Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part VII - Cool Maps

Since I started looking into all this I've came across quite a few interesting maps. I thought I'd share some here.

This first one is a Flat Earth style map from 1715. I don't think the cartographer (Louis Renard) intended to portray the earth as flat, I think it's more a stylistic choice. The world is held up by Hercules, not Atlas. It's said that Hercules held up the world for Atlas while he went to steal the 'Apples of Hesperides'.

The following map was created by Johannes Ruysch and again shows a disc-shaped earth. Once again though I don't think it was the intention of the mapmaker to convey the idea that the earth is flat.

Next up Europe regina. This map shows Europe depicted as a maiden. The cross and orb (which we've mentioned before) is shown as Sicily, and the heart is depicted as Bohemia. Quite a cool map. Sadly though Britain just seems to be floating about above her left shoulder ..just as well really, we never wanted to be part of the Holy Roman Empire anyway :p

I think this is my favourite though. It's by the cartographer Oronce Finé (1494-1555) and shows a heart-shaped world. The southern, at that time undiscovered, Antarctic/Australian continent is depicted as suitably big.

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part VI - Miscellaneous Oddities

A little list of odd and interesting things that I think are worth sharing now. I might as well start by sharing the United Nations (flat earth) flag. In the Flat Earth world view the edge is said to be Antarctica (not shown on the map) - which surrounds the earth as an impenetrable wall of ice, represented by the final circle on the map. It might explain why penguins are dressed like little bouncers. To be fair it's quite a cool map though.

One of the oddest things I've noticed when looking into Flat Earth Theory is the fact that the Chinese still believed the earth was flat in the 17th century. The Chinese historically have been quite advanced, so this was a bit of a surprise. It makes me think that maybe the historical record is a little bit muddled, and that maybe Europeans weren't as quick to adopt the globular model as we tend to think.

In fact, in 1674, the English natural philosopher Robert Hooke apparently stated;
"To one who has been conversant only with illiterate persons, or such as understand not the principles of Astronomy and Geometry,...who can scarce imagine the Earth is globous, but...imagine it to be a round plain covered with the Sky as with a Hemisphere"
This would suggest that the idea of a Flat Earth was quite common even then.

Another odd thing is the fact that the oldest extent globe, the Erdapfel, was made in 1492 - the exact same year that Columbus discovered the new world. Quite coincidental. The globe doesn't depict the Americas though as Columbus didn't return to Europe until 1493. Of course, it's an often repeated "fact" that Columbus & Co proved the world was round by sailing around it. However, as Flat-Earthers correctly point out, travelling around the world in a circle doesn't prove it's a globe as you can make the same circular journey on a flat map. As the above UN map shows. You'd need to go around north-south as well as east-west to prove it globular. So again, this would suggest the history is maybe a little suspect.

This next thing I'm mentioning is also a little odd. When I was reading about the Geocentric model of the universe on Wikipedia I found out that it's referred to as the Yellow Minion.

Now I've never heard this term used before. In fact, I couldn't find any other reference to it being called this on-line either. I'm sure it's right - after all Wikipedia wouldn't lie xD but it seems a little odd. All that kept popping up when I searched were the yellow Minions from the movie Despicable Me (and every captioned picture on Facebook it seems). Now I haven't seen this movie, but from what I've read it sounds like a bit of an Illuminati party. It's made by a production company called Illumination Entertainment and the plot centres on supervillains who steal the Great Pyramid of Giza, and try to shrink and steal the Moon! In fact, it's made me wonder if the name "Yellow Minion" has been put on Wikipedia as some sort of practical joke to lull the likes of me into formulating some Minions-based conspiracy theory about it all.

I've just looked it up and it turns out that there's a new Minions film out at the moment (!). According to Wiki this is the plot;
Minions are small, yellow creatures who have existed since the beginning of time, evolving from single-celled organisms into beings who have only one purpose: to serve history's most despicable masters. After accidentally destroying all their masters, including a T. Rex, Genghis Khan, Napoleon and Dracula, they decide to isolate themselves from the world and start a new life in Antarctica.
Hmm... I think I've just been subconsciously manipulated into promoting a film I've never even seen ..maybe I should just go and watch the damn movie.

