Yesterday we took a cab out to Mitad del Mundo — the middle of the world — to stand on each side of the equator in the northern and southern hemispheres. We first went to the line that scientists from the French Academy of Sciences measured in 1738. Charles-Marie de La Comedemine measured out a line that is 240 meters off to the south based on recent GPS measurements. His measurements created the metric system. He also realized that the earth is not perfectly round and that it bulges at the equator. For the “French equatorial line” there is a large monument with a museum inside and we climbed to the top. It was very interesting to be standing in the “middle of the world.” Afterward we went in search of the “real” equatorial line. We walked outside the main tourist area and found a little dirt road which directed us to the Intinan Museum. We took a tour of the museum which was really cool. They showed us real shrunken heads from the Shuar tribe in the Amazon. We learned that the size of your fist would be the size of your shrunken head (Yikes). They said this practice stopped in the 1950s. WHEW!!! Finally, we were able to stand on the real equatorial line. We took pictures and after that we did some experiments. First we poured water down a sink on the equatorial line and then in the northern and southern hemispheres. On the equatorial line the water went straight down. In the southern hemisphere the water spun clockwise and in the northern hemisphere the water spun counter clockwise. This effect is called the “coriolis effect.” The next activity was to balance an egg on a nail on the equatorial line. Our guide was able to balance the egg but no one else in the group was successful. Next, we were shown how you lose strength when standing on the line. The final test was to walk along the line with your eyes closed and your thumbs up (receiving energy from the sun) to see if you would be pulled to the northern or southern hemisphere. I walked along the line completely straight. We also learned that you weigh 1 kilogram less when you are standing on the line. Another interesting thing I learned is that each day (the time it takes the earth to rotate around its axis )is 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds.
Posted by Maren Guy