Unearthing the shape of our planet

By Nabilah Athirah

Do you remember when you were still a kid? You used to question everything out of curiosity.

At one point, you would wonder about the shape of the Earth. Is it round, flat, square or triangle? You would come up with all of the possible shapes that you can think of regardless of the logic behind it.

Little did you know, upon entering school, teachers would automatically clarify that the Earth is sphere in shape, especially in your Science class. Thus, you would automatically believe it as the teacher said.

Logically, for the Earth to be in other shapes than what has been explained is utterly impossible. Considering the orbit, stars, moon and sun, gravity, natural phenomenon such as the eclipse, constellations, the monsoon season and the transition of day and night.

However, the world does work differently for everyone. As some people of the world perceive things differently even for the bread and butter of all knowledge. Sometimes a strange idea is seriously ridiculous that we often wonder whether it is only a joke or literally a genuine belief.

Recently, a strange group associated with the flat Earth movement, in the context of Malaysia, has emerged after the issue has long been discussed. They are adamant until now and stand on their belief that the Earth is flat. This movement does have a long run in the history of scientific discovery. Even with all the evidences and discoveries, members of the movement refuted the idea, claiming it to be the evil agenda of the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and governments around the world in altering and deceiving the people of the Earth regarding its shape.

Sounds funny, right? Unfortunately, this community is not pulling anybody’s leg.

Behind ‘flat-earthers’

It started in 1956 since a group of people believed that the Earth is not sphere, but rather, flat in shape. Founded by Samuel Shenton, the official International Flat Earth Society was established with around 3,000 members from America. However, in 1980, the society’s membership fell to only 200 and it stopped taking new members in 2001 after the death of the founder.

Eight years later the society revived and started as an online community which we can see today they have grown in number especially in social media.

Flat Earth Society official Twitter account that joined in 2013 with 79k followers

Here are the basics to the allegations of a flat Earth.  

The leading flat earth theory holds that the Earth is a form of a disc with the Arctic Circle in the centre while the Antarctica comprises a 150-foot tall wall of ice, around the rim. This wall is guarded by the NASA employees, they say, to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc out of curiosity.

The community believe that there is a space travel conspiracy to fake the concept of space travel and further increase America’s militaristic dominance of space. Hence, the flat ‘earthers’ claimed that space exploration was a scheme orchestrated by NASA and the US government agencies in lying to the people of the world to believe that they have explored the space.

Flat earthers also claimed that the photographic evidence of the shape of the round Earth by NASA was photoshopped, all the satellites in the space are only computer-generated image (CGI), the Apollo programme was a total failure, the Chinese Space programme was a hoax, and the whole nine yards of the space programme were basically lies and fraud.

Honestly, for any agency to diligently design a world scale falsehood is logically impossible and would cost an arm and a leg.  

The Earth is not flat

Flat earthers refuted all of the evidences to the round shape of the Earth. Instead, they never provide proofs from their side of the claim.

There are 1,001 proofs that the Earth is not flat. Anyone can actually enjoy the round shape of the Earth by themselves through their own senses and logical thinking.

Confirmation of the globe Earth is actually not rocket science. One doesn’t have to be a real scientist to see the light behind the spherical shape of the Earth.

Here are five simple ways that you can prove that the Earth is not flat, in a way that even a five-year-old kid can understand.

  • Look Up

On several nights, the sky looks like a shining diamond. On a particular day, a group of stars will form a certain shape in the sky and the formation process is called constellations. However, certain constellations can only be seen from a certain point on Earth. Someone in Malaysia would see a different condition of the sky to someone in England, for example. This has been proved by sailors who travelled by sea across the world. They have witnessed the situation frequently in their lives.

Hence, if the Earth is flat, every earthling would be able to see the same constellation for sure.

  • Look Down

An obvious and straightforward way to prove that the Earth is not flat is by simply measuring your shadow.

Get two people to stand in a distance and measure their shadows at the same time. You will see their shadows will be different in length. If the Earth is flat, then the shadows would be of the same length. This is one of the ancient ways of determining the time as well as prayer times before the invention of the clock.

  • Get on the Weighing Scale

The reason you could measure your weight is due to gravity, which pulls everyone towards the centre of our planet. We would weigh the same at any place in the world.

A flat Earth would mean that those at the edge of the disc would be pulled sideways, while those at the centre would be pulled down, for sure.

  • Take a trip to Antarctica

Mentioned before that the flat earthers claimed that the Antarctica is at the edge of the Earth which the thick ice acts as the building walls that prevent us from falling from the disc.

If you have extra money, why not fly there and climb up the ice. See whether you’ll fall off the Earth or just encounter a hungry polar bear.

  • Check your watch

Have you ever had a pen pal? That one friend from the other side of the world who sleeps when you’re fully awake and have dinner when you just wake up from the bed. This is the effect of the different time zones which flat earthers have not yet successfully explained.

This community explained the process of seasons with an argument that the sun orbits in a circle above us. They also attempted to explain the casualty of the time zone by saying that the sun acts as a spotlight. This argument can simply be debunked for whoever have used a torchlight before.

Education to serve

With numerous new ideas on how the world works, one has to obtain as much knowledge to conform with their belief. In that sense, any misleading information can be blocked with rationality.

Evidently, we can see that some scientists, missionaries, educators and people from all sorts of background become inclined to support movements that are off from the mainstream. Those of this ‘intellectuality’ assembled and created a community that is strong in their stand to the extent that they provide scientific explanations and plausible details of their claim. Except for the conspiracy theories, their claim was accepted by several people who eventually accumulated to become an online community.

For this reason, we must observe our education which acts as the foundation of our future. Being astray with abundance of knowledge is not a situation that is anywhere ideal to everyone at all. What more having knowledge with mountains of ego rejecting the facts that are not in tandem with them. Hence, the importance of education to shed lights on the eyes and minds of the people, is vital.

Evidence by evidence has been given to debunk the claim of the flat earthers. However, some people took it as a challenge to take a deep dive into the scientific knowledge of the Earth. Not merely condemning the flat earth society, instead, it serves as a cause for the intellectuals to reevaluate their judgement of others. That’s how a good mind should work.***

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