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'~Galileo's Gravitational Units

}.,tr " By Stillman Drake


Galileo is remembered in physics chiefly for Ills discov­ available, but tbat was not a practical unit of measurement
eries of the pendulum law, the law of fall, and the parabolic until Huygens inventedthe pendulum clock and fitted it
trajectory of borizontally launched projectiles. Those con­ v.itb cycloidal cbecks. The units GalileO used in bis discov.
sequences of his early studies of motion were set forth in eries of the laws of pendulum arid fall, and again in 1608
his last book, Two New Sciences, in 1638. There he derived when he identified the paths of projectiles to be parabolic
the times-squared law for distances in fall mathematically, in shape, were of Ills own creation. His punta, 0.94 mm in
from the defmition of uniformly accderated motion, but length. was entirely arbitrary, but usefuLbecause the milli·
Galileodid not explain how he had fl.fst discovered the law. meter is a precision measure that can also be quite accu­
The measurements and timings that led Galileo to the rately bisected with the naktd eye. ,
pendulum law, and from tbat to the law of fall, bave now Galileo's tempo, 1J92 s, was not-a.rbitr~,for it was
been found in his working papers of 1604, from which Ills gravitationally linked to the punto. How Galileo managed ­
experimental procedures and mathematical reasoning can tbat, and why it is still of interest today, will ~ explained
be reconstructed. Until it was kno\l,n (bat the pendulum here. It may seem that all units' of length' and time are
law had been a necessary preliminary to the law of fall in necessarily arbitrary, and that in principle no pair can have
the procedure followed by Galileo, historians generally any advantage over another in physics, though some ~tS.

I believed that he must somehow have followed the lead of

certain 14th-century \\Titers on accelerated motion who
h'ld devised the so-called Merton rule, a mean-speed pos­
are more convenient than otliers for making measure.'
ments and calculations. In modern pbysics, for instance:
units for distance and time are related by the invariant'
speed of light. For convenience in some calculations, thiS­
I tulate. But none of these earlier "'Titers bad ever applied
that postulate to the fall of heavy bodies or carried out any
measurements of accelerated motions, something obvi­
speed is given tbe arbitrary magnitude of o n e . '
Mathematically speaking, space and time are incom­
ously required in order to determine what law (if any) mensurable magnitudes. But that does not mean tbat a'
migbt govern free fall. The introduction of careful mea­ measurement of lengtb cannot be numerically identical
surements into physics was, in a way, Galileo's principal with the measurement of some related time, and, in fact:, ­
contribution to the birth of modern physics. But the units for gra\itational phenomena measured lengths are associ-;~

I he devised are of even greater theoretical interest, because

they imply a universal constant of gra.itational accelera­
tion that has been strangely neglected.
ated with measured times. What will here be called:
"Galilean units," or G.U. for short, areA. = 0.9422119 mm',
and T = 1/91.88025 s (to seven significant figures). In;
In 1604 there were, of course, no standard units of relating these units, we will use the quarter period of a':
I length. Every nation, and in Italy each province, had its
O\\TI length-unit. For time, the astr0nomical second was
pendulum, the time for the bob to swing (in a vanishingly',
small arc) through any small amplitude to the verticaL ~~

I ~
Sti1lnu:ut ~ is emerilW professor ofhistory ofscience OJ the U";venity ofTorol1lo. He l
has uanslaJed aD of Ga1iko's sciel1lific books and written research papers on JUsworic.l
l£u Galileo at Work, ~riJlen a di!cade ago, will be suppkmel1led this year by GaliJe<i..
Pioneer Scienlis~ wriuen particularly for physicists.. c;_

• 432 TIlE PHYSICS TEACHER SEPTEMBER 1989 ~'':' ., :, ~IQ,:"I':l:~rj, 1
---------------------- 0 .. ,:-: .. ~;~C~ '~:,;t, Jtulo II): ~~--1

- l"
> II]:J. ::: ..

