People have known for a long time that the Earth is round, and they are finding new and new ways to show that our world is not flat. And yet, even in 2016, there are quite a few people on the planet who firmly believe that the Earth is not round. These are scary people, they tend to believe in conspiracy theories and it’s hard to argue with them. But they exist. So does the Flat Earth Society. It becomes ridiculous at the mere thought of their possible arguments. But the history of our species has been interesting and quirky, disproving even well-established truths. You don’t have to resort to complicated formulas to dispel the flat earth conspiracy theory.
It is enough to look around and check ten times: the Earth is definitely, inevitably, completely and absolutely not 100% flat.
- 1How did you know the earth is round?
- 2What does the horizon line mean?
- 3Watching the constellations change
- 4How a sundial works
- 5Earth curvature calculations
- 6Airplane flight proves the earth is round
- 7What shape are the other planets
- 8Why do time zones exist
- 9What is the center of gravity
- 10Pictures from space
How did you know the earth is round?
Today, people already know that the Moon is not a piece of cheese and not a playful deity , but the phenomena of our satellite are well explained by modern science. But the ancient Greeks had no idea what it was, and in search of an answer, they made some astute observations that allowed people to determine the shape of our planet.
Aristotle (who made quite a few observations about the spherical nature of the Earth) noticed that during lunar eclipses (when the Earth’s orbit places the planet exactly between the Sun and the Moon, producing a shadow) the shadow on the lunar surface is round. This shadow is the Earth, and the shadow cast by it directly indicates the spherical shape of the planet.
Because the Earth rotates (look up Foucault’s pendulum experiment if you’re not sure), the oval shadow that is produced during every lunar eclipse tells us not only that the Earth is round, but also not flat.
What does the horizon line mean?
If you’ve recently been to the port or just strolled along the beach, peering into the horizon, you may have noticed a very interesting phenomenon: approaching ships do not just “appear” from the horizon (as they should if the world were flat), but rather come out of the sea. The reason that ships literally “come out of the waves” is that our world is not flat, but round.
Imagine an ant walking on the surface of an orange. If you look at an orange from a close distance, nose to the fruit, you will see how the ant’s body slowly rises above the horizon due to the curvature of the surface of the orange. If you do this experiment with a long road, the effect is different: the ant will slowly “materialize” into your field of vision, depending on how sharp your eyesight is.
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Watching the constellations change
This observation was first made by Aristotle, who declared the Earth round, observing the change of constellations when crossing the equator.
Returning from a trip to Egypt, Aristotle noticed that “stars are observed in Egypt and Cyprus, which were not seen in the northern regions.” This phenomenon can only be explained by the fact that people look at the stars from a round surface. Aristotle went on to say that the sphere of the earth was “small in size, otherwise the effect of such a slight change of terrain would not have manifested itself so soon.”
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The farther you are from the equator, the further the “known” constellations go to the horizon , replaced by other stars. This would not happen if the world were flat.
How a sundial works
If you stick a stick in the ground, it will cast a shadow . The shadow moves as time passes (based on this principle, the ancient people invented the sundial). If the world were flat, two sticks in different places would produce the same shadow.
But this is not happening . Because the earth is round, not flat.
Eratosthenes (276-194 BC) used this principle to calculate the circumference of the earth with good accuracy.
Earth curvature calculations
Standing on a flat plateau, you look towards the horizon away from you. You strain your eyes, then take out your favorite binoculars and look through them as far as your eyes can see (using binocular lenses).
Then you climb the nearest tree – the higher the better , the main thing is not to drop the binoculars. And again look, straining your eyes, through binoculars beyond the horizon.
The higher you climb, the further you can see. Usually we tend to associate this with obstacles on Earth , when you can’t see the forest behind the trees, and freedom behind the stone jungle. But if you stand on a perfectly clear plateau, with no obstructions between you and the horizon, you will see much more from above than from the ground.
It’s all about the curvature of the Earth, of course, and this would not be the case if the Earth were flat.
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Airplane flight proves the earth is round
If you’ve ever flown out of a country, especially far away, you must have noticed two interesting facts about airplanes and the Earth:
Planes can fly in a relatively straight line for a very long time and do not fall over the edge of the world. They can also fly around the Earth non-stop.
If you look out the window on a transatlantic flight, you will in most cases see the curvature of the earth on the horizon. The best kind of curvature was on the Concorde, but that plane is long gone. From the new Virgin Galactic plane , the horizon should be absolutely curved.
What shape are the other planets
The earth is different from others, and this is indisputable. After all, we have life, and we haven’t found any planets with life yet. However, all planets have similar characteristics, and it would be logical to assume that if all planets behave in a certain way or exhibit certain properties – especially if the planets are separated by distance or formed under different circumstances – then our planet is similar.
In other words, if there are so many planets that formed in different places and under different conditions, but have similar properties, most likely our planet will be one. From our observations, it became clear that the planets are round (and since we knew how they formed, we know why they have such a shape). There is no reason to think that our planet will not be the same.
In 1610, Galileo Galilei observed the rotation of the moons of Jupiter. He described them as small planets revolving around a large planet, a description (and observation) that the Church did not like, as it challenged the geocentric model in which everything revolved around the Earth. This observation also showed that the planets (Jupiter, Neptune, and later Venus) are spherical and revolve around the Sun.
A flat planet (ours or any other) would be so incredibly observable that it would overturn virtually everything we know about planetary formation and behavior . This will not only change everything we know about planet formation, but also about star formation (because our Sun should behave differently to accommodate the flat earth theory), speed and movement of celestial bodies. In short, we don’t just suspect that our Earth is round—we know it.
Why do time zones exist
Because the earth is round. Everything is simple. It’s 12 midnight in Beijing now, no sun. It’s 12 noon in New York. The sun is at its zenith, although it is difficult to see it under the clouds. In Adelaide, Australia, one thirty in the morning. The sun will rise very soon.
This could be explained only by the fact that the Earth is round and rotates around its own axis. At a certain moment, when the sun is shining on one part of the Earth, it is dark at the other end, and vice versa. This is where time zones come from.
Another moment. If the sun were a “spotlight” (its light fell directly on a specific area), and the world was flat, we would see the sun even if it did not shine above us. In much the same way, you can see the spotlight on the stage of the theater, while remaining in the shadows yourself. The only way to create two completely separate time zones, one of which will always be in the dark and the other in the light, is to acquire a spherical world.
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What is the center of gravity
There is an interesting fact about our mass: it attracts things . The force of attraction (gravity) between two objects depends on their mass and the distance between them. Simply put, gravity will pull towards the center of mass of objects. To find the center of mass, you need to study the object.
Imagine a sphere. Due to the shape of the sphere, wherever you stand, there will be the same amount of sphere under you. (Imagine an ant walking on a glass ball. From the ant’s point of view, the only sign of movement will be the movement of the ant’s legs. The shape of the surface will not change at all.) The center of mass of a sphere is at the center of the sphere, meaning gravity pulls everything on the surface towards the center of the sphere (straight down), regardless of the object’s location.
Consider a plane. The center of mass of the plane is at the center, so the force of gravity will pull everything on the surface towards the center of the plane. This means that if you are on the edge of the plane, gravity will pull you towards the center , and not down, as we are used to.
And even in Australia, apples fall from top to bottom, not from side to side.
Pictures from space
In the last 60 years of space exploration, we have launched many satellites, probes and people into space. Some of them have returned, some continue to stay in orbit and transmit beautiful images to Earth. And in all the photographs, the Earth (attention) is round.
If your child asks how we know the earth is round, take the trouble to explain.