Coriolis Effect

Imagine that you and your friend is sitting on a merry-go-round as in the diagram below

Demonstration of Coriolis Effect

If the merry go round is stationary, throwing a ball towards your friend in a straight line would be able to reach him without any problem.

However, the same cannot be said if the platform is rotating instead. As each of your is sitting on different side of the platform, you would be moving to the right as you throw the ball, while your friend would be heading to the left.

The left and right motion imparted by the platform causes the ball to appear to curve right relative to the receiver, even though the ball is really thrown in a straight line. The apparent curve is known as the Coriolis Effect. In actual fact, the ball has not curved. The truth is that the thrower and receiver has moved relative to the ball. Thus, it would appear that the ball has curved to the right instead.

What should the thrower do?

To counter this effect, the thrower should throw to the left side of the receiver. In this case, the effect of the Coriolis can be compensated, although also not 100%.

So the next time if you were trying to pass your friend something on a rotating platform, do remember the effect of Coriolis and you would not end up having it landing on the face of some bystanding off the platform.

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