The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: measuring the height of mountains  (Read 10668 times)

paul.fr

  • Guest
measuring the height of mountains
« on: 17/04/2007 12:42:55 »
before modern inventions, such as lasers, how was the height of mountains measured?


 

Offline ichnos

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 38
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #1 on: 17/04/2007 13:20:48 »
Trigonometry with sightings made using a compass?
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #2 on: 17/04/2007 14:05:49 »
They sent someone up there with the end of a piece of string !
 

Offline Seany

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4209
  • Live your life to the full!
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #3 on: 17/04/2007 15:13:51 »
Problem with that Neil.. Unless the mountain has a steep 90 degrees cliff... It would be measuring the hypotenuse, not the height. Although I know you were joking ;)
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #4 on: 17/04/2007 16:32:16 »
Problem with that Neil.. Unless the mountain has a steep 90 degrees cliff... It would be measuring the hypotenuse, not the height. Although I know you were joking ;)

To get round that , once the bloke had reached the top of the mountain they would use fabric conditioner to straighten the string stiff.. the victi..erthmm bloke would then do a run and jump onto the now vertical piece of string and they would time how long it takes for him  to fall..erhmm..slide down the string and thereby work out the height based on his speed and stuff !!

I'm not gonna convince you of this one am I ?.......and I don't want to ruin pauls thread !!
 

Offline Seany

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4209
  • Live your life to the full!
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #5 on: 17/04/2007 16:33:24 »
Worth a try ;)

Paul, pssssssssst. (Neil is trying to be clever ;)) LOL
 

Offline ichnos

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 38
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #6 on: 17/04/2007 16:48:23 »
or how about tying a piece of string to the ground and flying up to th height of the mountain in an plane?  ::)
 

Offline Seany

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4209
  • Live your life to the full!
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #7 on: 17/04/2007 17:17:49 »
before modern inventions, such as lasers, how was the height of mountains measured?

Ichnos, before modern inventions. *hint hint*
 

Offline ichnos

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 38
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #8 on: 17/04/2007 17:25:18 »
"...such as lasers..."  aircraft have been around for over 100 years.. not sure if they really classify as modern anymore :-\.. alternatively you could attach a bit of string to a swallow... it could hold it with its beak:D
 

Offline Seany

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4209
  • Live your life to the full!
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #9 on: 17/04/2007 18:15:38 »
LOL.. ;D
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8665
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #10 on: 17/04/2007 19:13:06 »
Wait till the sun's out and measure the length of the shadow of the mountain. Measure the length of the shadow of a metre rule (held vertical) at the same time. The ratio of the lengths of the shadows gives you the height of the mountain.
Of course, this isn't very practical so they used trigonometry.
 

Offline Bass

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1340
  • Thanked: 5 times
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #11 on: 17/04/2007 19:38:28 »
Survey instruments, though not as accurate as today's equipment, have been around for centuries.  Calculate elevation based on air pressure.  Easiest is to ask the locals the height of the mountain(though you may not get a quantitative response).  Check the altimeter in the helicopter.  Look at a map and count the countour lines (I've yet to see a countour line on the ground- except for the ancient shorelines left by glacial lakes).  Jacob staff.  Probably hundreds of other methods.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #12 on: 26/04/2007 09:15:19 »
alternatively you could attach a bit of string to a swallow... it could hold it with its beak:D

Do you mean an African or European swallow? (a la Monty Python & the Holy Grail)
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #13 on: 26/04/2007 09:24:40 »
If the swallow was holding the string in its beak you wouldn't need to attach it. Conversely, if you attached the string to the swallow it would have no need to hold it.

For this technique to work you would need a bird that can hover rather than 1 that swoops around the sky. May I suggest a condor genetically modified with hummingbird DNA? This would allow it to soar to great heights and then hover.

If, however, you insist on using a swallow you could tie it to a hot-air balloon. The balloon would rise and the swallow could be used to steer it.

Another novel method would be to have a man at the top of the mountain with a gun. Balloons with weights attached could be released from the ground and when they were level with the man at the top, he would shoot at them. By timing how long the weights & balloon remnants took to reach the ground, you could calculate how high the descent had started from.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

measuring the height of mountains
« Reply #13 on: 26/04/2007 09:24:40 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums