Chasing the line: Hutton’s contribution to the invention of contours

K. Rann, R. S. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article describes one aspect of the history, invention and use of contour lines. We present a case that Charles Hutton – working for the Greenwich Royal Observatory – might have created one of the first accurate and useful contour maps, based on a survey of Schiehallion in Perthshire, Scotland. Hutton’s description of this map and his calculations (used to determine the density of the Earth) were published by the Royal Society in 1778. The map is missing; however, this paper provides all the information, based on the surveyors’ measurements, to create a fairly accurate contour map of Schiehallion. Our collaboration, between mathematician and artist, led to a visual reinterpretation of the data based on the original calculations in Hutton’s paper, and his other maps. In this article, we document our re-creation of the map of Schiehallion and subsequent and corresponding three-dimensional contour models of the mountain.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Maps
Early online date11 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 11 Mar 2019

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