Sunday, 23 October 2011

I have unintentionally shocked a

reader of another blog by saying that the idea that water goes down plug holes one way in the Northern Hemisphere and another way in the Southern Hemisphere is a myth. Yes, it is a myth.
The sad fact is that the "fact" we were all quite sure of as children is not true. (I can actually remember being told this in school by a teacher in my third year. She was endeavouring to teach us about "railway time" - slightly silly anyway as the local trains did not, and still do not, use it.)

The idea that water always spins clockwise down the plug hole here Downunder is incorrect. The reality is that it does so about half the time. My guess is that it depends on which way the water initially hits the plug hole. I do not know. I am not a physicist. (To cheer you up however, cyclones always go clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere...if you do not want to run into a cyclone run clockwise ahead of the cyclone instead.)
The idea about water down plug holes came from someone called Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis back in 1835. He was wrong but a lot of people have had fun with it ever since. I can remember trying to prove it with my brother and at school. My nephews have done the same. The Whirlwind did it and so have countless other children. No doubt they will go on doing it.
Here endeth the science lesson for the day. I am going out to look at old motor cars - or rather watch the supposedly grown up "boys" in my family look at old motor cars. My sister-in-law and I are insisting on going to the lavender farm after that. We may investigate other water down plug holes myths while we wait.


widdershins said...

One thing I love doing now that I'm on the fun side of my second half century, is going up to the inevitable gaggle of lads who are drawn to any car with an open bonnet like bees to nectar, and looking earnestly at the object of their affection for a moment, and solemnly announcing, that they are correct, it is indeed 'an engine!'
... I never felt I had the seniority to do it when younger.

catdownunder said...

Wicked! I love it! :-)