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Episode 145 - Modern Flat Earth Thought, Part 1

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Recap: A beginning examination of some of the modern claims put forth by the very recent resurgeance of Flat Earth proponents.  This episode focuses on common (or not-so-common) sense, Earth's curvature, and the overall shape of the planet.  It has three additional segments past the main one: Logical Fallacy, Feedback, and Announcements.

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Episode Summary

Claim: The purpose of this episode is to start to address several of the claims made by the modern flat Earth claimants. Now, you might be thinking that this is something I covered back in episode 33, back from May 1, 2012. That episode was quite short and I really just scratched the surface of the flat Earth movement as it had existed for roughly the last century. I also talked about a way to prove Earth is round through a method figured out by the Greek Eratosthenes, but that's kinda gaming it for this episode, so we won't go there. Since that episode came out, starting around 2014, a new breed of flat Earthers started to pop up, and their antics on social media even elicited a response from one of the more well known popularizers of astronomy today, Neil deGrasse Tyson. In the interest of this new resurgence of flat Earth claims, and due to many requests from listeners and even a former guest, I think it's time we re-examine this concept. Not because it has any validity -- let's get that out of the way: This will still be a "fair and measured" show as usual, but the purpose as almost always is to use examples of wrong arguments and reasoning to demonstrate the way the world really works, for these instances of wrongitude are often more interesting than laying things out in a dry, textbook-style format.

So, just for you all, I have listened to, and taken notes, on approximately 7 hours of people making their best arguments for a modern version of the Flat Earth. These great luminaries were Eric Dubay, Mark Sargent, and Marty Leeds. I'm going to try to mix-and-match different parts of each set of claims as I usually do to make cohesive episodes, but I warn you now that's not really possible because they're kinda all over the place. So, in this Part 1, I'm going to focus on some claims by Eric Dubay that very much center around every-day experience, the curvature of the planet, and its shape.

Every-Day Experience

Your every-day experience I think is a great first part of this claim to look into, not only for this set of beliefs, but for this podcast's return. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 04:38]:

"Just our common-sense, every-day, perception of the Earth, it is flat, as far as we can tell, it is motionless as far as we can tell, and everything in the sky is revolving around us, as far as we can tell. If nobody told us otherwise, we'd logically assume the Earth is flat, motionless, with everything in the sky revolving around us."

I think this is a good first claim to examine because I think most people would agree with Eric. Our every-day experience is very local to us, it's very ego-centric. In my weirder moments, I have literally been in an elevator and wondered if the other people in the elevator had the same kind of conscious thought as I did, or if they were almost automatons who may cease to exist if I weren't there. But this isn't a philosophy show, and as I said, that was one of my weirder moments.

Suffice to say, our experiences are based on our perceptions, and our perceptions are limited to what our senses can tell us. If you're senso-normal, to butcher a term from the sexual identity nomenclature, this means that you are limited to what you can see, feel, touch, taste, and hear. There's a reason why the Marvel comic book universe invented something called the Cosmic Awareness, or why Rose Tyler was going to die as the Bad Wolf until the Doctor removed the time vortex energy from her: Humans are, by their very construction, quite limited.

If something is well beyond our every-day experience, we have a much harder time understanding or even accepting it. This is why all the quote-unquote "easy" physics was figured out centuries ago, and the harder stuff - the stuff that is harder for us to intuit - has only been figured out recently or is still being worked on. For example, quantum mechanics: If it made intuitive sense, it would have been figured out long ago.

That's why we have the scientific process. It lets us formulate ideas and design ways of testing those ideas, even if they're much bigger, smaller, or generally different from ourselves or our everyday experience.

This is also why skepticism doesn't come naturally. It's so easy to just accept your friend's anecdote that cupping helped her shave a few seconds off her time in the Olympics, or your brother's husband's former college roommate's astrologer seems to be so accurate, there must be something going on, right? Or that time someone predicted an earthquake and it happened, clearly that shows some validity to their technique.

