Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Crackpot Theories About Space

        Science | Astronomy

1
Ice, Ice Baby
While there certainly are heavenly bodies made of ice – such as comets – there’s a whole lot more to the universe than frozen water. ©iStock/Thinkstock
While there certainly are heavenly bodies made of ice – such as comets – there’s a whole lot more to the universe than frozen water. ©iStock/Thinkstock

The most logical crackpot theories may make you pause and wonder. Others simply make you think their originators probably consumed too much beer on long winter nights. When it comes to the world ice theory (or Welteislehre), the latter seems most likely.

Austrian mining engineer Hanns Horbiger published a book on his world ice theory in 1913, with the help of astronomer Phillip Fauth. In it, the two claimed that ice was the foundation of the entire universe. The lengthy book blends elements of mythology with all sorts of pseudoscience.

But in essence, the story goes like this: Long ago a dead, water-logged star crashed into a giant, hot star, causing the smaller one to explode into water vapor, which eventually froze into blocks of ice strewn across the universe. It only gets more convoluted from there, but according to Horbiger, you should know that hailstorms are caused by meteors striking Earth's atmosphere. Science teachers, commence cringing.

Horbiger died in 1931, but it's unlikely he would've enjoyed the fact that the Third Reich appropriated his ideas as part of their campaign to rework modern science, which was "too Jewish" in their estimation. An ice-based cosmology spoke to Hitler as being more Nordic (and Aryan) than others, and thus, perfect for advancing his crazed master-race philosophies.

Let Horbiger's legacy be a lesson to you -- if you decide to concoct a wild theory about something, make sure it doesn't appeal to the dark side of humanity. Otherwise your crackpot space theory may blacken your name for centuries to come.