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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Guest Post - Observational Evidence We Live on an Oblate Spheroid - by C.A.M. Gerlach

This post comes via C.A.M. Gerlach.  The guest author is a degreed research meteorologist specializing in severe convective weather and societal impacts, currently affiliated with the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Flat Earth Claims: An Observational Perspective
C.A.M. Gerlach, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Many a Flat Earth proponent has invited skeptics to neglect the copious volume of indirect evidence that our planet is a rotating oblate spheroid, and just 'think for yourself.' Very well; coming from someone who has, I too invite everyone to experience things and think for themselves.

Let's consider the International Space Station, and forget the fact that I've personally spoken to the astronauts on it (must have been actors somehow simulating microgravity, who knows?), and just rely on measurements you and I can directly make. Look up when it is due to pass over your location, noting the elevation in the sky at which it appears and disappears and the time the passes between them (any large, low earth orbit satellite, or even an Iridium flare would work, but the ISS is the most visible), and carefully watch it for yourself, as I have, seeing it behave exactly as predicted for such an orbiting body, even weeks in advance. "But," you skeptically ask, "what if it is just a high flying, high speed aircraft with a powerful wide-beam light"?

Okay, fair enough. Now ask a friend a few hundred km/mi away to do the same thing, at the same time as you, keeping note of when and where they first and last observed the object, and whether that all matches the official predictions. If you find, as I did, your observations do match, then you know a few things—first, to cross the distance between you and your friend in the time it did, you know the object must be traveling at a minimum speed close to 28,000 km/h (17,000 mi/hr), Mach 25 or around 8 times faster than the fastest airplane ever flown, the SR-71 Blackbird (even the X-15, essentially a rocket, only traveled a fourth that speed, and only for a very short time). More telling, you can use basic triangulation (really, just the law of sines) to show the object must be around 400 km above your head, well into supposedly inaccessible space, as you and your friend can easily observe the angle the object makes with the vertical from your respective positions, and the distance between you.

Finally, if you are still skeptical, recruit a few Internet friends from different countries and have them look for it too. Does it match the published ground track, consistent with orbital mechanics of a spherical earth? If it does, then assuming a flat earth with the North Pole at its center, the object must be observed to travel over three times faster relative to observers at northern vs. southern latitudes in order to match that ground track; the fact that it doesn't shows the flat earth conjecture to be impossible (and it is important to note, in this scenario the object doesn't even have to be a satellite, it could be a NWO spyplane—all that is required is that two parties observe the angle the object makes with the vertical at a certain time, and note the time it passes overhead; that and the distance between them is all that is needed to calculate its velocity and altitude).

As another example, consider the weather. The Coriolis force is one of the two fundamental forces in our atmosphere, the balance of which with the pressure gradient explains the wind and weather patterns we see in the midlatitudes, from westerly winds and the jet stream to tornadoes and hurricanes is the Coriolis force, which is a fundamental result of the rotation of a spherical Earth. If this were not the case, these phenomena would not exist (we could theoretically still get very weak tornadoes, but the fact that the they can be observed to spin in the opposite direction in the northern and southern hemispheres is a direct consequence of the Coriolis force and its effects on the winds).

Overall; weather around the globe would be vastly different if the Earth was flat and non-rotating; with only the pressure gradient driving the winds, we wouldn't have fronts, blizzards, or any sort of organized weather systems; instead weather would be much like we see in the tropics, dominated by local-scale effects and the heating of the sun, with similar conditions every day and only regular afternoon storms to relieve the boredom. Further, dispelling the notion that these fundamental equations of forces themselves must be in error, they are what is actively used in every single modern weather model; many of which (e.g. WRF, widely used in the US both operationally and for research) you can download, examine the code, and even run for yourself (as again, I have). If the earth was not a rotating sphere, the fundamental equations on which these models are based would be fundamentally wrong, and they would produce widely inaccurate forecasts. The fact that they do, at least on the large scale and for a few days time, produce even remotely reasonable conditions much less relatively accurate predictions (most of the time...) is pretty clear evidence for Earth being a rotating sphere given how important that term is for their calculations.

Beyond that, there's satellite TV and Internet, plate tectonics/geology, GPS, airplane flight paths, space launches, cartography, astronomy, south pole stations, atmospheric refraction, the seasons, the speed of light, ocean sunsets, shipping routes...none of this as we know it is compatible with a spherical earth, and thus a vast proportion of the scientific community (including every single meteorologist, astro-anything, geo-anything, etc, due to how huge a difference it would make on their disciplines; it would be immediately obvious to even a partially trained decently competent student of such), as well as a significant fraction of working professionals in transportation, computers, radio communications, aero/astronautical engineering, etc) would have to not only be aware of it, but actively sworn to secrecy and in many cases actively working to perpetuate the hoax—i.e. millions of people, if not tens of millions, in the US alone.

The fact that not a single credible representative of those disciplines, particularly the first three I mentioned have come forward even on their deathbeds implies that either it cannot plausibly be true, or there is an even vaster group of conspirators keeping an eye on every single one of them, controlling every media outlet, every important political office, and every sufficiently powerful military and law enforcement service to prevent that form happening. But who's keeping _them_ quiet? And so it goes...millions to hundreds of millions of people, billions if not trillions of dollars, all for what? Protecting a hoax that benefits...whom exactly, and how? How do those behind all this benefit from people not knowing the correct shape of the earth? Funneling a mere few billion a year to NASA, when (say) the US military's  annual budget is 30x that, and it would take nearly 100 years of the former to pay for the total cost of, say, the latter's F-35 program? If such folks have for hundreds if not thousands of years been spending vast resources on keeping such a secret from the public at surely enormous risk of discovery, if any untrained online denizen can detect the trickery and put out a video about it to the whole world, what possible payoff would be worth it? Why not just use the money to build up an unstoppable military, or fund a global megacorperation, or develop ultra-advanced technology, or...

