Apparently, something like 200,000 people in the USA believe the Earth is flat. I’m personally quite bothered by this, but rather than rant on and on about Flat Earth theory, I decided I would just simply put down here absolute definitive methods for how a person who is skeptical of all scientific authorities can prove to him or herself what shape the Earth really has. None of them are easy. Most of them would be quite fun. Some of them are expensive. All of them would be clear and definitive based entirely on your own observations. Pick one and try it!
- LARGE SURFACE TRIANGLES: Find three tall points far from each other, but all visible from each other. The three points form a triangle. Using precise surveying equipment, measure the three angles of the triangle. Add them together. On a flat earth, the angles should sum up to exactly 180. Try it yourself. Draw a bunch of triangles on a page, and measure the angles inside each triangle. On a flat surface, triangles always have a total of 180 degrees represented by their interior angles. However, on curved surfaces, triangles can have angles that total to more than 180 degrees. To illustrate this, take an orange. Cut it in half. Then take one of the halves and cut it in half again. Finally, do it a third time from the other direction so you are left with a triangular piece of orange. Measure the angle of each corner of the triangle, and you will see that each corner has an angle of 90 degrees, and the total of all three angles is 270. Triangles on curved surfaces have more than 180 degrees. If you don’t have access to surveying equipment, contact any person trained in surveying techniques and they will verify this fact for you on the surface of the earth. Surveyors encounter situations like this all the time.
- LARGE OBJECT AT A DISTANCE: Find any significantly large structure that can be seen from a distance at least six miles away. The larger the object is, and the farther away it is, the better your results will be up to a point, but your priority is also to get a clear photo of whatever it is you are capturing. If the photo is blurry at all, you won’t be able to prove anything to yourself. Using a camera with a great zoom lens and a stable tripod take a clear photo of the structure while standing on the ground. Then, climb up onto something so you are higher than before but still the same distance away. Stand on your car, climb a ladder, or get on a roof, and take another picture using the same camera, same lens, same zoom, same settings, same everything. Compare the image of the structure in the two photos. The photo taken from a higher vantage point will always show more of the structure than the photo from the lower vantage point. This only happens on a curved surface. Draw a diagram on a piece of paper to convince yourself of this.
- HORIZON FROM DIFFERENT HEIGHTS: This experiment is similar to the previous one, but is even more dramatic. Find your nearest big city that has an observation deck in a skyscraper. On a clear day, ride the elevator to the observation deck, and using a good camera, take a number of photos of the horizon. Look for large surface landmarks that can be clearly discerned way at the edge of the horizon. Lakes and roads are great for this. Convince an elevator attendant to let you look out a window 10 floors below the observation deck. Bribe him if needed or tell him you are trying to prove that the earth is flat, and really need to see things with your own eyes. If you can’t convince the attendant to let you look out a window from a lower floor, give up on this experiment and try it all over again from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It has TWO observation decks at different heights. Take a photo from the lower floor looking in the same direction as the photo from the higher floor. Compare the photos. Some of the landmarks previously visible will now be completely beyond the horizon, but other landmarks will still be visible and will also appear to be basically the same size and shape as they were before. The only difference will be that the horizon appears to be closer. This happens on a curved surface. On a flat surface, objects in the distance only disappear when they are too small to see or when atmospheric haze gets in the way. But in this case, large objects will have disappeared without getting smaller and without additional haze getting in the way.
- APPARENT MOTION OF SUN AND STARS AT DIFFERENT PLACES ON EARTH: This experiment requires nothing but travel to three places at very different distances from the North Pole. One location should be about 6,200 miles from the North Pole. (That distance takes you to a region on Earth commonly known as the equator) Another location should be significantly closer and the third should be significantly farther away from the North Pole. For this experiment, the only thing that matters is how far away from the North Pole you are. You will do two experiments in each of the three different locations, one at night and one during the day. The night experience will require a clear view of stars and will yield the same results regardless of when in the year you travel. The daytime experiment only requires a clear view of the sun and the horizon, but it will be drastically different depending on the time of year you travel, so you have two choices for your travel dates, but remember that the best time to visit a place on the equator will be on March 21 or September 21:
- Travel Option 1: Do all your travel in one week so you can prove to yourself that what you are experiencing is happening simultaneously around the globe. A key proof of the roundness of the earth depends on the observation that different places on earth experience the same moment in time in very different ways. Specifically, this experiment will show that the movement of the stars at exactly the same time is drastically different depending on where you are on the planet. If you travel to all three locations in the same week, the difference in star movement will be more real to you since you experience the difference in such a short amount of time. With this option, schedule your equator visit to be on March 21 or September 21. You’ll have the best daytime experience then.