It seems odd going back to Flat Earth after all that, but I'll try xD

Luckily though I only have one more thing to share. This time a picture from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, that shows the moon illuminated, in part, by light from the earth. This phenomena is called Earthshine. When there's a crescent moon on the horizon a ghostly image of the moon can be seen filling the rest of the circle. This part of the moon is dimly illuminated by reflected light from the earth. It turns out Leonardo understood this long before anyone else. It's interesting to us firstly because, yet again, it shows how truly brilliant Leonardo was, but also because it shows he was thinking in terms of planetary bodies at that time. In fact, interestingly, he actually thought that there might be water on the moons surface.


Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part V - More Pictures of Globes :)

In my last post I was looking at paintings that had globes in them, in an attempt to get a handle on when the ball model of earth finally became popular. Since then I've been made aware of a few more which I'll share here.

I'll try and work back over and start with the more recent. So firstly a few from the 17th century. This first is titled A Young Astronomer and is by the Dutch painter Olivier van Deuren.

And this second one is titled The Astronomer by fellow Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.

This next one is thought to date from the second half of the 16th century. It's from a wall painting in the Castello della Manta castle in northern Italy. The picture's a bit fuzzy here, but it apparently shows a green Antarctica at the bottom.

Next up a portrait of Emperor Charles V. It's by the artist Parmigianino, dates from the first half of the 16th century, and shows a quite impressively detailed globe.

And finally, going way back, this image of Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor. I'm not sure quite what it is he's holding, but it looks very globe (or disc) like. He's holding it in much the same way that kings hold the Globus cruciger (orb surmounted by a cross) in images. It's said that the orb symbolises the earth. So if that's the case we might be able to take it as some evidence that people knew the earth was globular back then. The picture below this one also shows Henry II - this time with a more classic looking Globus.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part IV - Elizabeth's Earth

In Part II I mentioned that the oldest extent globe, the Erdapfel, was produced in 1492. Anyway, out of curiosity I thought I'd have a look to see when globes started appearing in paintings. After a brief orbit around Google I've found a few examples. The Elizabethans seemed to be particularly big on globes - quite in sync with Shakespeare's Globe which we mentioned in the last post. Unsurprisingly Francis Drake was often shown in portraits with a globe.

However, the real star was Elizabeth. The following three portraits all show her accompanied by the ball.

The above is the famous Armada Portrait. The earth takes pride of place out front. The seas and continents just give a general sense of the land masses and don't seem to depict anywhere in particular (I don't think anyway). I'm guessing the general theme conveyed is "I rule all this".

The two similar portraits above are referred to as the Sieve Portraits as they both show Elizabeth holding a sieve - a symbol of chastity. In both paintings the globes are in the background. The inscription in the bottom panel has been translated as "I see all and much is lacking".

There's also a globe depicted in Holbein's famous painting "The Ambassadors". The depiction is quite detailed, as is everything else in the painting. Holbein was active in the first half of the 16th century - contemporary with Elizabeth's father Henry VIII.

(Holbein's The Ambassadors - Detail)

It's said The Ambassadors was painted around 1533. I also found an even earlier depiction of a globe in art - this time in Raphael's The School of Athens. Painted between 1509 and 1511 it shows pretty much every ancient Greek philosopher known at the time - one of which (possibly Ptolemy) holds an earthly globe.

(The School of Athens - Detail)

Given how impressively rendered the two above paintings are I'm tempted to go full-Fomenko and suggest they may be dated too early, but I think that might be pushing my luck a bit. Actually, I'm sure there must be many more depictions of globes in paintings out there, it's probably just my anglo-centric bias that's found the Elizabethan ones first. I'll keep an eye out for any more I come across.

