It's 2017 and we still have to explain to people that the Earth is not flat.
More than 2,500 years after Pythagoras and the ancient Greeks realized that our planet is spherical, some of Earth's residents still believe they are roaming around on a giant disc floating through the space.
Shaquille O'Neal is just the most famous of the recently declared flat-earthers, with the basketball star joining the ranks of woke folks like Kyrie Irving and rapper B.o.B.
Shaq was trending on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend for alleging the Earth was frisbee-shaped, with his foolproof argument: "I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it's flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle."
The "Kazaam" actor is not alone in his beliefs. Just take a look at the #FlatEarth hashtag on Twitter and you'll find entire groups organized around disproving NASA, the European Space Agency, SpaceX -- basically any organization that has actually been to space.
Here are the most popular things that flat-earthers on social media actually believe. The truth is out there... (presumably on a flat surface).
'If the Earth is round, why don't I see any curves when I look out?'
Shaq made the same argument in his rant, which B.o.B. also pointed out during his weird beef with Neil deGrasse Tyson. The idea is that you can look out forever and never see a curve, therefore proving that the Earth is flat.
People on Twitter post photos from planes and high altitudes in an attempt to show that the horizon just goes on forever as a flat surface.
These "proofs" are inherently wrong because they don't show any object in focus affected by the curvature. People are too small to see the curvature at eye level, which happens at 3.1 miles (or 5 km) out. Next time you see a boat heading into the ocean, you'll notice that it disappears after a certain distance. That's not the boat falling off the face of the flat Earth, that's it moving out of your line of sight thanks to the round Earth's curves.
'The sun actually rotates above the Earth'
This is where flat Earth starts to get even weirder.
This argument takes on both spherical planets and the heliocentric Solar System. Under this model, the sun and the moon rotate around the flat Earth like ceiling fans, and adjust the radius based on the season.
This model also suggests that the sun and moon are both floating spheres with a 32-mile radius, 3,000 miles above the Earth's surface. NASA has determined that the sun is 92.9 million miles away, which is lucky for us: If the sun were only 3,000 miles away from Earth, the planet would be burnt to a crisp, flat or round. And according to flat-earthers, the sun and the moon both have radii smaller than San Francisco's square mileage.
At that puny size, the Earth would never receive the amount of energy that it currently does for solar power and photosynthesis. But the flat-earther theories don't stop there.
'The moon doesn't rotate'
In this video posted on Twitter, which received more than 113 likes, the speaker argues that you can only see one side of the moon, in an attempt to prove that Earth is actually flat and underneath the lunar object.
The theory makes sense, but only if you're buying into all the other flat Earth fallacies. It neglects the fact that the moon, like the Earth and every other celestial object, also rotates on its own. In fact, if the moon "didn't spin" like the tweet suggested, it would mean that people would actually get to the see the far side of the moon.
Here is an animation made for children that might help with the understanding:
'I don't feel the Earth rotating'
Science has explained that the Earth rotates at 1,000 miles an hour at its equator, but flat-earthers are not buying it. Wouldn't people feel the rush of the rotation if the planet were spinning at that speed, you could ask.
Well, no, you wouldn't -- think about when you're an airplane or train ride that's moving at a constant speed, as astrophysicist Sabrina Stierwalt explained for Cornell University's "Ask An Astronomer." As long as it's a smooth, constant speed, you wouldn't feel any movements at all.
When you're on a flight, do you feel like you are personally blasting at 570 miles an hour through the air? You feel a change in speed, not a constant. If the Earth suddenly stopped moving, the atmosphere would continue to blast forward at 1,000 miles an hour, destroying everybody, according to NASA. Web comic XKCD's creator Randall Munroe explains the morbid aftermath in his book "What If?"
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