The Shockingly Simple Experiment That Proved The Earth Rotates On Its Axis

The stories I have always found fascinating are the ones of explorers, scientists, and thought leaders that went against the grain and dared to propose a new idea.

Leon Foucault

If you’ve ever tried to prove that the earth rotates on its axis you may have wondered exactly how to go about this. Though flat earth theorists have been around longer than you and I, in the last few years flat earth has, to the bewilderment of many, become a topic of discussion. Not only have some people come out as believers in Flat Earth, there are plenty of trolls who think it’s funny to give fuel to the flame wars. If someone is prone to take stories of nameless “secret NASA generals” giving talks at underground unlisted conventions as “proof”, then it can be very difficult to convince them to use a more scientific method to prove their point.

I was exposed to the flat earth theory before social media, and while I am always fascinated by outsider ideas and fringe theorists’ ideas, I concluded that flat earth theory needed too many jumps in logic for it to ever be proven.

Also there are several ways we can prove that the earth is a sphere and that it rotates.

How to prove that the earth is a ball, rotating on its axis

If you have the time and patience you can watch the sunrise and sunset every day for a year. After that you will feel your place in the solar system deep in your being. I did this when I completed the Sri Hira Ratan Manek Sungazing protocol, and I can honestly say it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Absolutely life changing.

However it’s not likely that you’re not going to get anyone to try this method just to prove your point.

So what’s an easier experiment that proves the earth rotates?

It was as recent as 1851 that self-taught physicist Leon Foucault accomplished just that. The demonstration used a giant pendulum. By tracking the pendulum’s path as it swung repeatedly across the interior of the large ceremonial hall in the Paris’ Pantheon, Foucault offered the first definitive proof that the earth revolves on its axis. The experiment proved so fundamental to science that it became a permanent installation in the Pantheon.

Read the fascinating story in
this book by Amir D. Aczel

Foucault himself is another one of these characters in history which I find utterly fascinating. To get to the point where this experiment would be showcased in the most prestigious building in France had not been easy for Foucault. He had faced strong opposition to his ideas. The biggest obstacle being that he was not a member of The Academy Of Sciences. In addition to that the members of The Academy were embarrassed to discover that not one of them had come up with the equations that explained the variations in the movement of a pendulum at different latitudes. Yes they had done some experiments, but they’d been on too small a scale to detect what Foucault’s larger scale experiment was able to. It took a declaration from France’s prince-president to arrange the demonstration.

Louis Napoleon III had a keen interest in physics. He was firmly convinced that following scientific ideas as they developed was important for the modern state.

When he learned of Foucault getting the cold shoulder from the Academy of Sciences he decided to arrange for the presentation to be made in settings that were guaranteed to garner respect: The Pantheon.

Foucault’s pendulum in the Panthéon, Paris

Proof In The Pendulum

On the floor of the Pantheon, centered under the dome, there was, and still is, an elegant design in marble. Foucault had it cov­ered with a wooden circle, six meters in diameter, over which his heavy pendulum would swing. Around the circle he erected a mahogany balustrade. The edge of the wooden circle was di­vided into degrees and quarters of a degree, so that the public could clearly see the movement of the pendulum’s swing pattern over time. Finally, Foucault and Froment had the wooden disk covered with a layer of wet sand, just high enough so that the tracks of the pendulum as it swung would remain visible to ob­servers.

On March 26,1851, an article in Le National proclaimed:
“Have you seen the Earth go round? Would you like to see it rotate? Go to the Pantheon, [where Foucault’s demonstration] clearly reveals to all eyes the movement of rota­tion of the Earth.”

Photo of Earth From Space by ActionVance on Unsplash