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This Flat Earth: How We Know the Earth is Round

What's the shape of the Earth? (Hint, it isn't flat!)

Daniel BarkerJune 14th 2016

Probably the least polarizing topic in the scientific community is the shape of the Earth; we’ve known for two thousand years that the Earth is a sphere. You would be very hard-pressed to find an academic who believed the Earth was a flat disk. Honestly, you might have trouble finding a layperson who thought the Earth was flat.

However, the sphericity of the Earth is such a well-accepted fact amongst the general public that many people may not actually be able to tell you how we know the Earth is round. We’re spoiled by a space program, so the simplest and most common answer would likely be that we have pictures of the Earth from space. But what if we didn’t? Well, there are ways that you can independently verify the shape of the Earth without relying on a space program.

As some of you probably know, there are people who think that the Earth is indeed flat (remember when B.o.B took Twitter by storm recently with his flat earth posts?) This line of thinking is, well, nonsense. The evidence has mounted against the Flat Earthers. But who cares? Why should we care what a small minority group like the Flat Earth Society says about the shape of the Earth?

Well the truth of the matter is that many of us are guilty of not listening to scientific consensus, whether that is the shape of our planet, heliocentrism, climate change, vaccines or the safety of GM crops. In one field, ignorance of scientific fact seems silly, almost to the point of satire. But in politics and everyday life, there are other polarizing scientific facts that threaten our safety as a species.

Written and Narrated by Daniel James Barker

Music by: Stellardrone; Joseph Barker; & Nathan Eliot

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