A great publicity photo of Richard Hammond and me at Sanford Underground Research Facility.
Picture from BBC. Richard Hammond Builds A Planet.

A great publicity photo of Richard Hammond and me at Sanford Underground Research Facility.

Picture from BBC. Richard Hammond Builds A Planet.

I had the honour of being a guest scientist on BBC One’s ‘Richard Hammond Builds A Planet’ last Sunday.

Richard and I explained some gravitational theory at Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, USA. It is actually an old gold mine, which allowed us to travel 1.5km underground. We proved that I weighed less there than I did on the surface. The same result as from my trip to SNOLAB where I travelled 2km underground. Read about the science here.

Thanks to Richard Hammond, the whole production team and especially Michael Duffy from BBC Science who looked after me during this trip. Also an honourable mention to hair and make-up who managed to get my beard looking just the way I like it.

UK residents can watch the programme here

Last stop in Kenya. A Coriolis effect demonstration at the equator. My host Daniel is showing me how water will drain in different directions depending on which side of the equator you are on.

I cannot verify the findings here as it is not my area of physics.

What I can tell you is that we are travelling at over 1,000 miles an hour just standing here watching the demonstration. This head spinning speed at the equator is partially responsible for my lightest weight in my experiment!

Thanks for the great video Daniel

The Equator, and my lightest weight yet! 307.52g

Here I am posing with my hosts for a photo opportunity at 0°. The closest electricity that we could use to operate my precision scales was at 0° 0’19.23”N, so this measurement isn’t dead on the Equator, but close enough to prove my theory.

When compared with my other measurements, this reading shows that the closer that you are to the Equator, the less you should weigh. This is due in part to the fact that you are furthest from the centre of the Earth; and also because the centripetal force from the Earth spinning is the strongest at the Equator

Further to this, I am 1954 metres above sea level. This will also reduce my weight as I am even further from the centre of the Earth.

At the South Pole I weighed 309.82g. The difference in my weight between this and the Equator measurement is 0.74%.

So anyone looking for some rapid weight-loss should pack their locally calibrated scales and head on holiday to Nanyuki, Kenya.

Thanks to everyone that I met for being great hosts. Where shall I go next? Tell me at gnomeexperiment.com

Following the potentially experiment ending drama on my arrival in Kenya, I had time to relax while I waited for my hosts to collect me from Barney’s Cafe and Airstrip, Nanyuki. These planes are smaller than I am used to (check out this Hercules), but how much leg room does a travelling gnome really need?

Straight away my hosts Daniel and Laura took me to Braeburn School, Nanyuki to teach a science class. I explained my experiment and the influences on gravity variation across the globe. A lot of interesting questions and fun during this class. Special thanks to the one boy who had made a blue gnome hat to make me feel at home!

I am spending the night with Daniel and Laura on their flower farm, Mweiga Blooms. They have told me all about the farming methods they use, and the major problems with their irrigation pump (I hope that you fixed this now). We took a lot of Kern modelling portfolio photos in the greenhouses. These will be useful if I ever need to print a romantic gift calendar for my wife back in Balingen, Germany.

First thing tomorrow we are off to the equator to continue my scientific work. I think I’ll be smelling fantastic for this measurement!

Gnome Experiment in danger! Kern Gnome in minor peril! Could the scales be unbalanced?

On arriving in Kenya I noticed that my deluxe experiment flight case has taken a battering in transit.

As you know, I travel in this flight case with my set of precision scales to conduct my global experiment.

Knocks and smashes could potentially change the calibration on my precision scales which would ruin the last few legs of my experiment. The scales are accurately calibrated for Balingen, Germany which acts as the control weight for the Gnome Experiment.

Luckily all of my equipment remained unscathed due to my luxury padded interior which looks like this. I only like to travel Gnome Business Class so I can stretch out my legs.

…and I suppose you are also concerned about me. Well you’ll be pleased to know that I don’t even have a beard hair out of place. It takes more than a bump in transit to fluster a gnome!

Jambo Kenya!

Gnome Force One has landed and I am ready for some sightseeing on my day off. Perhaps a trek to the top of Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, or or a visit to Nairobi National Park to see the majestic giraffes. I wonder what the difference in gravity would be between the ground and 5.5 metres up on the top of a giraffe’s head? Would the difference be measurable using my scientific scales?

When I meet my hosts Daniel and Laura they will take me to Nanyuki. This town of just over 31,000 residents is often used as a base for people wishing to climb Mount Kenya. But more interesting to me is its latitude; Nanyuki lies 0 degrees and 01 minutes North of the equator.

If you look at my experiment map you can see that the further North or South you are from the equator, the more you will weigh due to increased gravity. So tomorrow I will be taking a control weighing precisely on the equator to compare to my previous results.