- Travel Option 2: Do all your travel according to the relative movement of the sun. If you do your experiment in an area of the earth and a time of the year when the sun is directly overhead, you will also be killing two birds with one stone. You will be able to see the movement of the stars relative to your location on Earth, but you will also gain important data for a second proof of the shape of the Earth. A key part of the proof of the shape of the earth depends on the fact that apparent star movement over the course of a night depends only on your distance from the North Pole and not the time of year but the movement of the sun through the course of a day depends on both location and date. In other words, this travel method will prove to you that what you are experiencing must be a result of the shape of the earth and not some strange astronomical event. If you choose this travel option, visit Miami, Florida on June 21, Quito, Ecuador on September 21, and Antofagasta, Chile on December 21. On those three dates in those three locations, the sun will be directly overhead exactly halfway between sunrise and sunset. This should help convince you that the movement of the stars does not depend on the movement of the sun.
- DAYTIME EXPERIMENT: Wake up before sunrise, and start a timer the moment you can first see the sun peek above the horizon. Also, make a note of where on the horizon the sun first appeared. Using a compass, determine if the sun appeared exactly to the East or a bit north or south of due East. Make a note of the sun’s position in the sky throughout the day at specific intervals (15 minutes), and specifically try to determine the time it was at its highest point. Finish tracking the sun until sundown and make a diagram for yourself of the path it traced across the sky relative to the horizon. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and put yourself in the center. The circle represents the visible horizon since you can see roughly the same distance in all directions. Mark off N S E W for the directions, and draw the path of the sun on your diagram based on where it rose and where it set. Note, if you chose to visit a place where the sun gets directly overhead, make a note of how cool it is to see no shadows at all when the sun is directly overhead. It happens in Quito, Ecuador twice every year on what we call the equinoxes.
- NIGHTTIME EXPERIMENT: Whenever the stars become visible, set up a time lapse camera to point directly overhead. Use a compass make sure the top of the photo will be to the north and the bottom of the photo will be toward the south. You want the camera to be set up on the north-south line. Set the camera to take photos every five minutes or better yet, just leave the shutter open all night long. In the morning, if you took multiple photos, compare them to each other and pay attention to the movement of the stars in the photo. If you took the long open shutter approach, the movement of the stars will be obvious. For an even more dramatic experience, use three cameras instead of one. Point one straight up, point one 30 degrees above the horizon to the south, and point another 30 degrees above the horizon to the north. Remember which camera is which and which photo came from which camera!
- NOTE THE APPARENT PATH OF THE STARS: Notice that no matter what time of year it is, if you are North of the equator, the stars will trace a circular path across the sky. The circle will have an apparent center off the top of the photo… to the North. Long exposure star photos taken from anywhere on the equator (about 6200 miles from the North Pole) will have no curvature at all. The stars will appear to stream from East to West basically in a straight line. Finally, when you do this experiment farther than 6200 miles from the North Pole, your star trail photos will demonstrate a clear curvature with the center of the circle apparently to the South, off the bottom of the photo. These three photos can only exist on a world that is spherical and rotating. If the Earth were flat, then the apparent rotation of the stars should look exactly the same everywhere on Earth. Specifically, the center of rotation for the stars should always be to the North. For some pretty pictures of these star trails taken at different places on Earth, do a Google image search for “star trails.”
- NOTE THE APPARENT PATH AND SPEED OF THE SUN: If you do this experiment at different times of the year, you will also notice something interesting about the path of the sun. On June 21, in Miami, the sun will be visible in the sky for a total of about 13 hours and 45 minutes, rising in the Northeast, setting in the Northwest, and being almost directly overhead at the halfway point. As long as you are timing the sun, keep the timer running overnight to determine how long it took from sunrise of one day until sunrise of the next day. It will be almost exactly 24 hours. On December 21, in Antofagasta, Chile, the sun will be visible in the sky for a total of about 13 hours and 35 minutes. It will rise in the Southeast, set in the Southwest, and be directly overhead at the halfway point. Also, it will take a total of 24 hours to go from sunrise on one day to sunrise on the next day. On March 21 in Quito, Ecuador, the sun will be in the sky only 12 hours, it will rise due East, set due West, and be directly overhead at the midway point. It will take 24 hours from one sunrise to the next sunrise. There are three things to note: (1) Similar to the stars, if you are closer to the North Pole, the sun draws a circular path in the sky with the center toward the North; if you are at the equator, the sun makes a direct path East to West; and if you are farther south than the equator, the sun draws a circular path with the center of the circle toward the South. If the Sun moves in a circular path around a flat Earth, it must always have the center of its path be toward the North. (2) In Miami and Antofagasta, the longest days are almost exactly the same, the sun moves the same distance across the sky in the same amount of time, but the nights are also the same length. In Miami, when the sun leaves your view to the West, it takes about 10 hours to make it all the way back around to the East where it rises. In Antofagasta, thousands of miles farther away from the North Pole, the sun will also take 10 hours to get all the way around from sunset to sunrise. This makes sense if the the Earth is a rotating sphere tilted on an angle, but not if the Earth is flat. If the Earth is flat, the sun which took over 13 hours to cross the sky above Antofagasta must speed around the entire rest of the world in only 10. (3) These measurements cannot be replicated using any Flat Earth diagram. Try it yourself. Using a diagram of a flat Earth, attempt to recreate the solar motion you detected on December 21. Is it possible for a circular sun to go all the way around the Earth in 24 hours, have more than half of that time with Chile in sunlight, have less than half that time with North America in sunlight (because it was December when you did the measurements), and also display a curved path with the center toward the South?
