Inventions and Deceptions – Coriolis Effect

The Coriolis Effect is a very real optical illusion that appears to deflect a moving object from its trajectory when it is viewed in the context of a rotating reference frame.

The Coriolis Effect

Unfortunately, this optical illusion is incorporated into some very dubious scientific theories as if it were a real force. In the older scientific literature this optical illusion is frequently called the Coriolis Force, although the modern mainstream magicians usually try to be more subtle [in their misdirection] by calling it the Coriolis Effect.

Wikipedia has quite a lengthy explanation and an animated cartoon [which is fittingly an optical illusion produced by a series of still images] of the Coriolis Effect which attempts to confuse and mislead  the reader into accepting the Coriolis Effect is a real force.


However, as we shall see, Wikipedia is being rather economical with the truth.

Let’s take a closer look at the black ball in the Wikipedia animation.

First, and foremost, the Wikipedia black ball always travels in a straight line. It is not deflected by any force from its straight line trajectory. The black ball always moves in a straight line in the Wikipedia animation – just like the red ball in the animation below:

The Coriolis Effect - red ball

Secondly, the Wikipedia black ball is not resting on [or in contact in any way] with the spinning disc. The spinning disc is separate from the black ball – just like the spinning disc in the animation below:

The Coriolis Effect - spinning globe

Thirdly, it is only when you track [or superimpose] the path of the ball [as it travels in a straight line] over a spinning disc that the Coriolis Effect becomes apparent.

The Coriolis Effect

Fourthly, the Wikipedia animation only rotates the disc a quarter turn because they don’t want you to see the full shape of the Coriolis Effect created by the black ball when it crosses the diameter of the spinning disc. Simple misdirection by omission.

The actual shape of the observed Coriolis Effect depends on the relative speeds and positions of the ball and the spinning disc.

Coriolis Effect

Once you understand that the Coriolis Effect is an optical illusion [and neither a force nor an acceleration] then you are well equipped to spot when the modern mainstream magicians are being economical with the truth.

Length scales and the Rossby number
The Rossby number is the ratio of inertial to Coriolis forces.
A small Rossby number signifies a system which is strongly affected by Coriolis forces, and a large Rossby number signifies a system in which inertial forces dominate.

High pressure systems rotate in a direction such that the Coriolis force will be directed radially inwards, and nearly balanced by the outwardly radial pressure gradient. This direction is clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Flow around a low-pressure area
If a low-pressure area forms in the atmosphere, air will tend to flow in towards it, but will be deflected perpendicular to its velocity by the Coriolis force.

Inertial circles
An air or water mass moving with speed v, subject only to the Coriolis force travels in a circular trajectory called an ‘inertial circle’.

Other terrestrial effects
The Coriolis effect strongly affects the large-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation, leading to the formation of robust features like jet streams and western boundary currents.

Eötvös effect
There are other components of the Coriolis effect. Eastward-traveling objects will be deflected upwards (feel lighter), while westward-traveling objects will be deflected downwards (feel heavier). This is known as the Eötvös effect. This aspect of the Coriolis effect is greatest near the equator. The force produced by this effect is similar to the horizontal component, but the much larger vertical forces due to gravity and pressure mean that it is generally unimportant dynamically.

Molecular physics
Coriolis effects will therefore be present and will cause the atoms to move in a direction perpendicular to the original oscillations.

My personal favourite is where insects use “biomimetic gyroscopes” to detect the optical illusion called the Coriolis Effect.

Halteres for the micromechanical flying insect
The mechanism which-real flying insects use to detect body rotation has been simulated. The results show that an angular rate sensor can be made based on such a biological mechanism. Two types of biomimetic gyroscopes have been constructed using foils of stainless steel. The first device is connected directly to a compliant cantilever. The second device is placed on a mechanically amplifying fourbar structure. Both devices are driven by piezoelectric actuators and detect the Coriolis force using strain gages. The experimental results show successful measurements of angular velocities and these devices have the benefits of low power and high sensitivity.

When Wikipedia starts to discuss ballistics the mainstream magicians perform a “switch” [or “trick”] by changing the context. Suddenly they are discussing objects that are initially corotating in the same reference frame. For example, the “artillery shells” [in side a cannon] and the “target” are corotating [on the surface of the Earth] i.e. they are in the same rotating reference frame.

The magicians are confusing and conflating issues.

Firstly, they start confusing the reader by discussing the effect of different map projections when the track of a missile or satellite is drawn on a map.

