The World is Flat

If you ever wondered where Tom Friedman got the idea, here is a wild conjecture. Friedman thought that invading Iraq was a good idea. So they went and bombed Iraq and flattened it. Little surprise then that some Iraqis think that the earth is flat and Tom wrote a book that the world is flat. QED.

The Earth is Flat: Debate on Iraqi TV.

Mind you, not all Iraqis think that the earth is flat. There is at least one physicist in Iraq (whom we see in the above video) who thinks that humanity figured out that the moon is round when American astronauts landed on its surface. Until then, he apparently thinks, that it was not entirely certain and only when the Eagle landed, was it fully understood that the moon was round. During that visit, apparently, the astronauts figured out how large the moon was, what was its mass, and how strong its surface gravity was.

Seriously though — how on earth does one become a physicist and not know that the mass of the moon is not a sixth of the earth just because the moon’s surface gravity is a sixth of the earth’s? One can excuse the old man in the video — his ignorance can be explained by the fact that his understanding of the world is derived from the Quran (the Muslim holy book and the basis of Islam, one of the the three major monotheistic religions). But this physicist guy should have known that the relative to the earth, the moon is approximately a fourth in diameter, one fiftieth in volume, and one eightieth in mass. Not 1/6th but 1/80th. That is a huge error — an order of magnitude error. That error most likely arises from his misunderstanding the difference between mass and weight.

The picture above shows the relative sizes of the earth and the moon. These days there is really no excuse for ignorance of facts. Use the google, Luke. Here’s one handy dandy page for facts on the moon, where I found the above picture.

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

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