How do you know the Earth is spherical? As a math person, it’s not good enough to say “Because my teacher/book/mom told me so.” We only accept it if there is proof. Which can either be empirical proof (say if you go to the moon, and can watch the earth slowly rotating in front of you), or mathematical proof.
If you want mathematical proof, then you’re in luck! This
Wednesday, September 21st at 5 pm in PHSC 1105
our own Michael Jablonski will be speaking on just this topic:
Title: How to prove the Earth is round, like it’s 1860.
Abstract: Considering many ancient cultures had different beliefs on the shape of the world, we shouldn’t take our modern knowledge for granted. In this lecture, we will discuss some ancient proofs that the Earth is round, highlighting their potential shortcomings. We give a modern proof – introducing the notions of shape, curvature, and surfaces. The talk should be accessible to anyone with knowledge of (multivariate) calculus.
And, of course, the Free Pizza!
If you’re looking for empirical proof and you look out the windows from the 11th floor of the math building at OU, you’d swear that the earth is flat. But when you start to think more seriously about it, there’s at least hints that it’s not flat after all. In fact, as far back as Aristotle in 330 BC, most educated people believed the Earth was round.
If you learned in elementary school that people of the time thought Columbus would sail off the edge of the Earth, then you learned wrong. That’s the Myth of the Flat Earth.
There is a famous Flammarion engraving which many people claim represents a flat earth point of view and, in particular, a person reaching the “edge” of the flat Earth:
It’s called the Flammarion engraving because it first appeared in a book by Flammarion. It should come as no surprise that the excellent OU History of Science collection has a first edition of the book. You can check out high quality photos of the Flammarion engraving and a bunch of other cool images from the book here. For example: