Bottled Water: A Simple Device for Observing the Dip of the Horizon

On many flights, they would give away leveling devices to all passengers for free, so that everyone would be able to observe the dip of the horizon and proves Earth is a sphere. And as a nice side effect, to quench our thirsts, too!

Such devices are called ‘bottled water’. Using these simple ‘instruments’ on a flight, we can demonstrate that Earth is a sphere.

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The Taiwan–Los Angeles Flight (not from Bali) that was Diverted to Anchorage

There was a flight from Taiwan to Los Angeles that was diverted to Anchorage because one of the passengers gave birth to a baby. Flat-Earthers use the case as one of the first “evidence” from flight routes proving Earth is flat.

They are wrong. The case only tells us about the ignorance of these flat-Earthers about the distortion in a map projection. Their argument started with an elementary mistake of taking a straight line on a Mercator map between Taiwan and Los Angeles, and assume it as the “intended flight path.”

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The Failure of Flat-Earth Model to Explain Emergency Landings That Occur More to the South

The perpetrators of flat-Earth often take emergency landings as ‘proof’ of a flat Earth. They would point out that the diversion airports used for such emergency landings are somehow consistent with the flat-Earth map.

It is not a coincidence that all the cases of emergency landing they pointed out occurred far in the north. At the locations closer to the north pole, the distortion of the azimuthal-equidistant map (claimed by flat-Earthers as the ‘flat-Earth map’) diminishes. It would seemingly appear as if the ‘flat-Earth map’ can explain the choice of the diversion airports. In many other locations, though, the flat-Earth map would fail to explain it.

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The Sydney-Santiago Flight Route: An Impossible Route on the Flat-Earth Model

We can use the duration of a flight route to roughly determine the distance between two locations. Then, we can use this to determine which model better represents reality: the flat-Earth model or the spherical Earth model.

In the flat-Earth Model, the distances between two locations become more unreasonable as we go further south. To illustrate this fact, we can use the flight route of Sydney-Santiago to help us with the calculations. This flight route is one of the most southernly flight routes. Continue reading “The Sydney-Santiago Flight Route: An Impossible Route on the Flat-Earth Model”

The Ability of Humans to Perceive Speed and Acceleration

When aboard an airplane flying at cruising speed, we will not be able to feel that the plane is, in fact, moving at speed of more than 900 km/h. But if the plane changes its speed, turns or changes its altitude, we can easily feel it.

The same thing happens with the motion of the Earth. Due to Earth’s rotation, the surface of the Earth is moving at 1656 km/h near the equator. We never feel it because the speed is constant, or in other words, the acceleration is zero.

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Polar Circumnavigation

Flat-Earthers think there hasn’t been anyone who has circumnavigated the Earth by traversing both the north pole and south pole in the process. All we have are explorers who have circumnavigated the Earth to the east or west, parallel to the equator; explorers like James Cook or Ferdinand Magellan. They don’t really have the choice, because if polar circumnavigation is possible, then the flat-Earth assumption falls flat.

But, like a lot of assumption in the flat-Earth community, it is simply not true. There are in fact many people who have done a polar circumnavigation, and the information can be easily found on the Internet.

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Non-Stop Long-Haul Flight Routes in the Southern Hemisphere

There are many non-stop long-haul flight routes between two locations in the southern hemisphere, all without crossing the northern hemisphere. These routes can only exist if Earth is a sphere.

Some flat-Earthers claim there is no non-stop long-haul flights between two locations in the southern hemisphere. Flights need to make a stop in a location in the northern hemisphere because the distance will be too far and such flight will traverse the northern hemisphere, or more accurately, the center of the Earth according to their model. They are wrong. There are many such flight routes.

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Flight Altitude and Sphericity of the Earth

So, there was a flat-earther who took a spirit level on a flight. His intention was to determine whether the plane periodically adjust its angle in order to make it level in relation to the surface of the Earth. According to him, if the Earth were really spherical, then the plane would need to make these periodic adjustments; otherwise it would fly away straight into space!

His video became viral, and predictably, the plane did not make these periodic adjustments. The conclusion, surely, is not that the Earth is flat. The following are some explanations why the plane doesn’t have to make those periodic adjustments, and still reaches its destination.

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Emergency Landings and Flight Route

We cannot take a straight line between two locations on a map and consider that line the shortest distance between the two locations. With a very short distance —like within a city— it wouldn’t usually matter. But for long-haul flights across continents, then it would matter a lot.

Flat-Earthers are known to use this mistake —whether deliberately or not— as a ‘proof’ that the Earth is flat. A common case they would bring is emergency landings.

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So, Where’s the Curvature?

A human eye can only visually perceive the curvature of the Earth if we are at a considerable altitude from the surface, which is still beyond the reach of most humans today. A commercial jet airliner is the highest position realistically attainable by most humans today. At such altitude, we can only perceive very slight curvature, and only in an ideal condition.

The basis of flat-Earthers’ belief is that the horizon appears flat. They would say if we cannot see the curvature, then there’s no curvature, and thus, the Earth is flat. They are wrong. Most of us these days cannot travel high enough to see the curve.  The best we can do these days is going on board a commercial jet airliner, which can only go about 11-15 km up, only a fraction of the radius of the Earth.

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