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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nanyuki’s Equator Point: A great place to understand the Coriolis Effect

I am sure a lot of us would have read about Coriolis effect as part of our Physics course back in school. But, I am not sure if many of us remember what it means and its significance. However, if you are standing on the equator at Nanyuki in Kenya and see this experiment live, the Coriolis effect will have a long-lasting effect on your memory.

At the Equator Point
The Nanyuki town, which is right in the center of Kenya is known mainly for its equator point and hoardes of locals and tourists alike pay a visit just to stand on the equator. But, for those who are technically interested, locals arrange for an experiment to depict how the Coriolis effect works.

The Coriolis Effect experiment in action at the Nanyuki Equator point in Kenya
The setup is fairly simple. One jug with a hole at the bottom, one liter of water and 2 small pieces of sticks (like match sticks) and an empty bowl. The first step of the experiment is done at 10 feet north of the equator. Here the water is poured into the jug while the hole at the bottom is blocked by our finger. The sticks are allowed to float on the water. Then, the final step is to remove our finger from the bottom of the jug and allow the water to flow into the empty bowl below. At this instant, you will see that the sticks start rotating in a clock-wise direction. When the same experiment is repeated at 10 feet south of the equator, it is noticed that the sticks move in an anti-clockwise direction and when the experiment is conducted on the equator, it is noticed that the sticks don’t move at all. This basically shows the deflection or the force that is an artifact’s of the earth’s rotation.

School kids get to know more about the equator at the Nanyuki Equator Point in KenyaOnce the experiment is complete, the locals will also entice you to buy a certificate stating that you have witnessed this experiment at the Nanyuki Equator Point (for a price of course) and also take you to their shop in the nearby Equator market to buy some batiks, masks, wooden or cloth items. Nanyuki makes a great pit stop while heading from Nairobi to North Kenya.



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