Zooming In On Distant Boats Does Not Disprove Earth’s Curvature

If a distant boat is not visible, then it is because of at least one of these reasons:

  • Our eyes have limited angular resolution and are unable to resolve the ship at that distance.
  • The atmospheric condition is limiting our visibility.
  • The curvature of the Earth obscures the ship.

Flat-Earthers like to demonstrate that a previously invisible ship at a distance can be made visible by zooming in. They would use it to disprove Earth’s curvature. They are wrong. There are reasons other than Earth’s curvature that can obscure a distant boat.

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Vacuum in Space and Earth’s Atmospheric Retention

The Earth retains an atmosphere because gravity pulls air particles toward the center of the Earth. Without something affecting the air —like gravity— air particles would move toward lower pressure, and Earth would lose its atmosphere.

Flat-Earthers claim that Earth should not be able to have an atmosphere because without any barrier separating Earth’s atmosphere and space, it would have been sucked by the vacuum in space. They are wrong. Gravity pulls air and allows Earth to retain an atmosphere.

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Human Perception of Speed and Acceleration

When aboard an airplane flying at cruising speed, we will not be able to feel that the plane is, in fact, moving at speed of more than 900 km/h. But if the plane changes its speed, turns or changes its altitude, we can easily feel it.

The same thing happens with the motion of the Earth. Due to Earth’s rotation, the surface of the Earth is moving at 1656 km/h near the equator. We never feel it because the speed is constant, or in other words, the acceleration is zero.

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Airplane and Earth’s Rotation

An airplane exists on Earth. It has the same motion as the surface of the Earth, including the Earth’s rotating motion. The motion of the airplane itself is measured relative to the surface of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers think that due to Earth’s rotation, an airplane should not be able to fly east or land. They are wrong. The speed of an airplane is relative to the surface. It retains the motion of the Earth and does not need to chase Earth’s rotation.

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Bokeh

In photography, bokeh is the way a camera lens renders out-of-focus points of lights. The shape of bokeh depends on the camera lens more than the out-of-focus objects themselves.

Some flat-Earthers do not know how to take correctly focused pictures of distant planets and stars due to their lack of knowledge and the unsuitability of their camera for the purpose. All they are getting are bokeh, which does not tell us much about the intended objects.

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Rayleigh Scattering

Earth’s atmosphere glows in blue because of Rayleigh scattering. It scatters sunlight to every direction. Bluish colors are scattered more than reddish colors. This results in the bright blue color of the sky in the daytime.

There are many misconceptions in the flat Earth community that arise from the lack of understanding of Rayleigh scattering.

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Variability of Atmospheric Refraction

In most situations, atmospheric refraction bends light downwards and causes objects to appear higher than they actually are. The strength of atmospheric refraction is not constant. It depends on weather condition and varies on the different seasons, different days, and even different times of the day.

Because of the variability of atmospheric refraction, a distant object that is usually obstructed by Earth’s curvature can sometimes be visible. Some flat-Earthers would cherry-pick moments when the object is visible. They would show such specific moments to everyone and use them to “disprove” Earth’s curvature; happily ignoring the cases where Earth’s curvature partly or entirely obstructs the object.

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White Alice and the Troposcatter Propagation

Troposcatter is a signal propagation method using the scattering phenomenon in the upper troposphere. As the signal pass through the upper troposphere, some of the energy is scattered back toward Earth, allowing the receiver station at the correct location to pick up the signal.

White Alice is a decommissioned troposcatter network in North America. Some flat-Earthers invented the “explanation” that the various satellite-based services we enjoy today are using White Alice. They are wrong. White Alice and other troposcatter networks cannot possibly replace all the services provided by satellites.

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The Dark Sky on the Lunar Daytime

On Earth, daylight sky is glowing in bright blue due to Rayleigh scattering. Sunlight is scattered in every direction by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in Earth’s atmosphere.

Such the phenomenon does not happen on the Moon, causing the dark sky of the Moon. Flat-Earthers claim that the dark sky of the Moon captured by photos and videos taken from the Moon are “proof” there is misconduct. They are wrong. Just because Earth’s sky is bright blue, it does not mean it will be like that on the Moon and other planets.

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Earth’s Atmosphere Rotation

Earth’s atmosphere is part of the Earth. It practically follows Earth’s rotating motion like the rest of the Earth. Due to various factors, Earth’s atmosphere has relatively small and uneven movement relative to the surface. We call it ‘wind.’ The fastest wind ever recorded is about 408 km/h, relative to Earth’s surface.