Numerical Example of Galilean Units
(Edilor's Addition)
fl" a fall of 1.00 m (g = 9.80), starting from rest, h = 1.00 mJ(0.942 x 1O-3 mJ..t) = 1060..t
tFJ/~b = ~?#- = 0.452 s = (0.452 s)(91.88 Tis) = 41.5 •
.., ~ 2
t fa/lJz = 1,"-U T

t Fa/1,2/t = ~ 2Cr) = 0.639 s

TI = 211; J~
~ 4 , g
0.639 = :£ ~ L ... L = 1.62 m = 17lJ.)..t
2 9.80
Hence, in G.V., the square of the time of fall through 1 m is numerically equal to the length of the pendulum whose
quarter period is equal to the time of fall through 2 m.

. this lime, Tl/4. Then in G.V. the square of the time of free concept of one-to-one correspondence betv.'een members
;- fal~ startIng from rest through any height, h, is numerically of an infinite set and its half. That concept was no small
equal to the length of a pendulum whose quarter period is contribution to pure mathematics, and it was quite essen­
; equal to the time taken for a fall from 2h. (See example tial to the birth of rigorous mathematical physics.
t in box..) This relationship holds anywhere in the universe About the beginning of 1604 Galileo set out to find, if
~. where heavy bodies fall and pendulums oscillate. It does he could, a rule for increases of speed during "natural
not depend on the strength, g, of the local gravitational descent: as any spontaneous motion of a heavy body was
field. The rate of acceleration in G.V. is gi../T 2 , where g called. That would be hard to do if he had had to rely on
JtZ(23 = 1.23370055... This follows from the ordinary direct measurements of free fall. But the motion of a ball
equations for distance fallen from rest in a given time, and rolling down an inclined plane was just as surely a "natu.cal
fo; the time of a quarter period of a pendulum. descent" as was straight falL and rolls could be made slow
. It is no mere coincidence that Galileo's punlo and enough to time by musical beats_ On folio 107 of his
.. tempo were nearly ..t and T, or that the implied rate of working papers (as they are now numbered), Galileo re­
accelera tion g )./.2 is a univ~rsal physical constant - unlike corded the results of some measurements that led him on
standard g = 9.80665 mJs'"", which holds only at sea-level to the discovery of the law that distances in fall from rest
at 450 latitude (or the gravitational equivalent elsewhere). are as the squares of the elapsed times. For about ten years
Galileo did not know enough physics to hit on a dynamic I believed this page to have been the discovery document
constant of acceleration, varying .....i.th the strength of grav­ for Galileo's law of fall.
itational field. Modern physical constants arise from phys­ The calculations down the middle show how Galileo
inl equations, and such constants would have cancelled arrived at the eight figures he tabulated at upper left. A
(H in the older notations using the classical mathematics number was multiplied by 60, and a number less than 60
of proportion. Galileo never used algebra, even in his was added. Clearly Galileo had a ruler accurately divided
working papers; the first modern mathematical physicist into 60 equal parts which he used when making measure­
never wrote a physical equation in his life. ments of lengths. In fact, he used the same ruler for
What Galileo did use was the Euclidean theory of ratios drawing and measuring several diagrams on other pages
and proportionality for mathematically continuous magni­ of these Dotes. Those di\i.sions were 0.94 mm each. or a
tudes (such as lengths and times) set forth in Book V of punto as Galileo called this. \\'hat he had measured were
. the Elements around the year 300 RC. .That was enough places of a ball at each of eight successive equal times when
. for Galileo's physical discoveries. But for his proof of the it rolled from rest down a plane grooved to guide it. The
I:::w of fall he needed something that the ancient Greek plane was something over 2,100 punti long. raised 60 punti ~
;nathematicians did not supply. Euclid excluded the infi­ from the horizontal at one end, to an angle of about 1.7".
nite from mathematics by his axiom that -the whole is full roll would take about four seconds. permitting eight
greater than the part: Galileo needed to prove that there half-second marks. Calculation shoM that Galileo was
are as many different speeds as there are instants of time accurate within 1/64 s for every mark except the last, when
during any fall from rest. for that, he introduced the the ball was moving about 1,000 punti per second. That


