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  1. #1
    aka. Stephen B5 Jones MrBF1V3's Avatar
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    Question What way does the water swirl ...

    I would like to say that I need help with some kind of scientific endeavor, or that I'm doing some important research, but, what I need is more along the lines of settling a bet, kind of.

    I've known for a long time that the water swirls counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere when you flush the toilet, -but- according to National Geographic (tm), that's just a myth. They say it's not true.

    So, because I have to check, what way does the water swirl when you flush the toilet? (WC, John, ... that could be a thread in itself.) And, do you live in the North or the South?

    In an almost related question:, Which way does the little swirl in the hair on the crown of your head go? And, in which hemisphere were you born?

    B5

  2. #2
    National Geographic says it's a myth? I've always heard that it was true. Let me know if you find out more on this, because I'm pretty sure the water does go counter-clockwise.

  3. #3
    The Doctor... Sammie's Avatar
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    Seeing as the aussies tend to talk more like us Brits than they do like the americans, I'm guessing their water actually goes anti-clockwise, anyway

  4. #4
    The way that the water in your toilet swirls is determined by the way that your toilet is built, not which hemisphere you live in. The toilet shoots the water into the bowl at an angle, which determines which way the water swirls.

    What you may have been thinking of, though, is the way that water swirls when it drains out of your sink or bathtub. Old science textbooks did say that this is different in the Northern vs. Southern hemispheres. Unfortunately, this is one of the many cases where you can't always believe what you read.

    The reason that the old books gave is the Coriolis effect, which has to do with the way that the Earth rotates out from under something that moves freely. (You can picture this by imagining a cannon that sits on the equator and fires straight North. As the planet rotates out from under it, the cannonball will appear to veer to the right, or go clockwise. If the same cannon were to be fired straight South, the ball would still appear to veer to the right, but it would be moving counterclockwise with respect to the ground.)

    However, this effect isn't strong enough on water to actually determine which way the water will swirl. (It's a nice theory, though.) There are far too many other things that can effect it, like the slight pre-existing movements of the water.

  5. #5
    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    I suppose this is a dumb question, but is there a difference in the rotational direction of hurricanes/typhoons?

  6. #6
    The Coriolis force DOES affect hurricanes because the warm moist air over the equator helps to fuel them and the rotation of the earth then forces the hurricane to travel away from the equator. So consequently the winds rotate counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern. Also to conserve angular momentum (as they get closer to the Earth's spin axis), they move faster relative to the sea tides and become even more powerful the further from the equator they travel (until it moves off the sea).

  7. #7
    hmmmm...good point about a toilet that shoots the water in a certain direction versus a drain, which is totally controlled by gravity.

  8. #8
    I was born in Scotland, and have long hair, so it's hard to see what way the crown part goes, as it falls straight down Although if I had to say, it would be anti-clockwise.

    I just tried the toilet, and I think it flushed clockwise. I currently live in England.

  9. #9
    aka. Stephen B5 Jones MrBF1V3's Avatar
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    Monty_Mike--Thanks. (You think?) Yeah, I will not concede defeat until I have eye witnesses.
    Sigh, long hair, I remember that. (the swirly part on my head is growing, and swallowing my hair. )

    Eldanuumea--First, there are no dumb questions, only dumb ... um ... okay, maybe there are some dumb questions, your question is not one of them.
    Incarnadine is right, what we are talking about is the Coriolis effect, wind tends to take a right turn in the northern hemisphere, and a left turn in the southern hemisphere, causing hurricanes or typhoons rotate in their respectively different directions in the different hemispheres.--At least until National Geographic says otherwise.

    In addition; I have taken apart a number of toilets in my lifetime, and I am fairly sure that none of them had anything in them to cause the water to flow one way or the other, it just goes through. (But it is real fun to watch people walk into their bathroom and there's nothing left but a hole in the floor --Just kidding.) But I can say that last time I drained the tub the water rotated clockwise. I saw it.

    Like Incarnadine said, you can't always believe what you read. So aside from taking a vacation (which, sigh, I can't afford), I ask people who can check for me.
    B5
    Last edited by MrBF1V3; April 6th, 2005 at 09:38 AM. Reason: ... nuances are lost in print ...

  10. #10
    Kiss my axe! kahnovitch's Avatar
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    No swirl in my bathtub.

    It just slowly empties over a period of hours due to some blockage I suppose.

    I knew I shouldn't use it to dispose of human remains.

  11. #11
    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    At least, not unless you've chopped them up into much tinier bits, love.

    My tub got badly blocked once when i cleaned a sack of crawfish in it. Took a couple of weeks for the clog to break up so the water could flow. (all the little legs, feelers, antennae, etc. from off the crawfish)

  12. #12
    aka. Stephen B5 Jones MrBF1V3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kahnovitch
    No swirl in my bathtub.

    It just slowly empties over a period of hours due to some blockage I suppose.

    I knew I shouldn't use it to dispose of human remains.
    No no no...

    Don't use your bathtub, bury those things in your neighbor's yard. Then, eventually, you can get your face on the local news saying, "I always thought he was kinda strange. But I didn't think he was doing anything like that."

    B5

  13. #13
    Prefers to be anomalous intensityxx's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I'll have to put the kabosh on your theory of crown swirls. My son's crown swirl is opposite that of most people. He was born right here in the US along with the others I'm comparing to. The woman who cuts our hair also noticed it, and it's why his hair naturally parts on the "wrong side".
    My tub got badly blocked once when i cleaned a sack of crawfish in it. Took a couple of weeks for the clog to break up so the water could flow. (all the little legs, feelers, antennae, etc. from off the crawfish)
    Scientific curiosity #2: As a 20+ year vegetarian I got roped into cleaning crawfish in preparation for a wedding party. The crawfish were fresh-frozen, from out-of-state. As we progressed in pulling off the little legs and parts, the critters....I kid you not...CAME BACK TO LIFE!!! It clearly affirmed my vegetarianism.

  14. #14
    I smell BBQ kegasaurus's Avatar
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    I was born in the northern hemisphere and when I go to the Southern I realised that three weeks into the last new year, the water realised what I hadn't. I was a liar.

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