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Post details Post   (Contract pics)
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Colin Murphy
2008-12-02 10:39:12
"Schiehallion" from Colin Murphy Contract pics
Picture: Schiehallion (Contract 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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Track
Glen o' the Downs Wood
jgfitz an hour ago.
This woodland track can be accessed directly from N11 heading South. After Exit 9, there is a road sign for Glen o' the walk, Len: 5.9km, Climb: 183m, Area: Dublin/Wicklow (Ireland)

  
Summit Comment
Spinans Hill SE Top: Brissels or Brussels
Bunsen7 5 hours ago.
Climbed both hills on 16/12/17, following the main route described by others here on MV.The forestry between the tops has thinned out a little (or so it seems by reference to previous comments) an...

  
Summit Comment
Cloghnagaune: There must be an easier way!
Bunsen7 6 hours ago.
This is a rather painful hill to summit from the obvious parking spot at the forest entrance to the south east. Following where others have gone I found myself wading through head high gorse to at...

Track
Cloghnagaune Summit and Stone Circle
Bunsen7 6 hours ago.
This is a rather painful hill to summit from the obvious parking spot at the forest entrance to the south east. Follow... walk, Len: 4.0km, Climb: 144m, Area: Cloghnagaune, Dublin/Wicklow (Ireland) C

  
Summit Comment
Roaninish: Roan Inish
IainMiller a day ago.
Roan Inish (Roaninish) is a low lying storm lashed small archipelago comprising five main islands and a large collection of tidal skerries. The islands are reasonably remote being 4 KM from the ne...

  
User profile
IainMiller
IainMiller a day ago.
A rock climber, hillwalker and guidebook author living, working and playing on the sea cliffs, sea stacks, mountain ranges and uninhabited islands of County Donegal. http://uniqueascent.ie/sea_sta...

Summit Comment
Inishbarnog: Roan Inish
IainMiller a day ago.
Roan Inish (Roaninish) is a low lying storm lashed small archipelago comprising five main islands and a large collection of tidal skerries. The islands are reasonably remote being 4 KM from the ne...

  
Summit Comment
An Bhuidéal: Climbing An Bhuideal
IainMiller a day ago.
An Bhuideal (The Bottle) is an iconic 50 metre high twin headed sea stack living 300 meters out to sea at the base of 250 meter high sea cliffs. Its remote location and close proximity to the sker...

  
Summit Comment
Dún Briste: Climbing dun Briste
IainMiller a day ago.
The first ascent by rock climbers was in May 1990 by three UK climbers who climbed a groove system up the north facing seaward face of the stack. The stack then waited 26 years for another ascent ...

Track
The Beara-Breifne Way Day7
mlmoroneybb a week ago.
On Sunday, we were not attacked by the MacCarthys of Drishane Castle but started our walk on the O?Keefe Booning Castl walk, Len: 27.7km, Climb: 362m, Area: Paps/Derrynasaggart (Ireland)

  
Summit Comment
An Cnoc Fada: The majesty of the Poisoned Glen in the snow
mcrtchly 5 days ago.
A snowy day gives a different perspective on the Poisoned Glen and Crockfadda. This photo was taken with a 500mm lens at a distance of 1.5km from the Scared Heart Church and 8km from the the Poiso...

  
Track
The Beara-Breifne Way Day 6
mlmoroneybb a week ago.
Thanks to all for making the weekends on the Beara-Breifne Way so special. We have completed 187Km in 7 Day?s walking walk, Len: 30.3km, Climb: 781m, Area: Paps/Derrynasaggart (Ireland)


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