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"The Flat Earth Society has members all around the globe."
Ironic tweet from the Flat Earth Society

If you walk far enough, you'll fall off the edge of the world. For this world is not round, but flat. What lies beyond the edge? No one knows.

In ancient and medieval history, many cultures believed the Earth was flat. Certainly, the curvature is so slight that it wasn't until the Greeks that the spherical Earth theory took hold, though some earlier people possibly knew it was round as well, such as Hindus and the early Hebrews. Contrary to popular belief, Christopher Columbus didn't have to try and convince people that the earth was round. Rather, he thought it was much smaller than it's turned out to be. His opponents were right in saying the Earth is much larger. The idea of it being about if the earth is flat or round dates from Washington Irving's 1828 novel A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, and has survived as an illustration of Medieval Morons.


Flat worlds typically only appear in fantasy. They will usually be a circular disc, although other shapes have appeared. The edges will either be surrounded by waterfalls cascading into nothingness or by walls (often Invisible Walls in video games) so that the unwary may not fall off. These worlds are almost always circular — other geometric shapes, such as triangles, squares or hexagons, are not unheard of but much rarer. Occasionally, there are no edges — the world goes on in all directions for infinity.

It is worth noting that some people actually believe this, right now, in the 21st century. According to them, the world is a flat, circular disc with walls of ice surrounding Earth. Almost everything about astronomy that could be considered common knowledge is believed to be false.

A subtrope of World Shapes. Not be confused with Flatland or The World is Flat.



    open/close all folders 
  • The tale of Columbus trying to prove that the Earth was round was spoofed in an ad for Hamlet cigars: It turns out that the world was flat, and Chris decides to smoke a Hamlet before falling off.

    Anime & Manga 

  • Peter Sellers' sketch "Fuller's Earth" features himself as the eponymous Jeremiah Fuller, head of an Expy Flat Earh Society, who is such a flat-Earth fanatic that he can't stand to see balloons, electric light bulbs or even female curves.

    Comic Books 
  • The Godwheel in the cancelled The Ultraverse comics 'verse is an Alderson disc: a flat disc billions of kilometres across with a star in a hole in the middle, on which multiple ecosystems evolved in widely separated regions. All the alien species that visit Earth originate from this single world.
  • Images of the world as a flat object that it is possible to sail off the edge of, is prevalent in works based on the erroneous assumption that Christopher Columbus was pretty much alone in thinking the world was round. A comic book story depicting Goofy as Columbus is basically just about everyone telling him over and over that the world is flat. Finally, and against all odds, he gets to go on his expedition in the last few pages, only to promptly sail off the edge of the world.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a 1989 Dilbert strip, Dogbert suddenly insists that the world is flat. Dilbert rather weakly tries to use Columbus as an argument against Dogbert's claim (based on the already mentioned erroneous assumption that Columbus "discovered" that the Earth was round). Dogbert's counter-argument is that it's convenient that Dilbert's only witness is dead. In the next strip, Dilbert brings up then-Senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth (Yuri Gagarin was the first human, but died in 1968), to which Dogbert retorts that Dilbert's evidence relies on the honesty of politicians.
  • One week's plot arc in Non Sequitur had Danae come to the conclusion that the world was flat and steadfastly hold onto this belief. Whenever someone came up with proof the world was round, she'd stick her fingers in her ears and chant "La-la-la-la-la-la-la!"
  • "The world is flat, and that is that!" is one of Hägar the Horrible's slogans, and discussions about the shape of the earth has been a recurring subject in his comic strip. Since the world is flat in Norse Mythology, it makes sense that Hägar, a viking, would believe that.

    Fan Works 
  • The story Austraeoh uses an interesting variant. The world is a flat plane with earth-like conditions on top and a chaotic netherworld on the bottom, and is a strip much longer in the east-west direction than north-south. In addition, we eventually learn that it is actually only a fragment of an enormous dodecagon-shaped world that was broken apart eons ago.
  • In the Discworld/The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, A.A. Pessimal introduces the idea of Carrotworld as one of several alternative cosmologies. People living on the relatively flat bit at the top of Carrotworld would perceive themselves as living on a flat Earth. And it would be true as far as it goes. But how would they know the bit underneath, that they cannot directly see, is not a long thin roughly conical mass tapering down to a point? Sheldon Cooper and Ponder Stibbons agree this is feasible. Sheldon points out it's what you might expect to see of matter extruded out through the sphincter of a White Hole, squeezed down by cosmic forces to the point where it is pinched off by passage through the cosmic orifice... why are you sniggering, Howard?

