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Is this book lame or laudable? Read my review and get the inside dope

Does the Earth Rotate? NO!

William Westfield [pseudonym of William Edgell?]
The Author
Edition / Year
In the section labelled

Does the Earth Rotate? NO!

In the compiling of this little book as a contradiction of the theory of the present Astronomers I have made a special point of being as concise and plain as possible in putting forward my proofs, and to do so I have used simple language not indulging in astronomical terms. My intention is to place all my facts in a plain and simple method so that all may conceive what I wish to prove, as the use of unnecessary terms and huge wording would only tend to puzzle and fog one in reading, hence I hope that those who peruse this book will be able to follow any argument and agree with my conviction that the earth is a fixture and the sun does certainly move.

Thus begins this uncommon little tract, by which William Westfield hoped in vain to persuade the “Educational Authorities” to abandon the idea that the earth rotates, or indeed moves at all, in space. The crux of his argument is based on a simple experiment performed in his garden, in which he placed a tube pointed at the Pole Star.

Viewing tube experiment

He says of it:

I have this tube fixed in my garden, size 3 feet 6 in. by 3/4 in., directed to the fixed pole star, and I can view the star continually. Why? Because the star is fixed in the heavens and because the earth is a fixture also.

His tube would have covered only just over one degree of arc of the sky, so actually he should have observed a little movement of Polaris, but presumably he was not really looking for it. His disbelief in the earth's rotation did not wholly rest on this single experiment, in any case:

Here is another positive proof that the earth cannot rotate. In the Desert of Sahara, the length from east to west is 3,000 miles, its average breadth 900 miles, and its area 2,000,000 square miles. Rain falls on this desert at intervals only of five to ten or twenty years. If the earth rotates over 10,000,000 miles daily [corrected in errata to a mere 1,555,200 miles a day - still too large by a factor of about 60!], and in addition makes another movement round the orbit and sun yearly how can this large desert escape the rain from the heavens for years at a stretch, while other places receive the rain regularly? Why? It is because this desert is a fixture, and is not favoured by rain from the heavens, like other places, owing to geographical conditions.

As recent as June, 1917, it rained for about one hour on my garden, and only two and a half miles from here, north, south, east and west, there was no rain at all.

His garden should be located and marked with a blue plaque to record its important role in the history of thought.

I would not want to address each of the many fallacies expounded in Westfield's book, though it may be of interest that he thought that the rotation of the earth that he was arguing against was like the rolling of a ball, with the north and south poles exchanging places twice daily, but I do think his attempt to justify a belief in a flat earth is worthy of some attention:

The sun over London and New Zealand

As I contend that our earth is practically flat except for the hills, mountains and valleys, that no such thing as a globe exists, readers may wonder why the sun is not on view all over the world at one time. My answer is as illustrated. No 1 is the position of the sun at mid-day, in June, in England. At the same time it is midnight in New Zealand, and the mountain, hill or horizon as shown at C would easily prevent a person in New Zealand at D from viewing the sun when over England.

No 2 is the sun at New Zealand in mid-winter and a person in England at A is prevented from viewing the sun at New Zealand after it has travelled from viewing across the heavens to that country. This is due to the mountains, hills, towns, villages or horizon at B obstructing the view. All readers are aware that mountains and hills and horizon are common in all countries, and therefore it is these that easily hide the sun from our view, although the sun is even at a high altitude at that place.

(Yes, those horizons get everywhere, don't they?) On this basis Westfield calculates the sun to be only 2,500 miles above the earth. Curiously, he omits to say exactly how it must move in relation to the flat earth below it, in order to give the relative timing and orientation of sunrises and sunsets that are actually observed throughout the world. But to do so would presumably be a simple exercise, given his confident conclusion to this volume:

There are [...] large sums of money spent annually at our Observatories throughout England on astronomy based upon Astronomers' opinion and enormous distances given by them, such as the distance of the earth to the pole star and sun of millions of miles, whereas ordinary mathematics as taught at schools daily, absolutely prove the distance in both cases to be less than 10,000 miles.

