The Flat Earth Society maintains a web site here:
Their model of the flat earth has the sun and the moon traveling in circular orbits above the earth. In this model the sun is envisioned as a kind of flashlight, with the light from the sun falling on the earth in a bounded cone. I will call this the “solar flashlight” flat earth model.
The advocates of this model explain that it doesn’t suffer from the problems described in Part 2 of my discussions as the sun never dips below the horizon. And they further claim that gravity doesn’t work the way that Newton described it. Instead they claim that what we call the attractive force of gravity is really due to the fact that the planet is accelerating upwards at a rate of 1 g. They claim that there is scientific evidence for this idea based on the recent discovery that the rate of the expansion of the universe is increasing, rather than decreasing.
This model ignores several key facts about the earth and about the motions of physical objects in our universe.
First problem: It ignores the results of the Cavendish experiment, described in Part 3. That experiment shows that there is indeed an attractive force between all bodies of matter. The point of the Cavendish experiment is that all bodies of matter in the universe exert an attractive force on all other bodies of matter. Furthermore that experiment showed that the direction of attraction between two separated bodies is not just “up and down”, but is rather directed along the line that intersects the two centers of mass. The force of gravitation is therefore “universal” because it is exerted between all bodies of matter in the universe, and in all directions. So the notion that “gravity works differently on earth” contradicts long standing known experimental results.
Second problem: The orbits of the sun and the moon as described in the solar flashlight model cannot possibly be maintained. Newton’s three laws of motion prohibit it. These laws are as follows:
- An object at rest will remain at rest, and an object in uniform motion will remain in uniform motion unless acted on by an external force.
- The force acting on a body of mass is equal to the change in momentum per unit time.
- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
According to the solar flashlight model, the sun and moon are constrained to circular orbits. How? According to Newton’s first law bodies in uniform motion will remain in uniform motion unless acted on by an external force. The sun and moon in the solar flashlight model are not in uniform motion because they move in circles, not in a straight line. Therefore according to the first law they must be under the influence of an external force. But what force? There is nothing in the model that could possibly exert a force that would constrain both objects to circular orbits.
In the Copernican model of planetary motion the planets are constrained to elliptical paths by the gravitational force of the sun. Without something to pull the sun and the moon toward a central point they would go flying off into space. Those who support this model therefore must not believe in Newton’s first law of motion. And it’s pretty clear that they don’t believe in the other two of Newton’s three laws either.
Third problem: A flashlight focuses light within a cone because it has a parabolic mirror behind the light bulb. Are the advocates of the solar flashlight model claiming that there is a parabolic mirror behind the sun that focuses the light? If so that mirror should be visible to our telescopes. Oddly, no such mirror has ever been observed– except in the fevered imaginings of the advocates of the solar flashlight model.
NASA created two spacecraft that were designed to observe the sun simultaneously from two different positions– thereby providing us with a stereoscopic view of Coronal Mass Ejections. The spacecraft were launched in 2006. Here is a link to the NASA web site that describes the details of this mission: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/mission/index.html
The STEREO spacecraft are currently on the other side of the sun and are therefore seeing the sun from behind. They have never observed a parabolic mirror focusing the light of the sun. Here is a link to a video that explains the mission’s current configuration: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12390
Fourth problem: And what about eclipses? A solar eclipse is one in which the moon passes before the sun and blocks it from our view. This type of eclipse would be possible in the solar flashlight model as the moon can block the sun if its orbit is below that of the sun.
But a lunar eclipse is one in which the moon falls behind the earth’s shadow. That’s simply not a possible configuration in the solar flashlight model because the earth is never positioned between the sun and the moon. So solar eclipses are possible in the solar flashlight model, but lunar eclipses are not.
Actually they have an explanation for lunar eclipses. They claim that there is a Shadow object that circulates through the heavens and which periodically blocks the light of the moon. It’s a convenient notion. But if it were actually true then the Shadow object would block out the light of the stars as it circulates through the skies. This has in fact never been observed. So we may dismiss this idea as nothing more than an attempt to dress up a lame hypothesis with a very poorly thought out fix.
Summary: The solar flashlight model is astounding for its evident denial of experimental facts. We know that flat earth propagandists refuse to consider any evidence from satellites, from manned space missions, or from photographs. But the advocates of the solar flashlight model go much farther than that. They deny the reality of the Cavendish experiment, of Newton’s three laws of motion, and of the many lunar eclipses that humanity has witnessed over the last many thousands of years. This is truly an extraordinary model for the breathtaking reach of its denial of physical reality. It is not a physically possible hypothesis, though it does appear to be quite popular.