Many misconceptions about Earth arise from the wrong idea that only Earth’s solid body is rotating, but the atmosphere is not. If it is true, then we should always feel the wind with the speed of 1674 km/h near the equator, or more than 4× the fastest wind ever recorded. We don’t feel such a wind, and thus we know our atmosphere is moving at practically at the same speed as Earth’s surface.

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Buoyancy

Buoyancy is an upward force exerted by a fluid (liquid or gas) that opposes the weight of an immersed object. Buoyancy happens because the fluid has a pressure gradient. Pressure gradient occurs because the fluid is affected by acceleration, such as the Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

Flat-Earthers makes buoyancy as an “explanations” on how things fall. They are wrong. Without Earth’s gravitational acceleration, buoyancy will not occur.

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Auguste Piccard, Another Scientist Falsely Claimed by Flat-Earthers

Auguste Piccard was a Swiss-Belgian physicist, inventor, and explorer, known for his record-breaking balloon flights to the stratosphere, as well as the invention for bathyscaphe to allow for deep ocean exploration.

Unfortunately for him, flat-Earthers are claiming him as their own these days. It started from a Popular Science article from 1931, saying:

Through portholes, the observers saw the earth through copper-colored then bluish, haze. It seemed a flat disk with upturned edge.

But, no. In reality, Auguste Piccard was not even close to being a flat-Earther.

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Infrared Vision

When we are unable to see a distant object, then it is due to one of these reasons:

  • Our eyes lack the sufficient angular resolution to recognize the object.
  • Atmospheric condition limits visibility.
  • The object is far enough and obscured by Earth’s curvature.

Some flat-Earthers like to show that a previously unseen distant object can be brought into view using infrared vision. They would take that as ‘evidence’ of the non-existence of Earth’s curvature. They are wrong. Infrared vision can reveal hidden objects caused by visibility limitations, but not ones obscured by Earth’s curvature.

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Helicopter and Earth’s Rotating Motion

We cannot travel to another location by hovering inside a helicopter and wait for the Earth to rotate below us until we are above our destination. The reason is the phenomenon of inertia.

Flat-Earthers claim that we cannot do such a thing as ‘proof’ of a motionless Earth. They are wrong. When on the ground, the helicopter itself is already moving at the same velocity as Earth’s surface.

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Temperature Variations at the Different Times During the Day

The variation of the temperature at the different times during the day is the result of two primary causes: the difference of the thickness of the atmosphere the sunlight must traverse to reach the surface; and the change of the concentration of sunlight over the same surface area of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers claim that the change in Sun’s distance caused such a difference in temperature and that it can only be explained in a flat Earth. They are wrong.

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The Moving Vehicle Analogy

“If the Earth is rotating, why when we throw a rock upward, it would fall to the original location?” The explanation is that the rock maintains the momentum before it is thrown. Before it is thrown, the rock has the same velocity as the surface of the Earth, it does not suddenly lose its momentum after being thrown, and there’s nothing exerting a force to alter its trajectory.

We usually use the moving vehicle analogy to illustrate this. If we throw the rock upward inside a moving vehicle, it would also fall to the original location, despite the fact that the vehicle is moving.

Flat-Earthers reject the analogy. Their usual excuse is that the atmosphere is not separated from space, and the rock is thrown “inside” the vehicle, separated by the body of the vehicle from the outside. They offer the analogy of being on the top of a moving vehicle as the correct analogy. They are wrong.

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The Moon in Daytime and the ‘Transparent Moon’ Misconception

Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight in every direction. Bluish colors are scattered stronger than reddish tones. As a result, the sky is glowing in bright blue during the day. The phenomenon is called the Rayleigh scattering.

Sometimes the Moon is visible during the day. The bright part of the Moon is bright because it is lit by the sunlight. On the other hand, its dark part does not receive sunlight, and thus barely emit any light. Because of these reasons, the dark part of the Moon is dominated by the blue color of the sky.

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Atmospheric Refraction

Light waves are not always moving in a straight line. When it passes through a medium of a different refractive index, the waves will deviate. The phenomenon is called refraction and described according to Snell’s Law.

Earth’s atmosphere has variation in air density that depends on the altitude. As the refractive index changes with the density of the medium, light waves passing through Earth’s atmosphere also experience refraction.

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