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Cosmology, the study of the origin & structure of the universe:

Three more proofs that the Earth is
more or less spherical and not flat.

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Part 5

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Proof 4: Another proof is found in the thousands of images taken from space, often by the 536 humans who have gone on spaceflights. 1 These include photographs and movies from the International Space Station (ISS). They show clearly that the Earth's shape is close to a sphere. From the ISS, the rounded edge of the earth can be clearly seen to cut through different continents as the Station revolves around the Earth, and the Earth rotates under the ISS approximately every 90 to 93 minutes.

Other photographs have been taken from the surface of the moon and further out in the Solar System. All show a spherical earth -- round, with different continents facing the camera as the Earth rotates.

Flat Earthers claim that these are all doctored photos, modified to preserve the massive conspiracy that the Earth is spherical. However it would be necessary for tens of thousands of NASA employees, all of whom would be aware of that deception, to keep quiet. That is clearly impossible, considering how much a NASA employee could "earn" from a news organization if they whistle-blew.

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Proof 5a: Another indicator that the Earth is not flat can be obtained by planning a flight from New Zealand to Chile.

Some "Flat Earthers" use what they call the "Long Haul Argument" 2 to show that their map of the Earth is precise. They describe the trip by air from New Zealand to Santiago, Chile. If one were to consult a globe of the Earth, the shortest path would be a non-stop, relatively straight trip across the Southern Pacific Ocean. But one description of the "Flat Earth 'Long Haul' Argument" states that this "Flight Path [is] NOT Available." Instead, to travel this route via Delta Airlines would require a flight from New Zealand, to Brisbane, Australia, to Los Angeles, CA, across the U.S. to Atlanta, GA and finally to Santiago, Chile. This would make no sense if the Earth was more or less spherical. But tracing that route on the Azimuthal Equidistant Projection map, shown below, produces an almost straight line from Australia to Chile. If one were to look at the UN map below, it would be a relatively straight path downwards and to the left from about midnight to 8 o'clock.

Tracing the route on a globe of the earth would show that it is a very round-about path to go from New Zealand to Chile, because you would have to head North, cross the equator, cross the full width of the U.S. and then fly more or less South to Chile, which involves recrossing the equator in the opposite direction.

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This argument collapses with a trivial amount of analysis. This author went to the Expedia web site and did a search for a flight from AKL airport (Auckland, NZ) to SCL airport (Santiago, Chile). In spite of the Flat Earth argument that this flight is not available, Expedia found a direct non-stop flight lasting 11 hours and 20 minutes via LATAM Airlines 800. 2 The flight path does exist!

In comparison, a flight path from:

  • AKL to BNE (Brisbane, Australia) takes 3 hours, 50 minutes airtime, nonstop.
  • BNE to LAX (Los Angeles CA) takes 13 hours, 5 minutes, nonstop.
  • LAX to ATL (Atlanta GA) takes 4 hours, 20 minutes, nonstop
  • ATL to SCL takes 9 hours, 31 minutes, nonstop

The total time in the air is 30 hours and 46 minutes, almost three times longer than the direct non-stop route.

Reviewing:

  • The LATAM airplane flying non-stop directly from AKL to SCL takes about 11.3 hours and is over water for the full distance. The airplane's compass and GPS would show that it was traveling close to due east, a little south of the Equator, for the full distance.

  • An airplane flying in four hops via the U.S. from ALG to SCL takes about 31 hours -- almost three times longer. The compass would show that it was traveling Northeast, then East and finally South.

  • But, drawing these two routes on the above diagram shows that the routes would both be close to direct routes, and thus should take about the same time. Thus one could conclude that the map is a very poor representation of the layout of the continents. It simply does not correspond with reality.

These two total flight times are not strictly comparable, because there are acceleration and deceleration intervals involved in the four hops which would waste time. Also different airplane types might be used in the different hops, which would probably have different cruising speeds. Taking a generous one hour per hop lost time in accelerating and decelerating the airplane would still make the indirect path via Los Angeles (according to a spherical earth) take over 27 hours -- still more than twice as long as the direct non-stop path.

Analysis of the ""Long Haul Argument" appears to be a cast-iron proof that the "Flat Earth" belief is totally false. The Earth is, in reality, roughly spherical.

Proof 5b: This is similar to Proof 5a, except that it involves a flight from airport SYD (Sydney, Australia) to JNB (Johannesburg, Africa). Quantas flies this route nonstop, six times a week. It takes 14 hours and 0 minutes westbound as Flight 63, and 11 hours and 45 minutes eastbound as Flight 64.

