You're Smarter Than That


The Earth isn’t flat. This presumably doesn’t come as news to anyone, and why should it? Earth’s roughly spherical nature has been known about since the time of the Ancient Greeks. It’s bewildering, then, to see various "celebrities" declaring online that Earth is indeed flat, claiming that NASA has been keeping this secret from us for decades. So what exactly is going on here?

People are drawn to conspiracy theories, though, and the Internet has only helped to accelerate their spread. They give certain people a sense of security, control and comfort that they haven’t found in the natural world around them. By only conversing with others that agree with them in “echo chambers,” any opposing views are filtered out, and they become increasingly entrenched in their own views. Perhaps this is what drives contemporary Flat Earthers.

All planets in our Solar System – and the thousands of exoplanets we’ve discovered far beyond our little corner of the galaxy – are roughly spherical. It’s a fundamental feature of physics; celestial bodies of a significant mass are spherical due to the effect of gravity, which acts in all directions to pull objects towards the center of mass. And if any more proof was needed, we also have seasons and ice ages. The amount of sunlight hitting parts of the planet changes from season to season, from icehouse world to greenhouse world, and this is entirely dependent on the degree of tilt a spherical Earth has with respect to the Sun.

Kemo D. 7

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