The nefarious Dr. Dino, a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex
that spent eras trapped in ice
hundreds of miles beneath ground level and gained massive scientific intelligence through exposure to radiation from the planet's core, is hard at work with his evil scheme in his secret lab at the center of the Earth. He knows his people are long extinct, but he plans to undo that: he's installing a heat-powered, super-strong revolution motor in the center of the planet. When he finally switches it on, it will force the Earth's rotation to stop and reverse direction, thereby rewinding time to the Cretaceous period where the dinosaurs reigned supreme! Mwahahaha...
It doesn't take a physics major (although it doesn't hurt to be one) to realize that Dr. Dino's scheme has no reason whatsoever to work as planned, even if his planetary rotation motor thingamajig
does. We just so happen to measure time by the rotations and revolutions of the Earth; modifying the latter would almost certainly do absolutely nothing to alter the former (excluding the principle of relativity, of course, but that works very differently). Expecting it to do so is akin to pouring more mercury into a thermometer and expecting the room to get warmer as a direct result.
And yet, this appears to be a fairly common misconception across many different works. How many times in fiction has someone slowed down, sped up, or (most commonly) rewound time simply by altering the Earth's rotation accordingly, as if the planet were attached by the poles to the Master Clock of the Universe?
A subtrope of Artistic License - Physics
and Artistic License - Astronomy
- The first Superman movie is well-known (and well mocked) for including this toward the end of the movie. Superman flies around the earth at absurd speed, and somehow this seems reverse the earth's spin and turn back time. Fans have rightly pointed out for years that this makes no sense whatsoever. However, according to Word Of God, the scene was misunderstood: it wasn't this trope at all. Superman was actually flying so fast that he went faster than light, thus going backwards in time as per the rules of special relativity. The earth's rotation reversed because, from Superman's (and the viewer's) perspective, time was flowing backwards and we were watching it in reverse.
- This was also in the original director's cut of Superman II.
- In a series of advertisements with Superman and Jerry Seinfeld hanging out together, Superman suggested doing this to keep Jerry's stereo from being destroyed by a mugger. Jerry asked him not to, saying that doing that seems to take the meaning out of everything they do together.
- In the H. G. Wells short story "The Man Who Could Work Miracles", the protagonist, Fotheringay, realizes that all of his wishes come true. To gain more time, he wishes that the Earth to stop rotating, which causes all objects on Earth being hurled off the ground without control, destroying everything. Fotheringay survives because he wished he'd land safe, and seeing the destruction, he commands a return to the time before he had his power.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had this a couple times, though since we see it from the perspective of the villains' base on the moon, it's unclear if the Earth rotating backwards is the cause of the time-reversal, or an effect. Though it was magically-induced both times, so...
- In one of Doug's Quailman imagine spots, the villain plans to eliminate weekends by speeding up the rotation of the Earth. Quailman uses his machine to slow down the Earth's rotation to add a third day to the weekend, which he calls "Funday". Ironically, speeding up the Earth's rotation would realistically increase the number of days in a week, because it would make the days shorter without affecting the year. Maybe Doug fell asleep through astronomy class.
- One villain in Totally Spies! tried this— by flying rapidly around the planet with a high-class airplane, no less.
- Averted in the Futurama episode "That Darn Katz!", when Earth's rotation is first stopped, then restarted in the opposite direction, but this has no effect on time.
- Stan does this in an Imagine Spot in American Dad!.
- Occured in an episode of Sidekick when Eric and Trevor were trapped in a super fast Cool Car that eventually got stuck in reverse.
- In an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, the Earth is hit by an asteroid that two aliens are using to play a game, causing it to spin much faster than normal in its usual direction, sending Courage, Eustace, and Muriel 1000 years into the future. At the end of the episode, it gets hit by the Asteroid again and spins really fast in reverse, sending them back to the present. This one also seems to require Space Friction, since if anything caused the Earth to start spinning faster, it would keep spinning at that same speed until something else made it slow down, per Newton's First Law of Motion.