With all due respect to astronomers' prophesies of future happenings as to comets, readers will see their judgment as to distances and earth rotation cannot be relied upon. May I ask, is it worth while keeping a large staff at our Observatories, or anyone working at a false and unreasonable theory, especially when our Government has now definitely decided on economy at their establishments?

A considerable sum of money can now be saved by greatly reducing the staff at observatories in this country, and undoubtedly the Government will be convinced that the proofs given in this small book is [sic] overwhelming against the enormous distances given by astronomers, and that the earth rotation theory is absolutely disproved.

I wonder if the current British Government, given its documented willingness to accept dodgy evidence is yet ready to listen?

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Submitted by David Horton (not verified) on 27 Jan 2011 - 07:25 Permalink

Alfred, thank you for bringing Mr Westfield to the attention of the world, and in doing so attracting, by some kind of internet magnetism (I'm surprised magnets didn't get a mention somewhere here!), some of the strangest commentators and comments, surely, that have ever appeared in response to any post on any blog anywhere. And I read a lot of climate change blogs where nutters appear very fast; and write a lot of posts about all sorts of things, ditto. Perhaps you could hire these people out to other blogs in need of a bit of madness in the midst of serious science. Cheers.
Submitted by timgarrow (not verified) on 30 Dec 2010 - 05:48 Permalink

"as a general rule," it should take longer flying west in the Northern Hemisphere than flying the same route east, and just the opposite would be true in the Southern Hemisphere. Read more:
Submitted by timgarrow (not verified) on 30 Dec 2010 - 05:42 Permalink

the eath is round or we would fall off but i have not read any proof yet that the moon and the sun dont rotate the earth we could just see one side of the moon because it continues to face the earth as it spins around us. for any australians does the water in the toilet really spin clockewise cause it spins counterclockwise in america i m going to do research on the time it takes to fly east in comparison to the time in takes to fly west
Submitted by pseudonym (not verified) on 31 Dec 2010 - 02:56 Permalink

I didn't understand your first point but I am Australian so I will reply to the question. It spins in different directions depending on the shape of the toilet bowl, the Coriolis effect is too small to influence something at that scale, you need to look at cyclones or whirlpools to see it in action. You should be researching gravity if you want to understand the shape or movement of the earth.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Nov 2010 - 12:40 Permalink

Earth was flat said the greek poet homer and believe that earth also a circular disk surrounded by an ocean.Thales Miletus also believed that the earth was flat disk floating in water
Submitted by Jen (not verified) on 22 Oct 2010 - 22:27 Permalink

This is the funniest page I have EVER stumbled across! Yes, the earth is flat....IF you live in Narnia. For proof that the earth is a globe and rotates: ask an astronaut, for the love of the moon!!! I'm pretty sure they know, having been outside of the earth's atmosphere. Oh, and check this out: Isn't it just beautiful? Also, I think the authour was yanking a few chains and having a laugh. That, or he had a chemical imbalance preventing logical thought-processes. Oh, and I believe some of the people who commented on here misunderstood some of the other commenters' quite thinly veiled sarcasm, and some need to go back to school for grammar/punctuation/spelling/definition lessons. But, they contributed to the general hilarity, so I will forgive them graciously and bid you adieu. Good NIGHT!
Submitted by kjvman on 20 Oct 2010 - 05:32 Permalink

I have a photocopy of this book. If anybody wants a copy, it is 20 dollars plus mailing costs.
Submitted by skip (not verified) on 18 Oct 2010 - 20:55 Permalink

Thats your answer? I'm lazy? I think thats just an excuse. I ask a question and your answer is I'm to lazy to look up the things that science can easily prove. Sorry I paraphrased to at least make your statement make sense. Ok, thanks for your insight. bye..
Submitted by Alfred Armstrong on 18 Oct 2010 - 22:49 Permalink

Why should I answer anyone's questions? I'm not here providing a public service.

