Is Earth a flat surface or a spherical surface? There is a small group of people known as Flat Earthers who indeed belong to the Flat Earth Society who claim that the Earth is flat but it definitely isn’t. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, author, and a television show host has dissed the flat earth theory a number of times. He recently uploaded a video on his channel ‘StarTalk’ discussing the reason behind why some people still think that the Earth is flat. According to Tyson, free speech and the degraded educational system are to be blamed.
On March 9 (Friday), Neil DeGrasse Tyson uploaded a YouTube video on his channel ‘StarTalk’ alongside stand-up comic and co-host Chuck Nice supporting that the Earth is round and not a flat surface. He even pointed out evidence collected by ancient Greeks as well as modern space observations.
Flat Earth Theory is practiced by Flat Earth Organization or Society where people who believe that the Earth is flat (Flat Earthers) diss existing theories and evidence and support their own theories to explains the true nature of Earth. According to the flat earth believers, everything from the ground and up to the clouds is flat. There is a famous experiment that proves flat earth theory called as ‘Bedford Level Experiments’ that was conducted many years ago and has since been conducted a number of times to prove that the Earth is a flat surface and not a round surface.
Tyson opens the 9-minute video on Youtube with the phrase “We have video from space of the rotating spherical Earth, The Earth is round” when co-host Chuck asks if the Earth is flat or round. Moving further in the video, he points out a joke about flat Earth believers who believe that all the planets, sun, moon and other celestial body is round except the Earth. He pointed out how a square flat Earth would not only look different from all-around planets and celestial bodies but also behave differently. According to Tyson, the laws of physics are universal and how energy behaves are two reasons why everything in the universe is, in fact, a round object. He stated that there could be distortion in the shape like when the planet is revolving at a massive speed, it might look something bulgy like a disk but it is still a spherical or round surface.
Neil deGrasse pointed out several short experiments that would explain why Earth is not a flat surface. According to the astrophysicist, when a ship flows towards the horizon, its lower part seems to submerge under the water and this explains that the Earth is a spherical body. If it was flat as a pancake, it is unlikely that the ship would behave as such. He also pointed out an ancient experiment conducted in 250 B.C. by Eratosthenes were he talked about two wells in two different cities. Eratosthenes stated that when he looked for the bottom of the well in Syene, the bottom was clearly visible at the noontime but when he observed the other well in Alexandria at noontime, the bottom was not clearly visible.
This explains how sunlight from a sun propagates towards the Earth and illuminate things at a different angle. Tyson states that if three wells were considered for this experiment, there is no explanation available by flat Earth theory that the bottom of three wells was illuminated at three different angles cast by the Sun. Tyson blamed the faulty education system that fails to teach critical analysis to students. Without rational thinking, humans would run around believing anything thrown at them. Neil DeGrasse discussed the flat Earth theory as well as laws of physics and how universe favors spherical body in his book ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry’.
Excerpt from Wikipedia on Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an author, astrophysicist, and science communicator. Neil has been the director of the Hayden Planetarium since 1996. He founded the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in 1997 and has been working as a research associate since 2003. He studied at the Columbia University, University of Texas, and Harvard University.
He wrote several books under his names such as ‘Death by Black Hole (2007), ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (2017)’ etc. He took the pen name Merlin to write a column in the Universe section of Star Date magazine and later, released few of its material in the book ‘Merlin’s Tour of the Universe (1998), etc. He received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004 for his contribution towards astrophysics.