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Geodesy and Gravity

Geodesy and Gravity

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Published by Carlos Alejandro

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Published by: Carlos Alejandro on Nov 13, 2010
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01/01/2013

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These replaced pendulums as relative instruments after WWII. They cannot be modified

to give absolute g.

k

m

Figure 2.3: Simple Spring.

Consider a mass on a massless spring; see Figure 2.3. The period of oscillation of

the spring is independent of g, so it can’t be used for anything

T = 2π

m/k

. But at
equilibrium the amount the spring has stretched is l = mg/k. So, g = lk/m. You cannot

measure k/m, so a spring is not an absolute meter. But if you change g you change l.

Note:

g1

g2

= l1
l2

.

So if you change g2 to g1 = g2 + ∆g, then you change l2 to l2 + ∆l, where

l

l2

= ∆g
g
2

.

This lets you measure changes in g, by measuring changes in l.

But this simple mass on a spring is an impractical gravity meter. The departure from

equilibrium, l2, might be 1 m at most. So to measure changes in g at the 0.5 mgal level

(the accuracy of a pendulum), you would have to measure changes in length to better

2.1. INSTRUMENTS

11

than

l = l2

g

g2

102 5×10−4

103 cm = 5×10−5

cm

which is awfully small. So a simple mass on a spring is not too useful.

The best way to make a spring work is to modify it somehow so that it has a very

long natural period. Note that for our mass on a spring

g = lk

m = l(2π)2
T2 .

So, another way to say ∆l/l = ∆g/g would be:

g = ∆l(2π)2

T2 .

If you can increase the natural period, T, then a small change in g might produce a

reasonably large, and so measurable, change in l. Increasing T would be equivalent to

making a spring which had a larger l. But there are better ways to make a spring-type

instrument with a much longer period than to simply lengthen the spring.

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