Curve of the Earth

The top of Mount Rainier seen from Canada on a clear day.

Recently, I chatted with a man who trims my trees. As we talked about nature, I discovered he once believed the earth was flat. True, you can’t easily see the curvature in the earth from atop a tree. While in a tiny minority, he is not the only one to hold that belief.

Boston Celtics and Wheaties box-cover star Kyrie Irving also has issues with a spherical earth. Thanks to him, some young fans have started believing the flat-earth myth. Fortunately, two comments by Irving, “They lie to us” and “The evidence is right in front of us,” lead us to what proves flat Earthers wrong. We will need to get off the basketball court.

Let’s start with the mind-boggling size of the conspiracy needed to put a spherical-versus-flat earth over on the public. At this point, 556 astronauts have personally seen the earth’s curvature from space. Many more pilots, from the USSR/Russia, USA, France, Italy, Japan, England, India, China and more have been high enough to see the curvature. A couple of those people were private citizens who paid millions for the opportunity to see the earth from space. In on the hoax?

Since the 1960s almost everyone has seen pictures of the earth as a sphere. So someone modified millions of pictures and video frames — without Photoshop. The number of people involved in building and launching humans and robots to take pictures? Hundreds of thousands — all in on the hoax?

Every airline pilot and co-pilot, every air traffic controller, everyone involved in building airliners that travel over a curved surface instead of a flat surface and calculating fuel use — in on the hoax? For some reason, most flat-earth maps have the North Pole in the center. So, every airline passenger who has flown from Argentina to Australia and didn’t arrive two days late — in on the hoax? Maybe that’s why only two people showed up at this year’s Australian flat-earth-society meeting.

Greek philosopher Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth in 240 BC. He was off by less than 15 percent. He wasn’t off by whether the earth was flat or not. That discussion had occurred at least four centuries earlier. Sailors probably had always known.

Irving could do some science and prove it to himself right now. He only needs to walk down to Boston Harbor and watch a ship sail out over the horizon. The ship’s bottom will disappear first, essentially hidden by the Earth’s curve. Or, he could rent a boat and motor out with his friends and watch the Boston skyline slowly disappear — from the bottom up. People in Utah can essentially do the same thing on land. Ever drive toward mountains and see them rise up in front of you? But the ocean makes a perfect case because people intuitively understand water’s “flatness.”

A modern twist on an ancient Greeks’ approach: put a ruler on the ground and measure the shadow. Call a friend who lives hundreds of miles away to the West and ask him to do the same. The length of the shadow will be different. Shadows on a flat Earth would be the same. Or, just ask someone “on the other side of the world” if it is day or night where he or she is sitting.

The main driver for the anti-spherical people seems to be paranoia; the “Earth is a sphere” is a giant, 2,200-year-old conspiracy to control people. Why we (yup, I must be in on it), of all things, would choose a spherical Earth as a hoax has never been clear to me.

Unfortunately, if people cannot believe a potentially counter-intuitive, but easily provable, idea like “The Earth is a Sphere” then how can they handle more complicated scientific principles? And, that attack on science, it seems, is the flat-Earther’s point. Mike Hughes, who recently flew a homemade rocket to “prove the flatness of earth,” said “I don’t believe in science…This is the king of deceptions…Once this domino falls…the [whole] structure falls.”

Hughes didn’t go very high — but did live, fortunately. Soon he can go high enough without building his own rocket. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origins both hope to lift humans up to an altitude where they can see Earth’s shape and experience some low gravity. It will be expensive, unfortunately, but maybe Hughes can get some help. Kylie Irving should take Hughes and some other flat Earthers. Irving could afford it. His salary is out of this world.

Dr. David Ferro is dean of the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology at Weber State University. Twitter: DavidFerro9.

(8) comments


The difference between the ancient and modern flat-earth theories is telling. In the ancient version, the sun and stars were far away and the whole earth had day (or night) at the same time. This was compatible with most observations you could make from a limited region on earth, including observations of the sky: sunrises, sunsets, constellation shapes never changing. But nowadays we have jet airplanes and instant long-distance communication devices, so the flat-earthers need a theory that's compatible with different time zones. The result is a theory that's absurdly incompatible with even the most basic observations of the sky. But nobody looks at the sky anymore, so that doesn't matter.

Crris Hillman

Could you provide a source that provides actual evidence that says Ancient Flat Earth said the sun was "far away" and what was that figure exactly, or did you just make that up just like astro psy-ence does. Seems like a shmucky kind of thing a spinning baller would say.

Lynn Kempen

The author of this opinion piece, Dr. David Ferro, really needs to research the composition of the Apollo "spacecraft," the melting points for aluminum alloy and stainless steel, the temperatures of the different layers of atmosphere between us and the moon, and then come back and explain how a tin can called Apollo took men thru the deadly Van Allen belts that humanity (and NASA admits) currently does not (and I contend never did) possess the technology to get beyond.

Next he needs to consider spherical geometry. I use the pathagorean theorem for an estimation, but the specific calculation for a sphere with a diameter of 7917.5 miles will exhibit topical curvature at a rate of 7.98 inches for every mile squared. If Earth is approximately spherical, this curvature should be evident over every large body of water, as water always seeks its level; yet we are finding no such curvature, anywhere! In fact, the glaring absence of any such curvature is striking noteworthy. The Bedford Canal, the Chicago Skyline, Lake Pontchartrain, the Statue of Liberty, and every other large body of water we have tried to measure the curvature over, what we are finding is a glaring absence of any such curvature. Boats don't "disappear over the horizon," we can use a zoom lens and bring them right back into focus, when they should be hidden behind a wall of water going over the alleged curvature.

It seems the Dr. here has some investigating and catching up to do.

Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Prove ALL things, and hold fast to that which is good.


Ah yes, the famous body of water... the Statue of Liberty...

Crris Hillman

Its very sad indeed that even teaching Engineers with the gift of writing, are still years behind this issue and are still blogging about their space fantasies and love of theory tales that even the most ardent heliocentric's would agree makes them behind the curve. Perhaps it might be because they are still in the land of indoctrination and couldn't make it in the real world because they don't understand reality. No engineering project in the world has ever needed to account for curvature, no planer surveyor has ever measured or needed to account for anything close to the accepted 8”/mile² curvature that would need to be there . World GPS satellite coverage maps show that the oceans of the world and not covered, Do satelites not work over water? Indeed they would be shocked to find out that this service simply Loran-E and actual ground based coverage. One you actually research this issue, you realize airplane don't need to account for curvature, gyroscopes and accelerators shown they fly across a flat plane. Lighthouses, tunnels, canals and railroad tracks prove there is no curvature, and it is the tenancy for unmanipulated bodies of water (of which Earth surface is 70% water) – to lie flat and level. Once you step outside of your walled in and boxed preconceptions that were drilled into you since well before you learned to critically think for yourself, will you begin to realize that you were lied to.
I can see that you have many misconceptions and the first of which id like to tackle is the idea that everyone is in on it. First of all this is simply not true and misunderstand this sort of logical fallacy is one typical promoted by fear mongers who need to turn conspiracy into a paranoia thing only crazy people experience. First off to “conspire” is just when two people who agree to a mutually beneficial outcome, so most people conspire all the time – its also the nature of yet another word you've heard of perhaps and that's called “co-operation”, not only a better word but nearly not so scary now is it?
The second word is “compartmentalization” - people are not aware of what other people higher up are thinking, most are just told what they need to know, not to think to hard, and don't rock the boat. And not only is this true in regular commercial institutes – it 3x more true in any military and state run organizations – such as NASA and NOAH are. We except the world as we are told when we are children, as children have blind trust in their parents and teachers, they do not question things, their critical thinking skills are not developed yet.
So really it is you that is fear mongering by you spreading misinformation – by putting everyone into a box and labeling them with your own preconceptions based on what you were taught as a child and I hardly think a taught child's understanding should be the basis for anything we think of as reality. I would hardly say they are all lying – just victims of compartmentalized conformed and co-operative thinking. I think it was General Patton who said “If everyone thinks the same, someone's not thinking” So true. Are parents lying when they all tell their kids about Santa Clause, are they all involved in a world wide conspiracy? I don't think so, perhaps you need to rethink your position.
Another misconception and logical fallacy you promote is what you deem an “ attack on science”, and this is nothing more that a blatant misnomer. Your incorrect assessment is an analogy akin to someone not liking McDonald's French Fries by you claiming its an attack on Food. Utter nonsense. We love observable natural science which pass the scientific methods. Astro theories like the paradoxical ones in the big bang, the implausibility of macro evolution, the idea the earth is moving through space at breakneck speeds, and that there is a magic force sucking us towards an improbable molten core are elements practiced within your dogmatic atheistic religion called Heliocentrism while being disguised by Scientism because Theory tales are not real science.
Next I will show you your incorrect thinking on two of the ideas you think “prove” we are on a globe. The first , you faith in Ancient Greek philosophers, coincidentally who had yet to invent pants yet which seems like it should be a blatant clue but one that you seem to nonchalantly overlook the importance of, so lets put that obvious clue aside for now. Did you know they plagiarized all their ideas from ancient Heliopolis where they practiced paganism and Ba'al worship – weird right – perhaps thats why we think we live on a ball? Anyway, I digress, so lets get back to sticks and shadow. Did you see the recent Neil Degrass Tyson interview where he admitted this experiment would still be valid on a flat Earth with a close sun? Surely if you had done some basic research into this subject you can find the interview. Another point to consider is that he said all sun rays where parallel, and we can see they are clearly crepuscular in nature. And he had to assume the sun was far away, and our current understand the sun is far away is based on another assumption – that Venus is the same size as earth – pure speculation – your calling that “science” - pfft please.
One of the other things you mention is that boats go over the horizon and that is yet another falsehood and misunderstood myth. Ships disappear because as boats get further away, they get smaller due to perspective and are hidden behind the optical layer created by the mirroring line, add in copious amounts of atmospheric lensing, and mix in the effect of the coverage of optical planes that results in the matrix perspective and you can see (or namely you cant see) it is not as simple as you describe.
Picture and videos from NASA showing a spherical earth are done with wide angle lenses, and VR technologies and this issue alone there are 1000s of videos that show and explain how the fakery is done. And why you think any flight would take two days is a mystery, southern flights take advantage of the southern jet streams that are 200-250mph.
Latest, I would like to address your statement that Mike Hughes was trying to “prove the Flat Earth” with his stunt/promotion and that is simple not true. Completing mans only 1800 foot ascent in 2 seconds in a steam powered rocket while risking his life was a great achievement all by itself, but it it was done to raise awareness for this issue and for his next attempt to fly up past the Carmen Line in his self made rocketoon where he will once and for all answer this question about the shape of the earth.

Crris Hillman

sorry for my first draft writing, thought i would get a chance to correct any spelling mistakes when i could read the post better but apparently i cant even edit the post, vintage technology in effect i guess

Crris Hillman

556 astronauts have seen claimed to see a curve, wow cool beans. Can you show me where they have sworn to tell the whole truth or are they just statists pawns obeying authority that are sworn to serve the military over the individual? Also flat and round table tops have a curve due to your circle of perspective, could they just be telling half truths?


Wait... what? You mean Terry Pratchett was making it all up?

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