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Weighing the World

The Schiehallion Experiment

Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, headed to Highland Perthshire to lead an attempt to ‘weigh the world’.

Johannes Kepler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Tycho Brahe

In 1774 the Perthshire mountain of Schiehallion took its place in the history books thanks to its pivotal role in a groundbreaking scientific experiment. That year the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, headed to Highland Perthshire to lead an attempt to ‘weigh the world’. He hoped to establish the mass of a free-standing mountain, and from that calculate the mass of the earth. This extraordinary exercise in astronomy and mathematics would not only ‘weigh the world’ for the first time in history, but would also confirm Newton’s hypothesis of the existence of gravity – and all done using a mountain, the stars and a pendulum!

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iScot January 2018 Edition The one with the i = X over Y front cover