April 21, 2008
Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth. ...
One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.
Apparently that geologist isn't aware that the magnetic north pole is moving. In 2003 it was moving about 40 km per year. Between 2001 and 2005 it move 4 degrees in longitude. For a while in there, it was exactly north of Salt Lake City. (Hmm... Fortunately, Mormons aren't this stupid.)
But even worse is that the geologist is wrong. Right now the north magnetic pole is about 114 degrees west. Mecca is just about 40 degrees east. 114+40 == 154 != 180. Turns out that you'd need to be at longitude 66 degrees east, say, around Kandahar.
A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim "qibla" - the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.
That's news to me. Ancient Geometry tells us that the center is by definition equidistant from every point on the surface. No point on the surface can be the center unless the sphere has a radius of zero. In which case it isn't a sphere.
That's one of the axioms of Euclidean geometry. I hadn't heard that "modern science" had any evidence to the contrary. (I hadn't heard that "modern science" was even considering the question.)
The meeting in Qatar is part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Koranic precedents for modern science.
Imagine our joy.
But the movement is not without its critics, who say that the notion that modern science was revealed in the Koran confuses spiritual truth, which is constant, and empirical truth, which depends on the state of science at any given point in time.
Say what? Did I just get a whiff of teleology there? Empirical truth is not dependent on our conception of it, nor on our knowledge of it. When a tree falls in the forest, it makes a sound even if there's no one there to hear it.
UPDATE: By the way, I suspect most Muslims aren't this stupid, either. I have no idea who dug up these fools...
UPDATE: Aziz says, "This is inane."
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