MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Does the string of a plumb line point at the center of the Earth?

Date: Sat Jan 29 15:20:23 2000
Posted By: Richard T. De Van, Owner
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 948698520.Es

Dear Rebecca:

The plumb line points to the center of gravity of the Earth. However, local geology and surface features can affect the angle of the plumb line. If you were to take a measurement next to a mountain, the plumb line would tilt slightly towards the mountain because the extra mass has a higher gravitational attraction.

The equatorial diameter of the Earth is greater than the polar diameter. The effect of this irregular shape is that the gravitational force on a body at the equator is slightly less than at the poles.

The Coriolis Force applies to moving objects at or near the surface of the Earth. As a plumb line is stationary, the Coriolis force is not a factor. See for a demonstration.

Best Regards,

Richard T. De Van

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