The Earth is round; it’s a scientific fact. However, there is a sizeable and vocal online community that believes Earth is flat.
In order to further cement the fact we live on a globe, self-described whimsical scientist Kurtis Baute travelled from Vancouver to Regina to recreate an ancient experiment.
More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greek mathematician Eratosthenes set up sundials far away from each other on a straight line. With the help of an assistant, he measured the length of the shadows they cast. Using the difference in their lengths Eratosthenes was able to calculate the approximate circumference of the planet.
Baute performs a variety of experiments for his Youtube channel, which brought him from Vancouver to Regina.
“I came to Saskatchewan because there’s one of the longest and straightest roads in the entire world. That will allow [me] to measure a very long distance, in a straight line, with my bike,” Baute explained.
He partnered with the Saskatchewan Science Centre to recreate Eratosthenes’ experiment. Baute biked from 138 kilometres straight down Highway 33 to Stoughton.
Once there, he set up a sundial and measurements of the shadows were taken in the two communities at the same time of day.
He found that there was a 3.9 centimetre difference in the length of the shadows.
“By doing that we were able to calculate how big the earth was. The shadows weren’t the same size because the Earth is round,” he said.
Why recreate this ancient experiment? Baute said that it is with the hope of trying to enter online echo chambers where people believe Earth is flat.
“There are a lot of weird niches on the internet where people can re-enforce other people’s opinions and get away from the real facts of the matter,” he said.
“With flat earth, these are not stupid people, it is a complicated theory. They have to explain gravity and you have to explain a lot of things. They aren’t right, but I don’t think it’s fair to call them stupid. They’re just wrong. They need to have more videos like this that show the right answers.”
Baute tracked his journey on online and has been able to engage in discussions with people who were skeptical about Earth being round.
“It’s been great because I’ve been able to have real, honest discussion about that and about the experiments that we do that have proven it is round,” he said.
“I’ve gotten a few people that are just spouting lore about the flat Earth, but hopefully this might help change some people’s minds, or get people excited about science.”
Baute plans to release the full video of his experiment on his Youtube channel next week.
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