Busting the Myths of the Flat Earth Theory

In a world that’s racing ahead with breakthroughs in science and technology, the idea of the Earth being flat might sound like a blast from the past. But surprisingly, this idea is still alive and kicking in some parts of our world, helped along by online conspiracy theories, a wave of suspicion around science, and the fast spread of false information on the internet.

The idea that Earth is flat, not round like a ball as all evidence tells us, is an old one. Early civilisations in places like Egypt and Mesopotamia thought the world was a flat disc floating in a massive sea. Then great thinkers in ancient Greece, people like Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Eratosthenes, started to realise that our planet is actually more like a sphere. As time went on, we learned more and more, and everything from star-gazing to space missions has only made us more sure that Earth is round.

Despite all this, the flat Earth idea has found a new lease of life in recent years. It’s spread through social media and internet chatrooms, with believers arguing against established facts and offering a different version of our world, where things like gravity don’t exist, the horizon looks different, and Antarctica is a huge ice wall around the edge of a flat Earth.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at these ideas and see why they don’t hold up when faced with scientific facts. We’ll go through some of the main points that flat Earth believers make and show why the evidence is stacked in favour of a round Earth. We’re not just doing this to tackle one odd belief, but to highlight how important it is for everyone to understand science and think critically. In a world where false information can spread like wildfire, it’s crucial to be able to sift through the noise and find the facts, and that’s a skill that’s more important now than ever before.

Here are some facts that decisively disprove the Flat Earth Theory.

Photographic Evidence: The first and most definitive evidence is the numerous photographs of our planet taken from space, showing it as a round object.

Earth’s Shadow on the Moon: During a lunar eclipse, Earth casts a round shadow on the moon.

Gravity: This fundamental force, as explained by Sir Isaac Newton, requires mass to be spherically distributed to create an attraction towards the center.

Satellite Technology: Satellite paths and telecommunications, which rely on Earth’s curvature, would not work on a flat plane.

Aeroplane Flight Paths: Flights often follow great circle paths, taking the shortest route over the globe’s curve.

Circumnavigation: Travelling in a straight path around Earth ultimately brings you back to your starting point.

The Horizon: Ships disappear hull-first when moving away and appear mast-first when approaching, indicating a curved surface.

Varied Time Zones: The existence of time zones demonstrates Earth’s rotation and its spherical shape.

The Coriolis Effect: The changing direction of winds and ocean currents as you move from North to South is proof of a spinning, spherical planet.

Geodesy: The scientific discipline of monitoring Earth’s shape, gravity field, and rotation provides precise measurements confirming Earth’s sphericity.

Round Rainbows: Rainbows are circular due to the refractive and reflective properties of spherical rain droplets and the light from the sun.

Star Constellations: Different constellations are visible at different latitudes, indicating a spherical planet.

Geographic South Pole: In a flat Earth model, there would be no singular South Pole; instead, all directions from the North would be south.

Earth’s Bulge: Earth is an oblate spheroid, with a slight bulge at the equator due to its rotation, as measured by scientists.

Foucault Pendulum: It swings in a plane that slowly rotates, proving Earth’s rotation and spherical nature.

Observation Towers: The higher you go, the further you can see, indicating Earth’s curvature.

Satellite Images: Weather and surveillance satellites provide real-time, round images of Earth.

GPS Systems: They triangulate positions based on a spherical Earth model.

Earthquake Waves: These waves move in a manner that would only make sense if Earth were a sphere.

Heliocentric Solar System: The orbits of the planets, including Earth, around the sun are elliptical, not possible in a flat Earth model.

International Space Station (ISS): Its trajectory and the real-time footage from it wouldn’t be possible if Earth were flat.

Space Travel: The physics of space travel is built on a spherical Earth model.

Polar Day and Night: The drastic difference in daylight hours at the poles wouldn’t occur on a flat Earth.

Earth’s Magnetic Field: It is generated by the motion of molten iron in the outer core, and the field’s shape indicates a spherical Earth.

Sunset and Sunrise: The apparent rise and set of the sun is due to Earth’s rotation.

Astronaut Testimony: Astronauts who have seen Earth from space attest to its round shape.

Radio Horizon: Radio wave propagation is affected by Earth’s curvature.

Seismic Studies: They indicate different layers of Earth’s interior, suggesting a spherical shape.

Telescopic Observations: Planet’s appearances as circular discs, including Earth’s, are best explained with a spherical model.

Erastosthenes Experiment: This ancient measurement of Earth’s circumference relies on a spherical model.

Earth’s Equator: The idea of an equator, a line equidistant from the poles, doesn’t fit a flat model.

Polaris Visibility: The altitude of Polaris changes with latitude, impossible on a flat Earth.

Changing Shadows: Shadows change length and direction during the day due to Earth’s rotation.

Arctic and Antarctic Circle Phenomenon: The phenomenon of the midnight sun or the polar night cannot be explained by a flat Earth model.

Celestial Poles: The rotation of stars around different celestial poles in the Northern and Southern hemispheres isn’t compatible with a flat Earth.

