Measuring & Mapping
Where, how far, and how much? People have invented an astonishing array of devices to answer seemingly simple questions like these. Measuring and mapping objects in the Museum's collections include the instruments of the famous—Thomas Jefferson's thermometer and a pocket compass used by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their expedition across the American West. A timing device was part of the pioneering motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge in the late 1800s. Time measurement is represented in clocks from simple sundials to precise chronometers for mapping, surveying, and finding longitude. Everyday objects tell part of the story, too, from tape measures and electrical meters to more than 300 scales to measure food and drink. Maps of many kinds fill out the collections, from railroad surveys to star charts.
"Measuring & Mapping - Overview" showing 1 items.
- While studying physics with Arnold Romberg at the University of Texas in 1933, Lucien LaCoste designed a seismometer with a so-called "zero length spring." LaCoste and Romberg formed a partnership in 1939 and began making seismometers and then gravity meters incorporating springs of this sort.
- As gravity meters became ever more precise, LaCoste realized that they could be used to measure earth tides. H. Neal Clarkson, a machinist at LaCoste & Romberg, designed and built the first earth tide meter under LaCoste's direction, this work serving as Clarkson's dissertation project for a PhD in physics from the University of Texas.
- The DL-1 was an improved instrument that could detect variations in gravity of the order of one microgal, or one part in a billion. It was built by LaCoste & Romberg in 1953 and installed in the firm's workshop in Austin, Texas. The Institute of Geophysics at UCLA acquired the DL-1 for the worldwide survey of earth tides that it conducted during the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958. The Institute donated the instrument to the Smithsonian in 2000.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- LaCoste & Romberg
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center