Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Curvy, Topsy-turvy World

 (C) A Curvy, Topsy-turvy World

In pre-Columbian times they said the world is flat – that’s that! No correspondence to be entered into, for the Bible had said it all. And that was echoed by the Flat Earth Society whose notoriety was emphatic. And you might be ecstatic to know that they say Australia is not Down Under – of course we already knew that. More important than if the world is round is that it’s upside down! Therefore, we’re Up Over! The FES also demonstrated no duress, when they declared gravity does not exist; in much the same way as conservative politics insist that climate change is a figment of Greenie imagination. Oh dear, we mustn’t let that Genie out of the bottle. Although they did concede that it was improbable for the world to be supported by a tortoise (wouldn’t that be silly?), resting upon…the back of a mastodon, mammoth or elephant – must be a massive circus tent required.

In the Hindu's view, Visnu said ‘the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise.’ Now of course, that’s a much more reasonable proposition! Though not as original as the Aboriginal myth, namely: In the Dream-time all earth lay sleeping. Nothing moved. No growth. One day the Rainbow Serpent awoke from her slumber and, unencumbered, came out from down under the ground! Hmm ... is the Flat Earth Society in conflict with the snake from the Garden of Eden? Perhaps they are needin’ to go the south coast of New South Wales where the whales were hunted.

Now before you descend into gales of laughter, senses blunted; consider the following: The shape of the Earth, (please, hold your mirth) is very close to that of an oblate spheroid. Feeling a little schizoid? An everyday example of an oblate spheroid is the shape of confectionery such as M&M's or Smarties. You know! Affectionately, the little candied chocolates that you get at kid’s birthday parties. Though local topography departs from an idealised spheroid, on a global scale these deviations are very small. So all in all we can state that Mother Earth is an M&M on steroids!

Our Flat Earth friends say the Earth is a spinning disc (or maybe a Frisbee) that whisks through the cosmos, cruisin’ like a lazy susan at a Chinese restaurant. And they tend to be tenuous if not sanguine about the edge-line of the alleged disc that we live on. No risk! It’s so nice to know we’re surrounded by Antarctic ice so we won’t slide off the edge... But wait a sec, there’s just the thin end of the wedge – isn’t global warming melting the icesheet? And all the water will spill over the sides; besides, didn’t they say ‘the Earth is not a ball.’ So, if, gravity is a myth: wouldn’t the water tend to run off the globe like an inflated ball in a swimming pool? Don’t be a fool! Here hold my robe – I might have to swim across to New Zealand and warn the Kiwis.

‘Please! Don’t be alarmed’, I’ll say. ‘You’ve all led a charmed life, apart from the strife of earthquakes and the odd volcano’.  We all know how the world was formed. It came from molten lava deep in the bowels of Earth – the lava-tory! Anyhow that’s my story... 

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