Bean, Howard S. Formerly, Consultant on Fluid Metering, Liquids and Gases, Sedona, Arizona.
Last reviewed:June 2020
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The gravitational weight of a body is the force with which the Earth attracts the body. By extension, the term is also used for the attraction of the Sun or a planet on a nearby body. This force is proportional to the body's mass and depends on the location. Because the distance from the surface to the center of the Earth decreases at higher latitudes, and because the centrifugal force of the Earth's rotation is greatest at the Equator, the observed weight of a body is smallest at the Equator and largest at the poles. The difference is sizable, about 1 part in 300. At a given location, the weight of a body is highest at the surface of the Earth; it diminishes with altitude and with the depth below the surface. For example, the weight of a body diminishes by about 0.1% if it is raised 2 mi (3 km) above the Earth's surface or taken 4 mi (6 km) below the surface. Weight also depends to a smaller but measurable degree on the density of the Earth's crust below the body. Weight is measured by several procedures. See also: Balance
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