Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Do you know the world is round?


Inspired by "Why Johnny can't reed gud."

Can you prove that the earth is round, or is that something that you know only because you were taught?

Danil
Friday, September 05, 2003


Some twat in Egypt proved it a couple thousand years ago with only a couple of sticks. How about something harder?

anon
Friday, September 05, 2003

I have fun with this one a lot, often following bitchfests about teaching creationism. I point out that for most people, evolution or physics are just as much religion as creationism is - they're taken 100% on faith.

And this brings an exceptionally valid point for software development - always question. Perform timings, benchmarks, comparisons. Ask for documentation. Be able to state *why* bound controls are evil, or why you prefer SP's over embedded SQL.

Mantras and silly consistencies are for lesser individuals. ;-)

Philo

Philo
Friday, September 05, 2003

Didn't someone fly a plane around the world?

Jeff MacDonald
Friday, September 05, 2003

You're all a bunch of heretics!

Next you'll be trying to tell me that earth revolves around the sun, and that I am not the center of the universe.

Steve Barbour
Friday, September 05, 2003

Hey!!  I thought the earth revolved around Larry Ellison.

Jeff MacDonald
Friday, September 05, 2003

How about that nice round shadow on the moon during an eclipse? The fact that we can see the shape from space, every other planet we can see is round, etc?

!El gato es muy gordo!
Friday, September 05, 2003

> Can you prove that the earth is round, or is that something that you know only because you were taught?

Now I have to go epistomological on you: can we prove things about the physical world at all?

We can indeed assemble a body of evidence to demonstrate fairly convincingly that *to the best of our knowledge* the world is (approximately) round, but that is not a proof, in the mathematical sense of the word.

And while going meta: what standards of evidence will you establish? Does a photograph of the earth from space constitute proof, or must you see it in person? If everything must be proved by demonstrating it to you, then the amount of things that you can believe in will be small indeed.

Peter Breton
Friday, September 05, 2003

I once read that the ancient Greeks even knew the world to be round because when a ship appeared on the horizon its sail was always seen first.  The author's point was that it is nonsense to think that in 1492 educated people actually thought the world was flat.  The question was how big it was.

I also recall reading that the Arab mathematicians had a pretty calculation done as to the circumference of the world but that Columbus either wasn't aware of it or misread it.

Name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, September 05, 2003

Actually I lived and taught for years in the town where Columbus's cartographer came from, Blanes at the southermost point of the Costa Brava. One of the main streets in Blanes, Joaquim Ferrer is named after him, and there is a small side street hidden in the old corner of Barcelona called Carrer Ferrer de Blanes.

Few people know what the guy was famous (infamous for) whereas the life story of the town's other leading citizen, the writer Joaqium Ruyra, is taught in all the local primary schools.

Must be embarrasing when your town's most favourite son owes his fame to being so spectacularly wrong.

And even more so when the direct result of his mistake is United States world domination :)

Stephen Jones
Friday, September 05, 2003

Philo: Evolution and physics are not taught in a vacuum, nor are they absolute claims of accuracy. Science in general only claims to approach the truth. Along with evolution and physics (and biology), students are taught the scientific method, which is designed to question absolutes, find problems with answers, and work to more accurate solutions.

Unlike the other method (my priest, or mom, or psychic, or alien abductor told me so), it works pretty well, replacing old theories with new ones as more evidence is discovered.

As for whether the world is round, I know it for 2 reasons: 1) when I look at the horizon at the ocean or on the Prairies, it visibly curves; 2) I've been around it in a plane. There are other proofs that don't require faith, but I'm not going to type them out here. :-)

Tim Sullivan
Friday, September 05, 2003

"And even more so when the direct result of his mistake is United States world domination :) "

A lot more went into the US dominated the world than some silly European who got lost and made landfall in the wrong place....

Mark Hoffman
Friday, September 05, 2003

How about the pictures of the earch from space?  Oh, yeah, those were faked... sorry!

