Coriolis Drift

The Coriolis Effect was discovered by the nineteenth-century French mathematician, G. G. Coriolis. Coriolis found that all moving objects on the earth seem to sidle from their positions-an eastward movement in the Northern Hemisphere and a westward movement in the Southern Hemisphere. The effect is caused simply by the earth's rotation and appears in all motions. The Coriolis effect can best be exemplified by a merry-go round. Let us suppose that two people, P and Q are riding on a merry-go-round at a distance of fifteen feet, while one person, E is outside the merry-go-round. If P throws a ball to Q at a speed of twenty-feet per second, the rotation of the merry-go-round will cause the ball to miss Q by over six feet to the right. If P throws a ball to E at the same speed, the ball will still drift to the right. However, if P concentrates on the non-rating outer world, the person might be able to throw the ball into the hands of E. To P, the ball will appear to be curving when thrown to Q and E .However, to E, the ball will seem to be moving in a normal fashion at all times. The earth is a spherical merry-go-round and we are unable to see the earth's Coriolis drift, much like E cannot see the merry-go-round's drift.

Now let us observe how the Coriolis effect applies to missiles, airplanes, and vehicles. A long-range gunner who fires a shell at 2500 feet per second at a bridge 20 miles away will miss completely because the Coriolis drift will be more than 200 feet. A jet fighter traveled from Chicago to New York at a speed of 600 miles without changing direction would miss New York by several hundred miles to the south. If a person was driving down a straight highway at sixty miles per hour, the effect would carry them off the road at fifteen feet per mile if the tires did not provide frictional resistance for any sidelong motion. In conclusion, the Coriolis effect has an astonishing drift upon the motion of objects on earth and yet, very few people know about this drift.

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