Coriolis Force and Noninertial Effects

David H. McIntyre
Department of Physics
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331

The animations below illustrate some basic features of motion as viewed from a noninertial frame.
All the animations are as seen from the inertial frame, but show the path seen by the rotating observer as well.
The figure numbers refer to the corresponding figures in an article published in the December 2000 issue of the
American Journal of Physics (Am. J. Phys. 68, 1097-1105 (2000)). All animations were made using Mathematica.



Fig. 2
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A hockey puck sliding on a frictionless turntable.

Terrestrial Ice Hockey

A hockey puck slides without friction on a rotating spherical earth.

North Pole
Fig. 1
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The classic example of the Coriolis effect on the earth is a missile launched from the North Pole.

Fig. 3(a)
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The curvilinear correction is illustrated by a hockey puck launched east or west on a stationary earth. We have called this the curvilinear correction since it arises from the inherent curvilinear nature of a great circle on a sphere and the mismatch between the great circle and the supposedly straight lines used in a latitude-longitude coordinate sytem.

Fig. 3(b)
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The centrifugal deflection is demonstrated by a hockey puck released from rest with respect to the rotating earth.

Fig. 3(c)
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A hockey puck launched to the east illustrates the curvilinear correction and the centrifugal and Coriolis deflections.

Fig. 3(d)
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A hockey puck launched to the north has centrifugal and Coriolis deflections, but no curvilinear correction.

Fig. 9
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A hockey puck that is launched from Vancouver on a northeasterly trajectory that would take it to London on a stationary earth is deflected by the centrifugal and Coriolis forces.

Fig. 4(b)
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A hockey puck launched to the west at almost the speed of the earth spirals away from the pole.

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