Books on Tape

sphere glass marble blue white
Pale blue marble.

Science tells us that the Earth is an irregular sphere approximately 4 billion and change years old. There are people in this world who believe that the Earth is flat, based I presume upon the fact that from an airplane you can’t see the curvature of the horizon. (You can, it just isn’t obvious from your 6″ wide window.) There are people who believe the Earth is young, less than 10,000 years old, a calculation based on assigning an arbitrary value to a “generation” and counting the “begats” in the Bible from back to front – starting with Jesus who serves as our baseline – until we arrive at the creation story in Genesis. Which creation story (there are two) and which set of “begats” (more than two) no one ever says, but that’s how I understand it. Take that number, add 2017 (as of this writing) and BOOM, age of the Earth.

Both of those suppositions are idiotic, but let’s suppose one of them is true. It doesn’t matter which one, they’re both demonstrably horseshit, but that’s not the point.

I assert to you that one might be true, but not both.

The Earth is either flat and very old, or young and spherical. Not both.

flat earth
Did you know you can buy these?

In a zero-G environment, the most natural shape for a group of objects attracted to one another, excepting some external force, is a sphere. We can observe through our telescopes that most of the spheres in our solar system are spinning. If you spin something hard enough, it begins to expand at the equator. The Earth is an irregular sphere because of it’s rotation: it bulges at the equator, i.e. 90° to the axis of rotation. Spin something long enough, and one could presume that it will eventually lose spherical cohesion and flatten into a disc.

tossing pizza
Not me.

This is what happens to pizza dough. Let us say that we’re making a pizza, starting with a sphere of dough with a volume of approximately 165cm3. We spin it and toss it and it eventually becomes a flat disk.

There is where “flat” and “young” come into conflict. The volume of the Earth is approximately 1,097,509,500,000,000,000,000m3. Given the amount of time it takes me to flatten a ball of dough into a (reasonably) flat disk, the amount of time required to do the same to the Earth must be far greater than 10,000 years. Closer to 4 billion, I’d say. You can do the math if you want.

Unless the Earth is indeed a sphere, in which case, 10,000 years is more reasonable.

Flat. Or young. Not both.


I started this thought experiment driving home from taking Katie to dance class. It’s a thirty minute drive, minimum, and I had nothing to listen to, having left my MP3 player at home. I told Michelle all about it when I got home.

And this, friends, is why I’m not allowed to leave the house without a book on tape.

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