Weightlessness, Free Fall, and Microgravity

In orbit, objects are weightless because both the objects and the spacecraft have the same speed and direction, and both are affected by the same gravitational influence. We use the spacecraft as the frame of reference. Because the objects are not in motion relative to the spacecraft, they appear to float.

In Earth orbit, the objects are still affected by Earth’s gravity, but yet they float. Flat-Earthers use it to disprove spaceflight. In reality, the objects float because we are using the spacecraft as the frame of reference, which is also moving by the same amount and is affected by the same gravity as the objects themselves.

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Richard Garriott’s “Pocket of Gravity” Magic Trick

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Richard Garriott is a video-game developer and entrepreneur who is also an avid magician. In October 2008, he flew to the ISS onboard a Soyuz rocket as a private astronaut. During his time on the ISS, he performed several magic tricks.

One of his magic tricks involves a hammer that floats and a card that seems to fall as if it is pulled down by gravity. Flat-Earthers were unaware it was a mere magic trick and wrongly assume it demonstrates things are falling in the ISS, despite other objects in the scene that float.

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Eötvös Effect: Direct Evidence Earth is a Rotating Sphere

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Eötvös effect is the change in perceived gravitational acceleration when moving eastward vs. westward. An object will weigh slightly more when moving westward than when it is stationary or moving eastward.

The slight difference in weight due to the Eötvös effect can be measured in an experiment on a flight. The Eötvös effect is direct evidence that the Earth is a rotating sphere.

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Flat-Earthers’ Alternative Facts for Gravity

Flat-Earthers reject gravity because it does not support the flat Earth model. To explain the various phenomena explained by gravity, they invented many different ‘alternative facts’ in place of gravity.

Flat-Earthers agree only on a single thing that the Earth is flat. However, as flat Earth is not fact-based, flat-Earthers cannot agree on practically everything else. Different flat-Earth denominations have their alternative explanations for gravity, all of which lacks predictive power and cannot adequately explain real-world facts.

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Geostationary Satellites

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If a satellite is placed in an orbit 35786 km above the equator, it will be in motion at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation. As a result, the satellite will appear practically motionless from an observer on Earth’s surface. Many communication satellites are in this orbit so that a satellite receiver does not need to track the satellite continuously.

Flat-Earthers often take the fact that satellites are in motion, and most satellite dishes have a fixed direction as ‘proof’ the receivers cannot be pointing to satellites. In reality, it is possible to place a satellite in a geostationary orbit to make it appear in a fixed position in the sky relative to an observer on Earth.

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Cavendish Experiment

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The Cavendish experiment was the first experiment to measure the force of gravity between masses in the laboratory and the first to yield accurate values for the gravitational constant.

Flat-Earthers are in a constant effort to discredit the Cavendish experiment. They would invent various “explanations” to “explain” the result of the experiments. However, the experiment was not only done once by Henry Cavendish in 1797-1798, and has been replicated numerous times by multiple independent parties for centuries, all yielding consistent results.

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Atmospheric Pressure and the Vacuum in Space

Atmospheric pressure decreases as altitude increases. There is no visible boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space in terms of pressure. There is no abrupt drop in pressure where space begins.

Flat-Earthers assert that it is impossible for the pressurized atmosphere to meet the vacuum of space without any barrier. In reality, the pressure changes gradually. There is no sudden pressure drop between the atmosphere and space.

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Spirit Level on an Airplane

During cruising, an airplane is practically level. It is flying perpendicular to the direction of gravity. The aircraft is still flying following Earth’s curvature and continuously changes its orientation. However, not only its orientation changing but also the direction of gravity, having the same amount of change. As a result, a spirit level on a flight will not show us the difference in orientation of the airplane due to its motion following the curvature of the Earth.

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Electromagnetism

The electromagnetic force is a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. Electromagnetism is different from gravity. Both phenomena are real but have different characteristics.

Flat-Earthers refuse to accept gravity, and some of them use electromagnetism in place of gravity to explain the various phenomena that are explained by gravity. In reality, electromagnetism has different characteristic from gravity, and cannot explain the various phenomena that are explained by gravity.

