science education

Do Millennials doubt that Earth is “round”?

Spread the love
Engraving from Renaissance Italy (Gafurius’s Practica musice, 1496) showing Apollo, the Muses, the planetary spheres and musical modes.

Technically, Earth is a sphere, of course, as in a baseball rather than a dinner plate.

From CBS:

A new survey has found that a third of young millennials in the U.S. aren’t convinced the Earth is actually round. The national poll reveals that 18 to 24-year-olds are the largest group in the country who refuse to accept the scientific facts of the world’s shape. More.

Now, this came out on April 5, not April 1.

Two things: If you had attended a cathedral school a millennium ago, you would have known the Earth – like all the “heavenly bodies” – is a sphere. You might not have learned much else by way of science but you would have learned that.

Second, if this finding holds up, it tells us how successful recent education methods for which we all pay taxes have been.

8 Replies to “Do Millennials doubt that Earth is “round”?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note: With the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), the universe is now found to be a circular sphere:

    Picture of CMBR

    It is interesting to note how precise, and mysterious, the ’roundness’ of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is:

    The Cosmic Background Radiation
    Excerpt: These fluctuations are extremely small, representing deviations from the average of only about 1/100,000 of the average temperature of the observed background radiation. The highly isotropic nature of the cosmic background radiation indicates that the early stages of the Universe were almost completely uniform. This raises two problems for (a naturalistic understanding of) the big bang theory.
    First, when we look at the microwave background coming from widely separated parts of the sky it can be shown that these regions are too separated to have been able to communicate with each other even with signals traveling at light velocity. Thus, how did they know to have almost exactly the same temperature? This general problem is called the horizon problem.
    Second, the present Universe is homogenous and isotropic, but only on very large scales. For scales the size of superclusters and smaller the luminous matter in the universe is quite lumpy, as illustrated in the following figure. ,,, Thus, the discovery of small deviations from smoothness (anisotopies) in the cosmic microwave background is welcome, for it provides at least the possibility for the seeds around which structure formed in the later Universe. However, as we shall see, we are still far from a quantitative understanding of how this came to be.

    Moreover, these tiny temperature fluctuations correspond to the largest scale structures of the universe and prove that the universe, besides being exceptionally round, is also exceptionally flat,

    How do we know the universe is flat? Discovering the topology of the universe – by Fraser Cain – June 7, 2017
    Excerpt: With the most sensitive space-based telescopes they have available, astronomers are able to detect tiny variations in the temperature of this background radiation.
    And here’s the part that blows my mind every time I think about it. These tiny temperature variations correspond to the largest scale structures of the observable universe. A region that was a fraction of a degree warmer become a vast galaxy cluster, hundreds of millions of light-years across.
    The cosmic microwave background radiation just gives and gives, and when it comes to figuring out the topology of the universe, it has the answer we need. If the universe was curved in any way, these temperature variations would appear distorted compared to the actual size that we see these structures today.
    But they’re not. To best of its ability, ESA’s Planck space telescope, can’t detect any distortion at all. The universe is flat.

    “Flat” to within 1 part to 10^57.

    How do we know the universe is flat? Discovering the topology of the universe – by Fraser Cain – June 7, 2017
    Excerpt: We say that the universe is flat, and this means that parallel lines will always remain parallel. 90-degree turns behave as true 90-degree turns, and everything makes sense.,,,
    Another thing this does, is that it actually causes a problem for the original Big Bang theory, requiring the development of a theory like inflation.
    Since the universe is flat now, it must have been flat in the past, when the universe was an incredibly dense singularity. And for it to maintain this level of flatness over 13.8 billion years of expansion, in kind of amazing.
    In fact, astronomers estimate that the universe must have been flat to 1 part within 1×10^57 parts.
    Which seems like an insane coincidence.

    Though atheists astrophysicists may be flabbergasted by such findings, the Bible predicted the universe to be round and flat thousands of years before these attributes were discovered by modern science:

    Proverbs 8:26-27
    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

    Job 26:10
    He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.

    Job 38:4-5
    “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    Besides the Cosmic Background Radiation, there are two other places in the universe where ‘exceptional roundness’ is found. First the sun,,,

    Sun’s Almost Perfectly Round Shape Baffles Scientists – (Aug. 16, 2012) —
    Excerpt: The sun is nearly the roundest object ever measured. If scaled to the size of a beach ball, it would be so round that the difference between the widest and narrow diameters would be much less than the width of a human hair.,,, They also found that the solar flattening is remarkably constant over time and too small to agree with that predicted from its surface rotation.

    and then this ‘exceptional roundness’ found for the ‘bucky ball’ carbon molecule:

    Bucky Balls – Andy Gion
    Excerpt: Buckyballs (C60; Carbon 60) are the roundest and most symmetrical large molecule known to man. Buckministerfullerine continues to astonish with one amazing property after another. C60 is the third major form of pure carbon; graphite and diamond are the other two. Buckyballs were discovered in 1985,,,

    The delicate balance at which carbon is synthesized in stars is truly a work of art. Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), a famed astrophysicist, is the scientist who established the nucleo-synthesis of heavier elements within stars as mathematically valid in 1946. Hoyle is said to have converted from staunch atheism into being a Theist/Deist after discovering the precise balance at which carbon is synthesized in stars. Years after Sir Fred discovered the stunning precision with which carbon is synthesized in stars he stated this:

    “I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars.”
    Sir Fred Hoyle – “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12

    Of supplemental note:

    What is curious about some of these ‘anomalies’ in the CMBR (that cannot be explained by the ‘simple’ inflation model of materialists), is that these ‘anomalies’ in the Cosmic Background Radiation also strangely line up with the earth and solar system.

    What Is Evil About The Axis Of Evil? – February 17, 2015
    The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Radiation contains small temperature fluctuations.
    When these temperature fluctuations are analyzed using image processing techniques (specifically spherical harmonics), they indicate a special direction in space, or, in a sense, an axis through the universe. This axis is correlated back to us, and causes many difficulties for the current big bang and standard cosmology theories. What has been discovered is shocking.
    Two scientists, Kate Land and João Magueijo, in a paper in 2005 describing the axis, dubbed it the “Axis of Evil” because of the damage it does to current theories, and (tongue in cheek) as a response to George Bush’ Axis of Evil speech regarding Iraq, Iran and, North Korea.
    (Youtube clip on site)
    In the above video, Max Tegmark describes in a simplified way how spherical harmonics analysis decomposes the small temperature fluctuations into more averaged and spatially arranged temperature components, known as multipoles.
    The “Axis of Evil” correlates to the earth’s ecliptic and equinoxes, and this represents a very unusual and unexpected special direction in space, a direct challenge to the Copernican Principle.

    Is there a violation of the Copernican principle in radio sky? – Ashok K. Singal – May 17, 2013
    Abstract: Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) observations from the WMAP satellite have shown some unexpected anisotropies (directionally dependent observations), which surprisingly seem to be aligned with the eclipticcite {20,16,15}. The latest data from the Planck satellite have confirmed the presence of these anisotropiescite {17}. Here we report even larger anisotropies in the sky distributions of powerful extended quasars and some other sub-classes of radio galaxies in the 3CRR catalogue, one of the oldest and most intensively studies sample of strong radio sourcescite{21,22,3}. The anisotropies lie about a plane passing through the two equinoxes and the north celestial pole (NCP). We can rule out at a 99.995% confidence level the hypothesis that these asymmetries are merely due to statistical fluctuations. Further, even the distribution of observed radio sizes of quasars and radio galaxies show large systematic differences between these two sky regions. The redshift distribution appear to be very similar in both regions of sky for all sources, which rules out any local effects to be the cause of these anomalies. Two pertinent questions then arise. First, why should there be such large anisotropies present in the sky distribution of some of the most distant discrete sources implying inhomogeneities in the universe at very large scales (covering a fraction of the universe)? What is intriguing even further is why such anisotropies should lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It looks as if these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which all modern cosmological theories are based upon.

    George Ellis, and even Stephen Hawking himself, state that the Copernican principle was never based on observational science, (but was instead just a polemic device that was used (apparently by atheists) in ‘philosophical debates’ ).

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis – W. Wayt Gibbs, “Profile: George F. R. Ellis,” Scientific American, October 1995, Vol. 273, No.4, p. 55

    “So which is real, the Ptolemaic or Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest.
    Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”
    Stephen Hawking – The Grand Design – pages 39 – 2010

  2. 2
    Neil Rickert says:

    From the linked site:

    Only 66 percent of young millennials answered that they “always believe the world is round.”

    As I read that, it show that 66% of millennials do not understand the meaning of “always”. It is worse for other age groups.

    Maybe if the people conducting this poll had come up with better wording for their questions, the results would have been different.

  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    And there are people who actually believe in evolution.

    Brawndo. It’s what plants crave.

  4. 4
    News says:

    Neil Rickert at 2, that’s a good point but the pollsters are probably constrained by the need to maintain a pattern in how they ask questions, for the purpose of automatic summation.

  5. 5
    polistra says:

    I’ll bet most of those negative answers are just being fussy about the definition of “round”. We learn in science class that the earth is slightly flattened at the ends and slightly bulgy in the middle. Teachers make a point of saying it’s not perfectly round.

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    Technically, Earth is a sphere, of course, as in a baseball rather than a dinner plate.

    *sigh* Technically, of course, the Earth is most definitely not a sphere – it’s wider at the equator.

  7. 7
    Jon Garvey says:

    *sigh* Technically, of course, the Earth is most definitely not a sphere – it’s wider at the equator.

    As an aside, I can just imagine if some skeptics had had their way, and God had made Genesis a scientific cosmological account acceptable to today’s popular mind rather than what it is.

    “In the beginning God created the earth as a sphere revolving around the sun.” would soon be shouting, “It says it’s round, but we all know it’s an oblate spheroid… AND the earth doesn’t revolve round the sun, but around the solar system’s centre of gravity…”

    It’s a double standard, though – whether it’s a sphere or a spheroid, it’s not the point source that astronautical engineers assume in doing Newtonian gravity calculations.

  8. 8
    ET says:


    Technically, of course, the Earth is most definitely not a sphere – it’s wider at the equator.

    You couldn’t tell by looking at it from the Moon.

    24,902 miles around the equator and 24,860 miles around the prime meridian. And most likely that is only because of its rotational speed. Which means most likely the Earth is a sphere and only its motion takes it out of that configuration.

Leave a Reply