Listening to Flat Earthers talk about science and gravity is equivalent to hearing Leftists talk about how guns work. Joe Biden recently said the government should ban “magazines that can hold 100 clips,” a statement that makes no sense at all, since Leftists think clips are magazines. Leftists also think gun shots make people fly through the air (they don’t), and they’re possessed with the idea that when a person is shot, removing the bullet stops the damage… As if the bullet itself is a magical vampire device that drains life energy or something.
(Hint: It’s the blood loss and physical trauma caused by the bullet that matters, not the presence of the bullet itself.)
Those of us who are gun owners have all but given up trying to teach Leftists how guns work. When we attempt to do so, we’re accused of “gunsplaining,” another derogatory term invented by the left-wing language police. The truth is, Leftists don’t care how guns work, they just want to ban them.
Similarly, Flat Earthers really don’t care how gravity works, either, and some of them deny the existence of gravity altogether. Trying to explain gravity to a Flat Earth advocate is a pointless exercise. They will argue for the existence of an entirely different set of laws that govern the universe, even though their laws are not consistent with observable reality.
Their latest argument — which they claim is “proof” the Earth is flat — centers around the claim that since the planet is in a slightly elliptical orbit around the sun, the changes in Earth’s velocity relative to the sun as it traverses this elliptical orbit is “proof” that the planet is accelerating and decelerating in a way that you should be able to feel. This argument is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of gravity and how gravity curves space, creating an apparent acceleration but without imparting G forces onto bodies in orbit (which is why astronauts in space stations orbiting Earth feel weightless, even as they are constantly pulled toward the planet in a circular orbit).
Here’s what Flat Earthers get right
There’s one thing Flat Earthers get right, which is stating that just because a “consensus” of scientists decrees something to be true doesn’t mean it is. This simple truth is abundantly obvious in the climate change debate, where politically-motivated “scientists” have largely agreed to condemn carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” when it’s actually the single most important atmospheric molecule for life as we know it on planet Earth. (Plants use it to create energy. Without it, all plants, animals and even most microbes would be exterminated.)
So it is correct to question the status quo when it comes to science. In fact, the very process of scientific discovery requires questioning the status quo. Without that process, Einstein would have never seriously put forth his Theory of Special Relativity, which later expanded into what we now know as the Theory of General Relativity. We also wouldn’t have quantum computing, lasers, integrated circuits, carbon nanotubes or thousands of other science-based advancements that initially seemed to defy common sense.
But questioning the status quo requires triple checking your own facts first. When I analyse a flu shot as a sample on ICP-MS mass spec instruments in my lab, the instrument reports seeing over 50,000 parts per billion mercury. But the tech giants, the CDC and the science “establishment” all censor that information, pretending flu shots don’t contain mercury at all, even when the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency of the State of California openly advocates the use of mercury flu shots in children. So that’s proof, yet again, that mainstream science often engages in malicious censorship and narrative control to push its own agenda, which lately has everything to do with decreasing the human population in order to “save the climate.”
Again, the Flat Earthers aren’t wrong when they say the science establishment is very often full of bunk, but that doesn’t prove the Earth is flat, of course.
It’s similarly wrong for Spherical Earthers to pursue to lazy path of declaring, “Well NASA says it’s round” and end the debate there. NASA lies all the time about a great many things, such as their discovery of microbial life on Mars during the 1976 Viking Lander missions. That discovery was exhaustively covered up in order to withhold that information from the public.
Logically speaking, however, the fact that NASA lies about some things does not mean they are lying about the spherical nature of planet Earth. It is not rational to believe that just because NASA is lying about the existence of microbial life on Mars, therefore NASA must have faked every space mission, moon landing and photograph of the Earth from space. That’s a bonkers leap of bad thinking.
Flat Earthers claim you should “feel” the acceleration of planet Earth as it orbits the sun
Now we get to the real crux of the latest Flat Earth assertion here. One of the hot new arguments against Spherical Earth theory is that since the Earth changes its speed as its orbiting the sun in a slightly elliptical orbit, you should “feel” the acceleration. Since you feel no acceleration, the Earth isn’t changing speed, they claim, and therefore it’s not orbiting the sun and is flat.
I learned about Kepler’s Laws of Motion in high school. They describe how any planet moves in orbit around a larger mass (gravity well) such as the sun. When the orbit is a perfect circle, the Earth would maintain a constant speed all the way around the orbit. But when the orbit is elliptical, the Earth obviously moves faster as it’s whipping around the sun during the part of the orbit that brings the planet closer to the sun. When Earth is farther away from the sun, at the apex of the elliptical orbit, it’s moving slower relative to the sun.
This is described in the following graphic, which could be from any 11th grade physics textbook:
At the “perihelion” point in the elliptical orbit, the Earth is moving the fastest relative to the sun. At the “aphelion” point, it’s moving the slowest. Naturally, the area described by the arc of C-D-sun is the same as the area described by points B-A-sun, and these areas will be equivalent if sampled from any two arcs along the elliptical orbit, using the same time span such as one month. In other words, the orbital arc described by the Earth as it moves around the sun for one month is always equivalent.
Stated in the language of mathematics (via wisp.physics.wisc.edu)
- Planets orbit Sun in an ellipse with the Sun at one focus
- A line joining the planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal intervals of time
Newton’s universal law of gravitation:
- m1, m2 masses of objects
- R separation distance
- G = 6.67 x 10-11 newton m2/kg2
This formula isn’t very complicated, by the way. It describes the Force of “attraction” (explained below) between two masses based on their mass and separation distance, using the constant of gravity, g.
Understanding gravity: It’s not a “force” but rather a bending of spacetime Now here’s where people get confused about all this. In truth, there is no “Force” that’s pulling the planets together, not really. Instead, Gravity bends space, causing “orbiting” objects to actually feel as if they are travelling in straight lines, experiencing no acceleration or deceleration at all, even if they their velocity relative to other objects (such as the sun) is in fact changing.
Gravity, in other words — and this is crucial to understand — accelerates objects without imparting felt g forces upon them. Understanding this is key to grasping orbital velocities, faster-than-light travel and many other topics that I’ve lectured about from time to time.