Monday, February 26, 2007
So we visited the equator - four times. Turns out there's actually two equators: one measured by the French, and another, apparently more accurate spot, measured by GPS. Whatever.
The funny thing is, when you are at the equator, the tour guides do all these 'demonstrations' designed to prove that the equator is some mystical point where energies converge and balance. These include strength tests that apparently show that your muscles are weaker right on the equator. Bollocks, I said. It's just that the guides push/pull harder when you do the test on the equator compared to when you repeat the test 5m to either side.
And the old chestnut about coriolis forces making water spin clockwise or anti-clockwise down the plughole depending on which hemisphere you're in also reared its ugly head. The demo involved a basin of water sitting on the equator line, which drains without rotating, then the experiment is repeated to either side and voila, the basin drains clockwise and anti-clockwise.
It's codgers, and for a good explanation as to why, read http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.asp . If you can´t be bothered checking out this link, the short answer is that coriolis forces act on a grand scale on rotating weather patterns like cyclones, but have a barely measurable effect on something as small as a basin of water.
Of far greater impact on the direction of drainage are factors such as the way the water is poured into the basin and the shape of the basin. I was being an annoying smart-arse and pointing this out when it was being demonstrated, which actually scored a whispered admission that yes, the demo was 'rigged' (although not in those exact words) but it was to illustrate a point. HAHA, score one for the Big Nerdy Tourist.
Now shut-up and go away so we can pull the wool over the eyes of the two Americans behind you.