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Antipodal Tide

Tides are the result of the variation of lunar gravitational acceleration over all the material of which the Earth is composed. They are not caused by the magnitude of such acceleration exerted on a specific location only.

Flat-Earthers discovered that the position away from the Moon is also having a tide, not just the location where the Moon is directly overhead. Then, they were happy to proclaim that it is a failure of science to explain tides. In reality, tides are the result of the variation of lunar gravity over the entire Earth, not just the magnitude of the lunar acceleration on a single location only.

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Egg and Salt Water

An egg will generally sink in freshwater, but if we pour salt into the water and stir it, then the egg will start to float. The reason is that after salt is added, the density of water increases. However, the relationship between density and if the egg floats or sinks is not a direct causality.

Flat-Earthers claim that the phenomenon “proves” things fall because of density, and that gravity does not exist. In reality, the density of the water determines the magnitude of buoyancy the egg receives. If the buoyancy is higher than the weight of the egg, the egg will float, and vice versa.

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Shell Theorem

Shell theorem is a simplification stating that a spherical body affects external objects gravitationally as though all of its mass were concentrated at a point at its center.

The direction of Earth’s gravity toward the center of the Earth made some flat-Earthers to assume that we think gravity is caused by something in the center, and that our inability to go there “disproves” gravity. They are wrong. Earth’s gravity is the result of the entire mass of Earth. Using the center of the Earth is merely a simplification.

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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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The Ball and Water ‘Experiment’

Gravity is the attraction between objects with mass. The higher the mass, the greater is the gravitational attraction. Gravity is not the result of the shapes of the objects.

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 the ocean water curves over the surface of the Earth. They would wrongly conclude that “gravity does not exist.” Gravity does not come from the spherical shape of objects, Continue reading “The Ball and Water ‘Experiment’”

The Variation of Earth’s Gravitational Acceleration

The gravity of Earth varies on the different location on Earth. The variation is caused by the difference in latitude, altitude or depth, and local geology & topography. In most cases, the centrifugal acceleration from Earth’s rotation is also already accounted for in the value of Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

Flat-Earthers claim that according to science, the Earth’s gravitational acceleration is always constant at 9.8 m/s² everywhere on Earth. And they are using the claim to prove Earth is not a rotating sphere. In reality, the magnitude of Earth’s gravitational acceleration varies on the different location on Earth.

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Einstein’s Thought Experiments and Daydreaming

Albert Einstein used thought experiments as a tool for formulating his theories. His theories provided predictions that can be tested in observation and experiments. He did not perform the observation and experiments himself. Others did and confirmed his theories.

Some flat-Earthers dismiss Einstein’s theories —especially those about gravity— on the basis that they are founded on thought experiments and daydreaming. They are wrong. His theories have been repeatedly confirmed by various experiments and observation performed by many others, even to this day.

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Weight = Gravitational Force

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 refer to as ‘weight’.

Many flat-Earthers fail to understand that the gravitational force is just another name for ‘weight’. Many misconceptions in the communities of flat Earth victims arise from such a misunderstanding.

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Theories of Gravity

Gravity is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass or energy are brought toward one another. Today, the phenomenon of gravity is explained by two theories: Newton’s law of universal gravitation and Einstein’s general relativity.

Flat-Earthers take the existence of the two explanations as inconsistency in science and use it as a “proof” of deliberate misconduct. Such allegation is obviously only a result of their prejudice. The two theories are the correct explanations of gravity, and can reliably predict the outcome of the phenomenon.

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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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Countering Gravity

Gravity is not the only force. There are other forces, too. Multiple forces can simultaneously affect a single object. Forces can counteract gravity, making an object move against the direction of gravity. Such facts do not disprove gravity.

Flat-Earthers take the fact there are objects that move against the direction of gravity as ‘evidence’ of the non-existence of gravity. They are wrong. There are forces other than gravity affecting the object, having the opposite direction from gravity, with at least the same magnitude.

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