# Are you a Flat Earther?

Here is an annoying trollish riddle I thought of. I hope that by warning you that it is a riddle I will avoid annoying y’all too much.

Jimbo gets into his Citroen at his home in the middle of the Mojave desert. He begins driving due East. After he reaches 60 mph, he drives for two hours. After two hours at this speed, he has travelled 120 miles, and he hasn’t done a thing. He has not changed his speed, he hasn’t turned his steering wheel from straight ahead the whole time; he’s still driving due East.

What is wrong with this situation? (Okay, I know nobody in the Mojave desert owns a Citroen, I’m asking about the physics.)

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

You can’t drive in a straight line on a curved surface.

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

How about this: he is on more of a convex surface than a curved surface and, over the course of two hundred miles, he would have had to jiggle his steering wheel to the left every now and then to maintain his true east bearing.
Incidentally the Flat Earth Society always was a hoax, created by a professional prankster who I think is based in New York City. It got him on a lot of the early TV talk shows were he played it straight.

Looking at a map, it looks like that if you drive due east from the middle of the Mojave desert, you’ll hit the Colorado River before you go 120 miles. It may depend on the precise definition of “middle of the Mojave,” but a rough estimate makes it about 100 miles from that point to the river. So unless he lucks out a hits a bridge, he ends up in the water.

www.sff.net/people/rothman

Okay, okay. Al got what the riddle is about - you can go due East and in a straight line unless you’re on the Equator

And Chuck got at an element I hadn’t thought of. I picked the Mojave Desert cause I figured there wouldn’t be any natural barriers to put out my calculations. You can decide for yourself whether I totally forgot about the Colorado, or whether I know of an obscure version of the Citroen that has quick-deploy pontoons and screws.

And I put into the stuff about “60 mph” as a red herring. This riddle was inspired by the thread on the earth’s rotation and plane flight times. Thanks for playing.

Not to mention the fact that he drove exactly 2 hours at exactly 60 mph and traveled a total of exactly 120 miles…which means he went from a dead stop to 60 mph in 0.00 seconds. Otherwise he would have traveled 120 miles plus whatever ground he covered while accelerating to speed. Pretty good for a Citroen.

JB
Lex Non Favet Delictorum Votis

I thought this was about the flat earth society. I once mailed away for their pamphlet.They sent it,along with a long diatribe about how they are Not a joke and don’t bother them if you think its funny.

The poster beneath me is really smart!

JBENZ
No no, I provided for that. You must be getting my riddle mixed up with some other annoying trick question.

The Citroen is the only car I ever saw whose steering wheel has one spoke.

If the Flat Earth Society is not a joke, ask the next Flat Earther you see:

1. Why is the earth’s shadow, cast on the moon during a partial lunar eclipse, always curved instead of straight?
2. Why does a ship tend to “disappear” on the horizon, first mast, then bulkheads, then hull? Instead of just getting smaller and smaller, as would happen on a flat earth?
3. Why do the stars at night change position the way they do, if you travel from a pole to the equator or vice versa, instead of in a way (distortion due to changed perspective, for example) that would suggest the surface you’re walking on is flat?
Besides, see Job 26:6, 10; Isaiah 40:22.

MEA CULPA!!! The bit with the ship should say first hull, then bulkheads, then mast! Hey I’m sorry!!!

You’re forgetting how heavy light is. You see, gravity sucks light down somewhat as it flies toward you - only the light that leaves the top of the masts has enough height to reach your eyes. The rest of the light hits the water, creating tiny little splashes that you can’t see.

Also, stars are a little bit above where they appear to be. The light has more time to fall.

Actually, the question wasn’t really about self-described Flat Earthers. It was just that I realized, a lot of assumptions we make about long-distance travel implicity assume that the Earth is flat. I’m a reformed crypto-flat earther myself.

Quote:
After he reaches 60 mph, he drives for two hours. After two hours at this speed, he has travelled 120 miles.

Nope…no confusion. It says “After 2 hours at this speed, he has traveled 120 miles”. It doesn’t say “he has travelled 120 miles at that speed” which is a different thing. As the sentence is structured, the total mileage travelled is 120.

Either he has accellerated from zero to sixty in 0.00 seconds or “he has travelled” 120 miles plus the 18 miles it took to get the Citroen up to 60. (Based on the last Citroen I drove).

JB
Lex Non Favet Delictorum Votis

Dougie, they do have answers for those questions (the answers are wrong, but they have them, and the wrongness is sometimes pretty subtle).

Job doesn’t say about the shape of the Earth, though it does say that it’s finite and it’s not resting on top of anything. Isaiah indicates that it’s round, but “round” and “flat” are not mutually exclusive (look at a manhole cover). I suspect that Jewish or Christian Flat Earthers cite these same passages as evidence that THEY’RE right.

In some cases, they’ve even done experiments. I recall several years ago reading about some measurements they made in a very straight section of a canalway involving a telescope and a large disk. It was possible to see the disk at greater distances away than you’d have expected based upon geometry and the “alleged” curvature of the Earth, which they concluded proved the Earth wasn’t actually curved (in fact, their experiment indicated that if it WAS curved, it was concave).

It turns out that refraction of light in the air over the water in the canal can explain this just as well as the Earth being flat (or concave), but that’s much more difficult to understand or explain than “The Earth is flat. It looks flat, it IS flat; the experiment proved it.”

Also, as mentioned before the Earth can be flat and still round, so the shape of the shadow on the moon doesn’t contradict a flat Earth even if you accept that it’s Earth’s shadow (which I’m not sure they do).

And other posters are right about them APPEARING to take themselves seriously. The application forms I’ve seen have a clause in them which goes something like “I hereby swear or affirm that I am not joining the society to mock or discredit it.”

Well, JBENZ, I think I was perfectly clear. I didn’t mean that during his entire life he had only travelled 120 miles. If he had never driven before in his entire life I don’t think he would be trying to drive across the Mojave desert. Maybe we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

While I am not a Flat-Earther, I know there are plenty of them out there. Especially on I-40 around 5:00! Everyone is flying along at 75-80mph (in a 65mph zone), that is until they get to this big hill on the interstate! Then they slow down to 45mph!!?? Creating backups for 10 miles! The only reason I can figure they slow down is because they fear they will drive off the end of the Earth! It’s the same hill, they drive over everyday! The world doesn’t end at exit 287! Get on the accelerator!

(I knew the answer to the riddle, having served in the Navy and learned a bit about navigation.)

“Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’”
E A Poe

I remember a fairly recent B.C. comic strip saying a very similar thing, only using a pizza as the example instead of a manhole cover.

“I’m just too much for human existence – I should be animated.”
–Wayne Knight