It is surprising that scientists seem unable to give convincing, valid proofs that the earth is a globe. On the contrary, over the years, a number of scientists have constructed experiments to prove the earth is a rotating globe but all have failed to conclusively prove this.
In this article we analyze ten proofs that the earth is a globe commonly given by scientists and determine if they actually prove the earth is a globe or not.
1. The Moon
Globe earthers see a round shadow coming across the face of the moon during a lunar eclipse and they presume this is a shadow of the earth and they take this as proof the earth is a globe. However there is no guarantee this is actually a shadow of the earth. According to the Vedic model there is a dark planet called Rahu who causes the solar and lunar eclipses. So, according to this model, the shadow we see on the moon during lunar eclipses is caused by the dark planet Rahu, not the earth.
Conclusion: The shadow seen on the moon during the lunar eclipses is not proof the earth is a globe.
2. Ships and the horizon
Globe earthers claim that ships appearing, mast first over the horizon and disappearing bottom first proves the earth is a globe. Their idea is when we see the top of the ship appearing over the horizon or the bottom of the ship disappearing we are seeing the ship come up or go down under the curve of the earth. This is a mistake on their part and very obviously a mistake. The error can be demonstrated using a camera with a zoom lens. You can look at a ship at a certain zoom level and see it disappear over the horizon but if you increase the zoom you can see the ship again appear, in full. Which proves the ship has not gone over the curve of the earth, rather it disappears because it has reached the perspective vanishing point, and by zooming in on it you extend that perspective vanishing point further out, thus the ship again appears.
Another proof that ships disappearing at the horizon are not disappearing because they are going over the curve of the earth is they do not disappear at the correct distance according to mathematical calculations based on the earth being a 8000 mile diameter ball.
Conclusion: The clam of globe earthers that ships disappearing over the horizon are going around the curve of the earth is demonstrably false. They are disappearing at the perspective vanishing point and can be made to appear again by zooming in and thus pushing the perspective vanishing point further out.
3. Varying star constellations
Globe earthers point out that on moving around on the earth the positions of the stars in the sky change rather quickly. So they take this as proof the earth is a globe. As they claim moving around on a flat plane would not cause such a great difference in the visible star constellations.
Conclusion: This appears to be a valid point supporting the globe model and we have made similar observations in regard to the visibility of the polestar from the south on a flat earth. There would be no apparent reason for the polestar not being visible from Antartica on a flat earth. But it is not. So this observation is consistent with the earth being a globe and inconsistent with the earth being flat. It is not, however, proof that the earth is a globe.
4. Shadows and sticks
Globe earthers claim the fact that sticks of the same length when place on different parts of the earth product shadows of different lengths prove the earth is a globe. They are claiming the length of the shadow is effected by the shape of the earth. This is completely incorrect. The length of the shadow of the stick is determined by the position of the sun overhead in the sky. If the sun is directly overhead the stick has no shadow and if it is at the horizon rising or setting the stick’s shadow is very long.
The sun is seen in the same position in the sky in both the flat earth and globe earth models. So there will be no difference in the length of the stick’s shadow on a globe earth or a flat earth. The difference is that on a globe earth it is presumed the movement of the sun in the sky is caused by the rotation of the globe, while on a flat earth it is presumed the sun is actually moving in the sky. But the relative position of the sun and the stick, and therefore the length of the shadow, in both models remains identical.
Conclusion: The varying length of shadows of sticks at different places does not prove the earth is a globe. The length of the shadow is a function of the sticks position relative to the position of the sun in the sky. Not the shape of the earth.
5. Seeing farther from higher
Globe eathers claim on a flat plane increasing altitude would not allow us to see any further into the distance, so they claim that, in fact, we can see further as we increase altitude that is proof the earth is a globe.
This is not a valid argument. If you imagine an infinate flat plane and you are standing on it. You can not see infinitely. You look around you and the law of perspective works. You see a horizon line in the center of your view and everything converges to that horizon which is the perspective vanishing point. That vanishing point will become more distant as you increase your elevation above the plane.
It is not very safe for globe earthers to talk about what you can see on a globe as we have so many factual examples of being able to see things in the distance which would be impossible to see on a globe.
