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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!

Tomography and the Molucca Sea

Improvements in seismic tomography have allowed subducted slabs to be identified in the mantle even when they are no longer seismogenic. How well do tomographic models from different researchers compare?

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The shrinking of Adria

Adria, or at least that bit of it positioned near the top of the crustal stack, just got a little bit smaller. At about half past eight local time in the morning of the 9th of November 2022, a Magnitude 5.6 earthquake nucleated at a nominal depth of 10 km beneath the Adriatic sea near Ancona.

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What was Adria?

Despite more than two hundred years of geological investigations, there are still huge unanswered questions regarding the Alps. Given my own geographical bias towards the extreme northern Adriatic, one question in particular dominates my thought. What was Adria?

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A scientific hatchet job

Scientific debate can sometimes be carried on in a most unscientific fashion, even by the most reputable of scientists. An article by Professors Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin entitled “Sorry David Attenborough, we didn’t evolve from ‘aquatic apes’ – here’s why”, first published in Scientific American, is a good example.

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Apolaki and Anagolay: closely related LIPs

From the 12th to the 14th of September this year the 15th Emile Argand Conference on Alpine Geological Studies is being held in Ljubljana and on the final day of the conference I am down to give the keynote address. I shall be talking about the Philippines, and I shall be building my talk around the Tagalog mother and son deities Anagolay and Apolaki. How can that possibly be?

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Shark Bay: a problem with pendulums

Louis de Freycinet elected not to use the method of coincidences when making pendulum observations on hos circumnavigation in the Uranie. There are, however, all sorts of difficulties in discovering what he actually did do.

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Airy’s error

The experiment described by George Airy in his 1857 paper entitled “Account of pendulum experiments undertaken in the Harton colliery, for the purpose of determining the mean density of the Earth” produced an estimate of the mean density of the Earth that was 20% in error. Why was this?

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Airy under ground

After his failure to measure the mean density of the Earth in the Dolcoath mine in Cornwall in 1826, George Airy waited 30 years before making another attempt. For this he went to the Harton Pit near South Shields and used innovations such as electrical signalling. But was he any more successful?

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A new statue in Zagreb

The Republic of Croatia can lay claim to being the homeland of two scientists whose names are, if not exactly household words, have at least integrated themselves into the international vocabulary., but until April 2022, only one of them had a statue in Zagreb.

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