Except, not.

I would argue that the shape of our planet is not intuitive, and that common sense from just your own, limited experience on its surface, would likely argue for it being flat and not a globe.

But, that doesn't mean it's true.

Earth's Curvature, from Balloons

Eric claimed that you really could show that it's flat, and the first way he said was you could go really high, and that people have done this. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 05:01]:

"Now you can prove that this is is the case as well, for instance, with the horizon, you rise up, no matter how high you go - on the top of Mount Everest, or if you go in a balloon higher and higher, as far as 20 miles up and higher, we've gotten independent balloons have gone up with cameras - the horizon remains flat all the way around and rises to the eye of the camera all the way up. Now if the Earth were a ball, no matter how big, the horizon is said to be the curvature of the ball, so as you rose up, the horizon would stay where it was, and you'd have to look down if you were in a hot air balloon, down further and further as you rose up and up, and the horizon would be below you. But, in fact, as high as any non-NASA, -RASA, or any other Free Masonic space agency has ever shown us, as far as any independent camera has gone up, with an independent rocket or balloon, as far as 20 miles uh up, totally up, and rises to the eye of the observer."

I'm not entirely sure what his big thing is with 20 miles, and I'm not even entirely sure of what each component of his claim is in that minute-long clip. I could figure out that the basic claim he's making is that every high-altitude picture of movie that's not been taken by someone or some organization controlled by the Free Masons (more on that later) has shown a flat horizon.

If this were a decade ago, I might have to do work to debunk this, or perhaps even say there's no way to debunk this without using "official" video from an organization such as NASA. But today is not a decade ago. The technology exists such that even high school classes can build their own weather balloon, with a camera, and take pictures and movie from tens of miles or kilometers above Earth's surface. And, if a high school class can do it, you can do it. The cost is a few $hundred US.

In fact, YouTube has many such movies posted by different, completely random, independent groups and individuals who have done this. I make a point about it being YouTube because conspiracy theorists tend to use YouTube as one of their primary research areas. I'll have a few links in the shownotes.

The only caveat to this, and the go-to excuse from flat Earthers when confronted with evidence such as this, is epitomized by flat Earther Mark Sargent. Mark likes to dismiss pretty much any camera evidence of a horizon showing curvature as due to lens distortions.

Being a semi-pro photographer, I can tell you he's sorta right, but he's mostly wrong. Wide-angle lenses, such as on the popular action camera called GoPro, do have a distortion, and this distortion makes things look curvey. BUT, GoPros, and all lenses really, can have their distortion very precisely mapped and then corrected in software. Adobe's Camera Raw software does a very good job at this. And as a side-note, we do this all the time for every modern camera on a spacecraft.

The correction is really quite easy to do. First, you print up a pretty dense grid, or just use graph paper. You take the camera and make sure that it is perfectly parallel with the grid, such that the lens is pointed straight down and is perpendicular to the grid. Then you take the picture. You look at it. You know that the grid is supposed to be even, and you can calculate based on how many pixels the camera has and the distance to the grid exactly where every line was supposed to be and that it was supposed to be straight. So you now have a model for exactly how the camera lens distorts the image. And, that means you can correct for it.

Now, of the few YouTube videos I watched, they haven't corrected for that. For most people, it's just cool enough that they did this. But you can STILL get a feel for what the distortion is because the videos aren't steady. Most of the videos start out showing the ground just after launch, and you can see where the horizon is and it would look flat versus curved. Then, when they show the balloon footage from 10s of miles high, your eye can see that the curvature of the Earth is real and not a lens distortion.

But, at the very least, this is an experiment that you could do yourself, and then unless you want to claim that you yourself are beholden to the Free Masons, then you can prove Earth is round.

