A funny story, written in early 2017 by Tony Heyes, about Knott End and Me, and the Isle of Man and what you can see! And of course the question, ‘is the earth really round?’
Knott End and Me
This is Tony Heyes story, in his own words….
When I was very young my parents used to take my sister and me on holiday to a little Lancashire town called Knott End on Sea. I developed a fondness for the place and made a lifelong friend in Gordon Heald. Gordon, now a retired architect, has a weekender in Knott End and I love to spend time with him there during my regular visits to England.
There is a local belief that, on rare occasions one can see the Isle of Man from the foreshore at Knott End. I was always sceptical about this because the distance to the island is 100Km making it well beyond the horizon.
My scepticism vanished one day in 2002. Gordon and I had driven up to the top of the Bowland Fells on a very clear day. We were delighted to be able to see the mountains in the Lake District and North Wales and, yes, the Isle of Man. On returning to Knott End, in spite of being back at sea level, we could still see the Isle of Man!
Knott End and Me and Mirages…
I researched the subject and learned about Superior Mirages – the refraction of light under condition of atmospheric temperature inversion such that one can actually see over the horizon. This happened at a time that I had persuaded Gordon to let me create a web page dedicated to his historical researches, in particular his numerous splendid historic maps.
I decided to write up my findings with regard to seeing the Isle of Man and included them on his web site.
I later discovered a very similar visual phenomena nearer to my new home in Australia: seeing the Central Business District of Melbourne from the Mornington Peninsula.
Some fifteen years later, the Isle of Man page caught the eye of a journalist from Lancashire and it was republished, with appropriate attribution, in an online newsletter produced by Visit Fylde Coast (that was us, you can read about why you can see the Isle of Man from Cleveleys here)
(See also: https://visitfyldecoast.info)
Knott End and Me, and the Isle of Man and a Flat Earth…
There it was seen by a lady in Manchester, who wrote to me suggesting that I must be the scientist who had been advising Pastor Dean Odle on refraction. Would I be interesting in joining a group of likeminded people who met regularly in Altrincham near Manchester.
I replied that I knew nothing of Pastor Odle, I lived in Australia and I did not understand what she meant by likeminded.
She replied that she was a devotee of the Pastor who is one of the leading lights in the Flat Earth Society, and she felt he would be delighted to read my supportive writings.
I was quick to point out that my writings did nothing to support the Flat Earth hypothesis; on the contrary they were describing how it was possible, under certain special circumstances, to see very distant objects in spite of the curvature of the earth.
In reply I was sent a link to a YouTube talk by the Pastor Odle.
If you visit this website you will see that his arguments comprise of numerous quotations from various Bronze Age books of doubtful authenticity, and a sprinkling of scientifically sounding terms of which he has little or no understanding.
I wrote to my interlocutor that I thought it was a load of drivel and suggested that she had become involved with some very odd people.
It’s all a conspiracy…
Her parting shot was to observe that I was clearly narrow minded and belonged to: and I quote, “a Luciferian conspiracy, initiated by Copernicus, to deceive people into believing that we live on a spherical moving planet”.
I was so amused by this accolade that I sent a link to my Mirage page and a brief description of my Flat Earth correspondence to a number of friends.
This included Emeritus Professor A.G. (Tony) Klein of Melbourne University under whom I had served for several years on the Ethics Committee at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.
He replied that he could not be bothered to read the Flat Earth nonsense but he found my Mirage paper very interesting. Would I be prepared to publish it in his regular (quarterly) column in the Australian Optical Society Newsletter under the running title: “Optics in Everyday Life”? Naturally I said that I would be delighted.
In the process of modifying my paper so as to give Australian examples rather than those from the Lancashire coast Tony asked about the rather odd web address, namely Optuszoo. I pointed out that those of us who are no longer associated with a university must get web space where they can find it – beggars can’t be choosers – was my expression. My internet service provider, Optus provided me with a limited amount of free web space called, for some reason, Optuszoo.
To my enormous surprise and delight he said he could fix that at a stroke by making me an Honorary Fellow of the School of Physics at Melbourne University.
So at the age of 77, legally blind, and clearly in my dotage I get a new title. Well it is not a Nobel Prize but it does rather please me.
I have just had dinner with a chap who installed the Air Traffic Control electronics at Launceston in Tasmania. They chose the same carrier frequency as that used at Moorabbin in Melbourne thinking that the distance was sufficiently great for it not to be a problem. However, on days of temperature inversion the signals did interfere and the Launceston frequency had to be changed!
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