A chapter of physics
One of the highlights of our 10-day visit to Kenya was crossing the Equator. Mount Kenya sits almost atop the line, and we are at a town called Nanyuki, a little away from the mountain, at an elevation of 6,389 feet. It’s here that we had the great moment of straddling the Equator, one foot in the northern hemisphere, one in the southern. Many of us have read about the Coriolis effect back in school. We saw this experiment live at Nanyuki town when the driver stopped near a bright painted board indicating the Equator. On seeing us, a middle-aged Kenyan came to us with a plastic jug with a hole at the bottom, a litre of water and few small pieces of sticks (like matchsticks) and an empty bowl. It was his livelihood to show this experiment to visitors. Walking ten feet north of the Equator, he poured the water into the jug blocking the hole at the bottom with his fingers. The sticks floated on the water. When the fingers were removed and water fell into the empty bowl below the sticks started rotating in a clockwise direction. South of the Equator, they rotated anti-clockwise. And at the Equator, the sticks did not move at all. The Kenyan said this was due to the Coriolis effect. He said the Equator experiences the quickest sunrise and sunset, and that here, there’s little distinction between the seasons. While many dispute these theories, I came back with a photo to adorn my desk.