Earth's Curvature, from the Ground

However, there's another aspect to the curvature argument. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 06:08]:

"They say the ball Earth is 25,000 miles in circumference, and using spherical trigonometry, it figures out to 8" of curvature per mile, squared. The mile is squared, so for two miles, it would be 2x2, 4, times 8 inches, 32 inches, and for the third mile, it's 3-squared, which is 3x3, 9, times 8 is 72, so you're goin' 8, 32, 72, 128 [sic] inches, and so on; and this is the kind of curvature that would exist on a ball. That's specifically on a ball 25,000 miles in circumference as they say it is."

Now, I cut that clip short at only 38 seconds; he went on to say that people have tried to measure this, and even if the calculation is wrong, and it's a different number, the curvature still isn't there. The host gives an example a few minutes later, discussing the Statue of Liberty in New York. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 10:28]:

"... the Statue of Liberty. It stands 326' above sea level, and on a clear day it can be seen as much as 60 miles away. Now, if the Earth was a globe at the dimensions that they give us, that would put Lady Liberty at an impossible 2,074' below the horizon. These examples seem hard to rectify unless there's some obvious answer that I'm missing, but I would say that this is a pretty compelling thread of evidence, my man."

What he's missing is that it's not that simple. There is no simple 8" of curvature per mile squared. That's a polynomial simplification of trigonometry. It could be because I'm sick, or that it's been almost two decades since I took geometry, but it took me about a half hour to really work out how to do this math.

And then I realized that Wikipedia does it for you on its "Horizon" page. Fortunately, they get the same numbers I do, so, they did it right. There's also an Earth Curve Calculator which I'll link to in the shownotes.

Anyway, the first answer is it's not quite as simple as stated. But, the Statue of Liberty statement is correct. IF your eye is on the ground, your horizon distance is 0, and its base would be 2400 ft below the horizon, or 0.7 km.

IF instead you were in, say, an average building in Manhattan, plenty of which are more than 600 ft high (180 m), your horizon distance is 30 miles, and the base of the Statue of Liberty would be only 600 ft below the horizon.

You would need to be at a height of nearly 950 ft before you could see the tip of the Statue of Liberty above the horizon.

Does that prove a flat Earth? No. There are four things going on here. First, the flat Earth proponents have left out an important part of your own height above the ground. Increasing your height would allow you to see farther away, and it's not linear and it's not proportional. As a simple example close to your own experience, if you were on a perfectly smooth sphere, and you were a short 5 ft tall, you could see the ground up to 2.74 miles away. If you were a tall 6 ft, you would be able to see an extra quarter mile away.

The second item they leave out is atmospheric refraction. Using the simple approximation rather than calculus, because of the bending of light by the atmosphere, you can see an extra ā‰ˆ8% than you could otherwise. So instead of in a building 950 ft tall, you'd only need to be about 910 ft high.

But the third part they have ignored is that this claim, for all I can find doing some searching, appears to be made up. The only pages online that seem to discuss the distance from which the Statue of Liberty can be seen are all related to the Flat Earth claim, either making it or asking for a way to debunk it. That trips my skepty-sense and makes me think that the claim itself may not even be valid.

Or, and here's the fourth piece they don't talk about, there's that interesting phrase of, "on a clear day" in the clip I shared. Why put that in? Perhaps it's because it just means general visibility. Different weather forecasts or conditions will often give a visibility based on precipitation and particulates in the air. It's entirely possible this is a false memory, but I recall visiting the Empire State Building with my maternal grandparents when I was young and it talking about visibility and how far you could see, and pointing out different landmarks in an image so you could tell what the visibility was. With the Empire State Building standing 1454 ft (443 m) high, you could see 60 miles or more from its observatory at 1224 ft (373 m), IF it was a clear day ... which in Manhattan is very rare.

So, to recap, since I've rambled a bit, it's not as simple as 8" per mile-squared, the example itself about the Statue of Liberty appears to only exist in Flat Earth realms so I don't think it's real, but even if it were, it could be done if you were in a tall building, or the original claim may be rooted in the simple idea of atmospheric visibility and using an easily recognizable, relatively tall landmark as an example without thinking about curvature's effects.

