Before I remove myself from the interwebs for a few days to be with the fam, I thought I’d debunk one of the most pervasive turkey myths out there: that turkey contains more tryptophan than other foods and that it makes you sleepy. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Turkey contains about the same amount of tryptophan as other meats and some veggies. What makes you feel sleepy after a big holiday meal is what makes you sleepy anytime you eat way too much- food coma. There are some slightly differing opinions out there as to what causes the proverbial food coma, but it is not the tryptophan in turkey that directly causes sleepiness after holiday meals. It is simply the fact that you probably ate way too much in one sitting, and probably had some wine to go along with it. For more info see this article from Snopes, this article from NPR, and this article from Live Science.

I’ll leave you with this bit of complete and total absurdity from an Indian gameshow. That should hold you over till next week when I eventually resume posting. Have a great Thanksgiving!


So I’m thinking that some Fridays I’m gonna steal NPR’s “Science Friday” idea and write a post debunking some popular myths. Not gonna happen every Friday, but I’m gonna make a pointed effort to do it somewhat often.

Today we’ll tackle the myth about water spinning in opposite directions down the drain in the northern and southern hemispheres. This is simply not true at all. While large-scale weather systems do indeed follow this pattern due to a phenomenon called the Coriolis Effect, water going down a drain does not. Minute things such as imperfections in the angle at which a basin was installed, inconsistencies in the surface or shape of the basin, and any residual motion in the water itself are what determine the direction the water rotates when drained. Once the water begins to drain, the conservation of angular momentum takes over and any hint of rotational motion in the water, whether clockwise or counter-clockwise, gets amplified as it moves toward the drain, creating a vortex. This is the same law of physics that causes tornadoes and dust devils to behave the way they do. The classic explanation for this concept is the spinning ice skater. As he/she moves her limbs closer to their body the conservation of angular momentum forces their rotational speed to increase. They can then move their limbs further away and they will slow down again. So no, no matter what you’ve heard, water does NOT always drain counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern. That being said, experiments have been done that show the Coriolis Effect can be seen in draining water IF AND ONLY IF all other forces are completely removed. A large and absolutely perfect cylinder-shaped container with one very small hole exactly in the center was filled with water and allowed to sit untouched for 24 hours to allow any residual motion in the water to die out. The container was perfectly balanced with extreme precision. The plug in the hole was then carefully removed and the water did eventually start rotating counter-clockwise, and continued to do so when the experiment was repeated. BUT clearly this only happens in extremely controlled conditions. In your sink or toilet, a myriad of other forces are orders of magnitude stronger and completely overwhelm the minute effect of the Earth’s rotation. Snopes has a decent debunking of this myth as well.

Tornadoes are different. I was asked about this yesterday, in the wake of the massive tornado outbreak on Wednesday. The Coriolis Effect does influence the direction tornadoes spin, but in a more indirect way. There have, in fact, been clockwise (anticyclonic) tornadoes documented in many cases in the U.S. There have even been a few storms that dropped multiple tornadoes, both cyclonic and anticyclonic, at the SAME TIME. As I said earlier, the Coriolis Effect is what causes large-scale weather systems such as hurricanes, low pressure systems, and high pressure systems to rotate the way they do. Low pressure systems and hurricanes always rotate counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern. The opposite is true for high pressure (clear weather) systems. The storms which produces tornadoes are always associated with a large-scale low pressure system. The Coriolis Effect determines the rotation of that large-scale system, which in turn has an indirect influence on the structure of the supercell thunderstorms which spawn tornadoes. Tornadoes are far, far more common in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, and because the warm moist air which “feeds” these storms at the surface is moving in from the southeast, and the cooler, drier air aloft is moving in from the northwest, that setup naturally lends itself to counter-clockwise rotation, hence most but not all tornadoes in the U.S. spin counter-clockwise. This illustration from NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory shows the inner workings of a tornadic storm quite well:

