The arguments of flat-Earthers are enough to give anyone a headache. However, imagine the frustration if you’re an astrophysicist who’s spent your entire career trying to spread the word of science and dispel such hocus-pocus myths.
Brian Cox, professor of particle physics, UK television presenter (and former pop star because it’s always fun to mention that), was asked for his two cents about flat-Earthers on BBC Radio One with presenter Greg James. The same radio show also featured a 24-year-old woman who didn’t know the Sun and the Moon were different objects, but that’s for another time.
In particular, the softly-spoken man of the stars was asked about the infamous celebrity flat-earther B.o.B in a segment of the show called “Shouldn’t Be News”. The 29-year-old rapper, with no known scientific background, regularly uses his 2-million-strong Twitter platform to post photos of the horizon, asking questions such as “where is the curve? please explain this”, like he somehow knows something everyone else doesn’t.
Back in 2017, he even attempted to raise donations to launch a rocket that could be blasted into Earth’s atmosphere to confirm the flatness of Earth. The year before he was in the running for winning our most unexpected title we ever thought we’d write award.
After hearing this story of B.o.B’s rocket, Professor Cox simply said: “A ‘flat-Earther’ is a person who thinks the Earth is flat, and that is not right. It’s a sphere,” to which the studio burst out laughing.
However, he wasn’t quite as disparaging as you might first assume. “To his credit – again, I’m not going to defend what he thinks. It’s totally wrong – but that’s the heart of science,” Cox said.
“If you want to prove something to yourself and you should do, that’s a good instinct, then that’s what you do. You get your money, build a rocket, go up into space and then you will find it is spherical. He has wasted all his money but he will have learned something.”
“So, please carry on, I’d like him to do that and publish his pictures. I’ll send him a tenner,” he added.
You might be wondering, why are astrophysicists such as Cox or Neil DeGrasse Tyson suddenly having to answer questions about a few people believing the Earth is flat? Didn’t a load of Ancient Greeks sort out this debate centuries and centuries ago?
The flat-Earther movement, for some very strange reason, appears to be having a resurge of popularity in the Internet age, especially among the younger generations and certain sections of society. A recent survey this month found that just 66 percent of people in the US aged 18 to 24 are certain the Earth is spherical. The remaining 34 percent were either skeptical, unsure, or thought it was flat.