The Earth is a Sphere, Idiots

Atlanta rapper B.o.B. may have created quite a stir on Twitter by asserting that the earth is actually flat, but what was really flat was his whole line of thinking. His evidence was just as goofy as one might guess: photos of the horizon, diagrams of the North Star, and paintings of astronomers holding T-squares. It was typical flat earth nonsense, and as is typical, it was thoroughly unconvincing. This shouldn’t be up for debate: as nearly everyone has agreed for centuries, especially educated people, the earth is a sphere, and we live inside it. The crust of the earth wraps around us and all that we can see or know, and we live on its inner surface, and the sun and the moon and all the inky goo of space floating in the middle, above us all. It ain’t rocket science.

It’s troubling that facts that form the bedrock of our understanding of the universe are being newly challenged. Bedrock should be unshakeable. Bedrock, like the substance that forms the outer surface of the sphere we all live inside. Bedrock, like that which holds us inside the earth, and prevents us from falling into the unknowable outside areas that surround us. What if something cracked the outside of the earth, and got inside with us, like in Independence Day? Americans were so proud of Harry Connick, Jr. for dying in the alien war that they let him be a judge on American Idol. To my knowledge, B.o.B. has never been a judge on American Idol.

Sorry B.o.B. but that’s not the only question that flat-earthers have never convincingly answered. For example, how a person can head out in any direction and eventually get back to their starting point? You can see for yourself how this works back in reality. If you have a cat, you probably have one of those little balls with the bell inside. Give it a good circular shake and watch the ball roll around and back, around the inside of the ball, just like Magellan did many, many, many, many, many years ago. Just as my cat cannot resist the siren sound of that bell and is pushed to greater lengths to conquer it, so too did Magellan conquer this ball of earth.

You can see microcosms of our earth repeatedly in nature: the nut that keeps its precious payload enclosed in a hard shell, the clam that keeps its precious soft parts enclosed in a hard shell, the candy that keeps its precious tootsie roll enclosed in a hard lollipop. I could go on. We call it our “Mother Earth” because we are inside its womb, and like a womb we have never ever left it, not even when we traveled to space, which is at the center of the sphere called “Earth” we all live inside.

With so much left to discover, both about our planet and our universe, it is dangerous to waste time reestablishing facts. If we again have to battle back the flat-earthers every generation, how will find time to explore what lies outside the earth’s crust, or to find a direct route through space to the distant side of earth? While reading B.o.B.’s tweets may have been a fun lark on a dreary winter morning, the sooner we can get back to learning about the world that encases us all, the better.

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