A gnome in zero-g. How does my beard look?

When I set out on my global experiment to investigate fluctuations in gravity I never thought I’d get to experience weightlessness. But thanks to ZERO-G and my host Michelle, I got to experience being both the lightest and heaviest I had been on my world tour.

After I’d been weighed on the ground for an official Gnome Experiment reading, I boarded flight ZG 317. A modified Boeing 727-100 called G-FORCE ONE™ was to be my transport for this ZERO-G Weightless Experience™.

After preflight checks and training, we took off from near to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, and then the flight took us high over the Gulf Of Mexico. Flying the standard 15 parabola flight profile at altitudes ranging from 24,000 to 32,000 feet, I experienced a Martian parabola (1/3rd of Earth’s gravity), two Lunar parabolas (1/6th of Earth gravity) and 12 zero gravity parabolas.

What a thrill. As you can see from the photo I actually experienced weightlessness.  The lightest I had previously been was 307.52g at Mt.Evans, CO. Now I weighed 0.00g!

The g-force of the parabolic flight also lead to my heaviest weight. As we pulled 1.8 g at the bottom of the parabolic arcs, my weight increased to 554.35g. My previous heaviest weight was 309.82g at the Geographic South Pole.

Of course these in-flight measurements do not count towards my experiment because they are a result of non-gravitational forces. The rest of my experiment has been conducted in 1 g conditions. But it was fascinating to experience between 0 g and 1.8 g. 

Thanks to Michelle and everyone at ZERO-G for helping me to become the first ever weightless gnome!

My weight near the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, USA is 307.97g.

This weight is consistent with what I would expect for this latitude. A similar weight to Japan where I was 307.9g, and heavier than Mexico where I was 307.62g. Mexico is further South than this location, and as we get closer to the equator the effect of gravity is weaker and I will therefore weigh less.

Compare my other results on my map

This is one of the more interesting places I have been weighed. The plane behind me is G-FORCE ONE™, which is a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft. Can you guess what I’ll be doing next?

I am back in USA for the next part of my experiment.

Previously I have visited San Francisco. This time I am right over the other side of the country in Florida. Home to alligators, manatees, turtles, the Space Shuttle, and also Mickey Mouse’s Winter residence.

Tourism will have to wait. There is a gnome to be weighed, and I am off to meet my guide Michelle in a very interesting location.

My TED talk is now available to watch here: http://talentsearch.ted.com/video/James-Nester-Albert-Sauter-Gard
If you enjoy it, please leave some feedback or rate it and help me take my experiment to the big stage at TED 2013.
More global adventures coming up very soon. I am still sorting out some visas at the Gnome Embassy, getting immunisations and researching how best to evade polar bear attacks!

My TED talk is now available to watch here: http://talentsearch.ted.com/video/James-Nester-Albert-Sauter-Gard

If you enjoy it, please leave some feedback or rate it and help me take my experiment to the big stage at TED 2013.

More global adventures coming up very soon. I am still sorting out some visas at the Gnome Embassy, getting immunisations and researching how best to evade polar bear attacks!

The box that my equipment travels around the world in is building up a good collection of stickers. This ‘do not freeze’ one from my Antarctic expedition always makes me smile!

The box that my equipment travels around the world in is building up a good collection of stickers. This ‘do not freeze’ one from my Antarctic expedition always makes me smile!

An A-list gnome in Cannes. Here I am taking in the ambience of this beautiful town before I conduct my latest weighing for the Gnome Experiment

I wouldn’t want to meet Jack Nicholson when he is angry. Look his hand is almost as big as me!

Bonjour Cannes! Who said that science can’t be glamorous?

I had a spare week so I thought I’d take a trip to the South of France. Not only to relax, but it also conveniently fills another gap on my experiment map.

Cannes is famous for its glitz and glamour. It is home to the famous Cannes Festival Du Film, where A-list celebrities flock from around the world to watch movie premières, walk up the red carpet, and be seen along Promenade de la Croisette. Sports cars and super yachts are never far from view, some so expensive that I think the money could have better funded a second Large Hadron Collider.

I’m not the smallest thing here. You should see the size of some of the dogs on La Croisette!

Right off to take some photos now. More tomorrow. Oh, and a new weighing of course…

Good photo from the Grantham Journal. Me with John Walters and the pupils of Colsterworth Primary School at Woolsthorpe Manor last week.
http://www.granthamjournal.co.uk/news/local/woolsthorpe-manor-welcomes-kern-the-gnome-1-3970847

Good photo from the Grantham Journal. Me with John Walters and the pupils of Colsterworth Primary School at Woolsthorpe Manor last week.

http://www.granthamjournal.co.uk/news/local/woolsthorpe-manor-welcomes-kern-the-gnome-1-3970847