Houston, I have a problem for you…

well-timed2c

Standing on the Equator, compared to on the North Pole

About eight years ago I spent some time thinking about things, stuff like the earth moving around the sun. Don’t ask why, but it soon occurred to me that the earth could just as easily spin on its axis in a more or less fixed position, like a spinning top. Assuming that the sun is in a relatively fixed position, then this spinning top made as much sense as an annual ellipse around the sun. Oddly, it is simpler I suppose . . . less work?

Then there’s the other question, “Does the earth rotate at all?” I think about this stuff while I wonder about that other stuff . . . gravity. It struck me how remarkable it is that while a person stands in one place on the equator, they are moving at 1,670 km per hour. At the same time, someone standing on the exact north pole would basically be moving at .85 meters in a 24-hour day. That would be someone like me, with a shoe that measures 27 cm in length, so by standing there, the back of my shoes would move in one circular rotation in 24 hours, or about 0.85 meters, or about 3.39 centimeters per hour.

What’s really amazing, and curious, is how both people, and at the same time, would have the perception of standing still. I still wonder whether there is some kind of subtle perceptual difference between the two locations, even though I know that I’ll never really know the answer.

Standing in the airport, Winnipeg compared to Vancouver

For whatever reason, none that I know of, something odd occurred to me last night, so I did a little research this morning. This concerns flight times, flight patterns and such. For convenience I chose two cities to study. One is my hometown of Winnipeg and the other is Vancouver, B.C. – if you were to look at a map of Canada, you would see that both are basically very close to the 49th parallel.

There is a two-hour time difference between the two cities; Vancouver is two hours earlier than Winnipeg. Today the sun rose at 5:12 in Vancouver and will set at 9:09 tonight. In Winnipeg the sun rose at 5:28 and will set at 9:28 tonight. The difference in sunlight between the two cities is 3 minutes out of 1,440 minutes in a day.

I can get from B to A, but how do I ever get from A to B?

The distance between Winnipeg and Vancouver is about 1,865 kilometers, by air. Winnipeg’s location must be kind of “in the same spot” during its sunrise, the same spot as Vancouver at its sunrise. Put another way, if earth is rotating, then Winnipeg must “travel” 1,865 kilometers in 2 hours and 16 minutes, or moving at a speed of about 823 km/ hour.

So how do the airplane flights come in to play? First of all, apparently the flight pattern is basically right along the arc of the 49th parallel, so it’s very much a direct flight. Since the plane is following such a direct path, and if the earth is rotating at a speed of 823 km an hour between the two cities, shouldn’t it be a lot quicker to get to Vancouver from Winnipeg than getting to Winnipeg from Vancouver?

Apparently the planes fly at 500 km/ hour in both directions, and the flight times are 2 hours and 55 minutes between the two cities, regardless of the departing city. So what am I missing? I mean, if you’re miles up in the air, travelling at 500 km/ hour, and below you, your destination is travelling in the same direction as you, but at 823 km/ hr, how do you ever get there, never mind getting there in just under 3 hours? I really have no problem being wrong about something here, so if I’m missing something simple, silly me . . . and if so, what is it?

http://www.airmilescalculator.com/distance/yvr-to-ywg/

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2 thoughts on “Houston, I have a problem for you…

  1. Lawrence Grodecki Post author

    Sorry about that Christy…once you get past the numbers, the logic is pretty simple. Put another way, if you leave Winnipeg and head toward Vancouver at 500 km/ hr, then you should be around the mountains in 3 hours . . . the ones around Thunder Bay though! 🙂

    Reply

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