Chapter

Paradox resolved

I.S. Glass

in Nicolas-Louis De La Caille, Astronomer and Geodesist

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199668403
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749315 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668403.003.0007
Paradox resolved

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Various scientists including Paolo Frisi, Henry Cavendish and William Mudge suspected that La Caille's geodetic result had been affected by local gravitational anomalies. George Everest, after whom Mount Everest is named, re-traced La Caille's steps in 1820 at the instigation of William Lambton, Superintendent of The Geodetic Survey of India. He concluded that the measurements had been distorted by the gravitational attraction of nearby mountains. Commencing about 1838, Thomas Maclear, Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape, repeated and extended the original survey, confirming that La Caille's latitude difference measurement were indeed in error by about 8.5 seconds of arc. With difficulty, he located the places that La Caille had worked from. He concluded that his measurement of the length of his arc of meridian was about 44m too great.

Keywords: Frisi; Cavendish; Mudge; Everest; Lambton; Maclear; Arc of Meridian

Chapter.  6088 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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