Geocentrism: Incompatible with the Flat Earth Model

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Geocentrism is a superseded description of the universe with Earth at the center. Under geocentrism, celestial bodies all orbited Earth. Geocentrism was the accepted model of the Universe for approximately 18 centuries; before we knew that Earth orbits the Sun —or what we call as heliocentrism.

We often observe flat-Earthers using the arguments for geocentrism as if it supports the flat Earth model. They are wrong. Under geocentrism, the Earth is a sphere, located at the center of the universe. It is not remotely compatible with the flat Earth model, which is an even more archaic understanding of the Universe.

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Air Distance vs Surface Distance

The cruising altitude of a jet airliner is about 33000-42000 ft or 10000-12800 m. It is very tiny compared to the radius of the Earth of 6378 km. Therefore, the distance measured at the cruising altitude does not differ much compared to the surface distance.

Some flat-Earthers claim that if Earth is a sphere, the distance traveled by a jet airliner would have been multiple times the surface distance. They are wrong. The air distance at 33000 ft is only 0.16% farther compared to the surface distance.

Sunset on Mountains

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During a sunset, mountain peaks lose sunlight later than areas around them. From a viewer observing a mountain, a shadow can appear ascending from the base to the peak. And conversely, during a sunrise, mountain peaks get sunlight before the areas around them and a shadow can appear descending from the peak to the base.

This phenomenon occurs because the Earth is a sphere. As the altitude increases, the hours of daylight become longer. It makes the sun rise earlier and set later.

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The Direction of the Qibla Proves Earth is a Sphere

Muslims perform their prayers by facing the Qibla —or the direction to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The direction of the Qibla is traditionally determined from the direction to the Sun when the Sun is directly overhead the Kaaba. If during the time the Sun is visible, it will indicate the direction of the Qibla.

If the results of the observation are drawn on the so-called ‘flat-Earth map’, the Qibla will not consistently point to the Kaaba. Only the calculation using the spherical Earth model will give us consistent results that conform to centuries of observation, from various locations on Earth. The reason is that the Earth is a sphere.

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Level, Higher and Lower

A higher position is farther up, away from the center of the Earth, relative to sea level. Conversely, a lower position is closer toward Earth’s center, relative to sea level. Two positions are level if they are at the same height from sea level.

Some flat-Earthers are unable to understand this. To them, ‘level’ means straight. They are wrong. In Earth sciences, height is measured from a plane of reference, usually the sea level.

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Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is a waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The level of water on both seas is practically the same, and the Suez Canal contains no locks system.

Flat-Earthers are claiming that the Suez Canal was constructed without accounting for curvature. They said if the Earth were spherical, then the middle of the canal should have been 1666 ft deep. This is merely a misconception. The surface of the water is equipotential. It has roughly the same distance to the Earth’s center of gravity. It is not necessary to dig 1666 ft in the middle of the Suez Canal. The engineers only need to ensure the base of the canal is below sea level for sea water to flow.

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Salar de Uyuni and Other Salt Flats

Salt flats are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals. Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat. Salt flats are visibly very flat, but like every other geology features, they all follow the curvature of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers take the flatness of Salar de Uyuni and other salt flats as ‘evidence’ of a flat Earth. They are wrong. While most salt flats appear flat, they still gradually curve and follow the curvature of the Earth.

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The False Dilemma of the Figure of the Earth

There are several models explaining the figure of the Earth. These models vary in the way they are used, in their complexity and in the accuracy with which they represent the size and shape of the Earth. These models are sphere, ellipsoid, and geoid.

Flat-Earthers often take the existence of these multiple models as evidence of disagreement among scientists, and that the shape of the Earth is still in contention. They are wrong. All these models are valid models, only with different complexity and accuracy.

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The Ball and Water ‘Experiment’

Gravity is the attraction between objects with mass. The attraction is greater if the objects are more massive. The shape of the object practically doesn’t affect the magnitude of the attraction provided the objects are spaced far enough.

Flat-Earthers like to perform the ball-and-water ‘experiment’. They spray water to a ball, then observe the water does not stick to the ball the same way seawater stays on the surface of the Earth. They would conclude that ‘gravity does not exist’. They are wrong. The spherical shape of the Earth (and the ball)does not cause gravity, Continue reading “The Ball and Water ‘Experiment’”

Seismic Waves: Mapping the Interior of the Earth

Seismic waves are waves of energy that travel through the Earth’s layers and are a result of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, massive landslides and large human-made explosions. Some types of seismic waves travel through the interior of the Earth and are detected by seismic stations on the other side of the Earth. By analyzing the types of waves that are received by seismic stations, we can determine the interior of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers are often seen saying that it is impossible to determine the interior of the Earth as nobody has gone there. They are wrong. Using seismology, we can determine the interior of the Earth without going there physically.

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A Glass of Water

The surface of the water in a glass of water is practically flat. Some flat-Earthers claim this is ‘evidence’ that the surface of the water is flat, and it will always be flat no matter how wide the container. They are wrong.

If the Earth is a sphere with the radius of 6371 km (3960 miles), then the surface of the water in a 10 cm (4 in) wide glass will have a bulge of 0.00000002 cm as the result of gravity, excluding other effects like the surface tension.

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Grid Corrections — How the Spherical Figure of the Earth Affects Land Partitioning

Some countries decided to partition their territories into a rectangular or square grid. But the Earth is spherical, and it is not possible to divide a spherical surface into a perfect rectangular grid while maintaining the perfect angles, distances, and areas.

To solve this problem, land surveyors implemented grid corrections. Every certain distance, parts of the grid are shifted away from each other. Therefore, an equal area in each division is maintained as much as possible by giving up an entirely lined up grid.

If the Earth is flat, it is not necessary to have this compromise. It would be possible to divide the land into a perfect square grid system.

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“Earth is a Sphere” Semantic Games

The Earth is spherical, but not perfectly spherical. Its diameter is longer across the equator than between both poles. The shape is called ‘oblate spheroid’. The difference between both diameters is tiny, only about 0.33%. It is perfectly fine to say that the Earth is round or spherical.

Some flat-Earthers take this issue very seriously. They think if that’s the case, then we can’t say the Earth is spherical. They are wrong. If we can’t say the Earth is a sphere, then we can’t describe every other spherical object as spherical, because nothing is perfectly spherical.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson and His ‘Pear-Shaped’ Analogy

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In a talk show, Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the figure of the Earth. He told the audience that the Earth is practically round, but it is a little farther from the center near the equator compared to the poles. And that in the southern parts, it is a bit farther from the center than in its northern regions. To illustrate the fact, Neil used the analogy ‘pear-shaped.’

Flat-Earthers really love to ridicule the ‘pear-shaped’ analogy. But they are mistaken. If they watch the entire unaltered video, they will find Neil explained the fact very clearly.

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The Eratosthenes Experiment: Proving the Earth is Spherical

In 205 BC, Eratosthenes successfully determined the circumference of the Earth by measuring the length of the shadow cast by a rod. He did the measurement in Alexandria and timed it to coincidence when the Sun is directly overhead Syene.

2222 years after that, some flat-Earthers tried to refute the Eratosthenes experiment. They say the experiment can be applied to the flat-Earth model.

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The Curvature of the Water Surface

Flat-Earthers mention the curvature of water a lot. According to them, the curve of the water can never be observed, and thus, the Earth is flat.

The problem with such an argument is that they usually conclude that from a very small amount of water. Water in a glass or a bucket will practically look flat. Not because there is no curvature due to Earth’s gravity, but because the water is in such small amount so that the curvature is minuscule and impossible to observe, let alone with the naked eye.

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