    Films — Animation 
  • The animated movie Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas shows the world to be spheric (at least from goddess Eris' perspective) but in order to enter her realm one should sail till the edge (probably the edge is made by her own magic) which causes one of the sailors (who bet about it) to say: "Pay up, it's flat."
  • From their perspective, the world in The LEGO Movie is flat for the Legos. One of them even falls from the edge. Of course it turns out their world is actually located in a table in the basement and they don't know they are toys.
  • The introduction to Asterix Conquers America shows the Earth to be "as flat as a pizza". Though as the story goes on, the Earth is revealed to be round.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Terry Gilliam short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance, released alongside Monty Python's Meaning of Life, is set on a flat world. It also has elderly accountant pirates who defeat London's Financial District in glorious battle. Really, by the time it comes, nothing could make more sense.
  • Some of the characters in The Gods Must Be Crazy think they are living on a flat world, and undertake a quest to throw an object off the edge of it to get rid of it. Since it's earth, viewers might be inclined to smile knowingly at this, but... they succeed.
  • In Erik the Viking, the characters sail off the edge of the world and land in Valhalla. This partially averts the usual "flat error" (that "back then everyone thought the world was flat"). The token Christian DISbelieves in the edge of the world.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has this in the third movie. Beyond the edge of the world is the entrance to Davy Jones's Locker. A rather strange case, since you apparently can't just pick a direction and sail there until you reach the end, because then anybody could get there. You have to be truly lost at sea, and then you magically teleport to the end. So, it's debatable if the world is flat in this universe, or if it's round, and you just get transport to a strange waterfall place when you're lost.
  • In Dark City, the city itself is a very tiny world like this.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Asgard is flat. Technically, Asgard is a giant floating continent, not a full world. It's like that in the comics too.
  • In Men in Black, Agent Kay affirms that long ago everybody knew the Earth was flat, using it as a reference to people believing something that is wrong, and how suddenly enlightening them too fast can be dangerous. Thus, his and the MIB's reasons for keeping the existence of aliens a secret.
  • In Gods of Egypt, the world is flat like in egyptian mythology.

