"The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!" cried Chicken Little
This one scares us. Here's the scoop. You'll be amazed at how many people go for this. Listen to this: We dropped off three copies for a client who worked at "a national chain restaurant". She passed them around, and left one on the bulletin board. Three days later, one of the corporate execs called her to ask if she knew where they could get some of those new clocks. "New clocks?" she asked, not making the connection. "Yeah, you know, those new clocks that work on the new 26 hour days. You know. That moon thing." Rising to the occasion, she kept her voice level, and replied, simply, that she didn't know where they could get any. Then she hung up and rolled on the floor. We don't know if the exec ever figured it out. As someone famous said, "You get lots of knowledge from going to college. But nary a lick of sense."
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Scientists Closely Monitor Situation
Recent Astronomical Alignments Alter Moon's Orbit
Scientists Call Situation "Serious", but Not Time to Panic
Yourtown---- (NOTICE: Any names of towns, locations, people, institutions, etc., used in these sample fake newspaper stories, are purely fictional, chosen at random, and are not meant to portray or represent any real person, place or deed. Remember that no matter what name a writer chooses to use in any fictional story, there is a real person (or many persons) SOMEWHERE who have that exact name.)
NASA astronomers disclosed today that, according to calculations from scientists around the world, Earth's moon may be tracking in an altered orbit.
John Simpson, Chief of Astronomy for NASA's interest at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, reported that scientists in some circles have become "concerned".
"We're able to calculate trajectories (orbits) for celestial bodies going back many thousands of years. That's never been at issue," he said. "And we can extrapolate orbits, movements and alignments for celestial bodies far into the future. That's not a problem, either. Based on those simple calculations, we've always known that in terms of any foreseeable future, none of the heavenly bodies that could affect our lives on Earth, would change their courses. We've always been comfortable with that. But what we haven't taken into consideration, however, was the possibility that repeated alignments of certain bodies could have a cumulative effect on other, otherwise stable bodies. In other words, let's say that once every million years, a number of large bodies have a tendency to line up in a certain way. That alignment exerts abnormal gravitational pulls on other bodies, which tends to shift their orbits very, very slightly. The changes are so slight that they've never been a concern to us. What we're realizing now, however," Mr. Simpson continued, "is that, in the past thousand years, our solar system has endured about a dozen of those abnormal astronomical alignments. That means that those very small orbit-changing forces have, cumulatively, become fairly large and significant forces. The immediate result has been that our (Earth's) moon has sustained a 'significantly altered orbit'."
The long and the short of it is that (a) scientists don't know exactly how far out of whack the moon has been pushed, and won't know to any degree of accuracy for one to two months. And, (b), even if the moon's course change has been large, few scientists can agree on exactly what that means for Earth.
"This is the biggest point of contention among scientists in anyone's memory," Simpson said.
According to a poling of astronomers, predictions, ranging from best case to worst case scenarios, run something like this: Best case: The Earth's rotation will be slowed over the next eleven years, meaning that a 24 hour day will become 24 hours and 23 minutes. Worst case: Within four years, the Earth's rotation will be slowed so that a 24 hour day will be more like 26.3 hours. Nights will become very long, but so will days. Nights will be colder, days will be warmer. In either case, violent weather will be likely, and no estimates of crop and ecological upheaval are even available as yet.
See Ocean Currents Running Rampant Page D-5
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