Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Direction Water Drains: Mythology vs. Science

Here we go on the journey of learning and seeking justification for why things happen the way they do in our life. The mind seems to be designed to question what, why, and how whose answers whether based on blind faith or scientific facts usually bring some kind of relief to the disturbed mind.

I’m Arwa from Yemen. I am here in Boston on a scholarship: a one-year non-degree Humphrey fellowship program. My Humphrey year is coming to its end by the end of this month and this class might be the last one to take at BU. Although I like questioning anything around me, I never thought of how the water drains and whether it swirls the same way all over the world’s toilets and sinks or it goes the other way around.

Based on the observation the class team made, we agreed it drains clockwise. I’ve always thought it must be so. It feels natural to follow the routine and most of the spinning images my mind has been recorded tell it is a clockwise motion.

Yet, when searching about how water drains in Australia’s toilets and sinks, different answers and views have been displayed on my computer’s screen. The Coriolis effect doesn’t seem to be a good explanation for controlling the direction of the swirl. Moreover, the online search about whether it drains clockwise or counter-clockwise in Australia doesn’t seem to get consistent answers.

I believe in God, but I also believe in the physics laws. One of the most interesting laws I studied when I was at the primary stage in school is the one that states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I was impressed by Newton's observation skills. Through keen observation, scientists like him could understand the way how some laws of nature work. This understanding gives human beings the advantage to use those laws for their own benefit. 

Back to the water draining issue. Well, I tried to observe the drain process again in my place. I thought of the kitchen sink since its tap can be tilted. This will give me the opportunity to see if the posture of the tap would make any difference regarding the way the water drains. The first attempt got me confused as it neither went clockwise nor counter-clockwise. It just went straight into the hole! I guess this happened because the way I stuffed the hole with a sponge or perhaps the way I pulled it off. The other attempt showed the clockwise motion, though. This made me think about the video I watch of a man showing people how the water drains differently according to the location he applies the experiment at. There must be a trick or at least a scientific explanation for that. Anyway, I am getting more confused when I glanced at some blogs of my classmates and found that they say their observation recorded a counter-clockwise motion. There must be something wrong either with them or with me.  My Ego tended to believe they're the wrong ones. 

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