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Bob's Guide to everything you wanted to know about the Coriolis Effect

Once upon a time there was a show called "The Simpons", it was a very popular show that ran in late 1980's thru god knows when it will stop. In the third season of its run, there was an episode called "Bart vs Australia". The main story is that Bart pisses off the land down under and everything is hunky doorey. A full synopisios of this episode is available here. Normally, such garbage would pass without notice, but in the opening scene of the particuliar show, there is a debate about the Coriolis effect. In this, Bart and Lisa end up having a disagreement about the flow of water down a drain. In this episode the water always flows in the counter-clockwise direction down the tube while in the northern hemisphere, and in the clockwise direction while in the southern hemisphere. This is demostrated in the various small basins and toilets Barts tests thru the show.

stop scratching your ass!!

As the years passed sinced the episode was aired, much of it was forgotten and what remained, was stowed away in the realm of the subconsious. There is remained until a camping trip to Minnesota. During the course of the trip it was discovered that the toilets in the campgrounds only flowed in one direction, straight down. This as one can imagine was a baffling, perhaps mind-boggling ocurrence. This happened numerous times, each one with same result: straight down. Could this episode of the Simponsons have been wrong we asked? Did the television lie to us?

But alas, it was finally realised that these were not toilets at all, but rather simple outhouses that were nothing more than holes in the ground and the Coriolis Effect could not exert its influence here. Gravity had pulled the wool over our own eyes. With this revelation, the debate renewed once again, this time between the campmates. A few believed that water flowed clock-wise, others counter-clockwise. It would be several more days until our return to civilization (and flushing toliets) where we could settle the matter once and for all.

Upon our return to civilization a few days later, at the first oppoturniy, we decided to see who was right. From here it would be written in stone, all disbelievers would believe. Our first victim was the toilet in the shower house. The result: Counter-clockwise. In an effort to confirm this, the toliet in the next stall over was tested too: Clockwise. We couldn't believe our eyes!! Were the laws of the universe against us? Most of us walked away from this incident with our very faiths shaken in our trust of the T.V. Some have stopped watching it all together.

Mr Flush

It was then I had decided that I had not see all the evidence, I needed more. I had a revalation, from then on I would flush more toilets, not just my toilets, but other people's toilets, God fearing toilets. Years later I would compile my results as you see in the table below:

RESULT (percentage %):
counter-clockwise:clockwise:undefined or straightdown:
Columbus, NE, USA4549%40%11%
El Paso, TX, USA2640%51%9%
Omaha, NE, USA1350%46%4%

Miami sucks

The Coriolis Effect: This is a real effect, but it isn't strong enough to affect the direction of water flow down a sink or bathtub (or toilets). Any claims to the contrary are urban legends and can be scientifically refuted. Please consult the sci.physics FAQ for more information. This effect is well demostrated in much, much larger formations, such as hurricanes and tornados. As you can see in the photograph on the left, Hurricane Frances is rotating counter-clockwise just off the coast of Florida in the northern hemisphere. Consentqultly, if it were in the southern hemisphere, it would be rotating clockwise.

More Information:

Ohio State University Department of Physics