  • Mapping the distance on a spherical earth shows that this flight covers a distance of 11,060 km (6,872 miles) which is comfortably within the 13,438 km (8,350 miles) maximum range of a 747-400 airplane. It would average about 860 km/hour (534 mph) on this flight which is achievable.

  • Mapping the flight path on the usual flat earth map similar to the one above shows that the distance is 23,419 km (14,552 mi.). For an airplane to fly that distance in its scheduled time would require an average speed of about 1,670 km/hour (1,038 mph). There are two problems:
    • 1. The plane would have to fly much faster than the speed of sound, approaching MACH 2, and the 747-400 is not a supersonic airplane. The 747-400 is only capable of about MACH 0.90. There are stories about a 747 going supersonic, but it was allegedly diving at the time.

    • 2. The distance travelled is more than twice the maximum range of a 747-400 plane. It would have to make at least two intermediate stops. However, these flights are listed as non-stop. If you don't believe the Quantas' schedule, you could tracking down someone who has taken the flight, and confirm that it was actually non-stop. 6

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Proof 6: This is not as convincing a proof as the previous four. However, it is relatively solid.

A list of large objects within our Solar System consists of one star, the sun; eight planets; a smaller number of dwarf planets including Pluto; and 166 moons revolving around these planets, and a large number of asteroids. 2 The exact number' of moons is continually increasing as additional bodies are discovered.

Fraser Cain, writing for UniverseToday.com states:

"Stars, planets and moons can be made of gas, ice or rock. Get enough mass in one area, and it’s going to pull all that stuff into a roughly spherical shape. Less massive objects, such as asteroids, comets, and smaller moons have less gravity, so they may not pull into perfect spheres.

As you know, most of the celestial bodies we’ve mentioned rotate on an axis, and guess what, those ones aren’t actually [pure] spheres either. The rapid rotation flattens out the middle, and makes them [slightly] wider across the equator than from pole to pole." 4

Astronomers on Earth can observe all of these bodies through telescopes, except for the Earth itself. All are close to spherical in shape. According to Wikipedia:

"A rotating body tends to form an oblate spheroid rather than a sphere." 5

Therefore it would be reasonable to assume that the Earth is also an oblate spheroid and is approximately spherical.

Wikipedia continues:

"The Earth has an equatorial bulge of 42.77 km (26.58 mi): that is, its diameter measured across the equatorial plane (12,756.27 km or 7,926.38 mi) is 42.77 km more than that measured between the poles (12,713.56 km or 7,899.84 mi)."

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RELATED FEATURE ESSAYS on Cosmology, the study of the origin & structure of the universe:

  • Part 1: Overview about cosmological beliefs. The Ancient Pagan view originating in Sumer.

  • Part 2: The revised Pagan view, as generally accepted within early Christianity.

  • Part 3: Greek Pagan cosmology (Continued). Modern view of the solar system. Church taught an Earth-centered system. The big hoax: that the church taught a flat Earth during the Middle Ages.

  • Part 4: A modern-day return to the belief that the Earth is flat, and that there is a massive, false conspiracy teaching that the Earth is similar to a sphere

  • Part 6: Five more proofs that the Earth is more or less spherical and not flat

  • Part 7: Arguments about the Earth's shape. A weak proof of a spherical Earth. More Old Testament passages about the Earth's shape.

  • Part 8: Passages from the New Testament about the Earth's shape. Additional proofs that the Earth is not flat.

  • Part 9: Proofs 15 to 21 that the Earth is not flat.

  • Part 10: Proof 22 that the Earth is not flat. Are Flat Earthers Hoaxters?

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "List of space travelers by name," Wikipedia, as on 2016-JUN-22, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. An image of the Flat Earth "Long Haul"argument can be found at: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/
  3. Jerry Coffey, "How Many Moons are in the Solar System?" Universe Today, 2008-JUL-11, at: http://www.universetoday.com/
  4. Fraser Cain, "Why is everything spherical?," Universe Today, 2014-JUN-26, at: http://www.universetoday.com/
  5. "Equitorial bulge," Wikipedia, as on 2016-JUN-15, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  6. Data was derived from One Travel.com and from a You Tube video critical of the flat earth theory, that I cannot relocate.

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 Home page >  Christianity > Bible & the world > Cosmology > here

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Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-MAY-10
Latest update and review: 2017-FEB-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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