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Colin Murphy
2008-12-02 10:39:12
"Schiehallion" from Colin Murphy Expand pics
Schiehallion (Expand pics)
Contour lines, physics byproduct
Back in the distant year of 1981, a flatmate of mine in Edinburgh, suggested that we kill a summer’s Sunday by ‘climbing a mountain’. With nothing else to do, we set off for God-knows-where in his banger of a car and I duly trudged along in agonised silence behind him, ill-equipped and totally unfit as we headed up Schiehallion (1083m in Perth & Kinross) – my first ever hillwalking experience. By co-incidence I recently came across the name Schiehallion when reading Bill Bryson’s ‘A short history of everything’. In 1774, the mountain had been selected by a physicist Nevil Maskelyne as an ideal one to conduct an experiment to determine the universal gravitional constant – if you hang a plumb line near a mountain the gravitational force will pull the line at a tiny but measurable angle towards its mass. All you need to do is measure the mass of the mountain and bob’s your uncle, the gravitational constant! Maskelyne and a mathematician called Hutton spent months taking countless measurements of Schiehallion to determine its precise shape. But the jumble of numbers was so confusing they could make little use of them – until Hutton realised that his job would be made easier if he joined the points of equal height. When he did, he realised that he’d accidentally discovered a way of accurately mapping the landscape – contour lines. Within a few years the system was adopted as a standard among cartographers the world over and it has certainly stopped me from walking over a few cliffs over the years. Incidentally their original gravitational constant experiment was a success and was actually repeated by a group of scientists in 2005, with pretty much the same results!
As a footnote to t.. by pdtempan   (Show all posts)

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Summit Comment
Barnahowna: Fine-weather photo
bryanmccabe 20 hours ago.
Thought a fine-weather photo of Barnahowna summit was needed!

Summit Summary
Maumtrasna North-East Top: Worth a visit!
Collaborative entry Last edit by: bryanmccabe 21 hours ago.
Maumtrasna NE top, approximately 2km NE of Maumtrasna, is worth a visit in its own right. The most direct access is via the steep ridge up to nearby spot height 542. One possible starting point is...

Summit Comment
Crossderry: Summit No 2 of a fine ridge walk.
hivisibility 22 hours ago.
Here is another view of Crossderry taken from Mothillín. You can see the twin peaks at the summit area. The summit proper is the one on the right. Knocknabreeda in the background.Its pretty rugged...

Ott Mountain to Slieve Meelmore
Aidy a day ago.
Started at the Ott/Blue Quarry car park on the Moyad Road, and took a route taking in six summits, going over Ott Mou... walk, Len: 10.9km, Climb: 730m, Area: Ott Mountain, Mourne Mountains (Ireland)

Summit Comment
Mothaillín: Fabulous views to the west from the summit.
hivisibility a day ago.
Fine view towards Broghnabinnia and Caher from Mothillín summit.

Forum: General
Cable Car to the Hellfire Club - 20/10
cave-dweller 4 days ago.
Hello, There is a meeting being held in the Yellow House Pub in Rathfarnham in Dublin 14 tomorrow night at 8 pm about some proposed "redevelopments" in and around the Hellfire Club/Montpelier Hill...

Summit Comment
Mothaillín: Summit area as seen from Crossderry.
hivisibility a day ago.
Mothillín summit from Crossderry.

Glenbeigh to Galway's Bridge
GSheehy 2 days ago.
I?m putting this one up because it was a club walk and I was thinking about the other day. There aren?t too many clu walk, Len: 40.5km, Climb: 917m, Area: Glenbeigh Horseshoe (Ireland)

Summit Comment
Crossderry: Towards Knocknabreeda and Stumoa Dúloigh
hivisibility a day ago.
The view towards Knocknabreeda fro Crossderry summit. Stumpa Dúloigh in the background. Knocknabreeda summit is located over to the far left of the ridge.

Summit Comment
Crossderry: Summit looking East.
hivisibility a day ago.
Summit of Crossderry with view back towards Mothillín.There are 2 similar heights at the summit area. The summit is the one nearest the Eastern Reeks.

Peak bagging in The Sperrins in autumn
peter1 3 days ago.
Again, the use of a mountain bike is highly recommended for this route, if you are a solo walker. I left my bike in a... walk, Len: 16.2km, Climb: 1048m, Area: Mullaghclogha, Sperrin Mountains (Irela

Forum: General
Quad bikers in the Mournes
mcrtchly 2 weeks ago.
Whilst out in the Mournes on Sunday 2nd Oct, at about 8.30am we were shocked to see a group of half a dozen quad bikers powering up the track from the Banns Road towards Lough Shannagh (below Doan...

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