Friday, July 13, 2012

Hey there harbor enthusiasts. My name is Shaun Bossio and I have lived in the Boston area my whole life. Despite that, I have somehow gone that entire time without a trip to any of the harbor islands. Pretty sad, t'is true. Yes, I said "t'is". I am taking this class to satisfy a science requirement and since the extent of my scientific development can be categorized as limited to what I learned on the Discovery Channel, my options were few. Honesty, right? That being said, I have heard some great things about this class and I am looking forward to exploring a part of my home that has somehow eluded me for so long. Plus, I really kind of enjoy it when Prof. Berman embarrasses the folks that come in late. I think we are going to get along just fine.

As for the solution to today's field trip, I have to admit I was 99.9% sure that the answer was clockwise (North America) and counter-clockwise (Australia). How was I so sure? I clearly remember the episode of the Simpsons (Bart v. Australia) in which that very problem is discussed. When we conducted our group experiment today, I thought our results confirmed just that. The water drained out of the sink in a clockwise manner. Now, I just had to prove why my theory was correct. I did a little research online and read up on the Coriolis effect and yes, starting on Wikipedia (it's just so damn handy). I was a little surprised to read that though it can affect the direction water drains, it does not have any effect on toilets, bathtubs, sinks and presumably, beer kegs, in any hemisphere. My first thought was, "No, that can't be right. Wikipedia must be wrong." After doing a little more searching though, I stumbled onto this page which is not exactly the most reputable of sources, but does provide a good explanation and helpful Q&A. A short time later though, I did manage to find an article on the Library of Congress page that corroborates the inability of the Coriolis effect to affect smaller bodies of water such as that in our sinks. Ok, ok, so the page is intended for a ten year old writing a report on how toilets flush. Whatever. It is still from the Library of Congress! Plus, I may or may not have spent the next hour looking up more Everyday Mysteries. I mean, who among us has never wondered why indeed a grapefruit is called a grapefruit? They're right, it looks nothing like a grape! Thank you Library of Congress.

In any event, it appears we were all wrong. Each and every one of us. I look forward to making a fool of myself again and again over the next 6 days. Damn you science (shaking fist), you win this round!

-Shaun Bossio

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