Some beefs end in fatality. Others in kiss-and-make-up onstage collaborations. The currently exploding ‘flat Earth’ spat between B.o.B. and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, however, can only end in one of two ways – a heated debate before the Oxford Union, or a drive-by on the New York Planetarium.
Have the (two-dimensional, yeah?) worlds of southern dope-hop and astrophysics ever collided in such globe (sorry, plate) shattering style than they did this week? On Monday, B.o.B. took to Twitter to debunk centuries of scientific thinking with a few photos of short stretches of horizon and mountain ranges showing no obvious curve visible to the naked eye, like a man offering undeniable proof that a random dress is black and blue.
“The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart,” he wrote as caption to a picture of approximately 0.06% of the Earth’s circumference, “where is the curve? please explain this”. Easy, it’s indiscernible on that scale. “No matter how high in elevation you are… the horizon is always eye level,” he posited. Yes it is mate, if you’re looking directly at the horizon. And so it went on. “I’m going up against the greatest liars in history … you’ve been tremendously deceived… a lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ … but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… I didn’t wanna believe it either.”
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson certainly didn’t. After dozens of B.o.B. posts attempting to prove that the Earth is flat by linking round Earth “liars” like Pythagoras, Copernicus, Galileo and Newton to freemasonry and claiming that NASA is some sort of border patrol for the edge of the Earth in Antarctica, one tweet pushed Tyson to respond – B.o.B.’s claim that it should be impossible to see Manhattan from Harriman State Park’s Bear Mountain as the 60 miles of curvature would block out 150ft of the city.
“Earth’s curve indeed blocks 150 (not 170) ft of Manhattan. But most buildings in midtown are waaay taller than that,” the cosmologist Tweeted, “Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.”
Tyson got an instant smackdown. B.o.B. released a diss track called ‘Flatline’ at midnight that very day, incorporating samples of Tyson discussing the earth’s formation and lines such as “Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest/They’ll probably write that man one hell of a check”.
Now most rapper vs astrophysicist rap battles would naturally end there. The Traditional Cosmology Society isn’t best known for its rhythmic comebacks. But little did B.o.B. know, Tyson had game. Being told to loosen one’s vest is actually one of the worst slang insults you could throw around scientist circles – it suggests both a slack approach to your calculations of stellar distances and gravitational mass, and that your mama didn’t dress you right that morning. Tell Brian Cox to “loosen up his vest” and he’d open up a whole Hadron Collider of whup-ass.
So yesterday, Tyson came out the neck at B.o.B.. “As an astrophysicist I don’t rap, but I know people who do. This one has my back,’ Tyson Tweeted as he premiered an ephemeral rap piece called ‘Flat To Fact’, performed by his nephew Stephen Tyson.
“I’m in the Hayden Planetarium getting shoulder rubs,” Tyson boasted between attempts to get B.o.B. to see sense. “I’m bringing facts to combat a silly theory /Because B-O-B has gotta know the planet is a sphere G… What about the change of seasons? /The planet spins around the sun, do you need more reasons?… Is Donald Trump the one that’s feeding you all of these stupid bits of information, keeps you on your knees?”
To add heat to burns already hotter than a solar flare, Neil DeGrasse Tyson himself appeared on The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore last night to deliver a diatribe-cum-Pentecostal sermon on basic geometry and physics to set B.o.B. straight. “Your size is not large enough relative to earth to notice any curvature at all,” he rant-rapped. “It’s a fundamental fact of calculus and non euclidean geometry. Small sections of large curved surfaces will always look flat to small creatures that crawl upon it.” He closed by spitting “by the way, this is gravity,” and dropping his microphone on the floor. Raw science in your face, B.o.Bitch.
Of course, they’re both wrong. The earth is like a running machine belt. During the day the top side travels east to west, then at night it flips down to the underside and travels ba… what’s that? There are men in black hoods and goat horns at reception? Said to say Al Uminatti wants to see me? Be right down…