__
Friday, September 05, 2003

"students are taught the scientific method, which is designed to question absolutes, find problems with answers"

...except of course for generally accepted community norms. Questioning those will usually get you ostracized.

Philo

Philo
Friday, September 05, 2003

"The question was how big it was."

That question had been answered by Eratosthenes, sometime before 200 BC.  Columbus was stoned.

Danil
Friday, September 05, 2003

Philo:

Unless you have a really good reason to question, say, the law of conservation of energy, changes are you won't be treated with professional respect if you decry it.

However, science frequently has undergone radical changes in their theories when evidence was shown to the contrary. Indeed, Einstein's theories have been updated by people like Hawking. In science, nothing is absolute if someone can show differently, consistently.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, September 05, 2003

Of course, you realize that

-- Windows is the OS of choice among Judeo/Christians, as it was built on capitalism.

-- Unix/Linux (and especially BSD) are the OS of choice for ummmm,
<echo> Satan </echo>, sporting d(a)emons and communism (Stallman, etc.).

Not sure what this has to do with anything.  Do you?

Church Lady
Friday, September 05, 2003

"Unless you have a really good reason to question, say, the law of conservation of energy, changes are you won't be treated with professional respect if you decry it."

From what I've seen, it's actually "if you question the law of conservation of energy, you won't be treated with professional respect, whether you have good reason or not"

Question the establishment, get tarred and feathered. Question the establishment for a few generations and you might just start to make some progress.

Philo

Philo
Friday, September 05, 2003

"...except of course for generally accepted community norms. Questioning those will usually get you ostracized."

If you want to talk ostracism, try questioning natural-materialist philosophy in any "academic" institution.

Jim Rankin
Friday, September 05, 2003

Shadow distance changes the further north-south you go.  Not much of an intellectual leap from there.

qwerty
Saturday, September 06, 2003

The Earth isn't round, it's an oblate spheriod.

RB
Saturday, September 06, 2003

I have proof ;) http://www.visibleearth.nasa.gov/data/ev116/ev11664_rotate_320.mpg

Shane_from_Dominos
Saturday, September 06, 2003

> Shadow distance changes the further north-south you go.  Not much of an intellectual leap from there.

HA! How would that prove the world is round, spheric or any other shape of your choice?

I state that earth is a plane and the sun is very close above, some 20000 km above. And of course, the sun's diameter is only a few kilometers, say 10 or so.
The further I walk away from the point where the sun is exactly above, the longer the shadows get thrown.


char* full_name()
Saturday, September 06, 2003

I once read a really good SF story - two astronauts in a capsule enroute to the moon were talking about previous missions that had all disappeared just as they started around the dark side of the moon. They got into a philosophical discussion, with one guy taking the stance that the reason the missions disappeared was that the earth and heavens were "built" as a habitat for man and couldn't stand closer examination.
Then, as they came around the moon, they saw the back of it - scaffolding and trusses, with writing on them.

Cut to a debriefing, where it becomes apparent that the whole thing was a "Capricorn One" type charade on the astronauts, to test psychological effects of the unknown. Their viewscreens were *supposed* to blank out when they circled behind the fake moon, and they'd observe the astronauts to see how they reacted to the stress.

Instead, now one astronaut was in a seizure-induced coma and the other was in a religious fugue state...

Philo

Philo
Sunday, September 07, 2003

It isn't round, it is a flattened globe shape with lots of indentations and lumps.


Monday, September 08, 2003

The *Earth* might be round, though as it lacks a sharp boundary (like everything else), it's difficult to say whether it really has a definable shape, or whether that's just a useful convention. Probably the latter.

My *world* doesn't look at all round to me. Either it's infinite in all directions, or it doesn't have any dimensionality at all, depending how you look at it.

Dave Hallett
Monday, September 08, 2003

The idea of a round earth was hotly debated for some time,
sailors fearing to sail too far out and sailing off the edge.Now that we have access to space, the easiest way to prove the Earth is round
view it from a distance.

johanne hall
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Americans are dominant and will rule the world

johanne hall
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home