Flat-Earthers’ Cruise Will Sail to Antarctica ‘Ice Wall’ at the Planet’s Edge

By Mindy Weisberger

Organizers of an annual conference that brings together people who believe that the Earth is flat are planning a cruise to the purported edge of the planet. They’re looking for the ice wall that holds back the oceans.

The journey will take place in 2020, the Flat Earth International Conference (FEIC) recently announced on its website. The goal? To test so-called flat-Earthers’ assertion that Earth is a flattened disk surrounded at its edge by a towering wall of ice.

Details about the event, including the dates, are forthcoming, according to the FEIC, which calls the cruise “the biggest, boldest adventure yet.” However, it’s worth noting that nautical maps and navigation technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS) work as they do because the Earth is … a globe.

Believers in a flat Earth argue that images showing a curved horizon are fake and that photos of a round Earth from space are part of a vast conspiracy perpetrated by NASA and other space agencies to hide Earth’s flatness. These and other flat-Earth assertions appear on the website of the Flat Earth Society (FES), allegedly the world’s oldest official flat Earth organization, dating to the early 1800s.

However, the ancient Greeks demonstrated that Earth was a sphere more than 2,000 years ago, and the gravity that keeps everything on the planet from flying off into space could exist only on a spherical world.

But in diagrams shared on the FES website, the planet appears as a pancake-like disk with the North Pole smack in the center and an edge “surrounded on all sides by an ice wall that holds the oceans back.” This ice wall — thought by some flat-Earthers to be Antarctica — is the destination of the promised FEIC cruise.

There’s just one catch: Navigational charts and systems that guide cruise ships and other vessels around Earth’s oceans are all based on the principle of a round Earth, Henk Keijer, a former cruise ship captain with 23 years of experience, told The Guardian.

GPS relies on a network of dozens of satellites orbiting thousands of miles above Earth; signals from the satellites beam down to the receiver inside of a GPS device, and at least three satellites are required to pinpoint a precise position because of Earth’s curvature, Keijer explained.

“Had the Earth been flat, a total of three satellites would have been enough to provide this information to everyone on Earth,” Keijer said. “But it is not enough, because the Earth is round.”

Whether or not the FEIC cruise will rely on GPS or deploy an entirely new flat-Earth-based navigation system for finding the end of the world, remains to be seen.


You Could Drink This Man’s Frostbitten, Amputated Toes in a Cocktail

By Mindy Weisberger

After losing three toes to frostbite, a recent participant in one of the coldest long-distance races on Earth reached a toe-tally bizarre decision for what to do with the detached digits.

During the race, which took place in February in the Canadian Yukon, British competitor Nick Griffiths suffered frostbite so severe that three of his toes had to be amputated. Rather than simply disposing of the toes, he decided to donate them to a remote Canadian bar for use in a signature drink known as the “Sourtoe Cocktail,” which famously includes a dehydrated human toe, according to the Toronto Star.

It all began when Griffiths entered the 300-mile (483 kilometers) division of the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a punishing race across frozen wilderness that takes place along the Yukon Quest Trail. Participants race on foot, sleds and mountain bikes, and temperatures can drop below minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 50 degrees Celsius), according to the race’s website.

After 30 hours on the trail, with temperatures measured at below minus 40 degrees F (minus 40 degrees C), Griffiths dropped out with evidence of frostbite on several extremities, but the damage was most severe in his left foot.

Griffiths got the idea to donate his toes while recuperating in a Canadian hospital, when a nurse showed him video footage of her quaffing a drink containing a preserved human toe, served at a bar called the Sourdough Saloon, in the Yukon Territory, Griffiths told the Star. After hearing her story, he decided to contact the bar staff with the offer of three newly detached toes, which they were pleased to accept, the Star reported.

Griffiths’ bemused surgeon provided him with the amputated toes in vials of medical-grade alcohol, he told the Star.

For decades, the saloon has offered its Sourtoe Cocktail to intrepid imbibers — a tradition launched in 1973 using a toe that allegedly once belonged to a famous Canadian bootlegger. Patrons arrange to drink the cocktail by appointment and do so under the close supervision of a “Toe Captain.” The official toe wrangler ensures not only that drinkers touch the toe with their lips — a requirement for receiving an official certificate from the bar for consuming the cocktail — but also that they neither steal nor swallow the toe.

The cocktail must contain a minimum of 1 ounce of alcohol — and, of course, one human toe. Other than that, the drink’s contents are up to the drinker, though the Sourtoe experience often involves a shot of a local beverage known as Yukon Jack — 80-proof liquor blended from Canadian whisky and honey, according to the Sourdough Cocktail Club website.

Sourtoe Cocktail Club

More than 100,000 people have sampled the Sourtoe, and in the decades since the grisly drink was first poured, more than 10 toes have been acquired by the saloon operators. Preserved toes are stored in salt when they’re not floating in a cocktail. But they don’t last forever, and the saloon depends on generous toe-nations such as Griffiths’ to keep the Sourtoe Cocktail available for the curious and the brave, Jonny Klynkramer, the Sourdough Saloon bar manager, told the Star.

“We always prefer big toes — they’re the meatiest,” Klynkramer said.


Nor’easter Exposes Revolutionary-War-Era Shipwreck on Maine Beach

By Mindy Weisberger

The recent nor’easter that struck the eastern coast of the U.S. last week revealed something on a New England beach that has been glimpsed only about once a decade for the last 60 years: the remains of a shipwreck that could date back to the Revolutionary War era.

Receding waters sucked away by the storm at Short Sands Beach in York, Maine, exposed the shell of the vessel, which a member of the York Maine Police Department photographed during a morning run and shared on Facebook yesterday (March 5).

The wreck is thought to be at least 160 years old; it was first glimpsed in 1958, but it wasn’t examined and identified until another storm uncovered it in 1980, when a team of archaeologists determined that it was a “pink” — a type of flat-bottomed, highly maneuverable sloop — built during the Revolutionary War era and commonly used for fishing or cargo transport, the website Seacoastonline.com reported.

Usually, the boat is submerged under 6 or 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 meters) of water, and it was last exposed by storms in 2007 and then in 2013, according to the Boston Globe. Last week’s “bomb cyclone” revealed not only the ribs of the boat, but part of its underside as well.

The shipwreck’s historical significance has been noted by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, which mapped the crumbling boat frame and identified the area as an archaeological site, Seacoastonline reported in 2007.

“A major dig would be a useful and interesting thing to do — probably just to look in more detail at the ship’s structure and construction, since small artifacts and cargo are probably gone,” Arthur Spiess, a senior archaeologist with the Maine Historical Preservation Commission, told Seacoastonline.

However, this shipwreck is one of 67 wrecks in the area, and limited local resources mean that there are as yet no plans for its excavation, according to the website.