Published: Monday, September 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 18:09
My name is Rachel Ibers, and I’m a senior geology student and science writer. I’m president of Students for the Animals, I love reading, biking and dogs and I believe science education is not what it should be because there is a negative stigma associated with it. I think scientists have a tendency to look down upon the general public and view other people as stupid, while many people see science as an unattainable, boring subject that happens behind closed doors. It doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why I bought a domain name and started a blog aimed at teaching the general public about science in July 2012.
Using plain language and awesome topics, my entire goal was to have someone (just one person) read my blog and learn something they think is cool and worth sharing with other people. Now, over a year later, I’m honored that The Review has selected me to write an accompanying print column. If you ever want to learn more, or see these columns with hyperlinks and pictures, visit my site at www.dinnertablescience.com.
For more than 40 years, scientists have known that parts of Canada (Hudson Bay and the surrounding areas, like Quebec) were missing gravity. I don’t know about you, but I always thought gravity was universal and intangible—this blew my mind!
When I say missing gravity, I mean the gravitational force in these areas is less than it is in other parts of the world. Gravity is defined as “The force of attraction between masses.” Everything has gravity, even you and I. But on a human scale, the gravity I have doesn’t affect anything I can see on Earth because the force is too weak and other objects are comparatively too heavy. However, with objects like planets moving in space we can see gravity in the form of objects caught in the pull of planets’ gravitational fields.
Gravity’s pull on an object (or an area of Earth, in this case) is proportional to the mass of that object (or the weight sitting atop that area). This means gravity works harder on larger, heavier objects—and the same idea applies to the Earth itself. If our planet were a perfect shiny sphere, gravity would be exactly the same all over it—but it’s not! It’s lumpy and uneven and changing constantly, so the gravity changes too.
Using a pair of highly sophisticated satellites that travel around the Earth measuring the effect of Earth’s gravity on neighboring satellites (and the change in position between themselves), scientists have proven one specific area in Canada has weaker gravity than other places on our planet. There are two theories as to why, but one seems much more likely than the other.