An Indian Englishman
Mitra: Memories of Mayo

Aravind: Sunsets, tall buildings and the Earth's radius

Padmanabhan Krishna Aravind (No.501)
Mayo College, 1964-67

AravindPK_rdax_200x279 I have written a paper entitled Sunsets, tall buildings, and the Earth's radius  as a tribute to Gibson's memory and posted it on the e-print archive. In this paper I show how one can use a tall building to determine the Earth's radius. The idea is to go up the building and observe sunset repeatedly from a number of different floors, and then use the heights of the floors and the times of the sunsets to infer the Earth's radius. The experiment tries to bring together a number of things Mr.Gibson liked: Eratosthenes, geometry, great heights (although a tall building is a poor substitute for a mountain!) and a combination of physical and mental activity directed towards a useful end. I don't know how Gibson would have reacted to the experiment I propose, but of one thing I am certain: if he had decided to carry it out himself, he would have disdained the elevators and dashed up the stairs, with a band of schoolboys in tow.


Amitabha Sen

A true tribute to Gibby. He would have loved the paper. On a recent visit to Mayo, I found another ancient tool, the sundial (near the relief map of india), was broken. Gibby (and Eratosthenes) would have been horrified.

Porus Govekar

Hi Aravind,
I would be very intrested to learn if anyone remembers Mrs Merchant, my lovely grandma who worked at Mayo College for a long time.
I a kid I grew up hearing stories about Mayo college and Mr Gibson.
Would love to hear from you or any one who would be able to tell me more.

Porus Govekar (

Padmanabhan Aravind

He’d sometimes come in like a breeze
When we in other things were mired
And talk of Eratosthenes
Of whose exploits he never tired

Though we had heard the tale before
It wasn’t good old Gibby’s style
To be a repetitious bore
Instead he was a man of guile

For as the story he’d begin
He suddenly might point at you
And ask you with that toothy grin
To take his place and continue

Woe to you if you couldn’t please
Because your tale went off the tracks
For you’d go down on hands and knees
And be rewarded with some whacks

The comments to this entry are closed.