Debunk: The horizon never falling as proof of flat Earth theory

Marco Fatica

New Member
The youtube user, Immortalsouls, argues that the "fact" that the horizon never falls as altitude is gained is proof of a flat Earth.

Here is the link to the video in which he argues this:
He claims that the horizon never falling is ONLY possible on a Flat Earth.



Ps. I'm new to these forums and I know this post doesn't have a whole lot to debunk. Please be patient with me.

Flat earth theory is a disease rapidly spreading across the internet. I was shocked to discover that there are actually people who still believe in this.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's a waste of time. The majority of flat earthers are just trolling, or doing it as an intellectual exercise. There's nothing to debunk, and posting stuff here is just a distraction.
 

Marco Fatica

New Member
It's a waste of time. The majority of flat earthers are just trolling, or doing it as an intellectual exercise. There's nothing to debunk, and posting stuff here is just a distraction.
I think that we should debunk it, it's just as insane as any other conspiracy theory debunked here. There are many misguided people who believe in flat earth theory based on irrational, pseudoscientific "evidence." It is our duty to debunk this "evidence" and save people from their delusions. I used to believe in all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories before I discovered this site, so I know firsthand the power it has to save delusional people. Although you are the admin; if you do not wish me to make threads about this topic, I will not.
 

trevor

Active Member
It's a waste of time. The majority of flat earthers are just trolling, or doing it as an intellectual exercise. There's nothing to debunk, and posting stuff here is just a distraction.
mick, that was EXACTLY what i was thinking. I specifically thought to myself "wow, either i just ran into someone who is highly misinformed, or i just met the most BRILLIANT troll on youtube"...in the end, i still couldn't figure out if he was serious or not.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Seems like "the horizon always rises to eye level" is one the most oft-repeated flat earthisms. Thing is, it doesn't make any sense, not even on a flat earth, since even then the level of the horizon is surely always at 'sole of foot' level.

What I've taken it to mean is 'your eyes are always at horizon level when you're looking at the horizon'.

Hard to argue with that. ;-)
 

Rory

Senior Member.
So I just watched the video in the OP and it's actually pretty cool. It's a simulation of what the horizon would look like were we to gain altitude on a flat earth. The only problem is, it doesn't contain any figures or measurements. And since there's nothing else to look at other than a horizon line, it's only natural that our eyes are drawn to it, which is I guess how they come to their conclusion.

What I was thinking, though - and if I had Adobe After Effect I would have a go at this - would be to recreate it and also have a gauge showing elevation, distance to the horizon, and the angle between the viewer and the horizon, as well as a line parallel to the horizon showing eye level. That would be pretty cool - sort of like a simulated theodolite - and then do the same thing on a simulated sphere.

This is neat too:

Round Earth/Flat Earth Simulation

(You get to see what either model of the world looks like from a lighthouse as a ship sails away from you.)
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Here's a video of a guy measuring the angle between Warren Dunes State Park and Chicago with a theodolite:


He gives a couple of pages of figures showing his data and results:

theodolite data.JPG
theodolite data 2.JPG
I guess there are issues with it being impossible to know whether one is looking at the 'real' Chicago (Nowicki's Chicago would have yielded different results) but, whichever way one looks at it, his results confirm that the horizon isn't at eye level.
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
Tonight I could only see four Chicago buildings from Warren Dunes: Willis Tower, Aeon Building, Trump Tower, and Hancock.

My phone was not up to the task.

image.jpeg
You can see the first three buildings between the upright branch and the left hand tree. Vaugely. Hancock was behind the center branch here.

image.png
Helpful circles.


Comparison. The circles correspond to the three tall buildings on the left; Willis Tower (black), Aeon Center (looks like WTC), and Trump (blue and rounded)
 
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Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
image.jpeg
This one has the lit band of Hancock tower visible at far right (see below). To the left of Willis tower is the pinnacle light of 311 S Wacker (also below).

image.jpeg
This one's interesting because the light in the Willis is apparently above the level of the clouds. Latest midway METAR shows Broken clouds at 4000ft, whole O'Hare shows Scattered at 3700. Well above Willis' 1451' height. 311's light is right a water level, giving a hidden height of 900+ feet (height 961')

Hancock center at night.


Willis Tower and 311 S Wacker.
 
