Physics 101- Introduction to Mechanics
January 16






  Discuss the following questions with the others in your group: Is the earth flat or spherical?  How do you know?

It's flat, right?

  • Ships sail off and never return to port, they must have fallen off the edge of the world.
  • Yes, a few ships can sail and end up back where you started but that only shows that you live on a circle and not a sphere.
  • North Pole is at the center of the circle and the "South Pole" is really the circumference.
  • Often say that ships dissapearing over the horizon is evidence for a spherical world.  But, this is due to perspective and optical oddities in the atmosphere (just look at how the sun is distorted at sunset).
  • I never have to change how I live my daily life due to the fact I supposedly live on a sphere.
  • It is nonsense to say that the Earth rotates.
    • Why arenít we "flung off" as it spins?
    • When I jump up I land back where I took off from- the earth doesnít move out from under me.
    • If we were spinning (and orbiting the sun- there's another "crazy" idea that is a whole other story) then we should be able to detect a difference in our direction/ orientation by changes in the wind direction.

  • Modern photos from space donít show that we live on a sphere, only a circle.
  • What about the UN's symbol?  Many smart people chose the symbol of our planetary government to be a flat earth, not a spherical one.
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Jeff Phillips
Loyola Marymount University
Spring 2002