Experiments in search of the curvature
The following page of text is taken from the book Zetetic Astronomy – Earth Not a Globe
Earth Not a Globe (Samuel Rowbothan) Download the full book. This was published in 1865 and is now outside of copyright protection so may be freely distruibuted.
EXPERIMENTS DEMONSTRATING THE TRUE FORM OF STANDING WATER, AND PROVING THE EARTH TO BE A PLANE.
IF the earth is a globe, and is 25,000 English statute miles in circumference, the surface of all standing water must have a certain degree of convexity–every part must be an arc of a circle. From the summit of any such arc there will exist a curvature or declination of 8 inches in the first statute mile. In the second mile the fall will be 32 inches; in the third mile, 72 inches, or 6 feet, as shown in the following diagram:
Let the distance from T to figure 1 represent 1 mile, and the fall from 1 to A, 8 inches; then the fall from 2 to B will be 32 inches, and from 3 to C, 72 inches. In every mile after the first, the curvature downwards from the point T increases as the square of the distance multiplied by 8 inches. The rule, however, requires to be modified after the first thousand miles. 1 The following table will show at a glance the amount of curvature, in round numbers, in different distances up to 100 miles.
It will be seen by this table that after the first few miles the curvature would be so great that no difficulty could exist in detecting either its actual existence or its proportion. Experiments made on the sea shore have been objected to on account of the constantly changing altitude of the surface of the water, and of the existence of banks and channels which produce a “crowding” of the waters, as well as currents and other irregularities. Standing water has therefore been selected, and many important experiments have been made, the most simple of which are the following:–
In the county of Cambridge there is an artificial river or canal, called the “Old Bedford.” It is upwards of twenty miles in length, and (except at the part referred to at page 16) passes in a straight line through that part of the Fens called the “Bedford Level.” The water is nearly stationary–often completely so, and throughout its entire length has no interruption from locks or water-gates of any kind; so that it is, in every respect, well adapted for ascertaining whether any or what amount of convexity really exists.
A boat, with a flag-staff, the top of the flag 5 feet above the surface of the water, was directed to sail from a place called “Welche’s Dam” (a well-known ferry passage), to another called “Welney Bridge.” These two points are six statute miles apart. The author, with a good telescope, went into the water; and with the eye about 8 inches above the surface, observed the receding boat during the whole period required to sail to Welney Bridge.
The flag and the boat were distinctly visible throughout the whole distance! There could be no mistake as to the distance passed over, as the man in charge of the boat had instructions to lift one of his oars to the top of the arch the moment he reached the bridge. The experiment commenced about three o’clock in the afternoon of a summer’s day, and the sun was shining brightly and nearly behind or against the boat during the whole of its passage. Every necessary condition had been fulfilled, and the result was to the last degree definite and satisfactory. The conclusion was unavoidable that the surface of the water for a length of six miles did not to any appreciable extent decline or curvate downwards from the line of sight. But if the earth is a globe, the surface of the six miles length of water would have been 6 feet higher in the centre than at the two extremities, as shown in diagram fig. 2; but as the telescope was only 8 inches above the
water, the highest point of the surface would have been at one mile from the place of observation; and below this point the surface of the water at the end of the remaining five miles would have been 16 feet.
Let A B represent the arc of water 6 miles long, and A C the line of sight. The point of contact with the arc would be at T, a distance of one mile from the observer at A. From T to the bridge at B would be 5 miles, and the curvature from T to B would be 16 feet 8 inches. The top of the flag on the boat (which was 5 feet high) would have been 11 feet 8 inches below
the horizon T, and altogether out of sight. Such a condition was not observed; but the following diagram, fig. 3, exhibits the true state of the case–A, B, the line of sight, equi-distant.
from or parallel with the surface of the water throughout the whole distance of 6 milts: From which it is concluded that the surface of standing water is not convex, but horizontal.
Old Bedford Level Experiment
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