Posts uit juli, 2015 weergeven

Observing gravity on a moving ship

In the beginning of the 20th century the gravity field of the Earth was only measured on land. Of course, to obtain a complete image of the Earth's gravity field the oceanic area (covering 74% of the Earth) should also be inspected. However, in those days that was a difficult task. Gravity could be measured by several different instruments, but for them to work a stable platform was needed. This is difficult to arrange on a rocking ship. For example, the falling mass principle was used by Simon Stevin (1548-1620), who dropped balls of lead from the New Church in Delft, Netherlands. Later, a dutch sailor and scientist called Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) found the relation between the period of a pendulum and gravity (I used this relation earlier in the my blog).

This is now called the Christiaan's Huygens law. With it the operator was able to measure gravity with a single pendulum, but needed a stable platform, such that horizontal movement did not interfere with the motion …