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part III - Shakespeare's Globe

I've been wondering when people started believing the earth was a ball, and if our general view of the history surrounding it is correct. Essentially I've been asking; When did the ball come into fashion?

My first thought was Shakespeare's Globe - the London theatre where many of Shakespeare's plays were performed. Built in 1599, the name generally comes from the idea that the whole world is a stage and we its actors. But why globe and not world or earth or some other name for this place we find ourselves in.

I'm thinking this: fashionable trend-setters and clever artists generally have their finger on the pulse and succeed in reflecting the culture of their day. I'm guessing that the name the Globe was quite edgy and cool at the time, and that it probably reflected the changing world it was built in. In particular the fact that Europeans, us English especially, were out pirating our way around the globe, generally trying to rock the party. Of course, over the previous century or so science had also started to rocket into existence as well - Galileo, a contemporary of Shakespeare, would be brought to heel by the inquisition not long after the building of the Globe. Astronomers were therefore essentially rebels. So the whole earth's-a-ball thing would have been very much in fashion - something that cool people believed ..and the Globe name therefore very much of the Zeitgeist.

We can see how science gets reflected in culture by looking at things today. Take a TV show like The Big Bang Theory for example - the name only makes sense in a post-big bang theory world. It reflects what we believe now. It couldn't have been created before we had this idea. It no doubt will sound out of date in a few centuries time too. Likewise I'm guessing the same for the Globe. So for the time being I'm going to choose 1599, the year of Shakespeare's Globe, as the high water mark of the ball hysteria. I'm going to suggest that the global model was new enough and hip enough at that time to have been considered very much à la mode. I'll take it as a marker for further investigation.

1599 - the year of the ball.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part II - The Earth is an Apple

This one hinges on quite a fortunate coincidence. In my last post I referred to the earth as an apple. This was just a bit of empty poetry on my part, but it seemed quite timely later on when I started looking into the history of the globe - that's the globe as in three-dimensional models of the globe, not the globe. Anyway, it turns out that the oldest surviving globe is the Erdapfel globe produced by Martin Behaim in 1492.

(Martin Behaim and his Globe)

Interestingly, Erdapfel literally translates as "Earth Apple". According to Wikipedia this may relate to the Globus cruciger  - the holy orb topped with a crucifix that is often held by kings and rulers as a symbol of power. In the German language this orb is called the Reichsapfel - meaning "Empire Apple" or "Imperial Apple".

I've actually seen this link between the royal orb and the globe made on some of the Flat Earth videos I've watched, so I guess it isn't anything new. The general theme being that the globe is used as a concept of control. Setting the boundaries of the political domain and the boundaries of our thinking.

I can't help but think of the apple in the Garden of Eden - assuming it was an apple of course. Was Eve given knowledge of the earth being a globe? Was that the secret the serpent whispered? It would be quite fitting come to think of it. A symbolic journey from the flat, godly garden managed by the almighty to the godless, godforsaken wilderness of the infinite universe.

Flat Earth in many ways is the Garden of Eden. A managed finite space, a wildlife sanctuary for God's pet humans. A beautiful place created especially for us. Leaving that world view means stepping into a world that wasn't created for us. A world where we aren't the focus. Where no-one is looking after us, keeping an eye on things.

The apple is knowledge, the globe is knowledge. Now you have that knowledge you're cast out on your own. A lonely lost species on a loose blue marble. Not even sure if up is up and down is down.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball

Following my last post I feel inspired to dig down further into the Flat Earth hole. This time I'm wondering; When exactly did people start thinking it was a ball?

The general view is that people started adopting the globe model deep in antiquity. The ancient Greek Eratosthenes's measurement of the circumference of the Earth often being mentioned as a case in point. This was my view as well until very recently, I'm now wondering though if this was ever quite the case.

It's generally reasoned that the world is so self-evidently spherical that anyone who's thought about the problem for more than 5 seconds will unerringly come to the conclusion that it's round. A flat earth world-view being the property of only the unthinking and the religiously inclined. And further more that throughout history, whenever people have really thought about the shape of the world, they've inevitably come to the correct conclusion. After all, how could they not? It's so obviously round. Only an idiot would believe it wasn't. However, I'm not so sure it was ever this cut and dried.

