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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Does the Coriolis Effect Make Drains South of the Equator Spin the Other Way?


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Every year when I taught the Coriolis Effect in my classroom - it would never fail that one student would claim that drains south of the equator spin the other way due to this effect. While it is true that storms in the Northern Hemisphere spin counterclockwise and storms spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere - the same forces do not affect small items like a toilet or sink drain.

To prove this - I made the above two videos in our hotel "Down Under." What you do not see is that I was able to change the faucet's flow direction. So I was able to make one sink bowl flow both clockwise and counterclockwise.

The way the water drains in a toilet or sink is caused by the shape of the bowl and the direction the water jets into the bowl.

And you thought I had too much time on my hands before - or my mind was in the toilet.

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