14 April 2011

Whirlpools - not the appliances

Japan is still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake that started a catastrophic tsunami. But one thing that caught my eye was the Uzumaki whirlpool that formed off the coast of Japan. Now obsessed with whirlpools - and how cool and scary they are, I've been YouTubing videos and looking up information.

Here's what I learned:

1. There are several "We're all gonna die!" groups that think Japan is going to sink or that the end of the world is near. Whatever.

2. A whirlpool is a swirling body of water usually produced by ocean tides - like the one around Japan.

3. The vast majority of whirlpools are not very powerful. This makes me happy because whirlpools are quite scary if you think about it. What I'm interested in is... where is the water going? The naturally forming whirlpools the question remains but there are a lot of man-made vortexes. These usually happen when a lake or pond is drained into another area at a very fast speed.

4. The scary (or more powerful) whirlpools are more properly termed maelstroms. But my favorite mythbusters determined that a whirlpool couldn't suck in a ship but then they tested if it could suck in a person?

5. And vortex is the proper term for any whirlpool that has a downdraft.