When creating scientific models of complex phenomena, we simplify things by reducing them to as simple a form as possible to make the calculations more feasible and less complex. Common simplifications include assuming objects as spheres, things exist in a vacuum, frictionless pulleys, massless ropes, and a flat Earth.
Flat-Earthers noticed that some scientific journals use a flat Earth in their models, and they use it as “evidence” the authors knew Earth is flat. In reality, it is just an assumption used in the models to simplify the calculation. It does not imply the Earth is flat.
Continue reading “Assumption for Simplification in Scientific Models”
The horizontal motion of a rising smoke occurs due to the horizontal motion of air relative to the object releasing the object. If the air is stationary relative to the object releasing the smoke, then the smoke will rise straight upward.
Flat-Earthers claim the motion of smoke rising straight up “proves” Earth is stationary. In reality, the horizontal motion of smoke is caused by the motion of surrounding air, relative to the object releasing the smoke, not the motion of the object itself.
Continue reading “Horizontal Motion of Smoke”
In an online lecture, an MIT professor explained the second law of thermodynamics. One of his examples is a container filled with gas next to another filled with a vacuum. If the wall is removed, the gas will rush to fill the newly available volume. However, it is only a simple model that does not attempt to explain everything about the system.
Flat-Earthers abuse the lecture to “prove” it is “impossible” for the atmosphere to exist next to a vacuum. It becomes a flat Earth talking point as if the lecture shows us that spherical Earth “violates” the second law of thermodynamics. In reality, the gas inside the container is also affected by gravity and will also have a pressure gradient, just like the gas outside. But it is not within the scope of the lecture.
And if we ask the lecturer if Earth is flat, he will surely say no.
Continue reading “Misconception about the Second Law of Thermodynamics”
Using a precise digital kitchen scale and a smartphone with a pressure sensor, we can easily measure the change in weight and atmospheric pressure in different locations.
Flat-Earthers claim that an object falls down because it is denser than the air surrounding it. However, simple measurements show that things weigh less at a higher altitude where the air is less dense, contrary to the expectation if their claim is true.
Continue reading “Weight and Air Density Experiment”
Flat-Earthers cannot understand why space appears dark if the Sun is in space, and they use their ignorance to discredit science.
In reality, sunlight does travel through space. However, space is a vacuum, and there is nothing to scatter and redirect the light toward our eyes like in Earth’s atmosphere. We can demonstrate the phenomenon using a low-powered red and green laser pointer in clean air.
Continue reading “Light Scattering Demonstration Using Laser Pointers”
The sky appears practically identical to all observers on Earth, except that the Earth obstructs the view to a different part of the sky to a different observer on Earth, and daylight obscures the view to most objects in the sky.
The fact that the sky appears identical everywhere on Earth can only be adequately explained if all the astronomical objects are very far from us and that the Earth is a sphere.
Continue reading “Sky”
Because of inertia, we cannot travel to another location by hovering inside a helicopter and waiting for the Earth to rotate below us until we are above our destination.
Flat-Earthers claim that we cannot do such a thing as ‘proof’ of a motionless Earth. In reality, when still on the ground, the helicopter is already moving at the same velocity as Earth’s surface.
Continue reading “Hovering Helicopter and Earth’s Rotation”
At a lower altitude, the air is denser, and objects weigh more. On the other hand, at a higher altitude, the air is less dense, and objects weigh less.
Flat-Earthers deny gravity and invented the “explanation” that an object falls only because it is denser than the air surrounding it. But if it were true, objects should weigh more at a higher altitude where the air is less dense. But they weigh less instead, disproving flat-Earthers’ density theory.
Continue reading “Air Density vs Object’s Weight”
A frame of reference consists of an abstract coordinate system and physical reference points that uniquely fix the coordinate system and standardize measurements. Speed or velocity is relative to a specific frame of reference. It is possible that two speeds/velocities are measured relative to a different frame of reference and thus cannot be directly compared.
Flat-Earthers like to compare two different speed measurements like an airplane moving at 900 km/h (560 mph) and Earth’s surface near the equator at 1674 km/h (1040 mph). They would conclude the airplane should not be able to catch up with Earth’s surface and would not land if the Earth is rotating. In reality, both the speeds are measured relative to a different frame of reference, and therefore, cannot be compared directly.
Continue reading “Frame of Reference”
The Georgia Guidestones is a granite monument in Georgia, United States. In one of the stones, a hole is drilled through that points to the north celestial pole. And consequently, by looking through the hole, the star Polaris is visible at night.