Conclusion: This argument is not valid. Globe earthers do not think things through. It is a complete error, craziness, to state that as you rise above a flat plane your field of view does not increase. This is not a proof that the earth is a globe. It is completely incorrect. As you rise above a flat plane your field of view increases, the horizon extends further out.
6. Ride a plane
Flat earthers claim you can see the curvature of the earth riding on an airplane and looking out the window. But this is absolutely not true. You are viewing the horizon when you look out the window of a plane, the exact same horizon we view from earth.
If you go to the top of Mt. Everest you are about 5.5 miles up, look around. All the way around you, 360 degrees, the horizon is completely flat. Airplanes typically cruse at about 7-8 miles hight. You are looking at the exact same perfectly flat horizon you can view from the top of Mt. Everest. Perfectly flat. If it is not curved at 5.5 miles, it is still not curved at 7 miles.
Conclusion: You can not see any curvature flying on a plane. You are seeing the horizon and the horizon is totally flat. This is a globe earth lie or hopeful imagination on their part. You can not prove the earth is flat by flying on an airplane.
7. Look at other planets
Globe earthers look at the other planets and presume earth is just like the other planets. This may be the case. But it also may not be the case. We have no way to prove that the earth is the same as other planets we see flying in the sky above us. It may be that the earth is situated completely differently from the planets we see above us.
Conclusion: Looking at planets in the sky and presuming earth is a planet like them is not proof the earth is a globe. It is speculation. It may be incorrect. The earth may be situated completely differently from the planets we see floating in the sky.
8. Time zones only possible on a globe earth
Globe earthers claim the sun could only be in different positions in the sky at different times on a globe earth. This is a ridiculous claim. On a globe earth or on a flat earth we can not see the entire sky from any one point. We see it from different angles and we see a different part of it depending on where we are. In the globe model we presume the objects in the sky are relatively stationary and rise and set because of the earth’s rotation and in the flat earth model we presume the earth is stationary and the objects in the sky are actually moving, rotating, thus causing them to appear to rise and set over our heads.
It is very obvious that our vision is limited. We can not see the whole sky. Flat earthers presume the objects are coming overhead and disappearing at the horizon. We can see this happening with clouds. We can see the clouds appearing, or rising, at the horizon on one side, traveling across the sky so they are directly over our heads and continuing on to the other side where they appear to come down to the horizon and set as they disappear over the horizon. We know the clouds are not rising and setting. They are simply passing over our heads. But the law of perspective makes it appear the clouds are rising on one horizon and setting on another.
Conclusion: Time zones are determined by the relative position of the sun to a particular place on the earth. So the sun will rise and set and cause time zones in the same way on a flat earth and on a globe earth. Therefore the existence of time zones is NOT proof the earth is a globe.
9. Using gravity to prove the earth is a globe
Globe earthers try to claim gravity proves the earth is a globe. When, in reality, gravity was only invented to try to explain how the earth could be a globe. Gravity is the magic force that makes the seemingly impossible concept of the earth being a globe possible.
Flat earthers do not believe in gravity and globe earthers can not prove the existence of gravity. Gravity is a theoretical concept conceived of within the globe earth model. It has no place in a flat earth model.
Conclusion: Gravity has no relevance outside the globe earth model, it is not relevant to the flat earth model and can not be used to prove the earth is a globe. It is a concept born of the globe model. Gravity is a byproduct of the globe model, gravity is produced by the globe model. It can not be used to prove the globe model.
10) Images from NASA
Globe earthers claim images from NASA prove the earth is a globe. But NASA has lied to us about so many things. The great lie of sending men to the moon is now exposed and it seems almost everything NASA tells us is riddled with lies. And on close examination the few photos of the earth from space NASA have provided us with turn out to be creations of photoshop, not actual photographs at all.
So flat earthers claim there are no actual photographs of earth from space and NASA, who have faked so many things in the past, have no credibility, so we have no way of knowing if anything NASA presents is real or just a simulation.
Conclusion: Photos from NASA are not proof of anything. Certainly not proof the earth is a globe.
Supporting Globe Earth Proofs
On we go, to the top 10 ways to know the Earth is unequivocally, absolutely, positively, 100% not flat!