Lake Michigan is 307 miles long with an elevation of 580 ft + or - 4 ft at all points on the surface. Formula for Earth's curvature is Distance in miles squared X 2/3 = Curvature in feet. (307 X 307) 2/3 - 62,932.6 ft / 5280 = 11.9 miles. How can the elevation of Lake Michigan be the same at all locations with such a dramatic curve?
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
Lake Michigan is 307 miles long with an elevation of 580 ft + or - 4 ft at all points on the surface. Formula for Earth's curvature is Distance in miles squared X 2/3 = Curvature in feet. (307 X 307) 2/3 - 62,932.6 ft / 5280 = 11.9 miles. How can the elevation of Lake Michigan be the same at all locations with such a dramatic curve?
NB: this view is only 53 miles.

It's a common misconception among flat earth proponents to believe "water seeks the level" means the surface of water is a plane. Water seeks a lowest energy configuration, which broadly means a the state of lowest potential energy.

The largest part of this is gravitational potential energy, distance from the center of the earth. If some of the water's surface is further from the center of earth than the general level, it can flow laterally until the hump goes down and lower spots are filled, resulting in lower overall GPE. There are other terms that affect this, as well. Rotational energy causes the equatorial bulge, drawing the lowest energy configuration away from a perfect sphere. Other gravitational sources (moon, sun) have more dynamic effects that cause tides, etc.

What this means is that while on small scales water's surface closely approximates a plane, the actual shape is a section of the same oblate spheroid that describes the globe. Any surface that is normal to the gravitational potential at all points is "level". You could literally place a spirit level on the surface at any point and it would show level, so the entire surface is "level". Water seeks this level, not a plane.
 
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"NB: this view is only 53, miles."

https://dizzib.github.io/earth/curve-calc/?d0=30&h0=10&unit=imperial
1,873 ft
Could this formula be wrong?

"Any surface that is normal to the gravitational potential at all points is "level". You could literally place a spirit level on the surface at any point and it would show level, so the entire surface is "level". Water seeks this level, not a plane."

Does this mean that a compass at the equator points straight up rather than to "magnetic north"? And, if magnetic lines of force are curved, would you use the same formula as that of Earth's curvature?
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
I did the research last night:

53miles at 60 feet above lake level (measured by phone GPS) is drop height of 1262ft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_refraction

This adds 252 feet to apparent height as a first approximation, meaning apparent drop height is about 1000ft, which matches closely with 311 S Wacker being barely visible (961ft height)
 

Spectrar Ghost

Senior Member.
"Any surface that is normal to the gravitational potential at all points is "level". You could literally place a spirit level on the surface at any point and it would show level, so the entire surface is "level". Water seeks this level, not a plane."

Does this mean that a compass at the equator points straight up rather than to "magnetic north"? And, if magnetic lines of force are curved, would you use the same formula as that of Earth's curvature?
Gravitational potential and magnetic potential are not related, so I don't understand the question.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Lake Michigan is 307 miles long with an elevation of 580 ft + or - 4 ft at all points on the surface. Curvature = 11.9 miles. How can the elevation of Lake Michigan be the same at all locations with such a dramatic curve?
Rather than thinking of the level of water as being a flat plane, think of the level (sea, lake, etc) as meaning "the same distance from the centre of the earth" (ie, the centre of gravity).

John T. Banewicz said:
Formula for Earth's curvature is Distance in miles squared X 2/3 = Curvature in feet.

53 miles = 1,873 ft

Could this formula be wrong?
This formula is the one used to calculate what is commonly referred to as the "drop". More pertinent to most curvature tests, though, is "obscured height".

There's lots about this subject on the thread here:

https://www.metabunk.org/earth-curv...g-flat-concave-earth.t6042/page-3#post-168939

And the curvature calculator is a good tool to use:

www.metabunk.org/curve
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
So I finally got around to shelling out my £4.49 for the Hunter Theodolite App to see if I could measure some horizon droppage in the real world.

The first thing to note is that the bloody thing is not easy to calibrate. I used a good spirit level, I used measuring heights above the water in a swimming pool, triangulation techniques, and nothing really proved satisfactory or gave me figures I felt I could rely on. Plus, it only gives degrees to one decimal place, which isn't really precise enough for these calculations.

Still, having said all that, whether it's calibrated accurately or not, we can still see if there's a difference in angle to the horizon when elevation is changed, and that's enough for proving or disproving the hypothesis that "the horizon is always at eye level".

