It may surprise you to learn that "Flat Earth" conspiracies are still around. In fact, it seems like a lot of anti-science conspiracies have gotten a second wind in the age of the Internet: It's so easy to share "evidence" that it's no wonder people keep tweeting at me about the space station being fake.
But even for those of us who know that, say, spaceflight is real, and the Earth is round(ish), this "evidence" can sometimes seem a little legit. Case in point former television personality Tila Tequila recently tweeted:
"Why are all the buildings in NYC standing straight up? If earth was round then some of the buildings would have a slight tilt. #FlatEarth" If you've never stopped and thought about the curvature of the Earth, this question might have caught you off guard. It's the kind of question that plenty of people probably ask themselves - it's just that most of you shrug it off or turn to Google instead of deciding the Earth is flat.
Astronomer Phil Plait, who now has a blog over at Slate, answered this one back in the O.G. blogging days of 1997: Long story short, the Earth is a big place, and humans are tiny. Anything that fits into our field of vision is going to be so minutely curved that we won't be able to tell it's curving.
If the Earth was really tiny (say, a mile across), we'd see it rise before us and fall beneath us, and any skyscrapers would look positively tilted in relation to one another. But the Earth is nearly 8,000 miles across, with a circumference of 24,901 miles. That's a lot of space for the ground to curve on. It's way more subtle than we could hope to see with our puny human eyes.
Tila probably won't dig our answer, because it's really easy to disregard scientific evidence that contradicts your personal beliefs.
This is especially true when it comes to conspiracies. But I hope some of you sitting on the Flat Earth fence will be satisfied with this explanation.