These days it’s generally accepted that the Earth is spherical, not flat. After all, it’s something that scientists first deduced more than 2,000 years ago. But rapper B.o.B doesn’t seem convinced, insisting that the world we live on is actually a disc, not a sphere. And he’s even set up a GoFundMe campaign to try and prove that his theory is correct. The response from NASA’s astronauts, however, has been absolutely fantastic.
B.o.B – real name Bobby Ray Simmons Jr. – is probably best known for his 2009 number one hit “Nothin’ on You” and his third single “Airplanes,” on which he collaborated with Paramore’s Hayley Williams. Since then, he’s enjoyed considerable commercial success as a rapper.
Aside from his music, though, B.o.B is also well known for his belief in various conspiracy theories. As well as stating that the Moon landing in 1969 was faked and that the 9/11 terrorist attack was an “inside job,” he has also committed firmly to the theory that the Earth isn’t a sphere at all – but is actually flat.
Throughout history, various societies have subscribed to the flat Earth model. Indeed, as far back as the era of Ancient Egypt, it was widely assumed that the Earth is like a disc floating on water. A dome over the top supposedly contained the sky, Sun, stars and Moon. And in the present day, the rise of social media has seen the theory make something of a comeback. For instance, there are multiple YouTube videos that claim to present evidence to prove the theory.
Meanwhile, celebrities such as NBA player Kyrie Irving, TV personality Tila Tequila and NFL star Sammy Watkins have all voiced their own support for the theory, helping it to spread further. In fact, a middle school teacher even reported that, after hearing Irving’s views on a podcast, his students were beginning to believe that the idea is true.
And in September 2017 B.o.B decided to go one step further in his search for the supposed truth about the Earth’s shape, launching a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. According to the campaign page, the rapper is aiming to raise money to send satellites into space in order to prove once and for all that the Earth really is flat.
“I’m starting this GoFundMe because I would like to send one, if not multiple satellites, as far into space as I can, or into orbit as I can, to find the curve,” B.o.B explained in a video uploaded to his campaign page. “I’m looking for the curve,” he went on, referring to the fact that the curvature of the Earth can’t be seen with the naked eye at ground level.
The resurgence of the flat Earth theory has come about despite its arguments being dismissed not only by imagery from NASA, but also by discoveries made over 2,000 years ago. Indeed, the oldest surviving reference to a spherical Earth dates from the Ancient Greeks in the 6th century BC. Early proponents included Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle, and within a few centuries there was already a consensus among Greek scientists that the Earth is spherical.
Then in the 16th century AD, Juan Sebastián Elcano and Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe, thereby proving conclusively that the Earth is spherical. Yet despite this, in the 21st century organizations such as the Flat Earth Society have continued to claim that nobody has actually provided proof to contradict their beliefs.
It’s little surprise, then, that many NASA astronauts have spoken out against B.o.B’s outlandish crowdfunding campaign. They include Terry Virts, an astronaut who worked for NASA until August 2016 and once commanded the International Space Station. He tweeted, “I can save B.o.B a lot of money – the Earth is round. I flew around it.”
Then, Buzz Aldrin – the second man on the Moon, not that B.o.B believes it – chimed in. The astronaut quoted Virts’ tweet, adding, “I did too. It’s called an orbit: the curved path of a celestial object around a star, planet, or Moon.”
And finally, retired astronaut and fellow ex-commander of the International Space Station Scott Kelly weighed in. He tweeted a video of a satellite orbiting the Earth, proving that it is indeed spherical. Kelly even suggested that B.o.B donate the funds raised through his GoFundMe campaign to the relief fund for Puerto Rico, which was devastated in September 2017 by Hurricane Irma.
Despite all this evidence from people who have actually been up into space, however, B.o.B remained resolute in his beliefs. “People usually discourage you from doing something when they have something to hide,” he tweeted, adding a wink emoji at the end.
Moreover, this isn’t the first time that the rapper has questioned the fact that the Earth is spherical. Back in 2016 he tweeted a photograph of the horizon, captioned, “The cities in the background are approx. 16 miles apart… where is the curve? Please explain this.”
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson then stepped in to do just that, writing, “Earth’s curve indeed blocks 150 foot of Manhattan. But most buildings in Midtown are waaay taller than that.” Once again, however, B.o.B refused to listen. In fact, he even went as far as to record a “diss track” to express his disagreement with the scientist.
“Aye, Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest, they probably write that man one hell of a check,” B.o.B rapped in his song “Flatline,” which has since been removed from the artist’s SoundCloud page. Surprisingly, Tyson’s nephew actually responded a day later with his own track, laying down, “I’m bringing facts to combat a silly theory, because B.o.B has gotta know the planet is a sphere, G.”
It appears that B.o.B isn’t entirely alone in his views, however. Indeed, he raised more than $6,300 of his $1m goal in the first 26 days of his campaign. One donor even left a note along with his $20 contribution. It stated, “When/if you do make sure you let me know. I’ve been trying to tell folks that there is no curve, therefore the Earth is not a globe.”
Nonetheless, others have proved more skeptical, with some even casting doubt upon B.o.B’s motives for the campaign. Chaim Gartenberg, a writer for The Verge, highlighted GoFundMe’s lack of accountability compared to other crowdfunding platforms. Gartenberg pointed out that the site doesn’t require the full goal of $1m to be reached for the rapper to claim any donations.
Gartenberg also noted that it doesn’t take expensive satellites to ascertain whether the Earth is flat. All that you need, in fact, is a GoPro camera and a weather balloon, as several videos on YouTube demonstrate. B.o.B, meanwhile, also hasn’t explained just how he’s going to go about getting a satellite into space should he actually raise the necessary funds.
It’s unclear, then, just what it will take for B.o.B to join most of the rest of the world in the belief that the Earth is indeed spherical. After all, if those great responses from some of NASA’s most respected astronauts can’t convince him, it’s unlikely that anything will.