Hovering Helicopter and Earth’s Rotation

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.

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Allais Effect

The Allais effect is the alleged anomaly of pendulums or gravimeters, which is purportedly observed during a solar eclipse. The effect has not been able to be consistently measured and was most likely caused by experimental error.

Flat-Earthers use the Allais effect to dismiss the result of Foucault’s pendulum. In reality, the Allais effect is still not conclusive. Even if it is true, it only occurs during an eclipse and does not rule out that the pendulum’s precession is due to Earth’s rotation. Not to mention that there is plenty of other evidence that Earth is in motion.

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Frame of Reference

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.

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Georgia Guidestones

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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Earth Axial Tilt

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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.

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Variation of Earth’s Gravitational Acceleration

The acceleration of free-falling objects on Earth varies. It depends on various factors. The figure of 9.8 m/s² is just a nominal value to use if the actual local value is unknown or unimportant. These variations can only be explained using the law of gravity and that the Earth is a rotating sphere.

Flat-Earthers claim that science tells us that Earth’s gravitational acceleration is always 9.8 m/s² everywhere on Earth, and they use it as “evidence” Earth is flat and stationary. But, in reality, Earth’s gravitational acceleration does indeed vary in different locations.

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Lunar Phase and Lunar Eclipse

The lunar phase is the shape of the Moon’s directly sunlit portion as viewed from Earth. The lunar phases change continuously, with a cycle over a period of 29½ days.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into Earth’s shadow. It is a rarer event that occurs only during a full moon and when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are very closely aligned.

Flat-Earthers claim it is impossible that the gibbous phase of the Moon is caused by Earth’s shadow, and they use it to discredit science. In reality, nobody claims Earth’s shadow causes it. They confuse the lunar phase with a lunar eclipse.

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Orbital Inclination: The Reason an Eclipse Does Not Occur Every Month

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The plane of the Moon’s orbit around Earth does not coincide with the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The two orbital planes form an angle of 5.145°. This is the reason an eclipse does not occur every month.

Flat-Earthers claim an eclipse should occur every month, but it does not, and they use it to discredit the science. In reality, they are unaware of the inclinations of the orbits.

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Temperature and Earth’s Axial Tilt

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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.

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Apparent Motion of Planets

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Planets appear to move near the ecliptic —the line that marks the annual path of the Sun against background stars. From these motions, it is obvious that Venus and Mercury are in motion around the Sun. And the motion of the other planets can only be explained if Earth is in motion around the Sun.

Flat-Earthers claim that Earth is stationary. In reality, from observing the planets’ motion, the most plausible explanation is that all planets, including Earth, are in motion around the Sun.

Misconception and Strawman Arguments About Foucault’s Pendulum

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The Coriolis effect acts on objects moving closer to or away from Earth’s axis of rotation. A swinging pendulum does that continuously while staying in the same place. Foucault’s pendulum is built very large to swing for a very long time so that we can observe the slow precession of the pendulum caused by Earth’s rotation.

Earth’s rotation does not cause a pendulum at rest to begin swinging, and flat-Earthers use that as “proof” that Foucault’s pendulums are manipulated. In reality, nobody claims the swinging motion of Foucault’s pendulum is caused by Earth’s rotation. The fact that Earth’s rotation does not cause a pendulum to swing does not disprove Earth’s rotation or the Coriolis effect.

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Uniform Circular Motion

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The motion of a specific location on Earth due to Earth’s rotation is a uniform circular motion. We can separate it into a uniform linear motion and a centripetal acceleration toward Earth’s center. From the reference frame of an observer on Earth, the latter results in a constant centrifugal acceleration, which is felt simultaneously with Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

We often use the uniform linear motion of everyday objects to explain the effect (or the lack of thereof) of uniform motion of Earth’s rotation. Flat-Earthers incorrectly reject it just because “it is not a circular motion unlike Earth’s rotation” In reality, a uniform linear motion is one component of a uniform circular motion. And these explanations are correct and still apply.