Ballistic missiles and satellites
Ballistic missiles and satellites appear to follow curved paths when plotted on common world maps mainly because the Earth is spherical and the shortest distance between two points on the Earth’s surface (called a great circle) is usually not a straight line on those maps.

Secondly, they start confusing the reader my discussing the trajectories of long range artillery shells. The trajectory of a shell is affected by variations in corotational velocity [with altitude] and the curvature of the Earth when it is fired over a very long range to a target well beyond the visual horizon.

The Coriolis effects became important in external ballistics for calculating the trajectories of very long-range artillery shells. The most famous historical example was the Paris gun, used by the Germans during World War I to bombard Paris from a range of about 120 km (75 mi).

Thirdly, they go completely “off the rails” by describing the Coriolis Effect optical illusion as both a force and an acceleration.

Special cases
Cannon on turntable
The animation at the top of this article is a classic illustration of Coriolis force.

It is seen that the Coriolis acceleration not only cancels the centrifugal acceleration, but together they provide a net “centripetal”, radially inward component of acceleration (that is, directed toward the centre of rotation):

Fourthly, in the context of high velocity bullets, they claim the Coriolis Effect [optical illusion] is present [even when it can’t be seen by the observer] and that it “changes the trajectory of the bullet”. This is impossible because the Coriolis Effect is not a force and [therefore] cannot change the trajectory of a bullet.

Bullets at high velocity through the atmosphere
Because of the rotation of the earth in relationship to ballistics, the bullet does not fly straight although it may seem like it from the shooter’s perspective.
The Coriolis effect changes the trajectory of the bullet slightly to give the path of the projectile a more arched shape.

Miles Mathis has written at length about the Wikipedia explanation of the Coriolis Effect and he [also] clearly states “the Coriolis Effect is not a real force”.

It is admitted that the Coriolis Effect is not a real force. It is only an outcome of circular motion. A line that looks straight from one position will look curved from another position. Again, I am not doubting that. I accept both the data and much of the math. However, I think it is clear that the Coriolis Effect is only an effect of pre-Einstein relativity. That is, it is an outcome of position and motion, not of forces or dynamics.

Many physicists will agree with that, but I will go further. When it is used to explain vortices on the Earth, it is false. It cannot logically explain them.

The main “trick” used by the mainstream in the “ballistic” examples is that they are trying to imply that high velocity bullets [and artillery shells] don’t travel in straight lines. However, simple mechanics dictates that the projectile will travel in a straight line unless it is affected by another force [like a crosswind].

The problem for the artilleryman is that their artillery shells are fired at an angle into the air before the shells arc downwards onto their target. During the rise and fall of the artillery shells these ballistic projectiles do not fully corotate with the Earth’s surface. The underlying problem is that the corotation velocity increases with altitude whilst the artillery shell retains its original [Earth’s surface] corotation velocity.

Therefore, the target moves [with the Earth’s surface] during the high altitude flight of the artillery shell [which does not have sufficient corotational velocity at altitude].

In predicted fire the basic geospatial data of range, angle of sight and azimuth between a fire unit and its target was produced and corrected for variations from the ‘standard conditions’. These variations included barrel wear, propellant temperature, different projectiles weights that all affected the muzzle velocity, and air temperature, density, wind speed & direction and rotation of the earth that affect the shell in flight.

In this situation it is legitimate to use the Coriolis Effect to calculate the rotational movement of the target – this is a basic coordinate transformation – so that the required straight line trajectory can be calculated for the artillery shell.

However, it is incorrect to imply that the ballistic projectile does not have a straight line trajectory. It is incorrect to state that the ballistic projectile is affected by the Coriolis “Force”. There is no Coriolis “Force” – only an “optical illusion” [for the observer] called the Coriolis Effect which has a mathematical explanation that provides a “coordinate transformation” [for the artilleryman].

Unfortunately, the incorrect application of the Coriolis Effect as a “force” is deeply embedded into the mainstream [managed] knowledge base. returns about 1,000 results for the phrase “Coriolis force”, about 1,830 results for the phrase “Coriolis effect” and about 7,880 results for the word “Coriolis”.

A random dredge through the search results illustrates the size and scope of the problem:

Plate tectonics
4) Coriolis effect acting on plates when they move around the globe;

Beneath the Earth’s mantle, lies the core which is made up of two parts – the solid inner core and liquid outer core – both have significant quantities of iron. The liquid outer core moves in the presence of the magnetic field and eddies are set up into the same due to the Coriolis effect.

