Thursday, January 27, 2011

Latitude 00.00.00

President and Hermana Sloan of Mision Quito invited us to spend a day touring Quito with one of their friends, a taxista and bishop of one of the wards in Quito. One of the sites we were not to miss was La Mitad del Mundo or Middle of the World, the site of the equator.

In the 1700s a team of scientists from Europe and South America determined the equator by instuments of measurement. Many scientists were from France. It was not until just a few years ago the GPS system was used to find the exact middle of the earth. This museum is actually a working museum where the visitor can see for himself/herself the effects of the forces on either side of the line and at the very center.

The main entrance to the original site is lined with granite statues of the scientists who determined the equator. We are with the driver, the friend of the Sloans.

The monument behind us marks the original line. The world sits atop the monument.

Holding up the world is an exact science according to our driver who posed us well. Poor guy, he did such a good job posing us and taking this picture, a tour group asked him to that for them, several of them. Finally, we were able to draw him away.

The entrance and walk to the monument is the length of a city block--quite dramatic. At this site are tourist shops and restaurants in addition to museums. It is clearly a tourist "trap" but very interesting.

At the museum site of the true equator, our guide performed several experiments with us to demonstrate the forces on the line and on either side. This demonstration shows how man does not have the strength to press his thumbs together. Our guide pulled them apart easily. However, when Dad stood on either side of the equator, the guide could not pull his thumbs apart.

One can balance an egg at the equator because the force is directly downward. The guide balanced the egg easily. It was not so easy for us, but we saw it successfully done. Someone told us after we should have given the egg time for the yolk to settle. Who knows?

Another experience I didn't get a picture of was showed how a basin of water on the equator line flows directly downward. On the south side of the equator the water flows clockwise. On the north side of the equator the water flows out counter clockwise. Or do I have that backward???

When Dad was standing directly at the equator, the guide could force Dad's arms down easily because the forces are so strong at the equator. On either side of the line Dad could hold his own against the strength of the guide.

Here I am trying to walk directly on the line but the forces at the equator pulled me off to the side.

Dad took a couple of steps before the forces pulled him off the line.

This feeling of a pulling force was a bit unsettling for me. I couldn't even put my right foot on the line without falling over. After all this exercise, we were ready for a good lunch at the original site just a few yards away.

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