There are some funky facts about our planet, and sometimes it takes a funky person to teach you to appreciate them. In this case it isn't exactly a person but a garden gnome named Kern. His mission is to explain why he weighs different amounts at his various stops around the world.
Obviously since Kern the Gnome can't eat it isn't his diet causing him to gain weight. Glad we ruled that variable out. The reason for his weight change is due to the fact that gravity changes depending on where you are.
Why? Because the Earth isn't really round.
the Earth bulges in middle at the equator, making it look a little bit more like a football than a sphere. So, if Kern is at one of his stops at the South Pole he is closer to the core of the planet. That, combined with some gravity balancing inertia at the Poles, and you end up with a heavier gnome.
In his stops ranging from San Francisco to South Africa to the South Pole Kern has weighed anywhere from 308.26 grams and 309.82 grams
Kern the Gnome went global thanks to a project by a Bavarian scale maker named Kern & Sohn. The company packed Kern up with one of their scales and has sent him on a goodwill mission about gravity and weight, stopping at schools and research stations along the way.
They've even set up a website where people can track Kern's travels, read his blog and get all their gravity questions answered.
In fact, just yesterday, Kern answered the question, "Does the elevation of an object affect its gravity?" Kern kindly replied that it does and he will attempt to demonstrate this personally by travelling — and getting weighed — as he climbs Mt. Evans in Colorado. As he ascends we should see him shed some weight.
Kern the Gnome is a busy little dude with stops planned in such glamorous places as the Large Hadron Collider. But, he's open to visiting your corner of the world — just fill out the application on his website.
Even if you don't want to wait for Kern and his scale to show up in your mailbox, his website is worth a visit. He checks in regularly and is as funny as you would expect from an inanimate-nomad-gnome-scientist-type.
I think I might even have a little gnome crush.