But don't take it from me—as we both agree, think and observe for yourself.

Followup to some potential rebuttals:

> But its a plane!

Again, based on your and my observations, it would have to possess the technology to fly 10x faster and 10x higher than any known aircraft, with effectively infinite endurance, and constantly projecting a light of 100x the power used by the average US home. Either that, or it actually is a hunk of metal orbiting the Earth with a few people inside. Besides, it can be imaged and its features fairly clearly made out with a good amateur telescope, tracker, and camera.

> Your math on the triangulation is off as its based on Earth being a sphere.

To the contrary, my math all (up to the last one) assumes the Earth is, in fact, flat, which not only is consistent with FE predictions but also simplifies things. Over a few hundred kilometers of distance, the difference isn't yuge; it only adds up over the final case described, which directly shows the trajectory taken by the object in question is flatly impossible under such assumptions (heh).

> Have you seen how much they're spending on military? They have technology beyond anything we can imagine!

It can be whatever advanced craft you like (or, heck, even is a complete hologram), but it still can't ignore simple geometry. No matter what it is, folks in the Southern Hemisphere would have to see it moving up to 3x the ground-relative speed as those in the North, or else its observed ground track would not be possible if the Earth were a flat disk. This really goes back to my final point—why spend the vast amounts of money, resources and risk that a unparalleled coverup would require when you could just spend it on a bigger military or better technology to take over the (flat) world directly? Why even bother with it in the first place? I suppose to direct billions of dollars to NASA and space contractors, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to military spending already, and the money either has to mostly be spend on hiring real people and building real equipment that will go to waste, or buying their silence and faking everything.

> Those meteorologists can't even predict the weather tomorrow; how are we supposed to trust that they know anything?

I'd suggest that you actually look at the forecast/model and observed weather large-scale weather maps for themselves, and see how well they compare after a few days. Do look even roughly comparable? If the Coriolis force, vorticity, curvature, etc. terms of the fundamental equations the models use did not exist in the real world, all direct products of a spherical Earth and its rotation, errors would accumulate and cascade so such an extent weather maps would look completely unrecognizable after such a time.

> The Coriolis force? That's just made up; no wonder it is called a "fictitious" force!

If Coriolis were not only fictitious force (as it is termed, incidentally, due to it being not precisely a force but the effect of the non-inertial frame of reference we are living on—a rotating sphere), but a nonexistent one, the entire fields of dynamic and synoptic meteorology would be nearly unrecognizable different, and we simply wouldn't observe a whole host the phenomena we do. Considering the forces acting in the situation, basic physics (the pressure gradient force, which can be readily observed with a household vacuum) would dictate that any pressure differences would rapidly equalize and the weather would be stagnant and boring everywhere, driven by only day heating and local scale weather systems. It is easy to observe that this is not the case, and no other conceivable explanation for this exists that fits with what we observe, other than Coriolis. Furthermore, numerous effects would be inexplicable, such as hurricanes and tornadoes spinning in different directions in different hemispheres, and not forming within a certain distance of the equator (which would be as unremarkable a distinction as the Prime Meridian in a flat-Earth model).

> Well, we don't know hurricanes are really spinning, since all our pictures of them are from fake satellites!

Why not just use our magic plane that somehow behaves just like one, while its up there? That aside, besides the fact that there is simply no plausible formation mechanism that matches with their motion and intensity without involving Coriolis (that's why they don't form near the equator, a fact that wouldn't make any sense in the flat earth model), you could readily determine they rotate consistent with imagery, predictions and model plots just by directly observing how the winds shift at different times in the storm; not to mention in intense storms the eye can be directly visible, or at least observable (sudden calm winds) and would be otherwise explainable without rotation around that center, which the winds can be measured to be consistent with. As a matter of fact, you can do the same thing with the everyday midlatitude cyclones that bring most of our weather.

> What do tornadoes have anything to do with Coriolis? They're way too small to be affected by it!

Ah, an educated question—sounds almost like something I would ask... As for tornadoes, their relationship with Coriolis is actually a lot more complicated and requires explaining a lot more than basic force balance (as they aren't driven by Coriolis directly being too small scale, but it has to do with the typical wind field expected from wind balance considerations and the effect that has on mesocylogensis, and in turn tornadogenesis, something that wasn't even understood well until recently. However, there remains no other explanation as to why tornadoes spin different directions in different hemispheres (while dust devils, which aren't driven by larger scale processes, spin about 50/50 in both since Coriolis is too small to have a direct effect at that scale).

> You people keep bringing up how the sun can't light the bottom side of clouds if it never really dips below the horizon—haven't you heard of refraction?

In terms of atmospheric effects limiting resolution and distorting light at long range, refraction is indeed a dominant effect; light "bending upward" due to high refractivity indicies is what gets you mirages, and the opposite can have noticeable effects on Nexrad weather radar, bending the beam into the ground.In general, refraction actually bends EM waves (light, radar, etc) in the same direction as the curve of the earth, though usually not enough to counter it; if the earth were flat the beam would eventually reverse in altitude and eventually encounter the ground (which, of course, doesn't happen outside of unusual situations). In fact, it is refraction coupled coupled with the curve of the earth that produces some of the interesting effects we can readily observe at sunset, effects that would be impossible if the earth were not round (light on the bottom of clouds, etc).

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