I haven't heard a Flat Earther use this claim, but I'm going to talk about it because I think it's neat and I want to put it to rest before one does, or you, the listener e-mail me. I love visiting northern Arizona due to the numerous state and national parks and monuments. Of course, one of the most recognizable and visited is the Grand Canyon, which I've been to several times. Being a desert, one would normally think of the area as flat. Or at least, with little obstructing your view. And, being a desert, you tend to have good visibility and can see over 100 km away on an average day. At many of these state and national parks and monuments, there will be signs pointing out very distant landmarks from your vantage point and listing how far away they are. Some of these are many 10s of miles away. Sometimes, on a very clear day, from the Painted Desert you can see the San Francisco Peaks, 120 miles away. But shouldn't those be 9602 ft (2.9 km) below the horizon?!

No.

While the American Southwest appears flat, it's not. It has enormous topographic changes, and you'll notice this if you drive more than an hour in pretty much any direction, especially on the drive between Phoenix and Flagstaff. Pintado Point, where they make this claim on a sign in the Painted Desert, is at an elevation of 5,866 ft (1.79 km), which is below my elevation in Colorado.

In contrast, Humphrey's Peak is the tallest peak of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, and it's 12,633 ft (3.85 km) high.

Not only is there this absolute elevation difference of over 2 kilometers, but Pintado Point is about 250 ft above the surrounding plain, AND there is a broad downward warp in the topography between Flagstaff and the Painted Desert such that the effective horizon almost drops out of the way from obstructing your view. Plus the atmospheric refraction getting you an extra 8%. All of these combine to let you see over 120 miles away, on a clear day.

With that all said, in an act of kindness to the conspiracy-minded, in a final clip on the curvature for this episode, this is a 35-second rant that falls into two categories: (1) Gives you more of an idea of the claimant's mindset, and (2) I had to listen to it, so now you do, too. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 07:12]:

"The only place this curvature exists is in NASA photos and videos, and those can be proven to be CGI fakes, and the early ones were literally taken through a round window to make the Earth appear round, um, and that's it, it's just photo trickery and brainwashing that's got the world thinking we're on a ball spinning around the sun with a magical force called 'gravity' holding us on the underside of this spinning ball, uh, it's all just brainwashing that we've received, it's pseudoscience accepted as, as legit science."

I will be talking more about space-based claims of modern flat Earthers in later parts of this series.

Earth's Shape

But, in the final claim for this episode, I'm going to talk about Earth's shape. This plays off of this 1-minute 09-second clip, which is an exchange between the host and Eric. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 12:50]:

GC: "Neil deGrasse Tyson is on TV and he's talkin' about the shape of the Earth, and he's talkin' about how they just discovered now that the Earth is more pear-shaped than it is round {Eric laughs}, and I'm thinkin', 'Well, we've been seein' pictures of the Earth from space, and it's a perfect circle. So either you don't know what you're talkin' about, or those pictures aren't real.' Uh, this is a serious disconnect that's hard to rectify, Neil."

ED: "Absolutely, yeah. And, they've said that it's a sphere, and then they've said that it's an oblate spheroid flattened at the poles, so it's kind of like, smushed. And now more recently they're saying that it's on oblate spheroid flattened at the poles with a bulge in the south, so it's kind of pear-shaped. Uh, so they keep changing it, but you're right, the pictures that they've given us, they show a perfect circle. They don't show uh any sort of bulge or oblateness as they claim exists. Uh, and the people say, 'Oh well, it's just not enough to be seen,' but uh, they're claiming that it's quite a bit, it's the amount of Everest above sea level is how much more oblate it is, supposedly."

GC: "Right, and you'd think that would show up in the pictures!"

ED: {laughs}

I wanted to save this one for last and use it to wrap up this episode's main segment because it brings us somewhat full-circle ... or full-spheroid, so to speak. In any scientific endeavor, we usually start with the simplest model. If that works well, but it doesn't quite explain everything, we add to it. If that works better, but then there are these niggling smaller things, then we add to it. And so on.

