Cavendish

0th

Percentile

Cavendish's Determinations of the Density of the Earth

Henry Cavendish carried out a series of experiments in 1798 to determine the mean density of the earth, as an indirect means to calculate the gravitational constant, G, in Newton's formula for the force (f) of gravitational attraction, \(f = G m M / r^2\) between two bodies of mass m and M.

Stigler (1977) used these data to illustrate properties of robust estimators with real, historical data. For these data sets, he found that trimmed means performed as well or better than more elaborate robust estimators.

Keywords
datasets
Usage
data(Cavendish)
Details

Density values (D) of the earth are given as relative to that of water. If the earth is regarded as a sphere of radius R, Newton's law can be expressed as \(G D = 3 g / (4 \pi R)\), where \(g=9.806 m/s^2\) is the acceleration due to gravity; so G is proportional to 1/D.

density contains Cavendish's measurements as analyzed, where he treated the value 4.88 as if it were 5.88. density2 corrects this. Cavendish also changed his experimental apparatus after the sixth determination, using a stiffer wire in the torsion balance. density3 replaces the first 6 values with NA.

The modern "true" value of D is taken as 5.517. The gravitational constant can be expressed as \(G = 6.674 * 10^-11 m^3/kg/s^2\).

Format

A data frame with 29 observations on the following 3 variables.

density

Cavendish's 29 determinations of the mean density of the earth

density2

same as density, with the third value (4.88) replaced by 5.88

density3

same as density, omitting the the first 6 observations

References

Cavendish, H. (1798). Experiments to determine the density of the earth. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 88 (Part II), 469-527. Reprinted in A. S. Mackenzie (ed.), The Laws of Gravitation, 1900, New York: American.

Brownlee, K. A. (1965). Statistical theory and methodology in science and engineering, NY: Wiley, p. 520.

Aliases
  • Cavendish
Examples
# NOT RUN {
data(Cavendish)
summary(Cavendish)
boxplot(Cavendish, ylab='Density', xlab='Data set')
abline(h=5.517, col="red", lwd=2)

# trimmed means
sapply(Cavendish, mean, trim=.1, na.rm=TRUE)

# express in terms of G
G <- function(D, g=9.806, R=6371) 3*g / (4 * pi * R * D)
 
boxplot(10^5 * G(Cavendish), ylab='~ Gravitational constant (G)', xlab='Data set')
abline(h=10^5 * G(5.517), col="red", lwd=2)

# }
Documentation reproduced from package HistData, version 0.8-6, License: GPL

Community examples

Looks like there are no examples yet.