  • Terry Pratchett:
    • Discworld:
      • As the name suggests, the series takes place on a very slightly convex disc. It's also supported by four giant elephants on the back of an insanely vast turtle. It has a (spherical) tiny sun and a tiny moon, which travel in complex patterns to make seasons. (Sometimes, one of the elephants has to cock a leg to let them go by.)
      • Small Gods concerns the bold efforts of the Omnians, religious fanatics who believe the world is round because God prefers perfect circles, going about crushing dissent from any scientist who tries to prove the world is actually flat. Which it is.
      • In Going Postal, Lord Vetinari says that 1000 years ago people thought the world was bowl-shaped, and 500 years ago the Omnian globe idea was mainstream.
      • The Moon at least, as shown in The Last Hero, is a globe shape.
    • Strata has an (artificially constructed) flat world with an orbiting sun designed to look like a Ptolemaic world map. The end reveals that the people there are humans before being evacuated to Earth, and those old maps were simply accurate.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Narnia exists in a classical flat world. The characters reach the edge in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The three children never do see what (if anything) lies beyond Aslan's Country (though it's implied that the dome of the sky comes down to meet the ground there). The Narnians are surprised and delighted to find out that the Pevensies come from a round world, because that's what their fantasy stories are about.
  • Oracle of Tao has not one but two flat Earth models. Due to constant edits from being a self-published work, the first (which later turns out to be an illusory world) changed from "burrito shaped" world to being described as a mobius to a latest version where it is shaped like a waffle iron with two hemispheres separated by the thin strip of land and water. It is even possible to fall off or dig through the world! The second version has a much more "realistic" flat Earth model that essentially makes it like a globe, only the upper side is flat except for a domed atmosphere, and which you cannot fall off of due to curved space.
  • The Silmarillion: Arda, the world the books are set in, was originally flat. It was reshaped into a sphere by Eru Ilúvatar to prevent humanity from attempting to sail to Valinor.
    • In earlier versions of the cosmology, Arda was actually a cross between a flat world and a hovering world: Arda was literally shaped like a boat, solid earth cupped to hold the "inner seas" with the continents and islands of the world rising up from its floor. The world floated upon the "outer seas" ("Vaiya", which was in turn split between a shadowy "water" that no mortal ship could float upon and a tenuous "air", both so cold as to freeze the inner seas where they meet), which were in turn vaguely separated by the boundary between the universe (Eä) and the sea-like "void" leading to the Timeless Halls where Eru Ilúvatar resides. Even stranger yet, the sky was a literal pennant-like sail, attached to Arda by the mast like peaks of two inconceivably tall mountains. The sun and moon dipped into the seas of the vaiya in order to go underneath the "keel" of the world, and the sea god Ulmo actually had a residence built onto the bottom of the world like a barnacle on the hull of a ship.
    • Later, J. R. R. Tolkien decided this was bad fantasy — and stupid because Middle-earth is supposed to be the real world — but his attempts to write a round-world creation story were consistently less beautiful than the flat-world versions.
    • There is still one small part of Arda that is flat. It's a narrow strip of ocean that leads to Valinor. Only the Elves and Maiar (such as Gandalf) know how to find it.
  • Circumpolar and Countersolar feature an alternate Solar System in which every planet and moon is a holed disc (but the Sun is still a spheroid). Earth's familiar continents are wrapped around the North Hole, with Antarctica stretched around the rim, and the first novel concerns a pair of rival expeditions to the unknown other side of the world.
  • Flatland:
    • The titular Flatland is not merely flat but two-dimensional, and inhabited by squares, triangles, circles, and the like. There is air and rain but no mention of any actual ground...
    • Subverted in Sphereland, a follow-up to Flatland, wherein the narrator discovers that the world is circular, and that space itself curves spherically by a combination of circumnavigating the world and showing that sufficiently large triangles have interior angles that add up to more than 180 degrees. Naturally, he's disregarded as a heretic.
    • In Flatterland, a world is discovered that is a circular disk of finite size and infinite area. In the middle things are of "normal" size and, as you move away from the center, everything gets smaller, preventing anyone from ever reaching the actual edge.
    • Dewdney's novel The Planiverse goes further, positing an entire 2-dimensional universe with its own physics, chemistry, and biology. Circular planets orbit circular suns, and life exists on the "surfaces" (i.e. circumferences) of those circular planets. Some of these life forms even build 2-dimensional houses for themselves.
  • Pyramid Scheme, features the flat world of Greek mythology — Europe and northern Africa, girdled by the River Ocean.
  • Missile Gap by Charles Stross takes place on an Alderson disk big enough that multiple copies of Earth and possibly also one more planet have been flattened and placed on it. All the physics related with the fact how gigantic the megastructure is are played hard, meaning there are no "shortcuts" for travel and ballistics are messed up, while generating escape velocity, or even orbital speed, is impossible with the tech level the humans have.
  • The Neverending Story: Fantastica is apparently flat, and goes on forever in all directions.
  • The Deerslayer (the prequel to Last of the Mohicans), Hawkeye tries to convince his Noble Savage friends that the world is round, but they don't buy his arguments, since they can see the sun rise and set each day.
  • Philip José Farmer has a couple:
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Dreamland is apparently flat, or at least there is one place where you can sail off the edge of the world and "fall" into space, as seen in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
  • Larry Niven:
    • Technically, the landscape of the Ringworld is a flat world, as it only has one side and has edges walled off with hundred-thousand-mile high walls. Its diameter is so great that any local deviation from a flat plane is negligible.
    • Larry Niven's essay "Bigger than Worlds" includes a description of a world shaped like a phonograph record without grooves, hundreds of millions of miles wide, with its sun bobbing up and down through a center hole and a thousand-mile-high wall around the hole to keep the atmosphere in. Local gravity means that down is always toward the surface of the disc. Because the sun never gets overhead, the effect is a world of twilight alternating with night. Niven notes that this world would be ideal for Sword & Sorcery novels, especially should the builder civilization fall — it's got the right "strange, unfamiliar world" feel, and since areas at different distances from the sun could house aliens from very different worlds, natural spread and adaptation of alien life across the borders would provide for the monsters.
  • "The Edge of the World", by Shel Silverstein. The illustration on the cover of the book Where the Sidewalk Ends uses the illustration from the poem "The Edge of the World", leading some to mistakenly assume that the illustration is for the specific poem "Where the Sidewalk Ends" (which is actually about the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street).
  • In The Legends of Ethshar, the world of Ethshar is the flat end-cap of a cylinder, surrounded on all sides by a yellow gas.
  • The Edge Chronicles is set on a large, flat-topped cliff jutting out into an infinite sky from... somewhere. Its plane, triangular surface is all the world its inhabitants know.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here says that, though many people once believed that the world was flat, today "we know that this is true only in heavily Protestant states such as Iowa."
  • The Emperors Coloured Coat: Otto Prohaska is dumbfounded to find that the sea captain of the vessel he's sailing on thinks this due to his religious beliefs. Even more amazing is how he's able to accurately navigate his ship regardless.
  • Encyclopedia Brown: Discussed in book 23, where one of the kids in the neighborhood is Waldo Emerson, president and only member of the Idaville Junior Flat Earth Society. He is so firmly convinced that the world is actually flat that he flips out whenever he hears the word "round" in any context. One can only imagine his reaction to receiving a round globe as a prize in a contest, which happens to him in the book.

