Thursday, July 29, 2010

Experiement 1 - 808 Commonwealth Bathroom

Determine the direction of the draining of water in the bathroom sink and the toilet at 808 commonwealth Avenue. On the basis of the determination, predict the direction of the draining water in a sink and toilet located in Australia.

1) We went to the bathroom in the building and filled a sink with water, preventing it from draining till it was stable. After the water looked stable, the drain was left open for the water to drain in which ever direction.
2) After the sink drained out, we went to a toilet and flushed the toilet which has stable water in order for the water in the toilet to drain in whichever direction.

1) When we drained the stable water in the sink, the water seemed to drain in a clockwise direction after 5-10 seconds.
2) When the toilet was flushed, the water seemed to flush out in a clockwise direction also.

1) The water could have drained in the clockwise direction in the sink as we were located in the Northern Hemisphere and due to the earth's rotation on its axis. The earth rotates towards the right across longitudes causing a coriolis effect. The coriolis effect essentially deflects the water from its vertical position across longitudes resulting in a clockwise spin of the draining water. The movement of the water would follow the pattern depicted in figure 1.1 in the northern hemisphere.

On the basis of the coriolis effect, the inverse phenomenon should happen in the southern hemisphere in Australia. As the earth rotates eastward on its axis, the rotation should deflect the water in the inverse direction in comparison to that in the northern hemisphere. This should result in the anti-clockwise spin of the water in the sink as well as the toilet. The movement as per the coriolis effect is depicted in fugure 1.1 in the southern hemisphere.

Figure 1.1 - Coriolis Effect in Different Hemispheres due to Inertial Forces.

2) However, the coriolis forces are very small and they may not have an actual effect on the direction of the draining water. There are a number of other factors that may affect the direction of the water including air pressures, turbulence, the shape as well as the design of the sink and toilet etc.
It could have been possible that the low or high air pressure in Boston at the time of the experiment may have caused an inaccuracy as the coriolis forces may not be as powerful in high pressure zones as compared to low pressure zones.
Also, it may be possible that the sink is designed in a manner that the water would flow in a clockwise direction. Another possibility in the toilet may be the direction the water that flows in may be towards the right such that the drain direction would come out to be clockwise. Also, there may be a possibility that in the drain of the sink the some of the holes were jammed due to dirt and hence, the water may have been forced to only pass through a hole that may result in a clockwise direction by default.

Hence, the above factors may not depict an accuracy in the observation or the coreolis analysis of the observations. We only performed the method once and no more. As there were not a lot of results that showed the same pattern, the observation was based on only one performance of the experiment. Repeating the experiment in different weather situations at at different times of the day would help in gaining better and more accurate observations. I personally believe that the observations were merely a coincidence and that the results would differ the next time I would repeat the same procedure. I do not believe in the coreolis effect causing the clockwise direction in the water and I think the result in a completely controlled experiment with flat surfaced containers and a vertical source of water would result in an ambiguous direction of the water. I think the water in both Boston and Australia could go in any direction.

Coreolis Effect:
Coreolis Effect:
Coreolis Effect:
Figure 1.1 :

Akshat Jain

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