Celebrate Science Day 2020 by proving the Earth is not flat.
- Flat-Earthers drive rational people nuts.
- A physicist offers three experiments to confirm it is those people who are crazy, not you.
- The experiments, however, do require a belief in mathematics.
Experiment 1: Catch a sunset twice<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2ODQxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Mjk0Mzg5NX0.VR2LnQx4TKhyTwmSoZSkDfsOMgqac4d6Drm49vyYCGA/img.jpg?width=980" id="64198" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="294982a49a33773d038f756f7227b37d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Johannes Plenio/Unsplash<p>At the top of the calculator is the "Select an experiment" drop-down menu. Let's start with the "<a href="https://www.omnicalculator.com/physics/flat-vs-round-earth#sunset-twice-experiment" target="_blank">sunset twice</a>" experiment.</p><p>Wooding notes that you can prove the Earth is round by standing up quickly right after the Sun goes down and getting ahead of the shadow cast by the horizon so you can see the sun set a second time. If the planet were flat, once it went over the edge from your first viewing position it would be gone.</p><p>You may want to find out the time of sunset before testing out the calculator. There are many places online to find this information. <a href="https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/" target="_blank">Here's one</a>.</p><p>To use the calculator, begin by selecting a city in your time zone. Wooding has pre-entered the sunset duration for you, though you can look up the precise value online for your location.</p><p>There are three ways to increase your height, selected from the "Ideas" menu: standing up from a lying down position, taking the sky-lift elevator at the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Burj Khalifa Hotel</a> in Dubai, or sending up a drone with a camera on it. Most of us will select the first option.</p><p>Next, you enter your starting height (the default for lying down is .6562 feet), how long it will take you to stand up, and then the final standing elevation, presumably of your eyes.</p><p>What the calculator finds for you is the percentage of the second sunset you'll see. Note that for the sky-lift and drone tests, you see a lot more of that second sunset given the greater height and your accelerated ascent speed.</p>
Experiment 2: Disappearing object<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2ODQxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDIzOTU5MX0.NUrgcREKhtrD4TfGtDTDB7_WuCbYTreoXSTnWCsE3Mw/img.jpg?width=980" id="fdac5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d6fd8797e0bffb64f96d6104e04d09c4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Michael Olsen/Unsplash<p>Thanks to the curvature of the Earth, you can make an object on a distant lake shore seem to <a href="https://www.omnicalculator.com/physics/flat-vs-round-earth#disappearing-object-experiment" target="_blank">disappear</a> with a change in viewing height.</p><p>You'll need binoculars for this one. And, um, a lake.</p><p>The calculator will tell you how much of the object will become unobservable after you fill in the three values.</p><p>(You may also need a boat to measure the distance.)</p>
Experiment 3: Stick shadows<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2ODQyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTM2MTg0Nn0.eyqFl7ulLoMf8UvNYXoPrZ3vcLwyygaM9QJ70EjD9NI/img.jpg?width=980" id="3d767" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ba382e4212a5f7a8ad4e58dba4e38b1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Logan Radinovich/Unsplash<p><a href="https://www.omnicalculator.com/physics/flat-vs-round-earth#instructions-for-measuring-how-big-the-earth-is-using-stick-shadows" target="_blank">For this one</a> you'll need a cooperative friend who lives at least some distance away, or a teleporter. Also two sticks and a day with enough sunlight to cast shadows in both locations.</p><p>This experiment involves measuring shadows cast at two different locations and calculating the angle between them to arrive at the Earth's circumference.</p><p>This experiment is a little advanced mathematically, and Wooding offers a help link if you're confused.</p>
We make school kids read "Lord of the Flies"—but it's only half the story.
- The iconic novel "Lord of the Flies" paints a picture of human beings as naturally selfish and prone to conflict, but that is not the most accurate depiction of humanity, argues historian Rutger Bregman.
- Bregman shares a true story from his research about a group of Tongan students who survived on an island together for 15 months in 1965, not through brutal alliances, but by working together and forming a functional community.
- Darwin's observation of domestication syndrome is apparent in humans, argues Bregman; our evolution into friendlier animals can be seen in our biological features and responses. Evolutionarily speaking, being "soft" is actually very smart, and we evolved to cooperate with one another for mutual gain.
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.
Scientists have identified the largest ever assemblage of mammoth bones.
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.