Sunday, July 08, 2007

It's a small world

I'm feeling a little crowded after reading this:
German researchers say their discovery that the Earth is smaller than originally thought may have serious ramifications for climate change.

The difference is minute -- all of five millimeters -- but that is crucial to studying how climate changes the Earth, said researchers at Bonn University.

Five millimeters (0.2 inches) is less than half the width of an average finger, which may seem negligible in comparison to the earth's diameter of 7,926.3812 miles.

But "it is essential for the positioning of the satellites that can measure rises in sea level," said lead researcher Axel Nothnagel. "If the ground stations tracking the satellites are not accurate to the millimeter, then the satellites cannot be accurate, either."

Nothnagel's team worked for two years using radio waves to measure the Earth's diameter, Deutsche Welle reported Friday.

I don't really have much to say about this except that it is unbelievably cool that we are even able to manage such a thing with such precision.

This article gives a little more technical background on how they did it.

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