What if the earth was flat?

Shutterstock.com/Amanda Carden
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The Earth is a sphere, this is a simple fact that humans have known for thousands of years. It was beyond one’s control confirmed as soon as the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957 and it went around the globe.

Nevertheless, a small but vocal group of people who insist that the world is flat so-called Flat Earthers have emerged online in recent years, and they seem to be inseminated doubt about this most basic aspect of reality. Many flat Earthers put a great deal of effort into fabricating alternative explanations for why the world behaves as if it’s round when it’s actually flat even though a spherical Earth clearly fits the observations humans have made about the planet over the last few paradises. 

A planetary scientist at Caltech in Pasadena, California David Stevenson says, to shape a cosmic body into a disk rather than a sphere, you’ve got to spin it very fast. This would, unfortunately, destroy the planet by tearing it into tiny particles. In the 1850s, astronomer James Clerk Maxwell showed mathematically that a solid, disk-like shape isn’t a stable configuration in the cosmos, in work he conducted regarding Saturn’s rings. Maxwell’s research predicted that Saturn’s rings would be made of lots of small, unconnected particles; he turned out to be right. His math explained why there are no planet size disks floating around the galaxy.

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Source: Shutterstock.com/Amanda Carden

To flatten Earth without spinning it is very expeditiously, you’d need magic, or perhaps an astronomical panini press. At any rate, a stamped flat Earth wouldn’t last for long. Within a few hours, the force of gravity would press the planet back into an elliptical. Gravity pulls equally from all sides, which explains why planets are spheres (or nearly so depending on the speed of a planet’s rotation, those forces may work against gravity to create a bit of a bulge at the equator). Maxwell’s math showed a stable, solid disk-like Earth just isn’t possible under the actual conditions of gravity.

The atmosphere? Gone, because it’s held to the planet by gravity. Tides? Gone. They’re caused by the planetary motion pull of the moon, which traction on the oceans and causes them to subtly bulge out as it swings by.

Gravity is also responsible for Earth’s luminous structure, with the impenetrable materials sinking to the core, lighter materials making up the pallium and the lightest materials forming the crust. Without this layered structure, the planet would behave a lot differently. Earth’s liquid outer core, acts as a giant, dynamic magnet, which creates the planet’s magnetic field. The magnetic field helps protect the planet’s atmosphere from the stripping effect of the solar wind, which scraped away Mars’ atmosphere after the planet’s magnetic field fluctuated 4 billion years ago.

James Davis, a geophysicist at Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York City says if the Earth was flat, plate tectonics the movement of rigid plates that make up the planet’s crust wouldn’t work either. When you just do the simple calculations like, if this plate is moving this much and that plate is moving that much,’ you have to do it on a sphere,” he told Live Science.

Flat Earthers spin different explanations for how all these observations could be possible on a flat planet. The problem, Davis says, is that these explanations don’t have any basis in mathematics or physical reality. When Maxwell predicted in the 1850s that Saturn’s rings were made of lots of small particles, he did so by applying general knowledge of how gravity and rotational forces work. David says his essay on the subject, in fact, was mostly mathematical equations. Flat Earth theories don’t work that way.

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