March 3, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Travel in time with the Truth Keepers as they right the purported misbeliefs of the past.

In this short story, travel in time with the Truth Keepers as they carry out their mission to right the purported misbeliefs of the past.

Everyone Thought the Earth Was Flat

Malcolm L. G. Spencer

In the not-too-distant future, a new age of darkness has befallen the planet Earth and its people.

The Age of Information, a time of boundless data and instant access to knowledge proved a curse to man.

Lacking order in this chaos of abundance, and shunning education and expertise, society crumbled as the boundaries between fact and fiction, truth and fake-news, were blurred and bent out of shape.

Now humanity’s only hope lies in the tireless efforts of a chosen few.

The Truth-Keepers, adventurers across time, seek to restore humanity’s faith in facts, wisdom and enlightenment. Carrying scattered remnants of knowledge from the past, each has vowed to seek out and destroy ignorance and superstition, and help humanity avoid the same destructive path witnessed before the Great Fall.


“Truth-keepers! We four join together today to cast out falsehood and restore truth!”

“Each of us has worked tirelessly to gather stories of man’s imprudence from the ancient record keepers. Drawn from times long past when the people of Earth found themselves trapped, not only by the boundaries of time we now cross, but by their very conception of the planet they lived upon.”

“Flat Earth – That shining beacon of stupidity! From an age when great men like us had yet to travel the globe and bring forth the hope of a better world through our diligent efforts to seek out truth, and preserve it in these hallowed halls.”

A respectful hush fell over those gathered in anticipation of the mission before them. So scattered and disorganised were the records slavishly preserved by these privileged few, their exact destination in time and place could not be known. And yet, they all travelled with the conviction that the horrors that had befallen their present must be rooted in a universal ignorance to be found in humanity’s collective past.


The Flat Earth Society, Soviet Russia & Twentieth Century Thought

Numbed momentarily by an intense flash of light and the abrupt absence of sound that followed, TK1 was brought back to his senses by the shock of cold air on skin. Confused by the lack of colour before him, he feared the journey had compromised his vision. Slowly, his monochrome surroundings began to take shape. Vast snow covered buildings of concrete covered the horizon.

The noise of industry and automobiles bombarded him at once. Dazed and confused, he saw a man approach.

“Greetings Comrade. You hardly seem dressed for this fine Moscow weather!”

TK1 nodded in acknowledgement, not daring to part his lips for fear his teeth would chatter uncontrollably and his chance to explain his mission would be lost. On recognising his obvious discomfort, the stranger gestured for them to enter a nearby building and escape the freezing temperatures.

“Well Comrade, I can’t say my life has been without its share of surprises, but even my journey to the stars hasn’t prepared me for sight of strange men falling from the sky! Is this how the Americans propose to beat us to the Moon?”

TK1 brushed away the remnants of snow, composed himself, and determined to bring an abrupt end to any further small talk.

“My name is TK1. I am a traveller to this time and place from the years ahead. My opportunity to share my story is short, but if you will listen to my teachings, I bring the promise of great knowledge and wisdom for you to share with your people.”

The man hesitated for a moment. He was clearly in the presence of a foreign agent, though his manner of speaking seemed odd and out of time even by those standards. His instinct was to avoid further contact, should this interaction prove compromising, but his curiosity was piqued and he instead offered his own name in reply.

“My name is Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin. If you truly come from the future, tell me, is it from a time when socialism has been built and the workers are at last able to enjoy the fruits of their labour?”

TK1 dismissed Gagarin’s question with a wave of his hand, and reached into his travel case for a pile of loosely gathered notes. Now was not the time for answering questions, he had just a few moments in this time period with which to share his knowledge of the misguided notions held by humanity in this era. If he could offer his teachings to just one man, hopefully, the gift of knowledge would spread and the tide of ignorance would eventually be stemmed before it proved ruinous to his own time.

And so, TK1 shared his mission and the ancient texts he had brought with him. He told Yuri Gagarin of the records he had gathered from the creation of the Flat Earth Society, the teachings of Samuel Shenton and Charles K. Johnson, the false experiments and erroneous evidence that failed to demonstrate a proper understanding of science and the natural world.

Yuri Gagarin patiently listened, while nodding with a look of growing disbelief.

“Is this really what they believe in America? Surely, not! Even if they languish behind the great achievements of the Soviet People, they will soon see their folly when they join us among the stars!”

“While one might admit we too have shown our ability to let politics get in the way of scientific progress, you are mistaken if you think these ideas are held by all in this great epoch of modernity.”

Poppy Lambert is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London

Banner Image: Earth, Pexels.