As many of you know, I recently spent 2 weeks in Peru and Ecuador seeing the sites and working on content for our new travel site, MunchkinTravel.com. We took our 4 year old with us and he had the time of his life. This is the second in a series of blog entries detailing some of the technology I saw on the trip.
Ever since I saw my first GPS I’ve had an strange desire to go to geographically significant places. Last year we took a road trip to Bad Water, Nevada in Death Valley National Park which is the lowest place in the western hemisphere at -282 feet below sea level. This year we went to the equator near Quito, Ecuador.
First thing I found is that their are two "equator places" in Ecuador. The first is Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo or Middle of the World City. This is the bigger and more commercial place to see the Equator. This traditional site was based on work of 2 french geographers during the 1700s . Interestingly enough, this is not the true location of the equator. It’s actually 240 meters to the north at what is called the Intiñan Solar Museum.
They have a number of different sun dials which show you how the sun spends half of the year in the northern sky and the other half in the southern sky. No trip to the equator would be complete without trying to balance an egg on the head of a nail. Which I have to admit was pretty easy.
One of the most mind bending demonstrations was of the Coriolis effect. This is the force that supposedly causes drains to flow in opposite directions depending if your in the northern or southern hemisphere. To demonstrate this behavior our guide took a mobile sink filled with water, pulled the plug, and tossed in some leaves to show the direction the drain was flowing. He did this 3 times: once on the equator (no drain rotation), once on the South side (clockwise), and finally once on the North side (counter-clockwise). Some say it’s a trick. Here’s the video for you to decide.
One thing was bothering me at both of these sites. My Magellan Explorist 600 GPS wasn’t reading all zeros for Latitude. So I started walking north, through the Intiñan Solar Museum grounds, out through the parking lot, and finally out on to a busy road. And wouldn’t you know it, right on the far white line the counter hit zero. So dodging big trunks and heavy traffic, I got my picture to prove that I had been to the Equator!