Force the Level
In 2016 a young man published a video discussing the shape of the earth. He suggested that a physical demonstration of the earth’s curvature be made. He proposed the construction of a fence like structure with the top rail following a line which would continue straight in space and therefore independent of any curve of the earth’s surface. This would then demonstrate how the earth’s surface curved away from the top rail which would have no curvature. For reasons unknown this young man has disappeared from public forums. For that reason I will not mention his name here.
This summer FECORE decided to take on the challenge. As we discussed what was required to accomplish the task it became clear that it was an extremely expensive proposal in terms of building materials and the miles of land it would need. But if the material and land cost was a challenge the structural features created an even greater barrier. There is no physical material that can remain ridged to less than 8 inches over a mile distance. Then having many pieces which are claimed to be straight would require a source of determining that straight line.
We discussed using a laser to determine the straight in space line. But a laser spreads and we need to have less than 1 inch over a mile. And no matter what we constructed the real question is how can we establish that a line is unbending over the distance of a mile or more? The answer to this is through the science of surveying. We have a member of FECORE with years of surveying experience who explained how it could be done.
Chris Van Matre lives in the US and has taken on the task of heading up the test we call Force the Level. We established what the margin of error would be using the best equipment that can be found. We were fortunate to a have several members able to donate their time for the first of multiple tests.
The surveying procedure is called differential leveling. It requires a transit device. Our team used the Trimble DiNi model. It can measure to within 1/10000th of a foot over the distances we will take readings. The cost to buy this device is over $4000 USD. Fortunately we found we could rent it for the day. We also needed to rent the poles which are used to obtain the height reading in this process.
In the procedure one pole is placed at a reference marker of known elevation. We will call that pole A. The digital Level is placed at a certain distance further on the line which will be followed. And it is aimed at pole A. The level then reads the numbers on pole A, and the number is recorded. Then the level is turned 180° and pointed at pole B which is further down the line and is also further from the level than pole A was. While the measurement of pole B is taken pole A is moved past pole B. The level is placed between the two poles and is turned back towards pole B to get a sighting from the other direction. But this distance is now a different distance than the level was from B with the first reading. This is one way that a curvature can be detected. Since each pole is placed exactly plumb and the level is always looking exactly horizontal for any position then a reading of the same pole from the other direction and yet from two different distances could show a slight difference in the height because the level would be at a different tilt from one sighting to the next.
On September 15th, 2018 several FECORE members in the Denver, Colorado area gathered for the first test. The day was hot and sunny. Ideal conditions would have been overcast rather than bright sun light. But they were able to make reading of ½ mile. This is a time consuming process. The measurements themselves took 4 hours and the unseasonably warm day made it seem longer. Then Chris entered all the data into a spread sheet. This is only the first of ideally 3 or more tests so making a conclusion with just one small data set is not a good idea. Chris is hoping to make another reading this October.