In an online lecture, an MIT professor explained the second law of thermodynamics. One of his examples is a container filled with gas next to another filled with a vacuum. If the wall is removed, the gas will rush to fill the newly available volume. However, it is only a simple model that does not attempt to explain everything about the system.
Flat-Earthers abuse the lecture to “prove” it is “impossible” for the atmosphere to exist next to a vacuum. It becomes a flat Earth talking point as if the lecture shows us that spherical Earth “violates” the second law of thermodynamics. In reality, the gas inside the container is also affected by gravity and will also have a pressure gradient, just like the gas outside. But it is not within the scope of the lecture.
And if we ask the lecturer if Earth is flat, he will surely say no.
Continue reading “Misconception about the Second Law of Thermodynamics”
Sound wave requires medium to propagate. There is no air in space, and therefore, sound cannot travel over space. However, in some cases, sound and vibration can still travel over solid objects —like spacecraft or spacesuits— that exist in space.
In some videos taken in space, things that occur in a vacuum can be heard, and flat-Earthers use it to discredit spaceflight. In reality, 1. sound can still travel over solid spacesuits and spacecraft, 2. vibrations can cause noise in microphones, 3. there is air inside spacesuits and many spacecraft, 4. the sound was heard over the radio communication system, and not directly over space.
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Rocket engines produce thrust by releasing mass rearward at a very high speed according to Newton’s third law, not unlike how discharging a fire extinguisher pushes us backward.
Flat-Earthers claim that rocket engines cannot possibly work in space because space if vacuum and there is no air to push against. In reality, it is possible to produce thrust in a vacuum by releasing mass —that we call “propellants”— rearward at a very high speed.
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Atmospheric pressure decreases as altitude increases. A pressure difference can occur without a barrier. Other factors, like gravity, can cause a pressure difference.
Flat-Earthers claim a pressure difference cannot possibly occur without a barrier, like Earth’s atmosphere next to the vacuum of space. In reality, it is not difficult to demonstrate that a pressure difference can exist without a barrier.
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Atmospheric pressure decreases as altitude increases. There is no visible boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space in terms of pressure. There is no abrupt drop in pressure where space begins.
Flat-Earthers assert that it is impossible for the pressurized atmosphere to meet the vacuum of space without any barrier. In reality, the pressure changes gradually. There is no sudden pressure drop between the atmosphere and space.
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The Earth retains an atmosphere because gravity pulls air particles toward the center of the Earth. Without something affecting the air —like gravity— air particles would move toward lower pressure, and Earth would lose its atmosphere.
Flat-Earthers claim that Earth should not be able to have an atmosphere because without any barrier separating Earth’s atmosphere and space, it would have been sucked by the vacuum in space. They are wrong. Gravity pulls air and allows Earth to retain an atmosphere.
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A candle gets its flame from combustion, a chemical reaction. The hydrocarbon that formed the candle reacts with oxygen, and we get carbon dioxide, water, and heat energy as the results. The oxygen is obtained from the air. If the air supply is cut off —for example by covering the candle with a glass— then the reaction will stop, and the flame goes out.
We hear flat-Earthers often claimed that it is impossible for the Sun to be in space. They said the Sun burns, and therefore it requires oxygen. Space is empty, so it is impossible for the Sun to be there. They are wrong. The reaction that is occurring in the Sun is not combustion. It works differently from what happens with the candle.
Nuclear fusion powers the Sun. It fuses hydrogen atoms into helium atoms. All the necessary component for the reaction to happen is in the Sun, and the reaction doesn’t require matters from external sources.
Continue reading “How the Sun ‘Burns’ Without Air in Space”