Think of it like this: You see a thumbnail - a tiny image - that someone has posted online, and it might look interesting, but you don't really know because you can't quite tell what it is. You click on it, and a larger version opens in your internet browser. Okay, now you can tell what it is, and it's a neat painting by some new, hip artist that's all the rage with the kids these days. You like the overall look of it, but you want to see more detail. You find the artist's website, and they have an even bigger picture of the painting, and you click on that and open that in your browser, and now you can see the detail you want. Great. You go to the artist's studio, or to the gallery that they have the work on consignment, and you can see even more detail. And, you're weird, and you brought a magnifying glass. With that, you can see even MORE detail.

But, if you were to describe this painting to a young child, you would probably explain it at the level of that initial thumbnail. If you were to explain the painting to a child who's perhaps 10 years old, you may do it at the level of that initial click, the image your friend posted online. Skipping ahead, if you were instead to explain this to your bank loan officer trying to justify a loan to purchase the painting, you may go into the extreme level of detail that you could only see with your magnifying glass.

By the same token, that's exactly what's going on with this audio clip. To a reasonable approximation, Earth is a "perfect" sphere.

If you want to get a little more detailed, Earth is a biaxial ellipsoid, meaning that its equatorial axis is a little bigger than its polar axis; AKA, it bulges at the equator. The current standard for this is called WGS84, or World Geodetic System standardized in 1984. It has a major axis of 6,378.137 km, and a polar axis of 6,356.7523142 km based on a flattening parameter of 1/298.257223563. That's the reference ellipsoid. It then has deviations from this at a resolution of roughly 200 km.

These deviations are in what are known as spherical harmonics. I'll have a link to Wikipedia in the shownotes, but to try to be really basic about this, spherical harmonics are ways of representing the amount of deviation from a sphere. And you do that in three dimensions. If a low-order spherical harmonic has a lot of power, then you're going to see a really big, broad deviation from a sphere. If a high-order spherical harmonic has a lot of power, then you're going to see a really big but highly localized deviation from a sphere.

It basically lets you represent a complex sphere-like shape very, very compactly, just listing the amounts that each spherical harmonic contributes to the final shape. It's easy to measure the lower-order spherical harmonics of planetary bodies. It's much harder to measure higher-order spherical harmonics. So, the 1984 system used a geoid for the planet that had 32,757 terms in the spherical harmonic expansion to describe Earth's shape FROM the reference biaxial ellipsoid. And that only gets you a spatial resolution of 200 km.

The EGM2008 (or "Earth Gravitational Model"), put out, strangely enough in 2008, uses over 4.6 million terms, and that means instead of having a spatial resolution of about 200 km, it's about 10 km.

I digressed quite a bit there, but the key point is that we're talking about levels of detail. First, we're very close to a sphere. Second, we're actually closer to a biaxial ellipsoid. We're so close that the deviation between the polar and equatorial poles is only one part in almost 300 (21.4 km), or a bit over 0.3%. That seems close enough to me to be able to tell a school child that yes, Earth is a sphere.

Then, from this biaxial ellipsoid, further deviations are measured, and when you use spherical harmonics of order 2159 with coefficients to degree 2190, or over 4.7 million terms, you get a resolution of about 10 km on the ground. At that resolution, the geoid's deviations from the biaxial ellipsoid are 107 m below and 85.4 m above.

Over a factor of 100 smaller than the biaxial ellipsoid's deviation from a sphere.

So, we're a sphere, but then to one part in 300 we're a biaxial ellipse. Then, we vary from that biaxial ellipse by about 1 part in about 111. Or, 0.003% from the sphere.

It's those variations from the biaxial ellipse -- so Earth's shape IF you subtract out the biaxial ellipse, where Earth looks a little pear-shaped because the positive deviations are a bit more in the southern hemisphere than they are in the northern hemisphere.