    Live Action TV 
  • Hey You! What If...: "The Earth Was Flat?" shows what it would be like if the Earth actually was flat. This includes seldom considered facts such as gravity not changing, which means that all the world's oceans would gather as a sphere at the centre of the disc.

  • In 2016, Atlanta pop-rapper Bob released a dis track towards astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson titled "Flatline". The song was inspired by B.o.B.'s beliefs in conspiracies, such as the Earth being flat, and even included audio clips of Tyson disproving B.o.B's comments.
  • Hal Ketchum's song 'Small Town Saturday Night' includes a verse where Bobby tells his girlfriend, Lucy, that the world must be flat, because nobody ever comes back when they leave town. He says they fall straight off the edge.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dragon Magazine #160 has an article describing how to model exotic world shapes, including flat worlds. These have gravity pulling down along a flat plane running parallel to their surfaces, and need some means to keep their atmosphere from spilling out — some are ringed by high mountains, for instance, while others are slightly concave. Their day-night cycles can be peculiar — some rotate around their axis, but others always face towards or away from their suns. Others spin around their centers, creating vast spiraling weather systems.
  • TORG: Among the several extradimensional worlds invading Earth is the High Fantasy realm of Aysle, an Earth-sized discworld with life on both sides and a hole in the center through which a small sun rises and sets.
  • Exalted: The world of Creation is flat. It's regulated by the four Elemental Poles in each direction (Air in the North, Water in the West, Fire in the South, and Wood in the East), as well as the Elemental Pole of Earth in the center. Beyond the world is the Wyld, a realm of ever-changing, pure formless chaos. And the sun? It's the light-giving battlestation of the king of the gods. Also, it knows Kung-Fu. The stars, planets and moon are also such representations. Before the Primordial War, Creation did have a defined boundary, in the form of an enormous river (one of the bodies of one of the Primordials).
  • Nieboraki, a Polish parody RPG, describes the world as flat and lying down on a table.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Rath is a flat world which is "vibrating" on a different frequency than Dominaria. As Rath gets larger, its vibrations slow until it vibrates in sync with Dominaria. The whole plane exists so the Phyrexians can take over.
    • Voyage's End in Theros depicts an ocean falling into an abyss, with this flavor text:
    Philosophers say those lost at sea ascended to a more perfect realm. Sailors say they drowned.
  • RuneQuest: Glorantha is a flat perfect square, which lends its shape to the Earth Rune in the setting. It ends in an endless wall of ice in the north and a wall of fire in the south, which are too cold and hot respectively to approach. To the east and west there is endless ocean that can technically be sailed past the world's borders, but at that point one enters into the realm of the gods where distance and direction have no meaning. Still, with powerful enough magic it is possible to find the Gates of Dusk and Dawn where the Sun God Yelm enters and exits the Underworld every day. Naturally this is best to observe from a safe distance.
  • Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea takes place in the titular world, which is flat, hexagonal and wanders through space.

