Thread: Is the earth flat? View Single Post
Emeritus
P: 7,439

## Is the earth flat?

Using standard rulers, the surface of the Earth cannot be flat, because it has a non-zero "curvature tensor".

Similarly, space-tme cannot be flat around the Earth, either, because space-time has a non-zero "curvature tensor".

This is assuming that one defines the rather fuzzy English word "flat" with the mathematical defintion "zero Riemann curvature tensor".

The longish quote from Einstein in the thread

 Gaussian curvature is however in fact an intrinsic property of the surface, meaning it does not depend on the particular embedding of the surface; intuitively, this means that ants living on the surface could determine the Gaussian curvature. .... An intrinsic definition of the Gaussian curvature at a point P is the following: imagine an ant which is tied to P with a short thread of length r. He runs around P while the thread is completely stretched and measures the length C(r) of one complete trip around P. If the surface were flat, he would find C(r) = 2πr. On curved surfaces, the formula for C(r) will be different, and the Gaussian curvature K at the point P can be computed as $$K = \lim_{r \rarr 0} (2 \pi r - \mbox{C}(r)) \cdot \frac{3}{\pi r^3}$$