Debunking the Flat Earth Theory

It seems odd to have to write this – humanity has known for millennia that the Earth is round.  While, by no means alone in making the initial discovery, the ancient Greeks noted how, during a lunar eclipse – where the Earth is between the Moon and Sun – the Earth’s shadow upon the moon is round, telling them that the Earth isn’t flat.  Eratosthenes was able to estimate the circumference of the Earth in 240 BCE by measuring the difference in the angle at noon during the summer solstice between Alexandria and Syene, a city along the equator where there was no shadow cast at that time.  Of course, there is the classic example of a ship coming or going over the horizon where the masts are seen first and last as the hull and deck drop below the horizon first.  We have Yet, in a day when we have not only traversed the globe but do it on a regular basis, and in which we have pictures of the Earth from the moon, there are not only people who still believe the Earth is flat, but their numbers are growing.

My exposure to this theory came from speaking to Facebook friends of a Facebook friend.  I’ve found myself bound in debate with them for hours, trying to explain how the Earth is round – something most wouldn’t bother with and simply blow them off.  Through this, I believe I’ve gained some form of insight into their thinking.

In order to explain a flat Earth, they have constructed a complex model to try to explain what we see with a flat Earth – which is what is to be expected from a competing theory.  Hell, there are competing models of a flat Earth: I’ve seen claims of a circular disk as well as a boundless flat Earth – unfortunately from the same person who didn’t understand that some explanations apply to one model and not the other.

flatearthfes

The map of the Flat Earth as it appears on the Flat Earth Society wiki. [Image via Flat Earth Society. Fair Use]

The essence of the model for the Earth itself is the global North being at the center, with the rest of the world radiating out from that center.  At the edge of the known is the giant Antarctic ice wall.  The Sun travels on a variable, circular route with an average path around the equator.  Further from this path, water freezes, allowing for the polar ice cap as well as the ice wall to the South.  In fact, it seems the Sun and moon are circular disks as well, not round spheres.

flatearth solarpath

The model of the Sun’s path according to the Flat Earth Theory. It is a image that I’ve seen posted several times though Instagram seems to be the source. [Image via Instagram. Fair Use]

They don’t buy photographic evidence because they believe that NASA is fakes them and is charged with keeping anyone from scaling the massive circumference ice wall.  They don’t explain the physical laws necessary to keep the Sun and Moon aloft.  They have made up properties of the ionosphere to make satellites unnecessary.  Their map, in fact, is based upon the logo of the United Nations – a logo designed to give the impression of a globe, encompassing every single landmass to not show equality, in an impossible projection (hence the notable north-south distortion in the South).  A diplomatic approach for an organization which desires to include all nations worldwide has turned into a worldwide conspiracy to lie about the shape of the planet.

unflag

The logo of the United Nations which has become the map of the Flat Earth. [Public Domain]

For this reason, as my intended audience is proponents of a flat Earth, I intend to not rely upon evidence which cannot be observed on Earth, but rather what you can observe here on Earth.  My evidence will not focus upon the globular model and what it explains, but rather upon the Flat Earth model and what it is inconsistent with.  I don’t want there to be new pseudoscience created to explain things away but to prove it is impossible for this Flat Earth theory to be correct.

Star Trails

One of the best ways to check, which can be done by someone on Earth, though ultimately with a considerable but often surmountable price, is the path stars take in our sky near the poles.  We see stars move throughout the night, and time lapse photography can show them forming arcs throughout the sky.  Even Polaris, the North Star, which is often used for navigation said to always be north in the sky, is not exactly in line with our rotational axis and makes an arc throughout the night.  The closer to this axis, the less the star appears to move in the sky and the tighter the arc it creates.  For example, take a look at a stellar time lapse in the northern hemisphere:

polaris star trail

[Image via Universe Today. Fair Use]

Now, this image is very similar to what you would see with the Flat Earth model so long as the stars still rotate relative to the surface of the Earth.  Imagine a record on a record player, which is a fair representation of how the Flat Earth would work with star trails.  The lights will make a similar trail, though complex calculations of various stars at various points might show different results.  This image is not what disproves the Flat Earth Theory – at least not alone – we need this picture:

AAT 6. Star trails around the south celestial pole

[Image via the Australian Astronomical Observatory. Fair Use]

That is in Australia.  Here is another:

southerncrossafrica

[via Trip Advisor. Fair Use]

That one is from Zaire, Africa.  Here is another:

southerncross chile

[Image via Getty Images. Fair Use]

That one is from Chile, South America.