When I don't know the answer to something, I do this thing called research. These days it's easier than it used to be, but I don't expect random strangers on the internet to give me all the answers, for nothing, without even the pretence of gratitude.

Unlike you, you [unnecessary insult written in heat of the moment removed].

Ta ta!

Submitted by skip (not verified) on 18 Oct 2010 - 19:47 Permalink

Why do astronomers say that EVERYTHING is moving away from us? They say the red shift in the light coming from the various objects in space, other galaxys, other stars in our galaxy, etc. is ALL moving away from us. How is this possible unless we are at the center. Why don't planes use more fuel following the rotation (East) than the ones going West, which should use less because their destination is coming up under them at 1036 MPH. Just curious.
Submitted by Guy Fulton on 18 Oct 2010 - 22:25 Permalink

If I remember my college cosmology correctly all the galaxies are moving away from each-other too. Space itself is expanding. Also I believe that many astronomers think that there is no center of space, rather all points are the center, and if you were to travel in one direction you would end up in the place you had started. Ahem. NASA says: "Imagine a loaf of raisin bread as it is baking. The raisins in the bread spread away from one another as the loaf rises and expands during the baking. Pick any raisin and pretend you are standing on it (you're very small now!) and measuring the rate at which the other raisins are moving away from you. You will find that, no matter which raisin you choose, all other raisins appear to be moving away from you, with the furthest raisins receding the fastest."
Submitted by skip (not verified) on 18 Oct 2010 - 19:26 Permalink

Hi. Sorry I'm not a flat Earth believer, but I'm starting to think the Earth is stationary. I went to school in the West, and have a Christian outlook on life. Without quoting the Bible and the various references already made, just observing the world around us, makes me question the validity of the "scientific facts" as we've been taught. for instance, IF the Earth IS rotating around the Sun as taught, then we're traveling in space at a pretty alarming rate, not only the spin of the Earth on its' axis, but the trip around the Sun, in conjunction with the spin speed. Then you add the speed of the Sun and it's little journey through the Milky Way, and we're moving pretty good. We'll stop there, no use in going overboard by adding the "supposed" speed of the Milky Way... Now, if we're spinning and moving so fast, how come the stars aren't just a blur? Why do they appear "fixed" in the night sky? just curious.....
Submitted by Alfred Armstrong on 18 Oct 2010 - 19:32 Permalink

Simple observation will show that the stars do move in the sky, albeit slowly. This is one of the reasons we know that our planet is moving. They don't move quickly because they are a very, very long way away. When you are driving alongside distant hills, don't they seem to move much more slowly than nearby trees? That is the same phenomenon on a smaller scale.

Submitted by skip (not verified) on 18 Oct 2010 - 20:37 Permalink

No, I don't think they are the same Alfred. One is the 3D effect, the trees and hills in the background. The other is a legit question to be answered. You say the movement of the stars is how we 'know' our Earth rotates. I asked why the stars didn't appear as a blur to us from our point of view, IF the Earth is spinning at 1036MPH. Having only went close to two hundred MPH on my motorcycle, I can tell you EVERYTHINGS a blur, at that speed, so WHY at 5 times that speed is everything so clear and in focus? Are all the stars and distant galaxys moving at EXACTLY the same rate and direction we are? that's the only way they'd stay 'right". Well, either that or the Earth IS stationary. They'd be "right" then too. Comment?
Submitted by Guy Fulton on 18 Oct 2010 - 22:12 Permalink

Look, if you have ever been in a plane you will have gone a good deal faster than 200 miles per hour. Look out side the window at Mount St. Helens and you will see it moving past very slowly. Perhaps you didn't actually observe very well on your motorcycle. Alpha Centauri, the closest star to us, is 25.8 trillion miles away, so perhaps the slowness of movement that far away can be grasped when you think about that scale... why am I wasting my time explaining this? Next people will start saying that coffee is hot because it is full of little demons who get angry when you boil them. Which is true, but quite unprovable.