    Video Games 
  • Grandia had an interesting variation. The world was formerly believed to be round, as revealed if you examine a globe in the obligatory ghost ship; however, shortly before the game begins, the end of the world is found, and thus the world is believed to be flat. However, you eventually find out that there is no end of the world, and it is presumably round, and that you have to scale the wall at the world's end.
  • In the Might and Magic series of games, one world, Xeen, is flat. One quest involves uniting the two halves (IE, transforming Xeen from this trope to a more standard planet). The player cannot fall off the edge, but can teleport to the nothingness and promptly die.
    • Both Cron and Varn are suggested to be flat. One could it somewhat played with, in that they are 'world-spaces' inside a giant starship.
  • The planet Albia in the Creatures games is a disc-shaped world — but life only occurs on the outer edge, so essentially this combines a disc-shaped and a ring-shaped world. (It doesn't encircle its sun like the other ring-worlds on this page.) The discovery by the Shee that most planets are round is a plot point.
    • Evidently, the faces would be able to support life, if not for the fact that while the planet itself is disc-shaped the gravitational pull acts as though it were spherical, so if you tried to stand on the faces, you'd discover that the gravity pulls you towards the hub and slightly presses you against the face itself, so the net effect is akin to holding your enemy against a passing train in a subway station.
  • As is the world on which the Golden Sun games take place, complete with the oceans constantly spilling an apparently infinite amount of water over the edges. Interestingly enough, the dangers inherent in such a system are actually brought to light in the second game. Without the power of Alchemy, Gaia Falls will eventually erode all of Weyard to nothing. One assumes that Alchemy is capable of producing enough earth and water to combat the erosion.
    • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, which takes place 30 years after the end of the Game Boy Advance duology, the world's oceans and continents are now separated into layers, with the heroes' ship being unable to reach any continents other than their own due to the other continents being separated by waterfalls. Other than the addition of layers, the world is still a flat one but may revert back to its original shape in the years down the road since there's still natural activity happening in the world in the 30 year gap.
  • Some of the planets in both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 resemble these, with optional black holes underneath. If you fall off the planet and into the black hole, you die. And if there isn't a black hole and you fall off, you still die.
  • Played straight in the Burning Crusade expansion of World of Warcraft. The world of Outland is considered to be the largest fragment of a shattered world, and players in the game can fall off the edge and die (dying in such a way causes you to be resurrected at the nearest graveyard from the point you fell off)
  • Minecraft worlds are generated as extremely wide, thin versions of this, extending 256 blocks (meters, roughly) from the very bottom layer of unbreakable bedrock (beneath which there is only a black void) to the upper ceiling above the clouds above which no block can be placed. Thanks to Procedural Generation, however, the world's horizontal dimensions are quite a bit larger—15 million blocks/meters from your spawnpoint at the center, you'll find an impenetrable glowing barrier, added to conceal glitchy terrain-generation that appears farther out. You'll never encounter this endpoint without cheat commands, though. The playable zone encompasses almost twice the surface area of the Earth... yet it's only a quarter of a kilometer tall, making the whole affair seem paper-thin on a large scale. Some mods extend the vertical space to equally absurd lengths.
    • The Nether is an interesting derivative of this. Being directly inspired by the concept of the Fire and Brimstone Hell, it's presented as being "beneath" the regular Overworld, and as such it's sandwiched between two layers of bedrock, one at its bottom and one at its top. The console edition also features bedrock walls along its sides, boxing the Nether in. It's still just as much of a flat world as the Overworld, just one where the explorable environment is within its thickness rather than on its top surface.
    • There is also an option that lets you play a world that is literally flat, being made up of nothing but a smooth layer of grass, then two layers of dirt, and bedrock right below that. The main purpose of playing on a flat world is to assist in players that wish to build extensive projects without having to first terraform the landscape.
  • The setting of The Journey Down is a flat world. The focus of the first chapter is repairing a seaplane so you can go over the Edge and fly down to the Underland below.
  • Torin's Passage features a world that is at least six layers thick, with each layer possessing its own atmosphere, sunlight, and culture. The titular protagonist lives on the medieval top layer. The layer below is a bright ravine location. The layer below that one is an Eden-type world with talking plants. Below that is a neglected volcanic world. And the core of the planet apparently spans no greater size than that of an amphitheatre (and backstage). The very core of the planet serves as a sort of prison called the 'Null Void', where prisoners are tossed in and suspended in the perfect equilibrium of the planet's gravity. Travel between these layers happens through the 'Phenocryst' system - a giant crystal that teleports passengers through itself, and the loading screen of each world serves as a progress marker, showing all the layers you've progressed through cut away.
  • In StarMade All of the planets are flat. They appear round from a distance though.

