Monday, April 4, 2011

There Goes Gravity

Do you know? Don't you wonder?
What's going on, down under you?
-- David Crosby, "Déjà Vu" (1969)

Unveiled during a conference at Technische Universität München (Munich Technical University), results from the European Space Agency's GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite gathered data to map Earth's gravity field with unprecedented precision. It offers a very different image of home.

The resulting figure, called a "geoid," is a reference for ocean, climate and geological tectonic (earthquake) studies, and will improve our understanding of Earth’s internal structure.
"Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity."
-- Eminem, "Lose Yourself" - 8 Mile Soundtrack (2002)

All The Way to China

Do you remember the premise of "The China Syndrome," a 1979 movie starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon & the bearded Michael Douglas?

The disaster film suggested that an uncontrolled reaction's nuclear meltdown could create enough heat to melt its way into the earth, and some engineer remarked "it could go all the way to China."

Actually, that kind of hole starting at PG&E's Diablo Canyon Power Plant, near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California would wind up at the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean... More or less where an imaginary line drawn between Cape Town and Perth would intersect a south east compass radial from southern Madagascar.

If you're willing to put aside that whole molten magma in the middle mess, you can dig a big hole of your own with this interactive map!

By the way, if you really did want to dig a hole all the way to China, begin in the rural eastern province of Rio Negro, Argentina, south of Lago 8 de Agosto, and you'll wind up in downtown Beijing.

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