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Question of the Day

Why is it that our weather predominantly moves from west to east, when Earth turns to the east, too? It seems to me that the weather should travel across the face of Earth in the opposite direction of its rotation.

The flow of weather systems is best explained by the Coriolis effect, named for Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis, the French mathematician/civil engineer who first identified the phenomenon of the Coriolis force in 1835. It is best understood by imagining that someone sitting at the center (A) of a moving merry-go-round throws a ball to someone sitting at a point (B) on the rim. By the time the ball reaches B, that person will have moved to position C, and the ball will appear to have curved away. Similarly, to us on our spinning planet, freely moving objects appear to follow a curved path. Thus, Earth's rotation deflects moving objects (including weather systems) to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere.

Last 7 Days

    How can I remove a photograph that is partially stuck to the glass of a picture frame without ruining the photo?

    Try wiping it very gently with a slightly dampened cotton cloth. When the photo has absorbed some of the moisture, pull it gently or scrape under it gently with a thin, flat-edged tool. Remove the photo very carefully. The key here is very little, but just enough, water.

    What is the traditional gift for a 15th wedding anniversary?

    Crystal is traditionally given on this anniversary. The contemporary equivalent is a watch.

    Just what are the chances of getting struck by lightning?

    About 1 in 3 million. By comparison, you have a 1 in 5,800 chance of dying in a car accident and a 1 in 342,000 chance of dying in a plane crash.

    How do I keep rabbits from eating my flowers?

    Try one of the following methods: (1) Dust the flowers with sulfur. (2) Sprinkle them with red pepper. (3) Spray them with a mixture of 1 teaspoon Lysol and 1 gallon water. (4) Spray them with a mixture of 1 ounce tartar emetic, 3 ounces sugar, and 1 gallon water. (5) Get a cat or a dog!

    Is polar wander the same as polar wandering, and which term is correct?

    The proper term is polar wandering, which describes the fact that Earth's magnetic poles have moved over the surface of the globe during the past 30 million years. The north magnetic pole is presently located off the western coast of Bathurst Island, in the Canadian Northwest Territories, almost 800 miles northwest of Hudson Bay. The south magnetic pole is presently situated at the edge of the Antarctic continent in Adelie Coast, about 1,200 miles northeast of Little America. Even over short spans of time the position of the magnetic poles is not constant and shows a measurable, though very small change, from year to year. (Guest Expert Dietrich Gudzent, Mount Pleasant, Ohio)

    What is the difference between spring water and mineral water?

    Before 1994, "spring water" might mean anything from purified water, taken originally from the tap, or a fancy imported brand of "gourmet" bottled water from natural springs in Switzerland. The Food and Drug Administration put an end to the confusion by defining standards for bottled water and regulating how it can be labeled. Today, "spring water" indicates water that flows naturally to the surface from an underground spring or from a borehole into the source of that spring. "Mineral water" comes from protected underground sources, usually collected through a borehole. Many mineral water sites are geologically protected from contamination. You may also see "purified water," which means any water that has been distilled, deionized, or passed through membranes to remove particles in a process called reverse osmosis. "Distilled water," which some people recommend using in steam irons, is water that has been vaporized and then condensed to remove the minerals.

    We are about 600 feet above sea level. How much should I subtract from the sea level pressure to arrive at the barometric pressure at my location? What is the standard per foot?

    Standard sea level pressure is expressed as 29.92 inches of mercury. In the lower few thousand feet of the troposphere -- the "air" surrounding earth that we live in -- pressure decreases roughly one inch for each 1,000 feet increase in altitude. Thus, the standard, uncorrected pressure at your home 600 feet above sea level would be 29.32 inches of mercury.

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