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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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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.