At the Equator

It turns out that Ecuador is a great place to study the equator. It’s not in the middle of a jungle, but runs close to Quito with lots of varying terrain. They thought that they had the equator nailed, but then along came GPS and they found out there were off by about 200 meters. Now at the new and improved site we got to explore some of the common, cool things you hear about our hemispheres.

We did the water test. Yes, when the sink is directly on the equator the water goes straight down the drain. Moving it ten feet to the south the water makes a vortex going clockwise. When you move the sink 10 feet to the north the water drains counterclockwise! This is supposed to demonstrate the Coriolis effect, but I’m skeptical (and so are lots of other folks) that the effect would really be that different just a few feet either side of the equator.

We balanced an egg on the head of a nail. It was a bit windy and tricky to get right, but in the end both Jane and I accomplished the task.

We saw the sundial telling us the “true time”. It was about 20 minutes off from my watch.

And we did a strength test. This seems to be the most controversial and unexplained of all of the equator tests we did. Standing a few feet off the equator you can resist quite well someone pulling down on your arms. But standing directly on the equator line you seem to lose all your strength. Other than psychological explanations for this I haven’t found a physics based reason for why this is true.

In the moment it doesn’t matter whether any of these things are true or not, it was a good and fun way to spend our afternoon.