Worden Gravimeter

Worden Gravimeter

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Gravimeters (gravity meters) are extremely precise instruments that measure the earth’s gravity at a specific location. Gravimeters are often used by prospectors to locate subterranean deposits of valuable natural resources (mainly petroleum) as well as by geodesists to study the shape of the earth and its gravitational field. Differences in topography, latitude, or elevation—as well as differences in subterranean density—all affect the force of gravity. Commonly, gravimeters are composed of a weight hanging on a zero-length spring inside a metal housing to negate the influence of temperature and wind. Gravity is then measured by how much the weight stretches the spring.
Texas Instruments introduced the Pioneer gravimeter in 1960, describing it as a Worden instrument "ideally suited for gravity programs in areas of limited latitude and temperature variations." Its design is covered by three patents, all assigned to Texas Instruments. One (#2,674,887), granted to Sam P. Worden in 1954, described an instrument "which is of very simple construction and which, at the same time, will permit very delicate measurements, and is smaller in size and of less weight and more rugged than conventional types of gravity meters now in use." The patent went on to say that this instrument "is of such construction and size that the working parts may be more efficiently insulated," and that it incorporated "a compensating device which dispenses with the necessity of a thermostatic control." The second patent (#2,738,676), granted to Worden and Boyd Cornelison in 1956, described a "Large Range Gravity Sensitive Instrument." The third (#2,732,718) was granted to Cornelison in 1956. Texas Instruments donated this example to the Smithsonian in 1963.
Ref: "Worden" Gravity Meter Operating Instruction Manual No. 81537-4 (Houston: Texas Instruments, 1961).
Currently not on view
Object Name
gravity meter, Worden
Texas Instruments
overall: 31 1/2 in x 8 11/16 in; 80.01 cm x 22.098 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Texas Instruments, Inc.
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
Measuring & Mapping
Natural Resources
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I am currently (January 2016) using a version of the Worden gravimeter for teaching in an undergraduate geophysics class. It is the Texas Instruments Worden "The Master Model " probably made in the 1960s. Amazingly it still produces precise gravity data even though it was last serviced in 1999 by B. Neese. This is a testament to the high quality of the design and manufacture of these instruments.

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