Friday, November 27, 2015

Or Fiji. Or Canada. Or maybe even Hawaii!

Rick at CADOF says thousands of Muslims have died for your right to be a bigot.

Those Tea Partiers hate Michelle Obama why?

Interesting statistics if true. I need to go check them out....

Sadly, this is not an isolated case:

From Quartz

Donald Trump mocked a reporter's congenital disability at a SC rally.
The picture says it all.

Although some of his supporters have burned their Trump hats, as shown in the link, other articles portray too many of his followers for my taste as being receptive.

And if Carly Fiorina is serious about destroying Planned Parenthood, she should become its CEO!

A word from Betty Bowers

I'll bet they're sorry they did!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksigiving!

Greetings, gentle Dot Calm readers!

Happy Tofurky Day!

Ok...happy Turkey Day, too.

I know a vegan who enjoys teasing meat eaters on holidays by announcing, "You are what you eat."

When they pout at being indirectly called a turkey or a ham, she adds, "What do vegans eat? What does that make me?"

A vegetable!

They all titter, harmony restored.

If Dot Calm were here today, she would be wearing her Navajo Sleeping Beauty turquoise necklace, earrings, and ring from to acknowledge the evil that this country perpetrated and continues to perpetrate on the Native Americans. The set looked something like this:

She bought the set specifically to support our Native Americans, who are still living in third-world conditions right here in the U.S. of A.

If you ever need beautiful silver Navajo or Zuni jewelry, belts, or other accessories for men and women, please support our Native Americans by shopping with I do.

I give thanks today for Dot Calm.

I am grateful for every moment I was allowed to spend with our Brightest Star.

I know that she was in constant pain from the MS, and I know that the disease was making her life harder toward the end by decreasing her function and making it harder and harder for her to move. For her sake, I do not regret her passing. Those of us who knew and loved her miss her terribly, but we are grateful that she is no longer suffering. And we are grateful to have known her at all.

Dot Calm really was "all that"--and a bag of chips.

I was driving home Sunday night, a month to the day after Dot's passing. I was thinking of her, wondering what she would have wanted to blog about that day. From my car window, I saw a shooting star. It caught my eye because it was brighter than anything else in the sky. I could tell from how it moved and ultimately went dark that it was a meteor--not manmade. Maybe the universe sent that ephemeral "brightest star" to commemorate the life and death of Dot Calm, our own beloved Brightest Star.

P.S.--don't forget to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade...Dot Calm's favorite! Here comes Santa Claus! (I don't own a TV, so I am watching it live on

P.P.S.--Conservative Clown Car was considerate enough to post Dot Calm's favorite Thanksgiving video!
No Thanksgiving would be complete without this video of Sarah Palin offering up her famous word salad while turkeys are being slaughtered in the background.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From Yahoo! News: how does Rafael E. "Ted" Cruz, career politician think?

Ted Cruz has always had a master plan. Now it could win him the White House.