    Web Comics 
  • The World is Flat derives its namesake and logo from this concept.
  • Rice Boy and Order of Tales both take place on Overside, the top half of a flat world. Travel between the two sides was possible in the past, though it is now restricted, but Rice Boy himself eventually travels to Underside, where he meets his (for lack of a better word) parents.
  • Unicorn Jelly has Tryslmaistan, a universe where all worlds are flat triangular plates of extremely regular shape and size, justified due to having different laws of physics than our world. Each worldplate also has its own greater and lesser light source in a complex orbit, a "sun" and "moon". Since only objects of worldplate size are suspended against the omnipresent unidirectional "gravity", any time a plate breaks up or wears down too small, it falls, breaking others until Tryslmaistan is consumed in a "stormfall" of matter that eventually spreads throughout the entire universe (wrapping all the way around the universe's finite but unbounded vertical plane and likewise expanding horizontally until it meets itself). Then the debris is eventually clumped into triangular shapes by the natural forces of that world, and it all starts over again. Its sequel, Pastel Defender Heliotrope, takes place in Pastel, a similar universe of rectangular worldplates.
  • One xkcd strip has a character stranded in an infinite desert for an infinite period of time, alone and with no way out, unrestricted by physiological needs like food or water. His arranging of pebbles on the plane is a particle-by-particle simulation, of our universe.
  • Our Little Adventure takes place on the plane of Manjulias, which is flat.
  • The world in Vanadys: Tales of a Fallen Goddess is not only flat, but also broken into two separate pieces, thanks to the actions of the titular fallen goddess.
  • The world of Dreamside in Cucumber Quest is flat. When asked how it was supposed to work, Word of God responded with "wizards".
  • In Alice and the Nightmare, Wonderland and Looking Glass Territories lay on one side of a flat plain. Word of God is that there's something of great interest on the other side.

    Web Original 
  • The titular world of Elcenia is a ten mile thick square. Elcenia is somewhat unusual in that you can walk over the edge, but not fall off: "Gravity" just abruptly changes direction and you can continue walking down the side of the world, or even across the underside.
  • Pandora, from the Dominion And Duchy canon, is a flat world that is somewhat unique in that it exists, possibly naturally, in a space opera setting.
  • In part 4 of The Sick Kids, the sequel to The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters, we learn that Central Earth is flat. ("What did you think it was anyway, round? Hah, we'd all fall off then!")
  • The International Square Earth Society is an extremely deadpan parody of flat-earthers. It uses Bible verses to prove that the Earth is not only flat, it's square like a saltine cracker.
    • to make it even more ridiculous, it uses verses that are obviously metaphors.
      Beware the slippery slope of interpreting a Biblical passage as "metaphor," for that way surely leads to Death. Next, you'll be saying the Earth wasn't created in six literal days, or that the Earth wasn't literally split in two in Genesis 10:25, and then your daughters will grow up to be temple prostitutes and your children will learn how to cast real spells by playing Dungeons & Dragons® and locusts will descend upon Israel and lions will lie down with lambs.
  • SCP Foundation;
    • SCP-1372 is a patch of ocean where the Earth seems to have an edge, but only if you're travelling from East to West. The problem isn't ships and people going over the edge, it's when they come back and try to get others to follow:
      Log of F███████ R███████: The captain… was only after a fashion onboard. The same goes for the crew… they are gone now, the flames took them. Today is mostly a blur. All I know is that the moment I heard the men onboard that ship speak, I didn't want to understand their far-off words. [...] Forgive me, Captain, but I no longer want to know what you saw beyond the edge of the Earth.
    • SCP-281-FR are series of magic swords stuck in the ground that keep the world in a spherical shape. They were placed there by SAPPHIRE, a group of atheists who found the Earth was flat when taking aerial photographs intending to prove that it's round.
  • Smegolia is flat and encased in firmament.
  • Ironically referenced in this sarcastic Teach the Controversy t-shirt