And then, if you want to go even finer than the 10 km resolution, you can of course get to local topography. Obvious things like Mt Everest would be a deviation again from the reference, but it would be an even higher order spherical harmonic -- in other words, it might seem giant to us, but relative to Earth, it's nothing, and its effect on Earth's shape, is really nothing.

And so, going back to the clip I played for you, the host has set up a false dichotomy and, if I may say so, pretty arrogantly at that. Before you claim that a scientist - an astrophysicist, no less - doesn't know what he's talking about with respect to the shape of Earth, or that all pictures of Earth are fake, perhaps you should bother to do some real research rather than relying on some conspiratorial nutjob. And before you think I'm being too harsh on Eric Dubay, listen to this. [Clip from "The Higherside Chats, from 29 March 2015, starting at 49:02]:

"I mean, our eyes and experience tell us the Earth is flat and motionless, and everything in the sky revolves around us, but when we cease to believe our own eyes and experience, we have to prostrate ourselves at the feet of these very pseudoscientists who are blinding us, treat them as experts, astronomical priests, who have special knowledge only they can access like the Hubble [Space] Telescope, so by brainwashing us of something so gigantic and fundamental, it actually makes every other kind of lesser indoctrination a piece of cake. {host laughs} Earth being the flat, fixed center of the universe around which everything in the heavens revolves gives a special importance and significance, not only to Earth, but to us humans, the most intelligent among the intelligent designer's designs. By turning Earth into a spinning ball thrown around the sun and shot through infinite space from a godless Big Bang, they turn humanity into a random, meaningless, purposeless accident of ablind dumb universe, {host laughs} so it's like trauma-based mind-control beating the divinity out of us with their mental manipulations. Now, people are always askin', you know, 'Why are they doing this?' Other than the obvious profit margin motive, NASA being the biggest black budget, black hole in existence, sucking in over $30b taxpayer money for the fake moon landings alone, {host laughs} nowadays hundreds of billions of dollars, and not just NASA, but RASA and all the other fake space organizations around the world giving CGI images [sic] from hundreds of billions of dollars. So this modern atheist big-bang-heliocentric-globe-earth-chance-evolution-paradigm spiritually controls humanity by removing god or any sort of intelligent design, and replaces purposeful, divine creation with random haphazard cosmic coincidence. And so Iā€” removing Earth from the center of the universe, these Masons have removed us physically and metaphysically from a place of supreme importance to one of complete nihilistic indifference. If the Earth is the center of the universe, then the ideas of god, creation, and a purpose for human existence are resplendent. But if the Earth is just one of billions of planets revolving around billions of stars and billions of galaxies, then the ideas of god, creation, and a specific purpose for Earth and human existence become highly implausible. So by surreptitiously indoctrinating us into their scientific materialist Sun-worship, not only do we lose faith in anything beyond the material, we gain absolute faith in materiality, superficiality, status, selfishness, hedonism, and consumerism. If there's no god and everyone's just an accident, then all that really matters is just me, me, me! So they've turned madonna, the mother of god, into the material girl living in a material world. Their rich, powerful corporations of their slick sun cult logos sell us idols to worship slowly taking over the world while we tacitly believe their science, vote for their politicians, buy their products, listen to their music, watch their movies, all sacrificing our souls at the alter of materialism."

... Okay, I was going end it with that, but I do need to make one response. It's a ridiculously common misconception: NASA's budget is less than 10% of what Eric claims. Its FY16 (October 2015 - September 2016) budget was $19.3 billion. The last time numbers were available as a fraction of the federal budget was 2014, when it was literally one-half of one-percent. It has been less than 1% of the federal budget since 1994, and it was only just a tiny bit above that for 1991, 1992, and 1993. It was below 1% for the 15 years before that, 1975-1990.

