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- Signed A2 Fine Art Print – Editions: 3
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In the summer of 1774, an experiment took place at Schiehallion to calculate the mean density of the world.
The work was carried out by Nevil Maskelyne and is often referred to as the “Weighing The World” experiment. It involved measuring the tiny deflection of a pendulum due to the gravitational attraction of the mountain.
They chose Schiehallion for the experiment due to its almost symmetrical pyramid shape. It is also far enough away from other mountains to minimise their gravitational influence on the results.
The team built observatories on the north and south sides of Schiehallion where numerous measurements were carried out. The result was a rough calculation for the density of the world. The experiment was later repeated by Henry Cavendish to try and find a more accurate result.
Recent re-examinations of Maskelyne’s data took into account extra information which the 1774 team could not, such as more accurate surveys of the mountain. The modern result was very close to Maskelyne’s, which is credit to his accurate observations and original calculations.
And just incase calculating the weight of the world wasn’t enough of a result for one project, they also came up with an important cartography tool which is still used. During the survey of the mountain, they simplified the survey process and came up with the concept of contour lines which we see on maps today!