy , Kepler or Copernicus. It’s not. It isn’t even about an astronomer. It’s about a doctor, about the Koreshan Unity Settlement, and about why you shouldn’t play with electricity. And it’s about some photos that I took this past December, while my father and I were passing through Estero in southwest Florida.

Dr. Cyrus Teed was one of many 19th century physicians horrified by the carnage of the American Civil War, and by Medicine’s inability to deal with its human aftermath. Teed explored alternative medicine after the War, turning to Alchemy, and turning to experiments with electricity.  After one of those experiments – which may have nearly killed him, he experienced a ‘vision’ that would eventually lead to concepts for a Utopian society, plans for the construction of ‘New Jerusalem’, and the basis for Koreshian Cosmology (i.e. the Universe according to Cyrus).

On the banks of the Estero River lie the remains of  Teed’s dream – a cluster of buildings that include rooming houses, workshops, a store, a bakery, machine shops, gardens, the Founder’s House, and the grandly titled Planetary Court. Teed died in 1908, and his utopian society went into decline. In 1961 the surviving members donated the land to the State of Florida, which has restored and maintains what is left of Teed’s New Jerusalem. The city planned for ten million followers never housed more than three hundred.

Some of the Koreshian artifacts remain. Included are bits of furniture and household effects, a variety of tools, and something else -  a scale model, and the sole surviving segment of the “rectilineator” – which leads us to Ulysses Grant Morrow, and the Koreshians attempts to prove Teed’s theories of “Cellular Cosmology”.

One of Teed’s revelations was that humans are unable to comprehend the idea of an ‘infinitie’ universe, so we must exist in one of finite dimensions. The universe was, in fact, a sphere, 8000 miles in diameter – and we live not on the outside – but on the inside. So in the universe according to Teed, the World is the Universe, turned inside-out. The sun, half light, half dark, rotates in the center. Light curves, gravity ‘waves’ hold us in place, and the moon, planets, stars and nebulae are illusions or reflections.

So what is a ‘rectilineator’? Morrow was asked by Teed to prove that we live in a convex world – one where the horizon actually curves upwards instead of downwards. And how do you make such a measurement if light itself is not to be trusted? His answer was to do it mechanically – by building perfectly squared frames and placing them one-next-to-the-other – stepping his way for miles down nearby Naples and Fort Myers beaches. The results were open to several interpretations – one being that Morrow’s experiments proved the Earth was concave (round), and that the circumference was around 25,000 miles.

There aren’t many Hollow Earth advocates around anymore, though we have no shortage of theories that contentiously attack the prevailing wisdom. Intelligent design advocates would do well to research Teed’s Cellular Cosmology (published in 1898)  and marvel at the level of detail. By the way, before you get too smug in the accuracy of your own concept of the Universe, remember that Morrow did, by one interpretation, get the Earth’s diameter right. And current theories do predict that light can bend, and gravity can have waves…..



A few more photos. Thanks to Louis Spanoudis for visiting the site with me, and to Skip Fisher, who's mention of it several years back jogged my memory recently. --SLS


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