Flat-Earthers’ laser tests are misleading. They pointed the laser from near the surface toward a distant observer. If the observer sees the beam, they conclude Earth is flat. It was a misunderstanding about laser & how atmospheric refraction affects it.
Lasers are distinguished from other light sources by their coherence, or that their frequency and waveform are identical, and the output being a narrow beam. But lasers are still a form of light and exhibit the same characteristics as other light sources.
Flat-Earthers assume lasers always travel in a straight line, not affected by the medium. They use this incorrect assumption in their “experiments” to “prove” a flat Earth. In reality, like other light sources, atmospheric refraction can bend laser beams.
Flat-Earthers cannot understand why space appears dark if the Sun is in space, and they use their ignorance to discredit science.
In reality, sunlight does travel through space. However, space is a vacuum, and there is nothing to scatter and redirect the light toward our eyes like in Earth’s atmosphere. We can demonstrate the phenomenon using a low-powered red and green laser pointer in clean air.
Atmospheric refraction is stronger near the surface. Additionally, a thermal inversion can form a duct guiding light ray to follow the curvature of Earth. These phenomena allow light rays to reach the viewer far behind the horizon, but the rays will be compressed, distorted, and scattered, and will not form the true image of the objects. However, a nondescript, intense point light source will stand out against a darker background.
Flat-Earthers like to perform experiments involving lasers, flashlights, and mirrors over the water surface. If the light is visible from the other side, they would wrongly conclude Earth’s curvature does not exist. In reality, atmospheric refraction causes the result they observed.
Lighthouses are equipped with powerful lights. In a dark night, even if Earth’s curvature obscures the entire structure of the lighthouse, the phenomenon of the loom of the light allows their lights to be visible beyond the horizon; not unlike how the beam of a green laser is visible to our eyes.
Flat-Earthers like to point out the cases where the light from a lighthouse is visible even if the lighthouse should be completely obscured by Earth’s curvature. They would claim it as “proof” that the Earth is flat. They are wrong. The loom of the light lets us see the light even when the lighthouse itself is below the horizon.
Laser guidance is used by the military to guide a missile toward a target. A laser designator marked a target by pointing a laser beam at it. The signals bounce off the target into the sky, where they are detected by laser-guided munition, which steers itself toward the center of the reflected signal.
A laser-guided missile can be launched toward a target behind Earth’s curvature. Flat-Earthers claim it proves a flat Earth as it would have been impossible for the launcher to point a laser beam at the target. They are wrong. The laser designator does not have to be the launcher itself. It can be another unit closer to the target, such as infantry or an aircraft.