Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Snails to Whales Intro

Hi Everyone!

I'm really excited to be taking this class, it's a definite refresher for my less than exciting summer. A little bit about myself: I am a New Englander to the core. I was born in New Hampshire, moved to Boston as a toddler and have lived here ever since. I tried going away to college but missed the city too much and had to come back, so now here I am entering my senior year at BU as an Environmental Policy student in CAS. Needless to say (as you can see from my major) I am thrilled to be taking this class and it is a huge change from my sometimes dry policy lectures to be able to actually get out there and do something fun outside. I work full-time here at BU over the summer and could definitely use some fresh air after being stuck inside an office for a good chunk of my weeks. As for being around the ocean, it hasn't been too hard to get to the water since Boston is pretty much as close to the sea as you can get without falling in. I have been extremely lucky to not only live a T ride away from the bay but also that my father has had a boat docked in Watertown for all of my family to enjoy. We take hours on weekends (when the weather cooperates) to stroll down the Charles, through the locks, and into Boston Harbor where we see an entirely new view of the city. For me, the water not only helps me clear my head, but also reminds me that I am just one humble person next to such vast and endless ocean.

Here's a picture I got to take from my dad's boat of one of the ships that came in during the last Tall Ships tour:

Other than his boat, my favorite place in Boston to clear my head is Christopher Columbus park...it's a little slice of what the Harbor has to offer and is beautiful all year round.

I hope to meet all of you and am really looking forward to all our field trips!

Now, on to the research question from class.

Watching both the sink and the toilet drain, I thought that the sink drained counter-clockwise and the toilet drained clockwise. I honestly had never given water drainage a second thought before, and could only think of the Coriolis force when the question was posed to us. Though I know that the Coriolis force could not apply to something so small as sink drainage (as it mostly applies to air mass direction), it was the only idea that popped into my head. This also would mean that water would drain in the opposite direction in the Southern hemisphere, but that sounded ridiculous so I abandoned that thought.

To find an answer to the question that surprisingly had been asked many many times before, I turned to the website http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.asp for some guidance. Surprisingly, the Coriolis force was brought up and I didn't feel so stupid for thinking about it anymore. And actually, the answer seems pretty obvious now that I read it on this site: the direction of water circulation from a flushed sink or toilet depends on the "configuration of taps and drains" which "is responsible for the direction of spin given to water draining." Duh. So the water water moves is essentially dependent on the construction of the sink or toilet, not some larger external factor, go figure. I completely believe this site because it is, well, totally believable and I can't see any other reason why water would move differently from one appliance to another.

See you all on Friday!
-Lydia Tempesta


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