The following pictures were all taken with the same calibration setting (spirit level):

IMG_1414[1].JPG

Notes: actual GPS is 22.910663, -109.889924 (5 metres out); elevation the app reported varied a lot, from 155 feet to 185 feet, but generally around 168 feet, which appears to be right for this location when checking elsewhere (plus I was approximately 14 feet above ground level, for a total of 182 feet above sea level)

IMG_1431[1].JPG

Notes: actual GPS for this one was 22.897130, -109.888993 (about 6 metres off) and elevation was 48.5 feet (plus 5.5 feet for camera). This I find surprising, since I'm so close to the water. But I'm sure there's an explanation for it. ;)

IMG_1435[1].JPG

Notes: despite being from same position as above (sixteen seconds later) reported elevation has changed considerably, and GPS has shifted slightly. Ostensibly, the crosshair is at 'eye level'. But only ostensibly. ;)

CALCULATIONS

The viewing angle is equal to arccos(radius of earth/radius of earth+viewer height)



In this case the radius of earth is around 20914988 feet, returning predicted angles for the above two pictures of -0.24° and -0.13°.

CONCLUSION 1: The app isn't accurate and all figures have to be double-checked. Reported elevations vary from moment to moment. The GPS is close, but not spot on. The calibration is tough to do, and the elevation angles are only accurate to one decimal place. Looking at images others have provided using this app is probably useless, unless the methodology is known and trusted.

CONCLUSION 2: The apparent position of the horizon doesn't stay at the same level. Even though the figures reported by the app are dubious, they do show a change in viewing angle as elevation increases.

PS I would include a diagram and equation for how the angle to the horizon would be worked out on a flat earth - but then I realised I had no clue how to go about it. How would there even be a horizon if the earth were a flat plane?
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
So I calibrated the app again using the spirit level and took a series of photos from various elevations. I think after this I can safely conclude that the app is bunkum (has been debunked?) and that I wouldn't necessarily conclude anything from what it told me.

Still, here are the results:

POSITION 1

Actual elevation: 631 feet (including 5.5 feet for camera height)
Predicted angle: 0.45° (0.41° with standard refraction)
App angle: 0.9-1.0°
Degree of error: 0.45-0.59°

IMG_1492[1].JPG
Note: I accidentally deleted the 0.9° shot.

POSITION 2

Actual elevation: 601 feet
Predicted angle: 0.4-0.43
App angle: 1.0
Degree of error: 0.57-0.6

IMG_1490[1].JPG IMG_1484[1].JPG
Note: I took several more from here; they must have been way off the horizon for me to delete them.

POSITION 3

Actual elevation: 529.5 feet
Predicted angle: 0.38-0.41
App angle: 0.7-0.9
Degree of error: 0.29-0.52

IMG_1459[1].JPG IMG_1461[1].JPG IMG_1463[1].JPG IMG_1466[1].JPG

POSITION 4

Actual elevation: 433.5 feet
Predicted angle: 0.34-0.37
App angle: 0.4-0.7(!)
Degree of error: 0.03-0.36

IMG_1511[1].JPG IMG_1505[1].JPG IMG_1504[1].JPG

IN SUMMARY

Ok, so that's pretty exhaustive, but I guess it shows the accuracy of this app.

I suppose by calibrating 0.4-0.5° differently and cherry-picking shots, one could very easily produce a set of results that would match what was expected. But that wouldn't be honest.

In a nutshell: pics from this app aren't to be trusted - even though they show us exactly what we want to see. ;)

PS This screen popped up after I'd taken these pics:

IMG_1535[1].PNG

So it claims accuracy to 0.1°, but I don't see how that can be true, given how different the results can be for basically the same shot.

Although I did just set it on a table and let the video function run for a minute, and the degrees of elevation it returned were much more stable (ie, it flickered between 2.6 and 2.7 degrees, but never went outside of these).

Only thing I can think of doing next is: using a tripod; calibrating to a known angle, such as 0.4° from Position 2; and asking for my £4.49 back. ;)
 
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Gravitational potential and magnetic potential are not related, so I don't understand the question.
Great point. Thanks for bringing it up. Since we know the effects of gravity but not the cause, it may be that magnetism has two directions: one force down, and another perpendicular to the downward force. One force in two directions.

For the needle on a mechanical magnetic compass to freely rotate, it must be parallel to the magnetic lines of force or it will stick to the glass surface and the metal bottom. If standing on the equator on a round Earth, that would mean the needle is pointing in a direction parallel to magnetic lines of force; not to magnetic north. If magnetic lines of force didn't follow the contour of Earth's surface, the compass needle would stick.

Again, since we don't know what gravity is, it may be the result of magnetic attraction to Earth's surface with a perpendicular force in a direction we call north.
 

Inti

Senior Member.
Seems like "the horizon always rises to eye level" is one the most oft-repeated flat earthisms. Thing is, it doesn't make any sense, not even on a flat earth, since even then the level of the horizon is surely always at 'sole of foot' level.

What I've taken it to mean is 'your eyes are always at horizon level when you're looking at the horizon'.

Hard to argue with that. ;-)
I'm reminded of the old saying that it is miraculous how everybody's legs are always just long enough to reach the ground.
 

