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Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
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ScienceShot: Garden Gnome Tests Earth's Gravity
21 March 2012 4:11 pm
When a scientist can't give you an answer, ask a garden gnome. Researchers have long hypothesized that objects weigh less at Earth's equator because the planet's spin and shape lessen gravity's pull here versus at the poles. (Imagine Earth as a spinning disc. A bean sitting in the center would feel nothing, whereas a bean at the edge would fly off.) Satellite accelerometers have confirmed this, but a digital scale manufacturer decided to test things the old-fashioned way. Enter the Kern garden gnome. When placed on a scale at the South Pole (pictured on the right; San Francisco and Mexico city are left and center, respectively), the intrepid ornament weighed 309.82 grams versus 307.86 grams at the equator, a difference of 0.6%. The gnome's next stop will be the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, according to Kern Precision Scales, the manufacturer of the digital scale and the sponsor of the gnome's travels. CERN is currently conducting a search for the Higgs boson, the particle suspected of endowing quarks and electrons with mass; a particularly apt place to test a theory related to gravity.
See more ScienceShots.