A new algorithm has allowed scientists to declare that the earth beneath our feet has a fifth layer, coming closer to the order originally described in Jewish mysticism.
Fifth Layer of the Earth: The Inner Core
Scientists have described the earth as shaving four layers: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. A fifth layer has long been suspected but until now, there has been no empirical proof. Geologists from the Australian National University created new search algorithms to compare thousands of models of the inner core with travel time data for seismic waves, publishing their results in the Journal of Geophysical Research. They found changes in the structure of iron at about 400 miles depth indicating the presence of an extra layer.
“We found evidence that may indicate a change in the structure of iron, which suggests perhaps two separate cooling events in Earth’s history,” said study author Joanne Stephenson in a statement.
Studying the inner structure of the planet is difficult, accomplished indirectly through a combination of volcanic eruptions and seismic waves. At the heart of the Earth is a solid inner core, making up just 1% of the Earth’s volume, the inner core is two-thirds of the size of the moon. Made mainly of iron, the inner core reaches temperatures of up to 5,700°C making it as hot as the Sun’s surface, but the pressure caused by gravity prevents it from becoming liquid.
Surrounding this is the outer core there is a 1,242 mile (2,000 km) thick layer of molten iron, nickel, and small quantities of other metals. Due to the Coriolis effect caused by the revolution of the planet, the molten metals flow, generating planet-wide magnetic fields.
Levels of Hell
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, director of the Azamra Institute, emphasized that science does not have exclusivity regarding what lies below our feet.
“The bible does, of course, describe Sheol as the first layer, that is to say, the grave,” Rabbi Greenbaum explained, noting that Sheol is described by Isaiah as literally a deep hole in the earth’s crust.
Instead, you are brought down to Sheol, To the bottom of the Pit. Isaiah 14:15
In another subterranean reference in the story of Korach the Bible describes the archetypal sinkhole swallowing up evildoers.
And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korach, and all their goods. Numbers 16:32
A Midrash related by the Talmudic commentary called Tosafot (Kiddushin 31B) describes how this is connected to the appearance of the Third Temple. The Tosafot asks why Psalm 82 is described as a ‘Mizmor’, a joyous song, when it’s the subject matter is the tragedies accompanying the destruction of the Temple. The Tosafot explain that Asaf, a descendant of Korach, saw the salvation of his ancestor in the destruction of the Temple and Israel.
Rabbi Greenbaum noted that Zohar, the seminal work of Jewish mysticism, describes a total of seven levels under the earth referred to as medorot.
“Science and belief in the Bible can coexist and even complement one another,” Rabbi Greenbaum emphasized. “The Zohar was describing a spiritual reality but both science and religion bring a different perspective of great import. But science can sometimes bear with it a hidden message that could be destructive.”
“Creation places Man and the earth at the center of creation,” Rabbi Greenbaum said. “That does not necessarily intend that the earth is physically at the center of the universe. But by placing the sun, the pinnacle of idolatry, at the center, science can deemphasize the purpose of creation which is the relationship between Man and his Creator. It is for this reason that the planets are named for pagan gods.”
“How we order the planets, how we see the construction of the Earth, should be a reflection of our relationship with God,” Rabbi Greenbaum said. “Science should actually highlight this. Knowing that there are levels of the earth reinforces what the Bible says. When I saw the recent images from Mars, I was astounded at how bleak they were. It would be horrible to put that at the forefront of our conceptualization of the universe. God created life and that is the essential lesson of creation.”