The point here is that the Flat Earth theory would allow for this to exist only around the North Pole; there is one rotational axis and it is viewable only near it on the flat disk they propose, unless you were to climb the ice wall, go over the side, and end up on the flat part at the bottom.  Now look at their map and where these three continents are: Australia, Africa, South America.  Australia and South America are on opposite parts of the disk, Africa perpendicular to them both.  This would mean not only that the Earth must have two such rotational axes, but three or four.  Neither a globular Earth nor a flat Earth can account for two or more rotational axes, but the globular Earth explains the southern circles being one and the same viewed from different angles and gives two accessible viewpoints: one north, one south.  The flat Earth can only have one viewable area around the rotational axis, at least on the side of the Earth we can access.

Rather, as you can see further out from the clear circle, the Flat Earth Theory would predict that the sky in these areas would provide imperceptible arcs that cross the sky from east to west, not tight circles.  The existence of the perceptible circular pattern disproves the Flat Earth.

Now, it’s not cheap to fly to different continents to set up a time lapse camera to try this yourself: but you could go to these places and do just that.  This is something you could test yourself.  You could go to all three continents and test this – look for the Southern Cross that is in all three of these pictures – or you could go to Australia and your buddy can go to South America.  In fact, you will both see the stars rotate in the same direction there, but they will seem to move in the opposite direction near the North pole, though both are east to west – but in the south you must face south to see it, in the north you must face north.

Travel times

Another problem is caused by the distortion in the distances between places by this projection.  To be honest, you could mathematically prove this in the northern, inner circle of the map.  However, it is more apparent in the southern half.  To fly from Australia to South America, or vice versa, the quickest path is over Asia and North America.  However, that isn’t even the path they take – like a ship, they’d go East to West, circles in the Flat Earth model.  So, we can calculate this approximate length using the circumference of a circle.

c = 2 * pi * r

The center of this circle is at the north pole.  If we say A is the distance between this and the equator, the 45 degree latitudes would be at 1/2 A and 3/2 A.  So, the distance to go around the north, say through the Northern Lower Penninsula of Michigan or Southern France, would take less time than the South, say through Argentina and New Zealand.  In fact, we can look at these circles’ circumferences relatively by looking at just the differing term: 1/2 A and 3/2 A – it would be three times as long.

Flights don’t normally go exactly east and west, so I tried to get flights close to these two lines.  I first went with a flight I have taken before: Detroit to Paris.  Detroit lies at 42.3314° N and Paris lies at 48.8566° N – imperfect, but a direct flight that crosses the 45° N lattitude line.  Detroit lies at 83.0458° W and Paris lies at 2.3522° E, so they traverse a total of about 85.4°, about 23.7% of the circumference.  The flight takes about 8 hours and they are said to be 3,929 miles.  The flight takes about 8 hours, so it would be going about 491 miles an hour.

dtt_cdg

My search for flights from Detroit (DTT) to Paris (CDG)

Next, we have Aukland, New Zealand which lies at 36.8485° S, and Santiago, Chile which lies at 33.4489° S.  These have less difference north-south and lie less distance from the equator, which gives us closer a prediction of being 2.67 scale as far east-west, rather than a simple 3, using the Flat Earth map.  Unfortunately, the landmasses of Earth, leaving out Antarctica which the Flat Earthers turned into an ice wall, is skewed North.  Aukland lies at 174.7633° E, Santiago lies at 70.6693° W, about 114.5 degrees or 31.8% of a circumference.  The one flight going direct takes 11 hours and the two cities are 6,004 miles apart according to the globular model, but applying our multiplication factor we would get around 16,030 miles under the Flat Earth model.  We have an airspeed of 545 miles an hour for a globe model, but 1,457 miles an hour for a flat earth model.  You go supersonic at 767 miles an hour – so this is a supersonic flight for the Flat Earth model, but not for a globular Earth.

akl_scl

My search of flights from Aukland, New Zealand (AKL) to Santiago, Chile (SCL)

According to the details, this flight takes place on a BOEING 787-9, with a top speed of 593 miles an hour.  It is not a supersonic jet, it certainly cannot go mach 2.  We see this flight is inconsistent with the Flat Earth model and would have to drive the conspiracy into conventional flight: manufacturers, airlines, and poorly paid pilots all lying to trick people about the shape of the Earth.

