Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Physics, Astronomy & Cosmology => Topic started by: thedoc on 30/03/2016 09:50:02

Title: Do planes have to adjust their flight for the curvature of the earth?
Post by: thedoc on 30/03/2016 09:50:02
James asked the Naked Scientists:
   A friend of a my dad has started posting stuff on Facebook about how the earth is flat, I don't agree with him at all, but I'm finding it annoying that it's been about 16 years since I did A level physics and there's a couple of things he's said that I don't know answer to.

One is, do planes have to constantly adjust their height due to the curvature of the earth, especially as he says, military or supersonic planes. I can't really explain it adequately, but assume it is to do with gravity. However I'd like to come back to him with solid facts.

Second, and I'm a bit more sure about this one, is satellites in thermosphere, and fact as he says, it's anything from 500-2000 degrees c.
My point to him was that if you have a thermometer up there, it wouldn't read that at all, as there is a vacuum up there which makes heat exchange almost impossible. What would be great though, is an experiment proving this.
What do you think?
Title: Re: Do planes have to adjust their flight for the curvature of the earth?
Post by: alancalverd on 30/03/2016 17:25:42
There's nothing better than experiment to convince an idiot of his idiocy. Your dad's friend could try flying or sailing in a straight line until he makes history by falling off the edge, or he could simply ask himself what he means by thermosphere if the planet is flat.

Interestingly the International Space Station flies in the thermosphere so we have a pretty good idea of the local temperature, and he's right about that, at least. But if the ISS flies overhead in a straight line from time to time, where does it go the rest of the time if the earth is flat?

You can't have it both ways!