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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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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How Satellites Can Orbit and Stay Up There

If Earth’s gravity pulls everything towards the Earth, then how can satellites stay up there and are not falling towards the Earth?

The answer is that satellites orbit the Earth. They have the correct velocity with respect to Earth’s position and gravitational pull.

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The False Analogy of a Spinning Tennis Ball

The mass of the Earth exerts the gravitational acceleration of about 9.82 m/s² to everything on Earth’s surface toward the center of the Earth. On the other hand, the rotational motion of the Earth generates the centrifugal acceleration of about 0.03 m/s² away from the Earth. The net acceleration is about 9.79 m/s² toward the center of the Earth. That is why everything on Earth’s surface stays on the surface, not flying away to space.

Flat-Earthers often make a false comparison using a wet & spinning ball. Water on the surface of a wet & spinning ball does not stick to the ball, but the Earth is also round, wet, and spins, yet everything stays on the surface. Then they make the erroneous conclusion that the Earth cannot be a spinning ball.

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