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Airplanes Do Correct for the Coriolis Effect

Airplanes do correct for the Coriolis effect. They constantly make adjustments to counter forces that try to push them away from the planned route, including the Coriolis force.

Flat-Earthers claim the Coriolis effect does not appear to affect airplanes, and they use it to “prove” that Earth is stationary. In reality, the Coriolis effect does affect airplanes, and we do have to correct for it. But the effect is tiny, and we can safely ignore it in flight planning.

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Moving Vehicle Analogy: Inside vs Outside of the Vehicle

The moving vehicle analogy is often presented to explain how Earth’s rotation does not seem to affect an object’s motion. Similarly, a ball released inside a moving vehicle will not fall rearward because it retains its inertia.

Flat-Earthers offer the moving open-air vehicle as if it is the “correct ” analogy. In reality, with their analogy, the air moves relative to the vehicle, which exerts an additional force that does not exist in the fact being explained. Their analogy fails to represent the fact being explained.

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Hill Sphere

The Moon orbits the Earth —not the Sun— because the Moon lies well within Earth’s Hill sphere. Hill sphere is the region around Earth where Earth —instead of the Sun— dominates the attraction of satellites.

Flat-Earthers noticed the Sun exerts a stronger pull to the Moon than Earth does to the Moon. They incorrectly concluded that according to science, the Moon should orbit the Sun, then proceeded to use it to discredit science. In reality, they did not account for the centrifugal acceleration resulting from the motion around the Sun, which is one of the factors that determines Earth’s Hill sphere.

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Flying a Drone Inside a Moving Vehicle

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If we fly a drone inside a vehicle that is moving in a constant speed and direction, the drone will hover normally because it preserves the motion it gets from the vehicle. It will not abruptly move toward the rear of the vehicle.

Flat-Earthers claim that it should not be possible for drones to hover if Earth is rotating. In reality, drones follow Newton’s first law of motion and will preserve their inertia. It is easy to demonstrate the phenomenon by flying a drone inside a moving vehicle. The fact that drones can hover still in mid-air is not evidence of stationary Earth.

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Airplanes and Earth’s Rotation

An airplane exists on Earth. It has the same motion as the surface of the Earth, including Earth’s rotating motion. The motion and speed of an airplane are measured relative to Earth’s surface.

Flat-Earthers claim that an airplane should not be able to fly eastward or land. In reality, an airplane is moving relative to the surface. It has Earth’s motion as a component of its motion and does not need to chase Earth’s rotation.

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Rock Balancing

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Rock balancing is an activity in which rocks are balanced on top of one another. It is possible to do it if Earth is rotating because the speed is constant and the rocks are affected by a constant net acceleration from gravity and Earth’s rotation.

Flat-Earthers use rock balancing as “evidence” that Earth is stationary. In reality, it is possible to balance objects on a moving platform, as long as it is moving in a straight line with a constant speed, and there is no force —like wind, affecting it.

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Negative Parallax

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Stellar parallax is the apparent shift of closer stars against more distant stars due to the orbiting motion of Earth. Negative parallax, or stars going the wrong way— occurs due to measurement errors placing the nearer star as the farther one and vice versa.

Stellar parallax directly proves Earths’ motion around the sun, and flat-Earthers use negative parallaxes to dismiss it. In reality, negative parallaxes are just statistical uncertainties.

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Earth’s Rotation in Videos Taken From Space

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The Earth rotates only once every 24 hours. To notice the rotation of Earth in a video taken from space, we need to speed up the video so that it appears fast enough for us to notice it. We also need to make sure the video was taken from a spacecraft where its motion does not dominate over the movement of Earth itself.

Flat-Earthers claim that videos taken from space were faked because the Earth does not appear rotating. In reality, Earth rotates far too slowly to be casually seen without increasing the speed.

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