Polaris is visible through the Georgia Guidestones’ hole every night, and flat-Earthers use the fact as “evidence” that Earth is stationary. In reality, due to Earth’s axial precession, in a few hundred years, Polaris will have moved far enough away from the north celestial pole and will no longer be visible through the hole.
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Archimedes’ principle states that the upward buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces. Today we usually use B = -ρgV to calculate the buoyant force, where ρ is the fluid’s density, g is the gravitational acceleration, and V is the volume of the displaced fluid.
Archimedes discovered buoyancy earlier than Newton discovered gravity, and flat-Earthers dispute the presence of g in the buoyancy formula. In reality, buoyancy depends on the weight of the fluid, and the distinction between weight and mass only occurred after Newton. Archimedes’ principle still applies, only that we now have a better understanding of what weight is.
Continue reading “Gravitational Acceleration in Archimedes’ Formula”
Rocket engines produce thrust by releasing mass rearward at a very high speed according to Newton’s third law, not unlike how discharging a fire extinguisher pushes us backward.
Flat-Earthers claim that rocket engines cannot possibly work in space because space if vacuum and there is no air to push against. In reality, it is possible to produce thrust in a vacuum by releasing mass —that we call “propellants”— rearward at a very high speed.
Continue reading “How Rocket Engines Work in A Vacuum”
Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted. The tilt is relative to Earth’s orbital plane. Therefore, it only affects the apparent positions of objects in the solar system, but not that of the distant stars. Both of Earth’s celestial poles still point to the same location in the sky.
Flat-Earthers fail to understand why the stars are unaffected by Earth’s tilt, and they use it to discredit science. In reality, Earth’s axis of rotation is practically constant in the short term, only not perpendicular to Earth’s orbital plane. As a result, it only affects the apparent positions of the Sun, planets, moon, and other objects in the solar system.
Continue reading “Earth Axial Tilt”
The fall of an apple inspired Isaac Newton to understand that the same force that brought the apple falling toward the ground also keeps the Moon in motion around Earth. However, his work involved much more than just observing the falling apple.
Flat-Earthers downplay Newton’s contribution as if it was only about the falling Apple and use the episode as a means of ridicule. In reality, Newton’s works were much more than that.
Continue reading “Isaac Newton and the Falling Apple”
Some people are confused that we can see a full moon all night. They expect if the full moon is the result of the opposition of the moon from the sun, then a full moon should be visible only at midnight.
Flat-Earthers with such a spatial cognition problem go a step further and use it to “disprove” spherical Earth. In reality, we can easily explain the phenomenon in the spherical Earth model.
Continue reading “Geometry of a Full Moon”
The weight of an object is the force exerted on the object by gravity. The gravitational force exerted by the Earth on an object is what we feel as the ‘weight’ of the object.
Many flat-Earthers fail to understand that the gravitational force is just another name for ‘weight’. Much misinformation in flat Earth communities arises from this misunderstanding.
Continue reading “What We Feel as “Weight” is the Force of Gravity”
Many misinformation within flat-Earth communities is present only because of their lack of understanding on how forces work on an object.
Continue reading “Force Vectors”
Earth is tilted relative to its orbital plane. The Northern Hemisphere experiences more sunlight in the months around June. The same is true of the Southern Hemisphere around December. This causes an annual temperature cycle and the seasons.
Flat-Earthers claim the Equator is the hottest place on Earth and use it to disprove Earth’s tilt. In reality, the Equator is not necessarily the hottest place on Earth. Earth’s temperature caused by the axial tilt has an annual cycle and cannot be shown in a single image. Additionally, the Earth is rotating, and therefore the Sun affects the same latitude similarly.
Continue reading “Temperature and Earth’s Axial Tilt”
Flat-Earthers like to dismiss any evidence of spherical Earth by mentioning that we never went to space to witness it ourselves. In reality, to go to space, we need to know Earth is a sphere in the first place and other related knowledge, like gravity.
We knew Earth is a sphere 23 centuries before the first spaceflight. And it is easy to verify Earth is a sphere from simple observations that anyone can do from Earth’s surface.
Newton’s cannonball was a thought experiment Isaac Newton used to explain the principle of orbital motion. It was the first explanation of an orbit and still the easiest to understand.
Newton visualizes a cannon on top of a very tall mountain where the air resistance is no longer a factor. As more charge is used with each cannon shot, the speed of the cannonball will be greater, and the cannonball will hit the ground farther and farther. Finally, at a certain speed, it will not hit the ground at all. It will fall toward the spherical Earth just as fast as the Earth curves away from it. In the absence of drag from the atmosphere, it will continue forever in orbit around the Earth.
Continue reading “Newton’s Cannonball”