Does Toilet Water Spin the Opposite Direction Across the Equator?

We get asked all sorts of interesting and fun questions about our travels.  One that comes up often, and again yesterday: Does the toilet water spin the opposite direction when we cross the equator?

Living with a rocket scientist has its advantages, we know the answer, and it applies to more than just the toilet water:

Water Spin the Opposite Direction

The change of direction is an optical illusion of sorts.  The earth, and therefore the water, always spins the same direction, we are just looking at it differently. That’s my interpretations, hubby offered a much longer, very scientific explanation.

Better seen in graphics.  Here is the spinning earth, thankfully it spins slower than this or I think I would fly off:

Earth rotation

To see the illusion for yourself, take a globe, or any ball and spin it like the earth in the image above. Now look straight down at it, as if you were on the Northern Hemisphere.  It will be rotating anti-clockwise (counter clockwise).

North Pole - does toilet water spin the opposite direction?

Continue spinning it and raise it over your head and look up at it (as if you were on the Southern Hemisphere) and it now appears to be spinning clockwise.  Only your perspective has changed.

South Pole - does toilet water spin the opposite direction?

The short answers:

Does water spin the other way when you travel over the equator?

No, it is us that have moved, the water stays the same.

Have you seen the toilet water spin the opposite direction? Did you know why? Did I spoil the fun (sorry if I did)?

This post is linked at Blue Monday on Smiling Sally.

Don’t miss our favorite science project: How To Make Poop – Best Ever Science Project on Digestion.

Image credits:  Whirlpool photo: Creative Commons Attribution by Gordon Wrigley: North and South Pole Image Credit: Pidwirny, M. (2006). “Earth-Sun Geometry”. Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition. Viewed 23 June, 2014.


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    • Rhonda Albom says

      It’s pretty obvious once someone shows it to you, but since we are all told from being little that it spins the opposite way . . .

  1. says

    Nope – you’re wrong, and the rest of us are right. Our explanation is simply this: I look into the toilet bowl and the water spins clockwise – you look into the toilet bowl and the water spins counter-clockwise. Therefore answer is: YES – blog finished. (and now we know why I don’t have a blog!) – LOL

  2. says

    I already asked Bart Simpson to call an Australian so as to ask the question but then it was 20 years ago and I didn’t have an Internet connection nor did I knew you 😉 Short and sweet articles. Enjoying your travels around our blue planet 🙂

    • Rhonda Albom says

      The Wizard isn’t there anymore, so I have heard. I saw him once when we first moved here 11 years ago.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      Your daughter is delightful. I just wish she gave us more notice as to when she was coming so we could have planned better. Did you ask her if she noticed the direction of the water spinning?

  3. says

    Hi Rhonda .. well I’m glad you didn’t turn the post over the rocket scientist – we might have had all kinds of water spurts … but this was a great explanation – I’d never thought of it like that – but it’s not the kind of question I get asked often .. and I certainly didn’t think about it when I lived in South Africa!

    Cheers Hilary

    • Rhonda Albom says

      LOL – I am guessing that you would get this question less often as you are so loaded with far more interesting facts and details. 🙂

  4. says

    Thanks for the explanation, that finally makes sense. How wonderful to live in a place like New Zealand and be able to travel to lots of other countries. I don’t actually like to travel all that much since I don’t sleep very well away from my own bed, but will enjoy your photos.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      I needed the ball image to see it too. It is pretty simple and obvious once you spin the ball 🙂
      Do enjoy my photos, we love to travel and take photos. I don’t sleep in my own bed all that often, but usually in my own silk sleeping bed liner.

  5. says

    I can’t think too hard on this stuff, else my head will explode. It reminds me of when I’m sitting in a car wash and the motor is turned off but I am sure my car is moving forward. Strange, fascinating stuff.
    Be well, Rhonda.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      Don’t think about it, just spin the globe, look down then hold it up and and look up. It will explain itself, but really do it. It makes it easy.

  6. says

    What a fun question to ask! I like the post today. I am very late coming around but usually by the end of the week I have visited everyone who participated. I like visiting and seeing what everyone shares. Happy Blue Monday and have a great week.

  7. says

    Very interesting! I always wondered it that was true. I’ll never look at my toilet bowl flushing in quite the same way again 🙂

  8. says

    Wow! I have been on the equator (my country lies on the equator) and seen the spinning water experiment several times, but nobody explained it as you’ve done.
    I’m smarter now!!!

  9. Anonymous says

    When I first looked…i thought it was something happening in space…. but it was a toilet:) Great post… i live where it goes the opposite way – to most of our fellow bloggers.. :)Thanks for sharing on Mandarin Orange Monday:)

  10. says

    I would like to pretend that it does spin in the opposite direction too….as I live on the opposite side of the world to many bloggers here. Thanks for sharing with Mandarin Orange Monday:)

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