# ELI5 Coriolis Effect. I don’t understand what it does

3.46K views

ELI5 Coriolis Effect. I don’t understand what it does

In: Physics

Imagine you and your 2 best friends walking shoulder to shoulder you can walk in a straight line and stay shoulder to shoulder but what happens when you need to turn left? In order to stay next to each other your friend on the left will have to slow down and your friend on the right will have to speed up.

The Coriolis effect is this but with the earths atmosphere the air at the equator moves much faster (friend on the right)than the air at the north or south poll (friend on the left) this have much larger effects on wind patterns that I will let someone else explain

Let’s say you’re driving a hovercraft on a giant smooth sphere. You rev your engine at the equator and start to drive that sucker to the North Pole of this giant sphere. But the sphere is rotating as you travel. There’s the perfect lack of contact between your hovercraft and the sphere that as you travel north, you also move to the left just a little bit. If you were to plot your path it wouldn’t be a straight line like longitude. Your path would appear curve on a map because the sphere was moving underneath your hovercraft. Your end point would be on a different longitudinal line than when you started. In terms of weather the Coriolis Effect contributes to the direction of overall wind patterns on Earth. For example, in my region of the US weather systems pretty much always come from the west, even though that system may have started much farther north.

Okay, so one day we decide those Chinese sons of bitches are going down. So, we launch a nuke at China.

While it’s on it’s way there, we find out the earth is rotating underneath the missile. We aimed for China, but now ze missile is heading for France.

So France is like: “Shit guys, we are where China was when the US fired the ~~cigarettes~~ missiles…fire our shit!”

And the US is like, “Fuck, we’re dumb-asses. We should have aimed away from China to compensate for the earth’s rotation.”

Canada’s like: “What’s goin’ on, eh?”

and Australia’s still like: “WTF! The earth’s rotation shouldn’t have an effect on missile trajectory!”

Buuuuut! Assuming we don’t blow ourselves up first, us Californians will figure out the earth’s rotation deflects objects away from the spin of the earth. And we’ll give it a sweet name like, “the Coriolis effect” before we break off from the US to go hang out with Hawaii (Alaska can come too).

THE END!!