Dynamo theory
Rotation in the outer core is supplied by the Coriolis effect caused by the rotation of the Earth. The coriolis force tends to organize fluid motions and electric currents into columns (also see Taylor columns) aligned with the rotation axis.

Fluid dynamics
In rotating systems, the quasi-geostrophic approximation assumes an almost perfect balance between pressure gradients and the Coriolis force. It is useful in the study of atmospheric dynamics.

Jet stream
Rossby waves are caused by changes in the Coriolis effect with latitude.

The wind does not flow directly from the hot to the cold area, but is deflected by the Coriolis effect and flows along the boundary of the two air masses.

Ocean dynamics
Mixed layer dynamics are quite complicated; however, in some regions some simplifications are possible. The wind-driven horizontal transport in the mixed layer is approximately described by Ekman Layer dynamics in which vertical diffusion of momentum balances the Coriolis effect and wind stress.

Coriolis–Stokes force
In fluid dynamics, the Coriolis–Stokes force is a force in a rotating fluid due to interaction of the Coriolis effect and wave induced Stokes drift. This force acts on water independently of the wind stress.

This rotation is generally clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, and is caused by the Coriolis effect.

Physical oceanography
The Coriolis effect results in a deflection of fluid flows (to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and left in the Southern Hemisphere). This has profound effects on the flow of the oceans.

Stellar magnetic field
The magnetic field of a rotating body of conductive gas or liquid develops self-amplifying electric currents, and thus a self-generated magnetic field, due to a combination of differential rotation (different angular velocity of different parts of body), Coriolis forces and induction.

On a rotating planet, air will also be deflected by the Coriolis effect, except exactly on the equator.

Tropical cyclone
The opposite direction of the wind flow is a result of the Coriolis force.

Foucault pendulum
In order to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth without the complication of the dependence on latitude, Foucault used a gyroscope in an 1852 experiment. The gyroscope’s spinning rotor tracks the stars directly. Its axis of rotation is observed to return to its original orientation with respect to the earth after one day whatever the latitude, not subject to the unbalanced Coriolis forces acting on the pendulum as a result of its geometric asymmetry.

Generally, the mainstream deploys the Coriolis “Force” whenever they need to:
1) Avoid mentioning vortex dynamics.
2) Avoid mentioning electromagnetic effects.
3) Confuse the reader into accepting a cartoon animation as reality.
4) Paper over the cracks in the standard theory.

In response to the criticisms of Miles Mathis [and possibly others] Wikipedia have been busy papering over the cracks to such an extent that it has become a spectator sport tracking the mainstream magicians using their magic wands to transform [in text and diagrams] an optical illusion into a mainstream physical force.

Wikipedia – Coriolis Effect – 28 Jan 2013

Gallery | This entry was posted in Earth, Inventions and Deceptions, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Inventions and Deceptions – Coriolis Effect

  1. Michael Norris says:

    Miles Mathis, in support of his Coriolis “theory”, also claims that drains swirl in one direction in the Northern hemisphere, and the other direction in the Southern hemisphere. This is a myth that is quite easily falsified.

    You misrepresent what Miles Mathis wrote:

    I would say that the interesting experiments have not yet been done in regards to this phenomenon. Vortex experiments should be done at equator and pole, and compared, not only for direction but speed.

    Your supplied email address also appears to misrepresent Miles Mathis.

  2. Pingback: Efecto Coriolis y desagües, otra vez -

  3. gymnosperm says:

    I have not tried this in the southern hemisphere, but a lavatory drain in the northern hemisphere dutifully spinning clockwise, when counteracted by swirling one’s finger in the water in an anticlockwise fashion, will finish its drain cycle anticlockwise.

  4. robert says:

    It’s well understood what coriolis effect is, that something “appears” to be moving in a curved path, when really it is the observer moving in a curved path. Just because it’s hard to explain doesn’t mean there’s some conspiracy. One day I hope you find peace in your life, and add love to the world instead of hate.

  5. Tim,

    You seem to have travelled this road well ahead of me.

    The geomagnetic dynamo model also relies on the CF to induce rotation in the core, which fact puts a spanner in the works. However it is simply solved by invoking the co-rotating Van Allen Belts as the source of geomagnetic field. It’s how we generate a magnetic field in the lab as well. Unless someone has fabricated a working dynamo model in the laboratory, (and I don’t mean in the mind’s virtual laboratory as a thought-experiment).

  6. Pingback: Heliocentric theory is wrong | Luis T.

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