- THE SOUTH POLE: A personal experiment that should convince anyone that the earth is a globe comes from simply traveling really far south. Tourist agencies (like this one) are more than willing to take people to Antarctica and even to the South Pole. But you might not trust the tourist agencies, so here’s how to prove it to yourself. You will compare the path of the sun across the sky first extremely far north and then extremely far south, so first, you need to travel north. Make a trip to Iceland sometime around June 21. Take measurements of when the sun peeks above the horizon and when it finally dips below it. This will take nearly 24 hours. Draw a diagram for yourself of the path it follows around the sky relative to the horizon and make a note of where North, South, East and West are on your horizon diagram. This will prove to you that you are near the North Pole since you will see the sun appear to trace a circle around the North Pole. Then go home, and plan to make another trip six months later to the southern tip of South America, Tierra del Fuego, or the Falkland Islands. On that trip, prove to yourself that you are only traveling South by taking readings from a standard magnetic compass every few minutes of your trip. Keep a record of these readings. Repeat your sun watching experiment from before, and make a similar diagram. Notice that your diagram will show the sun appearing to trace a path that perfectly mirrors the path of the previous diagram. Your diagram from Iceland will show the sun peeking above the horizon first in the extreme Northeast, swinging low around the southern horizon and finally setting in the extreme Northwest, but your diagram from South America will show the sun rising in the extreme Southeast, sweeping low above the northern horizon, and finally setting in the extreme Southwest. Your personal experience of the extreme South will be a mirror image of your experience in the extreme North. This can only happen on a rotating sphere.
- SEE ANTARCTICA: Your final proof of the roundness of the Earth will come from traveling around it in one special way. This will take a lot of money, but get your friends to join you, start a Flat Earth Proof Kickstarter, and take the following journey:
- Rent a Boeing 777-200LR and your own pilot so that you know how fast it travels, how far it travels and how much fuel it uses.
- Take off from New Zealand, fly directly south toward Antarctica until it is visible, and then turn East. Keep Antarctica visible to the South and keep flying East (fuel lasts longer and planes fly faster when flying East). The 777 can stay in the air for about 19 hours and can travel nearly 9000 miles, so you won’t be able to travel completely around Antarctica on one trip. You will probably want to stop and refuel either in South America, South Africa, or perhaps one of the airfields on Antarctica itself.
- Over the course of only two or three trips, you will be able to view the entire perimeter of Antarctica. Talk with the pilot to estimate the length of the Antarctic coastline. Compare that distance with the Flat Earth models for the length of the Antarctic coastline. On a flat, circular Earth, the Antarctic coastline will be much longer than the equator. On a spherical Earth, the Antarctic coastline will be much shorter than the equator.
- If this journey seems too expensive or too risky, just book a flight from Santiago, Chile to Sydney, Australia on Qantas Airlines. It happens all the time (https://eugene.kaspersky.com/2015/09/09/the-santiago-sydney-antarctic-smile-qf28/) and it only takes about 14 hours. Take compass readings every 15 minutes or so (from your own magnetic compass) to determine your flight path. You will notice that your flight path goes due South first, then curves to the West, and then ends by going almost due North. That flight path and flight time only make sense on a spherical Earth.
There is absolutely only one sure fire way to prove to yourself from personal experience that the Earth is round and not flat: You must travel large distances and measure the natural phenomena yourself. Yes, there are experiments that happen on frozen lakes, and over large bodies of water, but if you really want to experience the best proof, you must travel far from home.
Is it worth it? Is it worth the expense and effort?
Well, do you want to know the truth or not?