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Science (mostly history, and mostly gravity)

Chasing the history of the gravity method sometimes took me down side-tracks that did not quite fit the theme, and so never made it into ‘The Hunt’. Also, and inevitably, there were stories that should have been in ‘The Hunt’ but which I missed. Here are some of them, and bits of new Earth Science are sometimes included!

Who now remembers MIN?

In December 2021, someone from the South Australia Department of Mines and Energy posted a historical note on LinkedIn., with pictures of survey aircraft VH-BUR. It brought vividly to mind the sight, and odour, of her companion, VH-MIN

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Wherein lieth the fault?

A paper published in 2014 shows two possible locations for the Owen Stanley Fault Zone in eastern Papua, one based on gravity, the other on geology. Which is right?

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A potato for a geoid

In mid-October 2021 an image of the geoid based on data from NASA’s GRACE satellite was posted on LinkedIn. It was an object lesson in the perils of attempting to disseminate science via a platform that restricts posts to 2500 characters and comments to 1250 characters.

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A very smart scientist

One milligal is approximately one millionth of the Earth’s gravity field, so it would seem that the periods of pendulums used for measuring gravity would have to be measured to a few millionths of a second for the results to be useful. This was simply not possible in the early nineteenth century, but pendulums were being used then to obtain results accurate to a few tens of milligal. How was it done?

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Refracted thoughts

In the past, we learned from people we respected how to do refraction surveys. Now we have committees to tell us what to do.

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Hooke, Newton and Peer Review

Peer review comes in for a lot of criticism, and University College London is trialling a different system. But historical precedents, going back to the early days of the Royal Society, suggest that it is unlikely to work.

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Approaches to Macquarie

A recent paper by Brandon Shuck and colleagues has presented detailed information from seismic reflection lines in the vicinity of the northernmost segment of the Macquarie Ridge Complex. For the regional picture, gravity maps are hard to beat, but they must be used with care.

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The starry sisters

Historically, women have always had a hard time breaking into science but two women, both sisters of astronomers but separated in time by 150 years, did manage it.

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Magnetic memories

In 2020 the Geological Survey of Australia’s Northern Territory had published a full-colour magnetic map of the whole of their area, with accompanying grids. For me, a trip into the days of my youth, because in mid-1964 I was party chief of a team flying part of a feature centred on Tennant Creek that had come to be known as the ‘Aeromagnetic Ridge’.

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