Thursday, January 9, 2014

Weight Loss made easy #hashtag

The easiest way to lose weight is to climb a mountain. Now, it is not just the sweat lost or the fat burned that helps mountain climbers lose weight. One could be carried to the top of a mountain and still lose weight. You see, weight on Earth is the measure of the force of gravity between an object and the planet. The further the object gets away from the Earth, the less it will weight. At sea level, I weight a bulky 183 lbs. If I were in the International Space Station orbiting the Earth, I would weigh almost nothing. There is a continuous line. If I could climb a ladder from the Earth to the Space Station, assuming that I didn't get tired along the way, I would notice that it took less and less effort to climb each rung as I got farther and farther from the Earth.

So, how much less would I weigh on the top of the mountain? If I were on top of Mount Everest, I would lose about two-thirds of a pound of weight from what I weighed laying out on the beach. My clothes would still fit me just as well. I'd be the same size, I would just weigh less. Not only would I weigh less, but everything with me would weigh less. So, if I happen to bring some free weights or some dumbbells with me, and assuming I could cope with the freezing temperatures and the thin atmosphere, I would notice lift a slightly heavier weight. It would not be that I had gotten strong, it would be the the numbers labeling the weights were no longer accurate. That weight that was labeled 20 lbs down at sea level would actually only weigh 19.93 lbs on the peak.

Does it get any better than this? Mount Everest is the highest mountain on the Earth, so it is the farthest I could get away from the center of the Earth, right? Actually, there might be a better place. In elementary school, we all learned that Christopher Columbus proved that the world was round (No part of that statement is true). You see, the Earth is not a sphere or ball. It is round-ish. The distance around the earth at Equator is more than the distance around the earth going through the poles. The Earth is like a sphere that got a little squished. So, if there was a really tall mountain near the Equator, then it might be farther from the center of the earth than the top of Mount Everest. Such a place exists! It is the volcano Chimborazo in Ecuador. It is more than two kilometers (more than a mile) farther from the center of the earth than Mount Everest. So, all things being equal, I would weigh three-quarters of a pound less on top of Chimborazo than I would sitting on my couch at home.

*Assumptions used to make these calculations. The mass of the Earth is 5.9 x 10^24 kg, the radius of the earth is 6,371 km. The distance from the top of Everest to the center of the Earth is 6382.3 km and the distance from the top of Chimborazo to the center of the Earth is 6384.4 km. Also, I used 6.67 x 10^-11 as the gravitational constant. Also, in real life, the mass of the mountain likely effect the calculations. It would be interesting to know if anyone has brought a very accurate scale up Everest.

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