18 November 2011

Professor Carl Chr. Tscherning becomes Knight of the Dannebrog

Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Carl Christian Tscherning has become a Knight 1st Class of the Order of Dannebrog. He has been awarded the Order for his groundbreaking research and his many years as a professor.

Carl Christian Tscherning  Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, Carl Christian Tscherning has become a Knight 1st Class of the Order of Dannebrog.

The Order of Dannebrog is a Danish order of chivalry instituted by Christian V in 1671. In the beginning there was only one grade – knights, and it was mainly distinguished Danish nobles that were awarded the Order. But in 1808 Frederik VI reformed the requirements expanding the circle of persons who could receive the Order and be rewarded for ‘true merit’, including for ‘progress in science’.

The Order of the Knighthood is now divided into different grades and C.C. Tscherning has already been appointed as a Knight of the Dannebrog and is now being named Knight 1st Class of the Order of Dannebrog.

The Earth’s shape and gravitational field

Carl Christian Tscherning is professor of geodesy, which is the study of the shape of the Earth and its gravitational field. Gravity varies over the surface of the Earth due subsurface variations and the gravitational field is very complicated to calculate. You have to combine the location of the site with the strength of the gravitational field and its orientation (for example, the gravitational force on a mountainside does not straight down but slanted inwards towards the mass of the mountain) and the measurements must be combined in order to get an accurate measurement of the gravitational field in an area.

The Order of Dannebrog

The Order of Dannebrog has a white ribbon with red edges. The badge of the Order consists of a white enamelled cross (the knight classes) with a crown over the reigning monarchs monogram. It has the inscription: “God and King” and the monogram of Christian V.

Previously, you had to wander around and make low scattered point measurements. But Carl Christian Tscherning developed computer models that could combine measurements from satellites and data on Earth to map the gravitational field.

This groundbreaking work was a breakthrough in the study of the Earth’s gravitational field. Recently, the European satellite GOCE, which was also based on C.C. Tscherning’s measurement methods, was launched into orbit around the Earth and is now sending data that is healing to draw a precise mapping of the Earth’s gravitational field in unprecedented detail.

Carl Christian Tscherning will become a Knight 1st Class of the Order of Dannebrog on Friday, November 18. Later he will have an audience at Christiansborg, where he will meet Queen Margrethe and have the opportunity to thank her for the Order.