permit anyone to adjust the
the limit of accuracy of his oWn
The rule Galileo found Was
speeds during successive equal
increase as do the odd numbers 1.
7•... as seen from the diagrams he
v.ith the page turned sideways.
was the kind of rule he sought,
put this page aside. Later, in diffe
ink and a bit smeared. he squeezed
the left·hand margin the first e
square numbers, which is why I
!107l' (Fig. 1) to be the discovery
ument for the law of falL But it
me why. in that case, he had de
entering so important a result.
mathematician knew that adding
odd numbers lOgether gives the
] numbers. Yet there was no point

adding speeds together, and

was not thinking of these lengths

distances. but only as measures of

cessive speeds in a series of equ

times. It had not ret occurred to

that some ruk might exist that
I the distance directly to the time of
v.,nat did occur to him before he
f107 aside was that if a simple rule
increase of speed in descent could
found by merely equalizing time.

] more might be found by

times of motions. At the bottom of
page he sketched a kind of water "lU'tr.'<___
watch. In r.. . o Sew Sciences he d
1 scribed his de\;ce as simply a bucket
water ""lth a lUbe through its bott
fig.!. f 107..., Vol. 72, Galilean manuscripts, reproduced by permission oC tbe the tlow of water during a motion
National Central Li brary of Florence.
'.J collected and weighed on a sensi
balance the weights being taken
was the only length that Galileo char:ged later. though he measures of times. His sketch suggests a more p!'>.i">('\r"r.
put a positive or negative sign on four or Lie other marks. de\lce. Analysis of the data recorded on two other
] Galileo's father and brother were professional musi· shows that water flowed at very nearly three fluid
cians, and he was a good amateur perforIiler on the lute. per second. Galileo recorded his timings in grains

1 Al beats of half a second, anyone can detect an error of

1J25 or 1/30 of a second. A good arr:a,eur musician can do
twiee as well, and a professional eo·~:.j ceteer an error of
weight, each equal to 11480 ounce of flow.
Galileo measured fall time of 4,(X){) punti = 3.76 m
1,337 grains of flow (about 1C"() s too high). He found
1/100 s or less. I assume that Galile0 tied strings around pendulum taking half thal lime. or 668 1/2 grains of
,-]'.. his grooved plane, as frets were tied around the neck of his to be 870 punti long. He then doubled that pendulum
lute. His bronze ball would then make a bumping sound 1,740 punti., and found its swing 10 take 942 grains of

f'.inlY as it struck the plane after passing over a fret. Galileo had
to adjust the strings until every bump agreed with a

beal of a crisply sung march, and measure distances from

while reaching the vertical through a small arc. In all

work Galileo timed pendulum swings to the vertical
not the full period. He used the quarter-period lJC':.;aLI;:)"'!
't.. • resting point to the lower side of each string. That
the only swing he could time with precision was from
, . kes patience to do, but the apparatus described would
instant of releasing the bob to its sound of impact with
434 mE PHYSICS TEACHER SEP'T'!:... .iBER 1989