Provide Your Comments:

Comments to date: 10. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:

Tom   Galveston, Texas

10:21pm on Monday, November 28th, 2016 

If the world was flat I think the the same stars would be seen at any location. The sta**een in the Southern Hemisphere are not the the same as in the Northern Hemisphere. I think this is something that is easily observable and proves the world is not flat.

Stuart   Lyons, CO, USA

8:44pm on Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Alfred, I did not offer "reasons for possible reductions," I gave real explanations for why there are reductions in the assumed vertical drop. You also do not give an example of the "numerous other examples available" versus the Statue of Liberty, so you have to do that before I can respond.

Alfred   Brisbane, Australia

4:14am on Thursday, October 6th, 2016 

Your counter argument for the curvature of the earth from the ground still did not debunk the flat earth claim.You offered reasons for possible reductions in the assumed vertical drop that would be associated with a globe model but these are minimal for the example used and still do not explain the visibility of the statue when it should be hidden.

Yes I acknowledge as you say that the statue of liberty 60mile example may be here say but there are numerous other examples available in images and real time video where, at the curvature formula accepted by science, objects that should be hidden are not.

Jerry Taylor   Kingsley, MI

7:56pm on Saturday, September 17th, 2016 

Did the Biblical authors really believe in a flat earth as Dr. Heiser proposes? Job 26 verses 7 &10as well as Isaiah 40:21-22 seem to indicate they were aware of the earth being round.

Anita   FI

8:28pm on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 

I've not had a good read in ages. This gave me such, and a few chuckles at how stupid 'flat earthers' in general are :D

dori j   vancouver, bc canada

12:55pm on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 

Hi Stuart, I am afraid that this podcast, for a complete non-science type like me, was mostly incomprehensible. I hesitate to even be writing this because I cringe at the thought that I'm the only one who is so in the dark - but I thought I'd take a chance.

After listening to and then reading the first part (on go-pros) I ALMOST MAYBE understand the gist of it. However, the next
part "Earth's Curvature, from the Ground" is complete babble to me. If I weren't so frustrated, I'd probably be laughing, because it's like listening to, oh say, Hungarian. First of all, I have no idea what the Higherside Chat clip claim is - I would need that broken down and explained to even understand the topic under discussion. Your response is even more confusing (if that's possible). Especially when you throw out terms like "polynomial simplification of trigonometry" and statements like "So, we're a sphere, but then to one part in 300 we're a biaxial ellipse. Then, we vary from that biaxial ellipse ... read more »

M N   Massachusetts

5:12am on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 

Thanks for the tremendous amount of work.
Perhaps if we launched Mr Dubay etc al. into orbit their mystical senses would clearly see the round earth.
This is very, very expensive so we should probably skip the rockets and spacesuits stuff. Go, strait-up, with a Wiley Coyote/Acme slingshot deal.
Problem solved.

Stuart Robbins   Lyons, CO, USA

6:50pm on Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Thanks, Gold. Refraction would be a function of lots of different things, including the thermal structure, which could still play a role in flat earth stuff. But, you don't *really* need it in the examples I gave, it's just an "extra something" to add in there to pile things on about why they're wrong. As for all the questions that you might ask for how things "should" look if Earth were flat, they have special pleading things for everything. Why can't you see Australia from your coast? "Haze." Day vs night on one side of Earth vs another? The sun is a spotlight. Etc.

Gold   Wellington, New Zealand

5:56pm on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 

Given this topic is covering multiple episodes this may be coming up. But in case it's not...

I was thinking about the refraction of the atmosphere adding that extra 8(ish)% to how far you can see. This is a function of air density and the curvature of the surface so if the world really was flat this wouldn't be a thing. That got me thinking though. There's a lot of commentary on how things are and how we know this.

Given all we know now, how *should* things look if the Earth really was flat? And how do they explain away it not looking like that?

Regards,
Gold

P.S. Really glad you're doing going in depth on topics now.

Gold   Wellington, New Zealand

4:42am on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 

Welcome back Stuart! It has been to long. :)

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