Star Trails: These display circular paths due to Earth’s rotation.

Astronomical Predictions: Predictions of celestial events like eclipses are based on a spherical Earth.

Physical Evidence: Earth rocks and minerals display a history of intense heat and pressure consistent with a spherical model.

Sphere of the Heavens: The way stars appear to revolve around us in a ‘celestial sphere’ is explained by Earth’s roundness and rotation.

The Blue Marble: The iconic photograph of Earth from space clearly shows a round planet.

Ancient Understanding: The Ancient Greeks understood Earth was round over 2,000 years ago, based on observations like ships disappearing over the horizon.

Mountain Shadows: Mountains cast long shadows at sunset, suggesting a round Earth.

Astrolabe: This ancient device for measuring the altitude of stars wouldn’t work if Earth were flat.

The ‘Dangly Down’ Argument: If Earth were flat, gravity would pull things towards the centre, and everything not in the centre would feel like it was on a slope.

Space Elevators: These theoretical structures presuppose a spherical Earth.

Bridge Design: Long bridges account for Earth’s curvature in their design.

Gyroscopes: These stabilising devices work based on Earth’s rotation.

Weight Variations: Weight varies with latitude due to the centrifugal force from Earth’s rotation.

Atmospheric Circulation: The three-cell model of Earth’s atmospheric circulation is based on a spherical Earth.

Scientific Consensus: The vast majority of scientists, based on centuries of empirical evidence, agree that the Earth is spherical.

In this next section, we turn our focus to the most frequently cited talking points of the Flat Earth community. These arguments are the bedrock of their theory, the supposedly ‘unassailable’ evidence that has led them to reject centuries of scientific understanding. From challenging the concept of gravity, to proposing unconventional interpretations of atmospheric and celestial phenomena, to questioning the integrity of international space agencies, these points are as intriguing as they are controversial.

Keep in mind, however, that the existence of a question or a claim does not inherently imply the validity of the Flat Earth Theory. Each of these points needs to be carefully examined against the stringent standards of scientific inquiry. Join us as we embark on this journey of exploring, questioning, and ultimately debunking the main talking points of the Flat Earth Theory.

The Horizon Looks Flat: Flat Earth believers often argue that the horizon appears flat, not curved. The truth is, Earth is so large, and we are so small in comparison, that the curvature isn’t easily visible from our perspective at ground level. However, as you ascend higher, the curvature becomes more evident.

Pictures of Earth from Space Are Faked: Skeptics claim NASA and other space agencies manipulate images of Earth. However, it’s not just NASA that provides images of Earth. Many countries and private companies have launched satellites and captured images of our round planet. All would have to be complicit in this proposed deception.

No Direct Flights in Southern Hemisphere: Some argue there are no non-stop flights between certain cities in the Southern Hemisphere, which they attribute to a flat Earth model. However, these flight paths do exist and can be easily verified. These flights often follow the ‘great circle’ route, taking advantage of the Earth’s curvature for the shortest possible distance.

Gravity is Just Density and Buoyancy: Flat Earth theorists often argue that objects fall due to their density, not gravity. But without gravity, there would be no buoyancy or variance in density. Gravity is the force that decides how different densities separate and how buoyant forces come into play.

Antarctica is an Ice Wall: Some Flat Earthers propose that Antarctica is not a continent but an ice wall encircling Earth. In reality, numerous expeditions and scientific stations exist in Antarctica. It’s governed by the Antarctic Treaty System, with participation from many countries.

Foucault’s Pendulum is a Fake: Some skeptics dismiss the evidence from Foucault’s pendulum, which demonstrates Earth’s rotation. These pendulums can be found in museums around the world, and their predictable motion is based on a spherical and rotating Earth.

The Coriolis Effect is Nonexistent: Flat Earth proponents often disregard the Coriolis effect, the phenomenon that causes moving objects to curve to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. The Coriolis effect is observable and measurable, affecting everything from the paths of ballistic missiles to weather systems.

Star and Sun Movements Prove a Flat Earth: Flat Earth proponents often state that the patterns of star movement and the rise and set of the sun can be explained on a flat Earth. However, these movements are consistent with a spherical Earth that rotates on its axis. On a flat Earth, everyone would see the same constellations at the same time, which is not what we observe.

Airplanes Would Have to Constantly Dip their Noses to Circumnavigate a Globe: In reality, planes fly according to the principle of relative motion, maintaining a constant altitude while Earth’s curvature extends below.

The Pressure Gradient Couldn’t Exist Without a Physical Barrier: Flat Earthers argue that the atmosphere couldn’t exist next to the vacuum of space without a physical barrier. But gravity, not a physical barrier, holds the atmosphere to Earth, causing a predictable pressure gradient as altitude increases.

These are just a few of the points made by Flat Earth believers, all of which have been thoroughly debunked by scientific evidence and reasoning. It’s essential to approach such theories with a healthy dose of skepticism and arm oneself with scientific knowledge to separate fact from fallacy.