Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Earth is Stationary Because Airplanes

Creationists get themselves into so much trouble because their idea of science basically consists of trying to tease out meaning from religious texts rather than, say, actually performing experiments. This mindset can be found in many fundamentalist religious traditions, and is not limited to Christianity. Recently a Saudi fundamentalist Islamic scholar claimed that the Earth is stationary because that's what the Koran tells him. Oh, and there's also a really confusing bit about airplanes.

Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari is believed to have been speaking at a university lecture in the United Arab Emirates when a student asked him whether the Earth rotates or is stationary.

The Islamic scholar quickly replies 'stationary and does not move', before launching into a long-winded and confusing explanation that appears to the suggest that if the Earth was moving, airliners would never be able to reach their destination.

After telling the student that the Earth does not rotate, Sheikh al-Khaibari attempts to back up his argument with religious statements and quotes from other Islamic clerics.

Perhaps struggling to make his argument understood, the religious lecturer then attempts to use a visual aid to illustrate how difficult it would be for airliners to travel if the Earth is spinning.

Of course, anybody who knows anything about science realizes that this explanation is completely daft because when the plane is stationary on the ground it's moving at the same speed as the Earth rotates, and when it takes off the engines modify that velocity. The explanation offered by al-Khaibari seems to assume that the moment the plane breaks connection with the Earth its velocity should instantly drop to zero relative to that of the planet, which is obviously impossible.

In fact, if there was a way to make that happen, we could exploit the principle to generate limitless free energy. Not only that, it would make bouncy castles and pogo sticks incredibly dangerous.

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