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Education has a website called NEWTON, with a forum of sorts called “ask a scientist.” This very question regarding the rotation of tornadoes was asked, and I found this particular response quite helpful:

At least the great majority of tornadoes rotate counterclockwise (as do all low-pressure systems) in the northern hemisphere, and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, for the reason (coriolis force) given by Eric Peterson in response #1. But occasionally, it would seem, northern hemisphere tornadoes do rotate clockwise: S. Flora’s book “Tornadoes of the United States” cites an 1890 article in the American Meteorological Journal. Its author, a J.P. Finley, states that, of 550 American tornadoes he studied, 29 were deemed to have rotated clockwise. I have not been able to find any “modern” study of this question. But I believe it could be true. The region of swirling air that contracts to become the tornado is not itself large enough in extent to have its rotation dictated by the coriolis force; rather, it “inherits” this tendency from the great masses of air whose movement sets the stage for the storms and any associated tornadoes. If the study cited is correct and representative, on occasion the direction of rotation is set by some other factor, perhaps the topography in the area where the tornado forms, for example.

So there you have it. I won’t have as much time every week to write up a post this in-depth, so don’t expect this every Friday, but I’ll do my best.

Reuters news agency recently did a short interview with Those Darlins, Murfreesboro’s own “rough-and-tumble” all-girl alt-country trio. Their debut album is out now on vinyl in your local indie record store, and hit shelves in all other formats on July 7th. I’m proud to see these awesome ladies gaining such national attention. I’m even more proud that they are paving their own path by not signing to a major label. JT Turner and the Thirty Tigers staff have done an amazing job of managing them and timing their album release. They will be celebrating their album release this Saturday at Mercy Lounge with none other than the Black Lips. Via Nashville Cream.

My official DJ Burgers SUMMERMIXXXX 2009 is up for grabs. Download here. Tracklist:

Shoot The Mountain-Islands (Dpaul remix)
Thieves Like Us- Drugs in my Body
Evan Voytas- Getting Higher
Passion Pit- Little Secrets
Kennedy- John and Yoko
VEGA- No Reasons
Spinnerette- Sex Bomb (Adam Freeland remix)
Das Racist- Combination pizza hut/taco bell (Wallpaper remix)
Black Eyed Peas- Boom boom (Chew Fu remix)
Yuksek- Extraball (Breakbot remix)
AutoKratz- Always More (Yuksek remix)
Make girl dance- Baby baby baby
Peaches- Serpentine

Want to be totally creeped out? Go look at these images of children that have been digitally altered to make them look like talking puppets. Yea. CREEPY. Via Kottke.

This HD trailer for the upcoming Ronald Emmerich film 2012 is total eye-candy (please do watch in full screen), but the marketing for this movie really rubs me the wrong way. There is simply too much misinformation and scaremongering out there regarding the Dec. 21st, 2012 myth. I’ve always considered ridiculous disaster movies a sort of “guilty pleasure,” but this one is going a bit too far with their website/viral marketing campaign. Granted, the first thing that shows up when you Google “2012” is the actual Sony Pictures website, but this Institute for Human Continuity website that comes up when you click the middle link is just ridiculous. It’s obvious this website is meant to look as realistic as possible, with the only hint of its relation to the movie being the copyright info at the bottom of the page. And if you happen to recognize Oliver Platt in that “news feed” section. But trust me, there are plenty of extremely gullible people out there who might think this website is for real. Making an entertaining disaster movie is one thing, but intentionally misleading people is another. It’s just sad that a staggering number of Americans actually believe this hype. I’m not a scientist and I don’t have the time to do a full debunking of this hoax on this blog, so here are some good links regarding the 2012 myth:

2012 Hoax- a website dedicated to debunking the 2012 myth.

2012 is a business.

A very long, scientific explanation of why the world won’t end in 2012.

Face it, the world will not end in 2012. It’s huge scam intended to make money off people’s ignorance and gullibility.