flatearthmapHow many of you remember the Flat Earth Society? Not many, I’ll wager. Well, despite decades of space travel and the work of astronauts such as Commander  Chris Hadfield, the organization still exists. They have Instagram and Flickr accounts, too, which strikes me as oddly too modern.

Here is a blurb from their website: The modern age of the Flat Earth Society dates back to the early 1800s, when it was founded by Samuel Birley Rowbotham, an English inventor. Samuel Rowbotham’s Flat Earth views were based largely on literal interpretation of Bible passages. His system, called Zetetic Astronomy, held that the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its ‘southern’ edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth…..

After several years of inactivity, the Flat Earth Society was resurrected in 2004 and remains active today at theflatearthsociety.org.  The Society officially reopened to new members on 30th October 2009.

The Flat Earth Wiki (FEW) says that: “The Flat Earth Society has dedicated itself to starting science afresh from the ground up, to begin to see the world without bias and assumption. Experiment and experience has shown that the earth is decidedly flat. Time and time again through test, trial, and experiment, it has been shown that the earth is not a whirling globe of popular credulity, but an extended plane of times immaterial.”

earthedgeThey impugn the Apollo space missions as clever fakes. But why? If the earth is flat, how do you account for gravity? How come flights over Greenland and the north Pole don’t just slip off the edge and disappear? If the earth is flat, why does air travel between Toronto and Toyko take so long?

I’m not quite sure what to make of the Flat Earthers’ belief in the face of thousands of NASA images of the earth as a fragile ball of soil, ocean and clouds whirling counter-clockwise in space. I’ve seen for myself. How many times have I stared in awe out of the window of an aircraft as the rising sun slices through the dark of night and heaves above the gentle curve of the horizon to light the day?

I’ve always been somewhat geeky. Archimedes and Galileo were my childhood heroes. So this experiment about feathers and bowling balls and vacuums really hit home for me. Take flat, unbelievers!

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