Globe-trotting gnome grades gravity
Long weigh from gnome: The bizarre experiment where a garden ornament travels the world to measure gravity
Gnome is weighed in locations around the world to check how changes in gravity affect his weight
Plastic ornament was heaviest at South Pole
Earth's 'potato-like' shape means gravity is not the same everywhere
Gravity changes around the world, partly due to bulges in our planet's shape. To prove it, a German scale manufacturer has sent a plastic figure on a journey around the planet.
Kern the gnome is weighed wherever he goes. Kern was at his heaviest at the south pole, where the slower spin of the Earth adds 0.5 per cent to everyone's weight.
So far he has visited a string of cities including Lima, Mumbai, Mexico City, San Francisco, Sydney and New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific ocean.
Kern travels in a reinforced case containing himself and a Kern EWB 2.4 Scale calibrated according to local gravity in Balingen, Germany, to ensure any weight change he encounters on his travels shows up.
The journey has been organised by scale makers Kern & Sohn as a fun way to demonstrate the little known quirk about Earth, that gravity varies depending on where you are.
Each place he visits is accompanied by pictures of Kern taken by scientists friends who are ‘putting him up’ and a blog he has supposedly written.
When Kern was in Antarctica he was weighed at 309.82g, the heaviest out of all his visits.
On his blog he writes: ‘I am a gnome celebrity today. But I won’t let this fame make me big headed. The change in weight could throw out all of my future results.’
Moving further towards the equator, Kern weighed 307.8g in Sydney and 307.82g in Durbane, South Africa, which is roughly the same latitude.
In India he writes: ‘I’ve lost weight. Who else can say that after Christmas? I’m in India and I weigh 307.56g.
‘Thanks to my hosts for helping me with this pleasantly surprising measurement. Now I’m leaving the amazing sights, sounds and smells of India and hopping on a long haul flight to Mexico. Roll me an enchilada, I’ll see you all in 19.5 hours time!’
By the time he arrived in Mexico, however, the weight seemed to have gone back on and he weighed some 307.62g.
Gravity does indeed differ around Earth, partly because it is not a sphere and is actually shaped more like a potato.
Gravity is affected by two main factors - latitude and altitude.
If you were to stand on one of the two poles on Earth then you would weigh 0.5 per cent more than if you were on the equator.
This is because at the poles there is less rotation which reduces your weight.
Differences in local geology may also play a part, but on a far smaller scale. Having large rocks near to you may change your weight by 0.01 per cent.
If you would like Kern the gnome to visit you then go to the website