Vanity thought #1670. Drowning in Flat Earth arguments

As I sat down to type this post I saw that another video cropped up purporting to scientifically prove that the Earth is, indeed, flat. With all the pauses and replays an hour of my life was gone and I’m still on it because even with their poor presentation what they show there should be impossible to see.

Video starts with a long intro and, along with Śrīla Prabhupāda, it’s dedicated to one of the Gauḍīya Maṭha ācāryas. Ex-ISKCON, okay, doesn’t really matter for our purpose. They shot it at a view point in Eastern Australia looking up north along the Gold Coast. The footage is raw and one has to figure out himself what they are up to. They also never stated clearly what exactly they wanted to prove and what would constitute such proof. Was it about the curvature of the Earth or something else?

If the point was the curvature then some numbers should be in order – how much of a building or a ship, for example, should be hidden by curvature at what distance. I’m not going to do this math myself and no one will but there are curve calculators out there and the one that I used was this site. Locating their observation point on Google Maps was not difficult (here) and the elevation at this point, according to this site is 83-84 feet, plus another 5 feet for the height of the camera, and we are ready to calculate. The place they concentrated most of the time was this cliff and if you have your google maps open its easy to find – zoom out until Brisbane comes into view, zoom a little more to see Moreton Bay and Moretone Island National Park, and the cliff we are looking for is at the northern tip of the Moreton island. Switch to Earth view rather than Map to confirm, right click, measure distance to the observation point and it shows some 78 miles. Punch these numbers into curvature calculator – 78 miles, 88 feet elevation, and the hidden “amount”, or hidden height, should be 2,949.8 feet, or nearly 100 meters.

This is where it shouldn’t compute because according to elevation finder map, if you locate that Moreton Island cliff there and click on what looks like its highest points, you get only about a hundred feet elevation, or thirty meters. The highest I got was 36 meters or 120 feet which is in order of magnitude less than what should be hidden by Earth’s curvature, and we not just see the top of the island but what looks like the entire cliff. We can’t see the beach but whatever is obscured is minuscule compared to the visible part of the cliff.

One way to explain it is an optical effect called Atmospheric Refraction which bends rays of light downwards, making objects appear higher than they really are. The image on this wiki page models it nicely even if math below is incomprehensible. Could it be enough to raise the Moreton cliff some three thousand feet above where it really is? There’s another wiki page which gives approximate values for refraction when calculating distance to the horizon and it’s a laughable 8%. Distance to the horizon is not the same calculation but, if you look at the diagram on the curve calculation site, moving the horizon 8% farther back is not nearly enough to reveal the entire Moreton cliff, so that’s not it.

It beats me how seeing that Moreton cliff could be possible according to modern science, perhaps I should ask some experts and see what they say but that would take time and giving them the link to the raw video won’t be enough, I have to think of an acceptable presentation, too.

And that’s the problem with this particular video – it’s impossible to follow without some serious effort and a degree of trust that they are not cheating in some way. I trust them, skeptics might not. They make you look at a notebook screen in the broad daylight to show locations they are looking at in Google Earth. It’s possible to find the places, distances, and elevations in Google Earth, btw, I just don’t think I have it installed. The speaker rattles off a bunch of Australian places you can’t make on the notebook screen, sometimes the view is obscured by someone’s hand, and at one point he asks his friend to confirm that they are, indeed, looking at Moreton cliff. “You want me to do what?”, his friend exclaims, which makes him into a not a very reliable witness. The guy was there and he was still unable to follow what was going on.

Then some other two dudes walk up and strike a conversation and they do not sound like participants in a serious experiment to proof absence of Earth’s curvature at all. They talk about all kinds of things under the sun, never forgetting to offer a personal opinion on everything, and I was glad when they finally left. Why did we have to observer their departure in detail? This kind of distractions makes the case even harder to follow.

In the second half the video switches to looking from a balcony of a high rise apartment building not very far from the original observation spot but whatever they were hoping to see in their camera just wasn’t there. They panned and zoomed several times with no luck, so another major time waster.

What I initially missed in all this banter was the fact that Moreton island should not be visible at all, and not just because of the curvature but because it should be behind North Stradbroke island which is much much taller than Moreton cliff. In elevation finder I got 113 meters or 372 feet altitude on the very first click – three times taller than Moreton. If you are still on that Google map page, the direct line of sight betwen Moreton and the observation point should cross right through North Stradbroke. North Stradbroke has its own cliff but it looks nothing like Moreton’s, which matches exactly with what we see in the camera. We are not looking at North Stradbroke and think it’s Moreton.

Okay, perhaps this anomaly could be explained by flat maps which, over long distances, must distort the shape of the objects and so what looks straight on a flat map is not straight on the surface of the Earth itself. Fine, but Google maps also offers a satellite view which, by the looks of it, shows the real life vistas over real life terrain shot from high above the surface. It’s what the Earth should look like from a satellite, after all. This view is 3D so we can zoom and pan and tilt and so I get this image here:


There’s a Brisbane pin there but the two pins I mean are the norther tip of the Moreton island and the observation point. Total distance shown is the distance between these two pins. You can clearly see that North Stradbroke island should intrude and hide Morton behind, and the line of sight passes through its highest area so it’s not like we are looking over it. In the camera view there’s absolutely nothing in between the observer and Moreton:


How’s that possible? Beats me, and right now I’m too lazy to search through the video for the North Stradbroke, there must be a shot where they panned along the coastline until the reached Moreton, maybe I’ll find it later.

For now it’s enough – the Earth looks like its lacking curvature and Google maps, including satellite imagery, does not seem to correspond to reality. Let me ponder this for a bit, I got no words to say.


One comment on “Vanity thought #1670. Drowning in Flat Earth arguments

  1. Pingback: Vanity thought #1674. Mirages | back2krishna

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