Popular Science; 10 Easy Ways You Can Tell For Yourself That The Earth Is Not Flat

This article is filled with so many misstatements, misdirections and flat-out untrue statements of theory only..Popular Science is owned by the the Swedish company, Bonnier Publishing, and once owned by the “Luce” Press Time magazine empire. Note how the story opens with a CGI fake Earth “Image”.

This story was originally published on Smarter Than That in 2008. We are republishing a lightly edited version on Popular Science in light of recent interest in the subject.

Humanity has known the Earth to be round for a few millenia and I’ve been meaning to show more methods that prove the world is not flat. I’ve had a few ideas on how to do that, but recently got an interesting incentive, when Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, wrote about a recently published BBC article about “The Flat Earth” society. (Most recently, rapper B.o.B. went on a Twitter rant on the topic.) Phil claims it’s ridiculous to even bother rebutting the Flat Earth Society – and I tend to agree. But the history of our species’ intellectual pursuit is important and interesting, and it’s very much well worth writing about. You don’t need to denounce all science and knowledge and believe in a kooky conspiracy theory to enjoy some historical factoids about humanity’s quest for space.

On we go to the top 10 ways to know the Earth is unequivocally, absolutely, positively, 100% not flat!

1. The Moon

Now that humanity knows quite positively that the Moon is not a piece of cheese or a playful god, the phenomena that accompany it (from its monthly cycles to lunar eclipses) are well-explained. It was quite a mystery to the ancient Greeks, though, and in their quest for knowledge, they came up with a few insightful observations that helped humanity figure out the shape of our planet.

Aristotle (who made quite a lot of observations about the spherical nature of the Earth) noticed that during lunar eclipses (when the Earth’s orbit places it directly between the Sun and the Moon, creating a shadow in the process), the shadow on the Moon’s surface is round. This shadow is the Earth’s, and it’s a great clue on the spherical shape of the Earth.

Lunar Eclipse

Javier Sánchez

Lunar Eclipse

A sequential view of the lunar eclipse that occurred on April 15, 2014. You can see Earth’s shadow crossing the face of the Moon, and the shadow’s shape is curved because Earth is spherical.

Since the earth is rotating (see the “Foucault Pendulum” experiment for a definite proof, if you are doubtful), the consistent oval-shadow it produces in each and every lunar eclipse proves that the earth is not only round but spherical – absolutely, utterly, beyond a shadow of a doubt not flat.

2. Ships and the Horizon

If you’ve been next to a port lately, or just strolled down a beach and stared off vacantly into the horizon, you might have, perhaps, noticed a very interesting phenomenon: approaching ships do not just “appear” out of the horizon (like they should have if the world was flat), but rather emerge from beneath the sea.

But – you say – ships do not submerge and rise up again as they approach our view (except in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but we are hereby assuming that was a fictitious movie). The reason ships appear as if they “emerge from the waves” is because the world is not flat: it’s round.

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