New Book Out

Our latest science book had an official launch date yesterday, December 1. Available on Amazon.com and in Barnes and Noble, published by Tumblehome Learning. They just emailed and said they would like to publish our next two books.  Below is an excerpt from I Always Wondered About That. 

QUESTION

Why do runners and race cars go counterclockwise on a track?

ANSWER

It is a well-known phenomena and it happens in a lot of races, such horse races, Roller Derby, indoor and outdoor bicycle races in the velodrome, running events in track and field, the Indianapolis 500, other auto races, and speed skating.  Even the chariot race in the Ben-Hur movie had the gladiators going counterclockwise.

The flow of skaters at an ice skating rink, runners in baseball, carnival rides such as the merry-go-round, all go counterclockwise. Which way do revolving doors go? You guessed it-counterclockwise.

But why do they all go counterclockwise (CCW)? Pure speculation by anthropologists says that the bias toward moving our whole bodies in a counterclockwise cycle can be traced back to the right-handedness of our species, but how one led to another is unclear.

The thinking about going CCW in auto racing is that most auto racing is done on an oval track. Going CCW puts the driver on the left and if he loses control and crashes into the wall, the right side of the car will absorb most of the impact.

Auto racing in Europe is more Grand Prix and they have those serpentine courses, turning both left and right. So it really doesn’t make any difference which way they go.

Track events (foot races) are always run counterclockwise. The direction of travel is set by international agreement to insure some validity of timing.

In our Northern Hemisphere, the winds in tornadoes and hurricanes are counter clockwise.  That is a scientific phenomena based on the rotation of the Earth being counterclockwise as seen from above the North Pole. The Coriolis mechanism is involved. Objects “fired” north or south in our Northern Hemisphere veer to the right.

But there is no connection between the direction of winds in tornados and hurricanes and the direction humans move in circles.

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