Friday, May 1, 2009

Hop To It!

World Jump Day was an event scheduled for July 20, 2006 at 11:39.13 UTC, at which time the organization claimed to have 600 million people from the western hemisphere jump simultaneously. They claimed this would move the Earth out of its orbit, and into a new one, one that would not cause global warming. The site was a hoax, an art installation by Torsten Lauschmann (claiming to be a Professor Hans Peter Niesward from the Institute for Gravitational Physics in Munich), and in no way serious. The German student association Lambda-Omega-Lambda provides the computer sciences for this project (programming, as well as server hosting).

According to DNS lookup information, the site is hosted in UK, on UK2. Before that, it was registered to Torsten Lauschmann. Lauschman is a German artist currently living in Glasgow. His website,, links to the World Jump Day website and a tour where he travelled under the name "Slender Whiteman" (

This hoax has been put forth in the "media" before, as an item in the Weekly World News in 1993, according to this link. The idea is also noted in the feature film 'Pay it Forward' (2000) A school kid outlines his plan to create a website encouraging all the kids in China to jump up and down at the same time. To this his teacher, played by Kevin Spacey, remarks: "The goal being to knock the earth off its axis.."

The counter for the site, measuring registered jumpers, was also inaccurate. The number of registered jumpers would go both up and down. For a point of reference, at 21:37 on 18 July 2006, it was at 598,196,296 but just 15 minutes later it had dropped to around 598,106,000. Less than 12 hours before the event the site's counter read that there were 600,256,820 registered jumpers, over 50% of all internet users.

Though this experiment is over it is still talked about in classrooms all over the country.

Even if it were to be taken seriously, World Jump Day's claim was completely unscientific and was widely discredited. There are a number of reasons to reject the thesis:

  • It is impossible to permanently change the Earth's orbit using the planet's own mass (which includes that of the world's population) unless such mass is ejected from the Earth at escape velocity (see Newton's third law of motion). The center of gravity of the system containing the earth and its population of humans will remain in the exact same orbit it was always in throughout the jump. However, for the very brief moment when the jumpers were in the air, the Earth's orbit would have been moved a tiny bit - only to be restored to its exact same location by the force of gravity acting between the jumpers and the planet while they were in the air.
  • Even ejecting such mass from the Earth (or colliding to it from outer space), the resulting energy would be equivalent to only 2% of the energy released by a modern hydrogen bomb, shifting the Earth's orbit just a small fraction of the radius of a single atom

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