Science

Is the Earth flat?

WRITTEN BY
10/20/22
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Fact Box

  • The modern idea of a flat Earth is rooted in 19-century English inventor Samuel Birley Rowbotham's literal interpretation of Bible passages. He developed a system called Zetetic Astronomy, based on the premise that 'the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its 'southern' edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth.'
  • Collins dictionary defines the term 'flat-earther' as someone who believes the Earth's shape to be flat and 'a person whose beliefs are regarded as outmoded, irrational, reactionary, etc.' 
  • Around 500 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, was the first to propose that the Earth's shape was spherical 'mainly on aesthetic grounds rather than on any physical evidence. Like many Greeks, he believed the sphere was the most perfect shape.'
  • A list of celebrities who believe the Earth is flat includes athletes Shaquille O'Neal and Kyrie Irving and rapper B.o.B. 
  • A 2021 POLES online survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire found that of the participating 1,134 US adults, 10% agreed that the Earth is flat.

Elisa (Yes)

Any true scientist will question everything they know, even reality itself. One topic worth questioning is why ancient societies worldwide believed in a flat Earth. Moreover, it's reasonable to explore how credible the alleged proof for a globe-shaped Earth is.

While it would be impossible to note them all here, Eric Dubay, a more famous 'flat-earther,' does some of the work for you with his book ‘200 Proofs Earth is Not a Spinning Ball.' Some of his arguments include the natural physics of water, perspective, and the fact that many professionals, such as pilots and engineers, do not account for the curvature of the Earth in their work. Plus, many famous people claim that the truth is being covered up. 

Moreover, exploring the model that true flat Earth theorists represent is important. Instead of a flat, square Earth, most flat-earthers believe in the 'firmament model.' Nikola Tesla may have discovered a dome in 1899, and many Biblical flat-earthers cite the Bible itself in this regard. Military weapons test Operation Fishbowl also provides evidence for the firmament model--and some suggest scientists may be hiding this to conceal Biblical truths. As stated, many ancient conceptions of the universe show a flat Earth with a firmament. 

Many believe that the moon landing was faked, possibly due to an inability to penetrate the firmament, and many flat-earthers point to inconsistent 'photography' of the Earth, citing key differences in pictures taken in different years. 

In the end, doubt is essential to science, and if there are any cracks in the globe Earth theory—which there are—it might be time to investigate why.


Bre (No)

The planet’s form is well documented; Earth’s shape is simply a matter of fact. Video from space, countless satellite images, dozens of countries’ space programs, and private organizations all observe the same spherical planet, time and time again.

Evidence of Earth’s roundedness is everywhere. A ship at the horizon doesn’t just vanish but appears to sink. The curved planet is why we see farther from higher and can watch the same sunset twice with a quick height change. From an airplane, the arched skyline is evident. During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s round shadow is cast on the moon. It’s why time zones exist and why daytime in one place is nighttime elsewhere.

With a flat Earth, global circumnavigation wouldn’t be possible. Commercial flight patterns would defy possibility, and the night sky wouldn’t differ between hemispheres. On a flat surface, shadow sizes from sunshine wouldn’t vary; sundials, however, utilize Earth’s roundness to tell time. Ancient Greeks understood this and used shadow angles to calculate Earth’s circumference within 10% accuracy.

Gravity from Earth’s core makes it round. Those who reject this scientific fact lack sound evidence to support their theories, which tend to be fueled by a general distrust of respected sources. But “flat-earthers” needn’t risk their lives attempting to disprove science. One can travel straight for 10,000 kilometers three times, separated by three right turns of 90 degrees, and ultimately form a triangle--this is impossible on a flat plane.

Scholars know more about Earth’s curvature than nearly any other physical science topic. With centuries of consistent, reliable results via extensive observation, demonstration, and experimentation, there’s simply no rational evidence to support a flat Earth theory.

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