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Tag: Science

Over the last few weeks, there has been a vigorous debate surrounding the truthfulness of the coriolis effect in context of bathtubs and sinks.

It is a widely held belief that water always flows clockwise down a drain in the southern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, with a load of YouTube videos, and sly scammers preying on tourists “proving” this.

The real truth of the matter is that, while the coriolis effect is real, it is far too weak to affect the fow patterns of a sink of water. It requires vast ocean-sized areas in which to work. The shape of the container, and how the water is moving has far greater effect than the coriolis effect.

Now, you would think that sound reasoning, as well as being backed up by scientific literature, it amazes me that people are far more willing to believe the lie, than accept that what they believed is false.

In my experience, it is very easy to get someone to believe something that they hear for the first time, but after this first encounter, it is excrutiatingly difficult to get them to change their world view, if the first explanation proves to be invalid.

This goes for other things too. Take the story about the PowerBalance bracelet that claimed to give you more strength and healthier body because of a small holographic device. It turned out to be a completely bogus scam, but I still heard people claiming it worked even after the scam broke!

There are so many pseudoscientific claims out there – such as ESP, UFOs, Velikovsky, astrology – that you could write many thick books discussing, and debunking them, but sometimes, I just wish people would wake up and think for themselves a bit.

That may sound a bit idealistic – the realist in me knows that people will be people, and that pseudoscientific nonsense will never go away. The claims will change but there will always be willing people to fall for them.


The world is going to end soon, or so the growing Mayan hysteria would have you believe. The Mayan calendar supposedly ends on the winter solstice of 2012, thus heralding the end of the world.

Fortunately, real scientists are little bit more level-headed in the face of doomsday predictions.

One such scientist, is Dr Vincent H. Malmström, Professor Emeritus of Geography, from Dartmouth College (whose homepage can be found here). He has published a paper, The Astronomical Insignificance of the Mayan Date, completely debunking any significance of this particular date in 2012, providing ample reasoning to back up what he is saying.

Now I wonder if this would have any impact on those loony doomsday prophets….


It has been the subject of many movies and doomsday prophecies. What will happen if a large meteorite (or other large object) had to hit the Earth? I don’t think there is a single person who is not intrigued by this question.

Now you can know exactly what would happen. Purdue University has an impact calculator available online, which simulates the results of meteor strikes.

By inputting the properties of the object, such as its size, speed and direction, you can simulate a vast range of different scenarios.

Did I mention that the site also looks exquisite. The page design is very engaging and the site as a whole is well worth visiting.


A few days ago, I got a question in regards to my tutorials on my blog from Kamal, and was quite surprised when I saw his credentials.

Kamal works for the NASA Education and Public Outreach Group at the Sonoma State University. Yes, that is right, I said he has some association with NASA. That dream of every kid who has any interest in space at all.

And no, he is not an astronaut (although I have no doubt he would jump at the chance) but is involved in creating educational material about NASA’s high-energy astrophysics space missions.

Kamal’s blog, Science Square, focuses on science. It is very interesting reads and rather than concentrating on high-end science that only a phD student could understand, all his articles are easily accessible to the average person.

He is also one of the authors of the web comic Epo’s Chronicle.