Monday, April 18, 2016

PROOF POSITIVE OF THE SHAPE OF THE EARTH

It is disappointing when I encounter people who don’t want to put much, if any, effort into thinking about anything outside their habitual comfort zone. It seems that most people would rather watch Television than read a non-fiction book, even if the book contains world-changing ideas and there is evidence that too much TV can cause brain atrophy. This may sound like a complaint, and I don’t want to be a complainer, I just want to spur people on to think just a little bit outside the box. Is it too much to ask people to try to understand a new paradigm, or why the old one doesn’t work? Is it too much to ask someone to think beyond one or two logical steps? Too often I’ve heard: “Oh, that makes my head hurt! I’m not a genius you know!

But you may be smarter than you think. Why not try to use more of the brain power you have? Psychologists tell us that most people never use more than 10 to 20 percent of their brain power, so you could be anywhere from five to nine times smarter than you think you are, in fact, you may be smarter than your IQ test indicates. IQ experts used to think that everyone is born with a fixed Intelligence Quotient that will stay constant throughout your life, except for a possible decrease in case of injury and the eventual inevitable decline in old age. We now know, that that is not true. The experts are now saying that you can increase your IQ by perhaps as much as 10 to 15% by putting your brain to work learning a new language or exercising it by solving puzzles of different types. So, if you have an IQ score of 120 on a standard IQ test, by working hard, you might increase it to 132 to 138, which is enough to get you into MENSA! And if you have an IQ of 138 to start with, with hard work, you might raise it to 152, enough to get into ISPE. The average IQ of PhD recipients is about 130, and IQ experts have estimated Einstein’s IQ at about 160. Would you like to be smarter than the average PhD? Or smarter than Einstein?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people who ascribe to some of the most outlandish false theories and/or conspiracy theories, are either pulling your leg, are not very bright, or are just too lazy mentally to follow the logic that clearly disproves them. The flat-earth hypothesis is a prime example of a false theory that you can disprove yourself in a few minutes, if you want to. The idea that the Earth is flat except for irregularities like mountains and valleys, of course, was common in most primitive cultures, because to the casual eye, it looks that way. In modern times, a number of relatively uneducated writers and preachers have argued that the Earth is flat. The Flat-Earth Society traces its roots back to an English writer named Samuel Rowbotham, who argued for a flat Earth based on the results of some experiments that failed to find any curvature of the water surface over the length of a drainage ditch in England. He published a book titled “The inconsistency of Modern Astronomy and its Opposition to the Scripture.” The ‘proof’ put forth by Rowbotham and others who supported the flat earth theory, was ‘proved’ back then by statements like:

There are rivers that flow for hundreds of miles towards the level of the sea without falling more than a few feet — notably, the Nile, which, in a thousand miles, falls but a foot. A level expanse of this extent is quite incompatible with the idea of the Earth's convexity. It is, therefore, a reasonable proof that Earth is not a globe.”

Anyone with a rudimentary acquaintance with logic, will realize that this is not a proof at all, but simply a feasibility argument. The concept behind this reasoning is that, if the Earth is round like a ball, and water seeks the lowest possible uniformly flat level, then a convex curvature would require that the water run uphill to the half-way point in its route to the sea, and downhill the rest of the way, and everyone knows that water always runs downhill. If the Earth is relatively flat overall, there would be no ‘hump’ of curvature to cause a problem. But this is not proof of a flat Earth, because the problem is also resolved if the Earth is actually spherical, and gravity, which causes water and everything else to seek the lowest possible level, pulls everything toward the center of the sphere. And Sir Isaac Newton, and others, showed that the gravitational pull of any spherical object, whether a cannon ball or the moon is always toward the center. So there are two possible ways to explain why the Nile flows tranquilly to the Mediterrean, making the statement no more than a feasibility argument.

The flat-earth nuts (I call them nuts advisedly, or maybe even lovingly, because I know that some of them are just enjoying poking fun at the scientific establishment, which I also enjoy) even have websites and a You-tube video that boasts 20 proofs that the Earth is flat! But every one of the 20 ‘proofs’ are bogus because they either ignore some well-known and easily provable fact, or they are based on unproved and unprovable assumptions. So I could publish sound counter arguments refuting each and every one of the so-called proofs. But I don’t need to waste my time doing that, because there is an easy demonstration anyone can do that proves unequivocally that the surface of the Earth curves between Denver and New York City by an amount consistent with a sphere having a circumference of approximately 24,900 miles. And this is a proof that anyone can perform. I’ve published it twice, but I’ll copy it here again for the readers’ convenience:

All you need to do is have someone in New York City and someone in Denver call you on the same day, exactly when the sun comes over the horizon at their respective locations. (Notice that this eliminates any confusion that might arise from time zone differences because you are noting the times of the calls on your clock.) If the Earth’s surface is flat, the calls will come virtually simultaneously, because there are no mountains between Denver and New York high enough to block the line of sight. If the Earth’s surface is curved, the call from Denver will come in later than the call from New York, because the sun will be hidden behind the curvature of the Earth until it reaches the height necessary for it to be seen in Denver. If the Earth is spherical, with a circumference of about 24,900 miles, the calls will be about 2 hours apart. This is easily calculated, but completely unnecessary for the demonstration.

If you get two friends to do this, you will find that the time between the two calls will actually be about 2 hours, give or take a few minutes depending on exactly where your friends are located in the Denver and New York areas. I can say this with great confidence because I effectively done the experiment myself. I have spent time in both Denver and New York City, and have friends in both areas, and we find that it is always necessary to allow that same amount of time difference if you are in one area and want to connect by telephone or skype at a specific time with someone in the other area. If the Earth were flat, the sun would be seen to rise at the same time in Denver and New York, but would reach the zenith (straight overhead) about 2 hours apart in in the two locations, Denver 2 hours behind New York. So the diurnal time difference would vary during the day, from zero to 2 hours, making synchronizing watches for a given time to schedule a phone call between the two locations very difficult. Obviously this is not the case; the time difference between similar solar inclinations in relation to the horizon in the two locations is always the same. Conclusion: the surface of the Earth between Denver and New York is effectively the surface of a sphere. Now that wasn’t hard was it?

Now, concerning government and NASA conspiracies; there is no doubt that they often lie to us. But it’s not to keep us from knowing that the Earth is flat! It’s just that the Flat-Earthers, in order to support their hypothesis, have to go to great lengths to explain the many things that have to be accounted for to maintain the illusion that the surface of the Earth is flat, and explaining away NASA photos showing the Earth’s curvature is just one of them. The Earth is definitely and provably an oblate spheroid spinning in space. Anyone who denies it is either delusional, not capable of following simple logic, or enjoying seeing how many people they can fool with confusing, half-baked arguments.