that was fLXed in advance ag3inst a side of the bob tion on f 189v 1 (Fig. 2) which put that discovery into
banging plumb. Galileo's h3.nds.
froro the pendulum measurements of lengths and With his adoption of the tempo as the unit of time
a table of the kind shovro below could be compiled. Galileo had the pendulum law in a restricted form; that is:
Galileo may not have actually compiled a table, for any set of pendulums successively doubled in length. It
will serve to show the way in wruch he arrived at his would have been a difficult task to test it for successively
des simply by appl};ng the general theory of ratio tripled pendulums, let alone for any other integral multi­
proportionality set forth in Euclid's Elements, Book ples, and quite impossible to establish it by induction in its
The la.ble ~as been extended far enough to show the complete generality. For that purpose, Galileo next calcu­
of a very important number found in two of lated the mean proportional of 118 and 167 - the times to
surviving working papers, on one of wruch he was the vertical, in temp~ for the two pendulums of lengtbs
when he first recognized the law of fall in times­ 6,960 and 13,920 punti-and got 140 tempi. The mean
form from its mathematicaUy equivalent mean­ proportional of those two lengtl:ts is 9,843, so if his re­
~'- ___ r.~t .."\n. form. stricted pendulum law were perfectly general, a pendulum
9,8-13 punti long would s\\ing to the vertical in 140 tempi.
On the other side of the same page (f154), Galileo
TIme to the vertical (See text belOW) wrote the note mo br. 16- 'the string is 16 braccia long:
From two lines dr3wn and labeled by Galileo at Padua, the
i;: pumi in grains flow V(2L) T{16 braccio that he used in 1604 was about 620 punti. At 615
870 6685 41.7 41.8 punti per braccio. length of that pendulum would be 9,840
1,740 942 59 58.9 punti, or about 30 feet. Such a pendulum could be hung
3,480 1,337 83.4 83.6 from a window over the courtyard of the University of
6,960 1,884 118 117.8
2,674 Padua and timed, protected from wind. Its time to tbe
13,920 166.9 167.1
27,840 3,768 236 235.5
vertical at Padua would be 141 tempi, by calculation.
In the foregoing table, Galileo's timing of fall through
-4,000 punti, 1.331 grains of flow (or 835625 tempi) was
The third figure in the second column,l,337 grains, was sho\\ll as the time for the pendulum of length 3,4.80 pUllt~
me:l5ure of time Galileo had found for free fall of 4,000 whereas that fall is in fact timed by the pendulum of 4,000/g
punt!. The fust column above was formed by successive 3,242.28 punti. The error arose from his ha\ing timed
doublings, and the second by alternate doublings. Except the faU as 1130 s too long. The correct time was 80.527
for one slight discrepancy, each of the fust two columns tempi, not 83.5625, wruch Galileo adjusted to 80 2!3 imme­
taken separately is in continued proportion. Galileo's new diately upon rus disco\'ery of the law of fall.
."•• ..o ..... time unit, the tempo, came into being when he related the
That discovery occurred when Galileo calculated, on
two columns horizontally, so to speak. His original mea­ f189vl (Fig. 2), the distance a body would fall vertically in
· .S"Ufe of time in grains of now through a particular de\;ce time 2SO tempi, double the time he had just measured for
. ha\ing been completely arbitrary, he v. as free to alter it in s..-ing to the verti.::al by his 3O-fool pendulum. When he
any ratio he pleased. Taking each time to be the mean made that calcu!acicn, he supposed some distance of fall
proportional be tv.·e en two and the le::lgth of pendulum, the to be needed, and for that he used fall of 4,000 punti. In
· data ~'.' each column become related line bv line. The same fact, it did not mat<er what fall he used, because that factor
. numbers also result, almost exactly, from'di\ision of each was cancelled by its presence as the numerator of one ratio
'. time in grains by 16, and 16 grains (ll!! 1 cc) became 1 and as the denominator of another. The result he got was
tempo - the new unit adopted by Galileo as a result of very near to the modern result for the latitude of Padua,
;·;:these investigations relating the times of pendulums to his 48,143 punti as compared with our 48,317, a difference
'ttheir lengths. of 174 punti or 15 em in 451)4 meters (about 0.36% low).
- Because division by 16 of the times in grains weight of As you see, Galileo at once took the mean proportional
Gow did not exactly produce that mean-proportional rei a­ of rus 48,143 punti and the assumed base, 4,000 punti, saw
· tion between the two columns, Galileo made a calculation this 13.863 to be nearly the half of 27,834, and thus realized
.~~ tbat resulted in his changing 27,~J, as sho....ll above, to t hat his roundaoout cakulation of a distance of fall through
.. 27,8;-t That work was done on one of the working papers an intermectiate penduium relation had been unnecessary,
?f wrJch only a part survives. On the blank side he wrote, the distance depended only upon the time. At lower left
In 1609, a note on another topic, cut it out, and pasted it he drew the conventional proportionality diagram for ,
--::;~,~T. [.90. That was lifted at my request, and on the hidden magnitudes ·commensurable in the square,' which he used
~de [ saw the number 27,834 twice, with enough words to always thereafter for relating distances and times in fall.
l?entify it as a "diameter." Galileo's diagram and calcula­ Strictly speaking, Galileo never made use of any ·con­
tions Were thrown away with the part of the page he cut off, stant of gravitation' in the modern sense. The acceleration
but the work was done before Galileo discovered the law implied by ~ units of measurement was, of course, very
tz, of fall, because 27,834 played a crucial part in the calcula­ nearly g = 1t '"/8, valid anywhere that pendulums oscillate