1. The Moon
Now that humanity knows quite positively that the Moon is not a piece of cheese or a playful god, the phenomena that accompany it (from its monthly cycles to lunar eclipses) are well-explained. It was quite a mystery to the ancient Greeks, though, and in their quest for knowledge, they came up with a few insightful observations that helped humanity figure out the shape of our planet.
Aristotle (who made quite a lot of observations about the spherical nature of the Earth) noticed that during lunar eclipses (when the Earth’s orbit places it directly between the Sun and the Moon, creating a shadow in the process), the shadow on the Moon’s surface is round. This shadow is the planet’s, and it’s a great clue about the spherical shape of the Earth.
Since the earth is rotating (see the “Foucault Pendulum” experiment for a definite proof, if you are doubtful), the consistent oval-shadow it produces in each and every lunar eclipse proves that the earth is not only round but spherical—absolutely, utterly, beyond a shadow of a doubt not flat.
2. Ships and the horizon
If you’ve been next to a port lately, or just strolled down a beach and stared off vacantly into the horizon, you might have noticed a very interesting phenomenon: Approaching ships do not just “appear” out of the horizon (like they should have if the world was flat), but rather seem to emerge from beneath the sea.
But—you say—ships do not submerge and rise up again as they approach our view (except in Pirates of the Caribbean, but we are hereby assuming that was a fictitious movie series). The reason ships appear as if they “emerge from the waves” is because the world is not flat: It’s round.
Imagine an ant walking along the surface of an orange, into your field of view. If you look at the orange “head on”, you will see the ant’s body slowly rising up from the “horizon” because of the curvature of the orange. If you would do that experiment with the ant approaching along a long road rather than a round object, the effect would change: The ant would slowly “materialize” into view (depending on how sharp your vision is).
3. Varying star constellations
This observation was originally made by Aristotle (384-322 BCE), who declared the Earth was round judging from the different constellations one sees while moving away from the equator.
After returning from a trip to Egypt, Aristotle noted, “There are stars seen in Egypt and…Cyprus which are not seen in the northerly regions.” This phenomenon can only be explained if humans were viewing the stars from a round surface, Aristotle continued, claiming that the sphere of the Earth is “of no great size, for otherwise the effect of so slight a change of place would not be quickly apparent.” (De caelo, 298a2-10)
The farther you go from the equator, the farther the “known” constellations go towards the horizon, to be replaced by different stars. This would not have happened if the world was flat:
4. Shadows and sticks
If you stick a stick in the (sticky) ground, it will produce a shadow. The shadow moves as time passes (which is the principle for ancient Shadow Clocks). If the world had been flat, then two sticks in different locations would produce the same shadow:
But they don’t. This is because the Earth is round, and not flat:
Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE) used this principle to calculate the circumference of the Earth quite accurately. To see this demonstrated, refer to my experiment video about Eratosthenes and the circumference of the Earth.
5. Seeing farther from higher
Standing on a flat plateau, you look ahead toward the horizon. You strain your eyes, then take out your favorite binoculars and stare through them, as far as your eyes (with the help of the binocular lenses) can see.
Next, climb up the closest tree—the higher the better, just be careful not to drop those binoculars and break their lenses. Then look again, strain your eyes, and stare through the binoculars out to the horizon.
The higher up you climb, the farther you will see. Usually, we tend to relate this to Earthly obstacles—like the fact we have houses or other trees obstructing our vision on the ground, and climbing upwards we have a clear view—but that’s not the true reason. Even if you stood on a completely clear plateau with no obstacles between you and the horizon, you would see much farther from the greater height than you would on the ground.
This phenomenon is caused by the curvature of the Earth as well, and would not happen if the Earth was flat:
6. Ride a plane
If you’ve ever taken a trip out of the country, specifically long-distance trips, you could notice two interesting facts about planes and the Earth:
- Planes can travel in a relatively straight line for a very long time and not fall off any edges. They can also circle the Earth without stopping.
- If you look out the window on a trans-Atlantic flight, you can, most of the times, see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon. The best view of the curvature used to be on the Concorde, but that plane’s long gone. I can’t wait to see the pictures from the new plane by Virgin Galactic—the horizon should look absolutely curved, as it actually is from a distance.
7. Look at other planets
The Earth is different from other planets, that much is true. After all, we have life, and we haven’t found any other planets with life (yet). However, there are certain characteristics all planets have, and it will be quite logical to assume that if all planets behave a certain way, or show certain characteristics—specifically if those planets are in different places or were created under different circumstances—our planet is the same.
In other words: If so many planets that were created in different locations and under different circumstances show the same property, it’s likely that our own planet has the same property as well. All of our observations show that other planets are spherical (and since we know how they’re created, it’s also obvious why they take this shape). Unless we have a very good reason to think otherwise (which we don’t), our planet is very likely the same.
In 1610, Galileo Galilei observed the moons of Jupiter rotating around it. He described them as small planets orbiting a larger planet—a description (and observation) that was very difficult for the church to accept, as it challenged a geocentric model where everything was supposed to revolve around the Earth. This observation also showed that the planets (Jupiter, Neptune, and later Venus was observed too) are all spherical, and all orbit the sun.
A flat planet (ours or any other planet) would be such an incredible observation that it would pretty much go against everything we know about how planets form and behave. It would not only change everything we know about planet formation, but also about star formation (our sun would have to behave quite differently to accommodate the flat-earth theory) and what we know of speeds and movements in space (like planets’ orbits and the effects of gravity). In short, we don’t just suspect that our planet is spherical. We know it.
8. The existence of time zones
The time in New York, at the moment these words are written, is 12:00pm. The sun is in the middle of the sky (though it’s hard to see with the current cloud coverage). In Beijing, it’s 12:00am, midnight, and the sun is nowhere to be found. In Adelaide, Australia, it is 1:30am. More than 13 hours ahead. There, the sunset is long gone—so much so, that the sun will soon rise up again at the beginning of a new day.
This can only be explained if the world is round, and rotating around its own axis. At a certain point when the sun is shining on one part of the Earth, the opposite side is dark, and vice versa. That allows for time differences and time zones, specifically ones that are larger than 12 hours.
Another point concerning timezones, the sun, and Earth: If the sun was a “spotlight” (very directionally located so that light only shines on a specific location) and the world was flat, we would see the sun even if it didn’t shine on top of us (as you can see in the drawing below). Similarly, you can see the light coming out of a spotlight on a stage in the theater, even though you—the crowd—are sitting in the dark. The only way to create two distinctly separate time zones, where there is complete darkness in one while there’s light in the other, is if the world is spherical.
9. The pull of gravity
Here’s an interesting fact about mass: It attracts things to it. The force of attraction (gravity) between two objects depends on their mass and the distance between them. Simply said, gravity will pull toward the center of mass of the objects. To find the center of mass, you have to examine the object.
Consider a sphere. Since a sphere has a consistent shape, no matter where on it you stand, you have exactly the same amount of sphere under you. (Imagine an ant walking around on a crystal ball. From the insect’s point of view, the only indication of movement would be the fact the ant is moving its feet—the shape of the surface would not change at all.) A sphere’s center of mass is in the center of the sphere, which means gravity will pull anything on the surface of the sphere straight down toward the center of the sphere. This will occur no matter where on the surface the object is located.
Consider a flat plane. The center of mass of a flat plane is in its center, so the force of gravity will pull anything on the surface toward the middle of the plane. That means that if you stand on the edge of the plane, gravity will be pulling you sideways toward the plane’s middle, not straight down like you usually experience when you stand on Earth.
I am quite positive that, even for Australians, an apple falls downwards, not sideways. But if you have your doubts, I urge you to try dropping something—just make sure it’s nothing that can break or hurt you.
10. Images from space
In the past 60 years of space exploration, we’ve launched satellites, probes, and people into space. Some of them got back, some of them still float through the solar system (and almost beyond it), and many transmit amazing images to our receivers on Earth. In all of these photos, the Earth is (wait for it) spherical. The curvature of the Earth is also visible in the many, many, many, many photos snapped by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. You can see a recent example from ISS Commander Scott Kelly‘s Instagram right here:
You know what they say—a picture is worth a thousand words.
Moriel Schottlender is a software engineer at Wikimedia Foundation. This article was originally posted on her Smarter Than That blog in 2008.