Lunar Phases and Eclipses

A bane in the Flat Earth Theory is what happens with the interactions between the Earth, Moon, and Sun.  It doesn’t end with the Earth being flat, the moon is flat too according to them.  They point to the moon not having the shine of a reflective sphere, like one made of metal.  The light shining off of the moon seems uniform rather than stronger in one area facing the light source.  It seems silly, but it is an argument made.

It fails to understand the difference between matte and reflective surfaces.  A great way to illustrate this is through something that grabs attention: women’s breasts – particularly in the shirts they wear and how they reflect light.  To ensure a fair comparison I decided to use myself as the model, same place, same light, two different shirts.  First, let us start with a matte material, a simple white cotton shirt:

mattefinish.jpg

Then we go to a shiny satin shirt:

satinshine.jpg

Breasts are round, though not perfect spheres by any means.  You’ll notice how you have to infer the breasts by folds in the fabric with the matte material, but reflective satin shirt gives off the lighting effects they’re looking for on the moon.  One should not expect the moon to be giving off this shiny lighting because it is a matte material.

However, lighting is indeed what tells us the moon is a sphere, not a disk.  The moon has phases, which it is unclear how that would even happen with a flat moon – areas are lit completely or not at all.  The contours of the lighting are what tells us it is a sphere:

moonphases

[Image via Earthsky.org]

The border between the light and dark part, other than the half moon and full moon (new moon not pictured) is curved, meaning there is a contour.  These match the north-south lines along a sphere:

sphere contours

But the moon being a sphere does not make the Earth a sphere – it is possible for one to be a sphere but not the other.  The problem with the Earth being flat is eclipses.  No, the problem is not the shape of the eclipse; as an off the point meme likes to point out: a flat circle makes the same shadow as a sphere if perpendicular to the light source.  This does rule out a boundless Earth, which would be a plane rather than a disk, because the shadow is round not simply complete.  Unfortunately, this is particularly what I meant when I earlier said that the same person used both Flat Earth models interchangeably.

However, that is not the issue with eclipses.  The Sun is shining somewhere on the Earth at all times.  In order to meet the Flat Earth model, leaving behind how the lighting works half and half in the first place, the Sun must be above the Earth somewhere at all times, moving in a circular pattern.  It cannot be below the Earth ever at any time.  If it were, the entire surface of the Earth we know would be night at the same time, day would be underneath the Earth.  Therefore, a lunar eclipse, partial or full, can never exist with the Flat Earth because the Sun is already occupied somewhere else, above the Earth.

Sunrises and Sunsets

Sunrises and sunsets, daily occurrences at most any place on Earth (near the poles you get 6 months of dark and 6 months of light) and constantly occurring somewhere on Earth.  The Sun creeps over the horizon, its top showing first until it rises above the horizon fully, showing more and more of itself along the way.  However, this is not what the start of the day would look like with the Flat Earth model.  It may have made sense in an age when we didn’t have long distance communication where we could check if it was day somewhere else where it was night where we were.  It may have made sense if we didn’t need the circular motion above the Earth to explain being able to travel around the planet in either east or west and end up where we started.  The Sun could pass under the Earth before that, but the model now requires that it not do that.

sunrise

The Sun impossibly rising. [Image via hunsci.com. Fair use]

This Flat Earth model would predict that the Sun would look small, as a spot in the sky like a star, then it would get larger as it got closer and eventually passed overhead and got smaller and smaller as it got further away and night took over.  It would never dip below the horizon of the circular disk because it must always be shining down somewhere on the side we all live on.

You can test this within the next 24 hours if you don’t live in a polar region: the Sun will rise and set both in the next day, something that cannot exist in this model.  Look for it, it will happen and it will prove that the world is not flat.

Featured Image is the same previously mentioned from the Flat Earth Society, used under fair use.

This work is unpaid because this is not a for-profit site.  If you want to help support this work and more like it in the future, please consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon on my page.  Funds will not only help me transition to writing full-time but will allow me to purchase professional images for the articles.

One comment

  • “In order to explain a flat Earth, they have constructed a complex model to try to explain what we see with a flat Earth – which is what is to be expected from a competing theory.”
    I see that you use the usual shill methodology of attack when trying to explain away the truth of behalf of your government employer. Funnier yet, you say “Complex Model” when it your government handlers who use a complex model for their deception. I wonder if you even understand what you copy paste from the script given to you by you employer…
    Shame on you….

    Like

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