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The idea of everyone thinking the world was flat wasn't universal. Through history some people thought it was flat, some thought it may be round, but for the most part people probably didn't worry themselves about it much. While many people cite the idea that when a ship sailed to sea the mast was the last thing to disappear to the observer, the problem is that by the time a ship is that far out at sea (several miles for a 5.5-foot-tall person), the ship is so small to the unaided eye it's hard to make out the mast — and telescopes weren't developed until 1608 — a time when the fact that the Earth was round had been proven practically.
    • Fortunately it works both ways and ancient seafarers were aware that from ships approaching land mountaintops or lights atop beacon towers were visible earlier than the lower-lying areas of land, obscured by curvature of the Earth.note  This was pointed out by Graeco-Roman geographer Strabo in the 1st century CE - who also claimed that this was already mentioned in one verse of Homer's Odyssey. In other words, knowledge of the Earth curvature is Older Than Feudalism - at least for the educated and/or interested people.
    • The first mention of a spherical Earth in history comes from 6th century BC Greece, but that doesn't mean the idea hadn't been batted around already.
    • In the book of Book of Job there is mention of a "circle of darkness" on the "waters" which could refer to the spherical shape of Earth. This would mean that some Hebrews knew about the true shape of the world around 2-3000 years ago.
    • The first person recorded to measure the circumference was Eratosthenes in 240 BC. Using the angles of shadows at noon, he was within a 2%-20% margin — pretty good for what he had to work with.
    • By the time of Columbus (1492) most educated people understood the Earth was round. There was less fear of Columbus sailing off the edge of the world than the simple fact that he was sailing into uncharted waters and no one knew when/if he would run into land. Also, Columbus had far underestimated the actual size of the Earth and combined that with the largest estimation of how far Asia stretched eastward to conclude that the distance from Europe to Asia westward was only about 2,500 miles (in reality, it's closer to 15,000 miles). See analysis by Samuel Eliot Morison in Admiral of the Ocean Sea. He was lucky enough to find Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) where he thought Asia was and died believing he had reached India (hence the name "West Indies" for the Caribbean islands).
    • The fact that the Earth was round was finally demonstrated by Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe, starting in 1519.
    • The model familiar to us from middle eastern mythology (and later the Bible) didn't have edges you could sail off of, the dome of the metal (or sometimes crystal) sky just met the ground at the edges. Everything outside the dome was made of water.
  • Some people with sophisticated astronomies, like the Indians, Chinese, and Mayans, still believed the Earth to be flat.
    • Aryabhata, better known as the Indian guy who invented trigonometry, decimal numerals, and algebra before al-Jabr, averted this: he not only advocated for a spherical Earth, but also that the Earth rotated, rather than the common perception that the celestial sphere rotated around the Earth. He even calculated the Earth's diameter to a surprisingly accurate degree.
  • Some people still believe this to be the case. In the words of The Other Wiki, the Flat Earth Society "seeks to further the belief that the Earth is flat instead of an oblate spheroid." Interestingly, they believe that the Earth is actually shaped like the azimuthal projection on the United Nations flag, which explains the whole sailing around the world thing at least.
  • Related to the above, in 2017 Mike Hughes from California made repeated headlines trying to prove Earth's flatness by shooting himself into the "atmosflat" with a home-made, steam-powered rocket launched from a modified RV. After a failed attempt of his in 2014 already led to serious injuries that crippled him for several weeks, this one ran into different obstacles, like federal authorities denying him launch permission on public land, forcing him to relocate to private property. Hughes finally managed to launch his rocket in 2018, but only reached a height of around 5% of the amount needed to see the curvature of the Earth. Hughes continued working on another rocket design to get the needed height, but tragically died in February of 2020 during his latest launch.
  • Data from missions that have studied the cosmic microwave background, such as Planck, show the Universe to be flat to the limit of their measurements. However this simply means space has no curvature or it's so small that cannot be detected. It's not known if it means the Universe extends to infinity withnote  or without curvature, is finite (and very big) but with a flat geometry such as a torus, or it's finite, very big, and curved.note  It should also be noted that this "flatness" is a metaphorical 2-dimensional projection of the four dimensions of spacetime and that the acceleration of the universe's expansion is within an order of magnitude of Einstein's "Universal Constant", which he'd added to the wrong side of his field equation to explain what we then believed to be a static universe.

Alternative Title(s): The World Is Flat, Flat Earth


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