Why swirling spheres shift rotation at a certain number

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/16/why-swirling-spheres-shift-rot.html


It comes down to linear momentum vs. angular momentum.

I don’t think that’s right. I think it’s pure geometry, and momentum is irrelevant. If the balls were lead, the exact same rotation would happen. And if you swirl fast or slow, I think it’s the same. I think the controlling factor is how much room each ball has to move.


When Tokieda opened that Altoids tin, I was half expecting a stash of something very different.

Well, that settles it! Badminton anyone?


I believe this also helps to illustrate why low-pressure systems (cyclones, hurricanes in particular) rotate counter-clockwise. The coriolis effect contributes a “rightward turning” force which can be likened to Dr. Tokieda’s swirling-motion input.

Intuitively, it would seem that cyclones ought to then “turn right” and spin clockwise but the molecules collectively behave like the cedar balls.


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