Allan Kardec

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15. Does the volume of Earth increase, decrease or remain the same?

To uphold the notion of the Earth’s increase in volume, some people maintain that plants give to the soil more than they extract from it. This is both true and false. Plants nourish themselves just as much - even more in fact — from the gaseous substances they draw from the atmosphere, than they do from the absorption of their roots. Being that the atmosphere is an integral part of the globe; the gases it is comprised of come from the decomposition of solid bodies; and these solid bodies, upon their recomposition take back that which they had previously given out. It is an exchange or, better still, a perpetual transformation. In fact, the increase of animal and vegetal life is accomplished with the aid of constituent elements of the globe, that is, with their remains. Note that despite their considerable amount these remains do not add a single atom to the mass. If the solid part of the globe increased permanently as a result of this fact, it would have to entail a proportional decrease of the atmosphere. Such an occurrence would render the atmosphere unsuitable for the sustenance of life - if it did not recover, through decomposition of solid bodies that which it lost for their composition.

At the origin of the Earth the first geologic layers were formed by solid matter - momentarily volatilized by the effects of high temperature - condensed later on by the cooling of temperature, and then precipitated. Undeniably this caused the Earth’s surface to increase slightly, though this did not add to the total mass of the globe, as this occurrence was simply a displacement of matter. When the atmosphere attained its normal state, by purging itself of the strange elements it contained within, things took their natural path. Today, a minor modification in the atmosphere’s constitution would forcibly bring about the destruction of its current inhabitants. Though new races would probably be formed, under these other conditions.

Considering it from this viewpoint, the mass of the globe — which is the sum of the molecules that comprise the set of its solid parts, liquid and gaseous — has been unquestionably the same since its origin. If the globe experienced an expansion or contraction, its volume would increase or decrease without the mass, having to undergo any alteration. Therefore, if the Earth increased its mass, it would have to be the result of a foreign cause, as it could not extract from itself the necessary elements for such an increase.

There is an opinion saying that the globe could increase its mass and volume by the influx of cosmic interplanetary matter. This idea is not irrational, but it is too hypothetical to be accepted as a principle. It is no more than a hypothesis opposing another contrary hypothesis, about which science has not yet defined itself in either way. On this subject, we present herewith the opinion of the eminent Spirit who dictated the wise uranographic studies transcribed in chapter VI:
“Worlds wear out because of their old age and tend to dissolve in order to serve as constituent elements for the formation of other universes. Little by little they give back to the universal cosmic fluid that which they took for their formation. Additionally, all bodies wear out by attrition; the rapid and incessant movement of the globe, through the cosmic fluid, results in the constant decrease of its mass, though in quantities imperceptible to us at any given period of time. *

The existence of the worlds, as I see, can be divided into three periods: First period: condensation of matter; at this period the volume of the globe decreases considerably, though its mass remains the same. This is the infancy period. Second Period: contraction and solidification of the crust; eclosion of germs and development of life up to the appearance of the most perfectible type. At this moment the globe has all its plenitude, this is the virility epoch; it loses, though very little, its constituent elements. Third period: as its inhabitants progress spiritually, the globe enters its period of material decrease; it suffers losses, not only as a result of attrition, but also by the dispersion of its molecules, similarly to a rock that, worn out by the passage of time, is reduced to dust. In its double movement of rotation and the orbiting of the sun, the globe gives back to space fluidic parcels of its substance, until the moment of its complete dissolution.

Then, as the power of attraction is directly related to its mass, and not to volume, upon the reduction of the globe’s mass, its conditions of equilibrium in space are modified. Dominated by more powerful planets, to which it cannot counterbalance, it would experience deviation in its movements, causing thus profound changes in the conditions of life in its surface. Thus: birth, life and death; or, infancy, virility, decrepitude. These are the three phases through which all agglomeration of organic or inorganic matter goes through. Only the Spirit, which is not matter, is indestructible.” (Galileo, Société de Paris, 1868)

* In its orbital movement around the Sun, the velocity of the Earth is 400 leagues per minute. Being that its circumference is 9,000 leagues, in its movement of rotation around its axis, each point of the equator traverses 9,000 leagues in 24 hours, or 6.3 leagues per minute.

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