Monday, March 26, 2012

Cold Kern and the Amazing Scale Trek

"Globe-trotting gnome highlights Earth's weird gravity"
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience, via (March 24, 2012)

"There aren't too many gardens at the South Pole. But there are, apparently, garden gnomes.

"A globe-trotting little garden gnome dubbed "Kern" recently visited Amundsen-Scott Research Station at the geographic South Pole in Antarctica. The inanimate traveler's trip was a take on the 'Traveling Gnome Prank,' a joke that's been in vogue since the 1980s, when pranksters started stealing garden gnomes and sending photographs of the statuettes in front of famous sightseeing spots to their owners...."

(from, via, used w/o permission)
"Here, the gnome is standing at the Antarctic South Pole. Turns out, the gnome (and you) weighs more at the South Pole than at the equator. ("

Kern looks like he wishes he'd packed a parka. That's how it looks to the Lemming, anyway.

A Little Schooling, a Little Science, and Maybe Sell Some Scales

"...Kern's travels have a scientific bent, however. The precision scale company Kern & Sohn is teaming up with schools and research stations worldwide to highlight the variations of gravity across the globe.

" 'Most people don't realize Earth's gravity actually varies slightly,' Tommy Fimpel, one of the experiment's coordinators, explained in a statement. 'One of the main causes is variations in the shape of the planet. Believe it or not, the Earth is actually slightly potato-shaped, so you'll weigh up to 0.5 percent more or less, depending on where you go.'..."

That 0.5 percent variation may not seem like much, but someone who weighs 150 pounds would find that weight going from nearly 151 to almost 149. Which, come to think about it, doesn't seem like much. Still: almost two pounds difference, depending on where you stand?

There's a joke lurking somewhere near that "slightly potato-shaped" phrase, but the Lemming couldn't find it.

As for the marketing angle of Kern's travels, the Lemming doesn't have a problem with that. Folks working at Kern & Sohn have bills to pay, like everyone else, and selling a few more scales will help keep the paychecks coming. And that's another topic.

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