the ratio 9421850 1.108, his rati
time to tbe vertical for a pendu1~
~/ .,~

length 1,140 punti, to time of fall 1;1'
~~ ., ,; ~ . "
punti from rest. He did not know
"" 1t had anything to do ....ith the matter
l relied entirely on the most accu
measurements he could make and
rigorous Euclidean theory of nr,,_~.......,
tionality for mathematically
G.U. provide a method of ~"U'C""'"
mental measurement of:re that un'll<:u.p:;o;
students should be in,ited to test in
laboratory. No better way
showing them the nature of
length and time based not on the
tance from pole to equator
Paris and 1186,400 of one axial
of Earth, but on actual VU''''U\.11U'~iJ(l,Ulll!i
vertical fall and of horizontal
spontaneously produced by gr
That physical relationship was built
Galileo's units as accurately as be co
measure it, and of course we can b
into G. U. the exactre lationship. ·nW\lv.1i'f
ing a transcendental number, :re,
cannot be exactly measured in any
tual phenomena of nature.
In conclusion, I add that in
day there existed no measurements
planetary distances ;n terrestrial
such as millions of miles. There
now, and it is easy to convert those
G.U. Anyone who does lhat will
some very interesting relations arno
the places and perio.:iic times of plan
over and above these deducible
f 189vl. At cenkr. calculation ofdistance fallen in 280 tempi. At top, acd not
fig. 2. Kepler's well·kno....-n planetary laws.•if~'
required for this calculation, are timings or pendulum 0 r length 1.740 punti through
a large and a small arc. Teachers and students interested ~;
this subject will find more about G.U. ~~
and heavy bodies spontaneously fall when released from planetary data in books by Stillman Drake, History ofFre(f
restraint. But the coostant Galileo used was about Fall (Wall & Thompson, Toronto, 1989) and Galileo,:::.1,
Ii . :-c/(2.2), ane! :bat is what I call "Galileo's con· PioneerScientisr (Univ, ofToronro in press). ·,t~
stant" In theory it is UlO720735"., whereas Galileo used .­

-:- ­



I Prime-ra Parte

'I Por: Francisco S. Ramirez Avila

El problema que nos contie-rne abora es sobre la determinacion de las

I masas de la Tierra y del Sol. Para ree-velver satisfacroriamenre dicha tarea
det>emos ~tabl€'(er de antemano la relacion que existe entre la fuerza
I gravitadonal de dos masas y el Pf:so de una con res~to a la otra. Hare-moo
esto romando el caso de 1a Tierra y despues e1 caso del Sol.

I Masa de la Tierra

I Si decimos que nuestro planeta tiene masa M entonces, para un
objeto de Olasa m somelido ala influenda gravitatoria rorrestre:
GMm/r 2 =mg. ( 1)
I Aqui G representa la constan~ universal de la gravitacion (=6.67110- 11
Nm 2/kg 2), g es 1a aceleracton gravitactonal de la Tierra "i r ~ la distanda
I . entre el centro de 1a Tierra y el centro del objeto. Si asumimos que el obieto
rep<>sa sobre la superficte de la Tierra, y si este es ademas pequeno

:, comparado con las dimensiones geometricas de nuestro planeta, enronces la

ec,(O se reduce a la siguiente forma:
GMJR'2. = g,
I donde R representa el radio terrestre. Resolviendo ~ta Ultima ecuacion
para M tenernos que:
M = gR 2 /G. (2)
I Podriamos determinar 1a masa de la Tierra consuHando cualqujer Hbro
sobre astronomia elemental y viendo en et los valores ofidalmente
I aceptados para R y g. Esto serra 10 mas comodo de hacer. Sin embargo, una
manera mas practica y comprensib1e de conocer M seria midi~ndo R y g por
cuenta propia mediante dos experimentos relativament.e senci11os, como
I expUacamos a con tinuadon.

I a) Determinacion del radio Te.r.restre.

