Conspiracy theories — like flat Earth — exists on a spectrum, from the fringe to the mainstream. Each of us has a different demarcation line where we divide the spectrum into the reasonable and the ridiculous.
Flat Earth lies on the extreme end of the spectrum. Anybody who believes in a flat Earth also has its demarcation line on the far extreme, too, and as a result, tends to believe all sorts of other conspiracy theories. However, less extreme conspiracy theorists might find flat Earth ridiculous. By learning how people can believe in a flat Earth, we can avoid believing other, baseless conspiracy theories.
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When we are unable to see a distant object, then it is due to one of these reasons:
- Our eyes lack the sufficient angular resolution to recognize the object.
- Atmospheric condition limits visibility.
- The object is far enough and obscured by Earth’s curvature.
Some flat-Earthers like to show that a previously unseen distant object can be brought into view using infrared vision. They would take that as ‘evidence’ of the non-existence of Earth’s curvature. They are wrong. Infrared vision can reveal hidden objects caused by visibility limitations, but not ones obscured by Earth’s curvature.
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Sunlight can be broken into its constituent colors using a prism. The colors are the optical spectrum of the Sun. They are the same colors on rainbows. On careful observation, the spectrum is not perfectly continuous, but it has dark lines scattered over the entire spectrum. It turned out that from the lines, we can tell the composition of the Sun without physically getting there.
Some flat-Earthers think that it is impossible for us to determine the composition of the Sun, as it is impossible for anyone to visit the Sun without getting roasted in the process. They are wrong. The composition of the Sun can be determined from the spectral lines, or more specifically for the Sun: the Fraunhofer lines.
Continue reading “Fraunhofer Lines”