Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Potato Earth!! wasn't the Earth Round??

That potato-shaped lump in the picture you're looking at is science's most accurate picture to date of how gravity varies across the Earth. It turns out that our world is closer to being a sphereoid than a perfect sphere.
The strongest gravitational pulls are market in yellow, while the weakest ones are colored blue. Scientists at European Space Agency compiled the model from data sent back from a satellite launched into space in March 2009.
As you can see, the geoid, as it's called, doesn't neatly match up with the contours of the Earth's surface. The model represents a theoretical look at how things would look in the absence of distortions caused by ocean currents and continental crust features - in other words, if the world stopped still and everything was in equilibrium.