La meaidon del radio de nuestro planeta debe hacerse partiendo
del h~o de que 1a 'Tierra es r€<londa, as! como 10 asumiera en la
I antiguedad e1 sabio filosoio y matematico alejandrino EratOstenes
(280-192 a.CJ -la historia oHcia1 10 cons1dera como el primero en
I determinar el tamafio del p1aneta-. Nosotros emplearernos el mismo
fmH.odo que utiHzara Erat...-)stenes en didla t:)Jea.

1Q AHa -u!:."ID1D.1S VoL 11 I~ NUffi. 20 N07iembre de 1939
t, SI ")"'t'lT77;;x-;;r=r::=c:,,' I " : I t " ' C........- - , , , 'I;; "5' fA:

1 Como se iIustra en la figura la, el radio de la Tierra se obtiene

partiendo de la reladon
'11 R = S/0.
El angulo 0 senala la separacion angular y S senala la separadon lineal

entre los puntos A y B.

I Si asumirnos que -s- representa la geodesica que une las latitudes
de la Cd. de !\·fexico y de Cd. Juarez (1,370 Km aproximadamente), para
determinar R wnemos entonces que ca1cular ~ de manera directa, es
I dedr, de manera experimental.
Vemos pues que, si exwndemos las lineas OA y OB mas alla del
I circulo, como se aprecia en la fig. lb, encontraremos una relacion muy
obvia entre los angulos 0, 1) Y 0 at proyecru una serie de tres lineas
horizont::l.les tales que pasen ca<ia una por los punlos A, B Y O. Esta
I relation es la siguiente:
3-5=0 (tn
I A1 medir 3 y 5, podemos ca1cular automaticamente II' y Rpor sustitucion
en las ecuaciones (·n y (3) respectivamenle.

~ ----------------~~

B' -------.i~
3 O · - - - - - - t - + - ' - I...........;awo

(a) (b)
] IIGURA 1. (a) r.<::scion entre las 'Tariables S Y if con respe¢to e1 re.:jio terres:tre

R = Oa =OB. (1)) Relacion entre los engulos 13. () Y iI. Las Eneas AA',

BB' Y 00' son paralel~ entre st.

Tanto B~omo 0 S~ obtienen si asumimos que las lineas AA' Y BB'

] repres~ntan rayos solar€-s incident:€'s sobre la Tierra. Entonces, a1
adoptar las extensiones de las lineas OA y OB como varil1as
I sobresaliendo la su~rficie terrestre, podemos medir el largo de sus

-­• sombras sobr~ 1a Tierra a una hora espo?ciiica do?l aia con una es(.ala
conven~ional, -: utili:ando las reglas bitsica~: d~ 1a trigon~)metri3., -?St0S
-~.o "c. ~'"
v'"",..:". r"r',!'r
--"~.-:"-" ... ~ r1 dl·f'rt

•~J1Jmnt/: .. : 1unt::tri0<;;
"" ..... I·I)C.
"':" ..-/.J.

"'1, ....... i"".:!of
..jtC. \ • ., ;::.' -?) .

r.PJint(.\ s'S-rn>?':J.IoS' de f'r'3-par~lt'~·na dd m·:.tl-

== 'i""I'!"!' 1 - , " r , 8

tuto Tecnol6gic:o y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (I.T .E.S.MJ

I de los campus de Cd. Juarez y del Edo. de Mexico, se prestaron para
realizar la m€<iicion de dichos Mooulos. Ambos campus nos pusimos de
acuerdo para col<Xaf cada uno una plomada de un metro de atoo sob!e
una superficte totalmente horiZontal (Ia borizontalidad, del suelo se
determino utilizando nive1es de burbujas de aire) justo el dra 25 de
I Octubre de este ailo. Sin embargo~ como la Cd. de M~xico esta ubicada a
una Iongitud de 7.305ifJ (eqUiValenre a 0.483 brs) at este de nosotros,
los alumnos del campus de aquella ciudad midieron la sombra de su
I plomada exacta!nente a las 13:00 ru-s, mientras que nosotros 1a tuvimos
que bacer a las 13:29 tJ.!s; con ello asegurabamos que el Sol en Cd. Juarez
I estaria en una }:~icton en el ctelo casi identica a la que tuvo en la Cd. de
MexiCO a la bora en que se tom6 1a medici6n all~L
I Plomada
I 1m

