Solar Storm
An undated artist's rendering depicts a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet's upper atmosphere in this NASA handout released November 5, 2015. Reuters/NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centre/Handout

Another urban legend is doing the rounds of the internet now, just days after the failed green moon warning. This time, what is being spread is that NASA scientists noticed a day was missing in elapsed time and Christian explained it using a biblical verse.

Snopes, a rumour-busting website, attributes the missing day urban legend to a Harold Hill, president of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, Maryland. Mysterious Earth cites Hill as the source of its story that astronauts and scientists from NASA proved that everything written on the bible, particularly the story of creation of the universe, is true.

According to Hill, scientists were inspecting the positions of several space objects, including the Sun, Moon and planets and their positions in 100 and 1,000 years. The review is allegedly regularly done at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to prevent the collision of satellites with orbits of the planets.

The orbits must be determined on time for space projects not to interrupt their course. But during computer calculations, the article claims, “a red signal put everything at a standstill.” Such happens when there is something wrong with the data or results.

“After the intervention of the service department, the scientist concluded that somewhere in space a day was missing in elapsed time!,” the article continues. It says no one could resolve the issue except for a Christian who cited what he learned in Sunday school, particularly a verse from the Old Testament book of Joshua.

It was the story of Joshua who asked God to make the Sun stand still, which Joshua 10:13 states: “And the sun stood still and the moon stayed, until the people have avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is this not written in the book of Ja’-sher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hastened not to go down about a whole day.”

The article claims that after the scientists allegedly reviewed the computer calculations, which found the missing time was 23 hours and 20 minutes, they concluded it was the missing day.

However, Snopes cited a statement from the Public Affairs Office of the Goddard Space Flight Center that debunked the Mysterious Earth article on two counts.

First is that the center does not use its computers in projecting thousands of years into the future or past because results would be irrelevant since the operational lifetime of satellites rarely go beyond 12 years. Second, while there is really a Harold Hill, he worked only shortly at Goddard in the 1960s as a plant engineer. That position did not place Hill in direct contact with the centre’s computer facilities or teams who are engaged in orbital computations.

In debunking the article, Snopes points out that the Bible comes from many oral tellings, re-copyings, printings and translations, so there is a need to be very careful in presenting a specific interpretation of a single English word or phrase from one particular version.

The website notes the appeal of the 30-year-old urban legend is that “the tale confirms not only the existence of God, but also the literal truth of the bible. Moreover, it pits the scientists versus the believers, with the believers emerging victorious and the (presumed godless) scientists left ground into dust by the very science they’d so log and so loudly upheld.”