Flat earthers?…huh?


Rachael Gibson, Staff Writer

Conspiracy theories have been around for decades and have seemed to dominate the American culture in the most significant way. With people coming up with theories and plots about topics like climate change, the government, and immunizations, social media has been the main factor in overly increasing discussion in such conspiracies. One conspiracy theory that stands out and is actually fairly popular is that the earth that we all live and thrive on…is indeed…flat. Yes, I said flat. 

The idea that the earth is a sphere was all settled by ancient Greek Philosophers such as Aristotle, who obtained evidence after going to Egypt and seeing new constellations of stars. In the third century B.C., Erateosthenes, became the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth. And so on and so on, people throughout the centuries gained even more knowledge about the circling of the earth. Space images were the final proof, if any more was needed. 

The first notion of a type of flat earth initially resurfaced in the 1800s as a backlash to scientific progress. In 1816 a very prominent writer of the name Samuel Rowbotham, proposed that the earth is a flat immovable disk, where the center is the north pole, and the outer boundary is a nonstop ice wall. Through all this time, the flat earth theory had re-sparked in the late 2000s where the internet became a way to see everyones interesting views. All the attention the theory was gaining, resulted in online community forums to be made about flat earth, and actual “Flat Earth Conferences” in some states. 

Many of the arguments made by flat-earthers can be easily dismissed with trigonometry or basic physical laws. Just one of the many discoveries of the Proof of the spherical earth, can be found with a foucalts pendulum. Such a pendulum, which can swing in any plane, changes direction during the course of the day, will show direct evidence of the earths rotation. Though that hasn’t stopped some flat earthers claiming that all foucalts pendulums are fraudulent and that museums use magnetic coils. One of the main “proofs” that flat-earthers use for their case is that when looking at distant skylines such as Chicago from Lake Michigan, you can visibly see the cities skyscrapers which are being viewed from 100km away. According to flat earth theorists, given the curvature of the earth, you should not be able to see the skyline of the city from that far out. However this claim can be very debunked. The reason the buildings are visible lies in the fact that air directly above the waters surface is colder than the air higher up. The inverse temperature gradient means that light rays refract toward the colder, denser air, allowing hence image of the reflected skyline, formed on the water above the horizon, to appear almost like its floating over the horizon. 


Conspiracy theories are made about tons of things and can be…well, very wild! But at the end of the day I think we can mutually agree that the earth is very much round.