Chew

Senior Member.
If magnetic lines of force didn't follow the contour of Earth's surface, the compass needle would stick.
Magnetic lines of force do not follow the contour of the Earth's surface except at the magnetic equator. Hence the phenomenon known as "magnetic dip" as measured by "dip circles".
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Seems like "the horizon always rises to eye level" is one the most oft-repeated flat earthisms. Thing is, it doesn't make any sense, not even on a flat earth, since even then the level of the horizon is surely always at 'sole of foot' level.

What I've taken it to mean is 'your eyes are always at horizon level when you're looking at the horizon'.

Hard to argue with that. ;-)
This comes from a useful rule on how to identify the horizon's approximate position when you can't see it. As my school teacher explained it, the horizon will be at the eye level of the people standing in the front of you, provided they are as tall as yourself and stand on the same level as you do.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
The youtube user, Immortalsouls, argues that the "fact" that the horizon never falls as altitude is gained is proof of a flat Earth.

Here is the link to the video in which he argues this:
He claims that the horizon never falling is ONLY possible on a Flat Earth.
Just going back to the original video: notice how the only way he can get the horizon not to dip at all on his flat Earth model is to make the Earth infinitely big. On a finite Earth, whether flat or round, the horizon still dips as your viewpoint rises. Just not by the same amount.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
How big in diameter do they say the FE is?
They hedge behind not having an agreed upon map. But to fit in North and South America it's going to have to be at least 6,000 miles to the (ice wall/edge of the earth) from Los Angeles, so you would never see a sharp horizon, especially not when you zoom in.

Anyway, that's a bit of a side point. The real point here is that the horizon does fall below eye level, and you can measure how much it falls.
 
Rather than thinking of the level of water as being a flat plane, think of the level (sea, lake, etc) as meaning "the same distance from the centre of the earth" (ie, the centre of gravity).


This formula is the one used to calculate what is commonly referred to as the "drop". More pertinent to most curvature tests, though, is "obscured height".

There's lots about this subject on the thread here:

https://www.metabunk.org/earth-curv...g-flat-concave-earth.t6042/page-3#post-168939

And the curvature calculator is a good tool to use:

www.metabunk.org/curve
Thanks. The above link is an excellent calculator.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Tonight I could only see four Chicago buildings from Warren Dunes: Willis Tower, Aeon Building, Trump Tower, and Hancock.

My phone was not up to the task.
This is a good viewpoint. A decent SLR with a telephoto lens (and maybe an IR filter) should produce some interesting pictures.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Has anyone got access to a drone? I've been thinking lately about how to get good proof that the horizon isn't always at eye level using the theodolite app.

Idea #1: Go up a high hill near me (about 1200 feet) and then turn the video function on and drive down to the beach, keeping the theodolite more or less centered on the horizon.

Idea #2: Go down the beach and fix my iphone to a drone, centering the crosshair on the horizon. Then fly the drone up to about 600 feet while it's videoing, and then back down again.

Idea #2 seems way better to me. Much more stable and doable and, anyway, I tried #1 on my bike already and it was a pain in the ass and for some reason the video didn't process.

PS Why a video? Because with stills the FECTists could point out that, being as the app is self-calibrating, any angle could be shown at any given location.

(NB: I still wouldn't expect it to convince the diehards: from experience, their cognitive dissonance and distrust of...well, everything is such that they may well decide that because it's an Apple product and linked to GPS (even though this can be turned off) there's still the chance that secret government Nazis are tampering with the data, somehow aware that someone's carrying out a Flat Earth experiment, and manipulating the angles to tally with 'the globe'.)
 

Rory

Senior Member.
A few shots from the Hunter theodolite on an iPhone SE over the last few days, first calibrating at sea level and then going up a 1500 feet hill. Predicted dip to the horizon from that height is 0.6°.

7a. TH000005.JPG

7c. TH000015.JPG

7d. TH000017.JPG

7b. TH000011.JPG

The theodolite app claims accuracy to 0.1°, so I suppose the range in those pictures could be anywhere from -0.4° to -0.8°. Though it's perhaps telling that the -0.5° shot is just above the horizon and the -0.7° shot just below.

I also did a test run with the Dioptra theodolite app for Android and found it pretty useless, at least for my phone. There doesn't seem to be a way to calibrate it and, when I took it to sea level, it was showing 2.7°. Then I climbed a 500 foot hill and it showed anywhere from 2.4-2.8°.

Some have said it works well on higher end phones - mine's a Moto G3 - but I'd personally be very dubious of any photos taken with the Dioptra.
 
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