Sombra de Sombra de
I la Plomada
la Plomada

I rIG URA 2. Pora wnocer los engulos ~ y B lIleOi8!1te If:iS reglas l>6si<;&;s de 18
ll"igonometria eud~1ea re mi<ien las som\)r-es que ha¢e1l dos p10r0aOOs, de 1 m
I <le alto C!'Wa una. sot>re un soolo terrestre perfectamente horizontal. (a) La
medici6n que re hizo en e1 Ce.mpus LT .I.sl.~. de Cd. Juarez el 25 de Octut>re de
este ano a ias 1}3 b..rs revelo una sombre ~e 0.982) metros .je longitud, con
I 10 cu...u :;e obtuvo 1;.': engulo 0 igual a 14.4910 (0.7765 ra.j). (b) Una me-:Hci6n
similar hecha en e! I.T .I.sl~. Campus del fdo. <ie Mexico e1 mismo <fia pero a
18$ 13:00 hI'S revelo una rombra de 0.6...792 metros de largo, con 10 cual se logro

I ceterminRr un anguJo.8 igUii1 R )2.]']80 (0.)6] 6 rsd).

Durante la medid6n, nuestra plomada describio una sombra de 0.9325

I metros de largo, mientras que la plomada del campus Edo. de Mexico
trazo unasombra de 0.6292 metros. Con estos datos, y auXiliandonos de
tanto de las figs. 2a y 2b como de la 1a trigonometria, vemos que:
C'"," .tl""";"'I'·" """'ts", I t'l! ;;X:;r=r=r:;';l

y re-emplazando ~te (tltimo angulo y Ia g0c<lf~;ica s= 1370 }(m en la
ee.(3), concluimos que el radio de la Tierra es equivalente a
R =0,410.05 km (5)

t' La <livergencia de este <lata <;on el '\l'81or oficialmente aceptaoo (6.378 km) fue de
poco menos de n km.; un error muy pequeno en comparacion <;On el tamano de
nue.nro pla:netB-

I b} Determinadon de la Aceleracion Gravitacional -g-.

La aceleracton gravitactonal g se obtiene directamenoo recurriendo
I al concepto de caida libre. Una de las ecuactones basicas de la
cinematica, que relactona esta constanoo g con la altura 11" a la que se
lioora un objeto y con el tiempo -t- que este tarda en caer at suelo, es:
I h = vot+ (l/2)gt2,
donde va representa la velocidad inicial del objeto. Sin embargo, como
I esoo desciende en caida libre, su veloctdad inidal es cero. Siendo a51, la
e<:uadon anterior se reduce a la siguiente forma:
I g = 2h/t2.
Cronometrando el tiempo que tardan diversos objetos, de distintos

I pesos y tamanos, en caer al suelo desde una altura predeterminada,

podemos determinar g recurriendo a la e<:.(S). En una serie de pruebas
que se hideron en dias pasados en el 1.T.E.SM. campus Cd. Juarez, se
L liberaron una bOla de madera, una esferita de acero y una pelota de
beisbOl, diez veces <:ada una desde una altura h de 0.54 metros, y S~
procedio a tomar el tiempo promedio de vuelo para cada una de elias
I (ver tabla de abajo).

I Objeto
<le C8i6a Livre (reg)
C8.1cula de g en
metros lseo'

I Bola de Mooera
Esfera de acero
Pe10ta de Beisl>ol

Prome<lio: 9.61 m/reg 2

E1 promedio de g sali6 menor que el valor ofictalmente aceptado de

I 9.8m/seg2 porque la r€'Sistencia del aire influy6 considerablemente en las
I Ahora st, como ya oonernos los valor~ oe R1 g, los sustituimos en la ec.(2)
y venlOS finalmente que la masa de la Tierra es equivalente a:

M = 5.92X 10 24 Kg.

I Dejemos -de tas'ea a11ector que confirme este -da~o en algim 111>1'0 t>eri.co -de B.Stronomia
1 ().. *