I think maybe we're projecting our certainty on the subject back on to history. Forget NASA for a moment, forget Sputnik and other satellites. Forget high-powered telescopes. Without this direct evidence would the shape of the earth really be so obvious to everyone. My own ignorance has been exposed over the last few weeks. I have no idea how to prove the earth is a ball ..not without resorting to NASA images and the testimony of other people. Sure, I have a vague ladybird book sense of what the solar system looks like, and a vague idea that the phases of the moon are a consequence of the sun's reflected luminosity as it orbits around this earthly apple. But that's about it. Beyond that all I have is belief ..belief that it's round. How many other people out there are in a similar boat?

It's also clear from reading about the history of the Flat Earth movement that right up until the beginning of the Space Age there were still many, many people holding on to the idea that the Earth was flat ..or at the very least sceptical of the idea that we're all spinning around the sun on a giant ball. Were they all idiots? Are we entitled to dismiss them so easily? Forget our modern accumulated evidence and go back to year zero for a moment. What can you see? What do you perceive? What do you see in the sky? Can you really tell it's a ball when you're not standing on the shoulders of giants?

I'm getting back down to ground level for a moment. What do we see? Firstly, the earth seems flat. And as far as the eye can see it looks flat. Even high up on mountains you can't see a curve. Up feels like up and down feels like down. It intuitively seems flat. You'd be stupid to think otherwise.

So what about the sky? Well the stars just look like points of light. No real indication that they're balls of fire. Just lights. And the planets - the wandering stars - look fairly similar. So that just leaves the sun and the moon. They're the biggest clues, but even so the sun looks just like a disc of bright light, and the moon, although it looks more planet-like (not that you'd know what a planet looked like), only shows one of its faces to us. We can't see it turning. So again, like the sun, it looks like a disc.

Essentially the very vision of the universe we have today - in fact, the very concept of outer-space itself - is unavailable to our mind. It's not an option until we create it. Until we think it into existence. Growing up in a world of Star Trek and Science-Fiction we can't not have that image of outer-space in our head. We take it for granted, but it wasn't always the case.

So what next? Maybe we start watching the sky. Noting the movements of the sun, the moon and the stars. We see their circular motion and watch them dip beneath, then reappear above the horizon. But even then would that automatically allow us to leap to a vision of a globular earth? If we see the sun go down below the horizon in one direction, then reappear again the next day back where it started from, would it necessarily be the case that it was going around a round earth. Maybe the sun would be going down into a distant ocean? - after all, the sea looks endless when we look out from the coast. Going down beneath the ocean, then beneath the earth, then reappearing out of a distant ocean on the other side. Or maybe it would be going down somewhere else - into some distant unknown. Either way we just don't know. No need for us to start imagining that we're standing on a ball just yet. No need just yet to throw out the evidence of our senses and consider that we may be hanging upside down on an endless curve.

Now sure, sooner or later, some extra-clever mind may come along and suggest the counter-intuitive idea of a ball. Some ancient smart-arse, some Eratosthenes. But how certain would they be? And how many people would they be able to convince? How many others would believe or comprehend them? No satellite images to back up their case. No telescopes for those sitting on the fence curious enough to have a look. I think at best people would say that maybe it was round.

In this light, belief in a flat earth seems a perfectly reasonable stance for anyone living in any previous era. Not at all the illogical stance that we view it as today with all our modern certainty. The question seems much more open-ended. The debate very much open and unfinished to them. I've mentioned in other posts how I'm slightly sceptical about the accepted view of history. I'm very much in sympathy with Fomenko and other time-line renegades. I think I may use the Flat Earth question as a way to look back at history afresh. Who knows, I may see things in a slightly new light. Alternatively I may only once again discover the extent of my own ignorance. Either way it'll be an education. Long live the ball.