I pride myself staying “in the know” with the latest in science discoveries, so I am especially surprised when I discover something that I hold evident to be utterly incorrect. The latest slap in the face came with a incredibly interesting BBC article (at least for me) about the subtle variations in the force of gravity around the planets surface. If you would have asked me the day before reading that piece, I would have bet money that the force of gravity only changes depending on the distance from the center of the mass of the earth (which apparently is just the simplified explanation). This is as much of a shock as back in the 15th century when everyone found out the world was NOT flat.
To better illustrate the subtle differences in gravity, scientists created a computer generated model they call the “geoid.” I will not even attempt to accurately describe what the model actually represents, because despite it is very easy to visually understand the differences, the point it is attempting to convey is a little more complex.
The one thing I would love to actually know is the actual NUMERICAL differences between the two extremes. I wasn’t able to find the actual numbers to answer my questions. The field of physics preachers that the force of gravity on earth is 9.81 m/s2, or 32.2 ft/s, which I assume is an average. So does that mean the strongest point, the spot where the force of gravity is the highest compared to the rest of the earth, is closer to 9.9 m/s2 or only 9.810000000000001 m/s2? I ask because 9.9 m/s2 is very different from 9.81 m/s2, and may some important implications, such as choosing the location of the olympics for events such as the long jump where this difference may affect results. Just something to consider.
However, I’ll be able to sleep tonight not knowing the answer….which is very uncharacteristic of who I am. Still I’ve learned something new about gravity, and for I’m am thankful.