Andrew Romano
West Coast Correspondent
November 24, 2015
Over the course of his brief, polarizing career in electoral politics, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been called many names, especially by liberals. “Dirty Syrup Guzzler” (Jon Stewart). “Creature from the Nether Regions” (Cher). “The Most Dangerous Canadian in America” (the Huffington Post).
Yet so far the most indelible description of Cruz has come from a fellow conservative. In 2013, when Cruz decided to protest U.S. drone policy by filibustering the nomination of incoming CIA chief John Brennan, John McCain told reporter Jon Ward — now a senior political correspondent for Yahoo News — that his junior colleague was a “wacko bird.”
The sobriquet stuck. It was emblazoned on T-shirts. It appeared in countless headlines. Cruz himself proudly displays a black WACKO BIRD baseball cap with a picture of Daffy Duck on it in his Senate office.
By using that particular moniker, McCain was, in effect, dismissing Cruz as both flighty and crazy. And for the most part that is exactly how the Texan has been characterized in both the press and the public imagination since he alighted on Washington, D.C., nearly three years ago and immediately set about trolling his fellow Republicans and hijacking the legislative process: as an irresponsible far-right demagogue prone to behave in irrational, counterproductive ways. Cruz’s showy obstructionism suffers from “basic logic problems” and “just doesn’t make sense,” wrote the Atlantic’s Molly Ball in 2013. “Zealot leaders” like Cruz “forget that the key to leadership is essentially getting results by moving agendas ahead,” added Inc. magazine.
Many pundits were skeptical when, in a speech at Virginia’s evangelical Liberty University on March 23 , Cruz became the first Republican to announce he was entering the 2016 presidential race. As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn put it at the time, “The most interesting question about Mr. Cruz’s candidacy is whether he has a very small chance to win or no chance at all.”
But suddenly it seems that Cruz is running what even Dan Pfeiffer, a former top aide to President Obama, concedes is “the best campaign on the other side.” He has raised more money than any Republican other than Jeb Bush and more non-PAC money than any other Republican, period; he also has more cash on hand than any of his GOP rivals. He was the first candidate to recruit chairmen in all 171 counties in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. He is only candidate who for months has been consistently calling and sending surrogates to all five U.S. territories — Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands — in order to secure extra delegates who could prove decisive down the road. (More on that later.) He is doing more than any other Republican to prepare for the so-called “SEC primary,” a new Southern voting blitz set to take place on March 1; he has already enlisted more than 100 countywide campaign directors and 1,500 volunteers in Georgia alone. And from the start he has conspicuously refrained from criticizing frontrunner Donald Trump, choosing instead to position himself as Trump’s heir apparent, should the bombastic real estate mogul falter or fade, which Cruz has publicly predicted will happen.
Meanwhile, thanks to a few solid debate performances and a lot of good luck — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropping out, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul failing to catch fire with libertarians — Cruz is neck-and-neck with Marco Rubio for third place in the national polls and overtaking Ben Carson for second place in Iowa (where a new Quinnipiac survey shows that Cruz has doubled his support over the last four weeks). Observers now believe he has a clear shot at consolidating the conservative vote. As a result, the conventional wisdom has shifted. Perhaps when it comes to campaigning for president, Ted Cruz isn’t a wacko bird after all, the new thinking goes. In fact, it seems like he knows exactly what he’s doing.
But here’s the thing: Ted Cruz has always been more of a mastermind than a wacko bird.
Every politician plans, plots or schemes (depending on how pejorative you want to be about it); that’s part of the job. But not every politician is a prodigy at it.
Ted Cruz is. Since adolescence, Cruz has invested the vast majority of his time, energy and boundless ambition in endeavors that require and reward long-term strategic thinking — aka the fine art of making a plan and sticking to it. He honed his skills as a champion debater at Princeton University. He perfected them as one of the most effective appellate lawyers in the country. He relied on them during his first long-shot race in Texas. And now he is deploying them in the national arena as a senatorial troublemaker and presidential candidate. With the possible exception of Frank Underwood, the fictional star of Netflix’s House of Cards, there may be no shrewder, more calculating figure in American politics than Cruz — and so far, nearly all his calculations have paid off.
“Ted has a remarkable talent for strategic thinking,” says Charles Cooper, co-partner of the D.C. firm where Cruz first practiced law. “He understands that the things you say and do today can lay the groundwork for the things you want to accomplish in the next breath, a year from now or beyond. That’s crucial in both law and politics.”
A look back at Cruz’s life as a strategic phenom shows how he plotted his way to his current perch as a potential president — and hints at what his next move might be.
It also demonstrates how he can be defeated.
Ted Cruz as a baby with his father, from a campaign ad.
Rafael Edward Cruz was 17 years old when he arrived at Princeton University. He had already abandoned his family nickname “Felito” in favor of the more American-sounding “Ted.” He had already read Adam Smith, free-marketer Milton Friedman and libertarian hero Ludwig von Mises. He had already spent hundreds of hours studying the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and other founding documents at Houston’s Free Enterprise Institute, where his father had signed him up for classes four years earlier. And he was already a die-hard Republican.
“We all grow more con­ser­vat­ive as we age,” a fellow student remembers Cruz saying at the time. “Why wait to grow old when you can be con­ser­vat­ive now?”
In fact, Cruz — who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father — was so driven that by the time he started college he had already looked into whether he would be allowed to serve as president someday.
“He knew what he wanted,” Cruz’s Princeton friend Michael Lubetzky told the Washington Post. “We talked a lot about the ‘natural born’ clause in the Constitution. Ted said when he was a kid, he’d checked to see if he’d be eligible.”
Cruz tried to launch his political career at Princeton. Over the course of four years, he campaigned for student government, class president and debate-panel president, among other offices. He almost always lost. The problem, according to Cruz’s classmates, was simple, and not solved by strategic thinking: Many of his peers found him unlikable. Among the words they have used to describe the collegiate Ted Cruz in the decades since: “abrasive,” “intense,” “strident,” “crank,” “arrogant” — even “creepy.”
Editor's note: I agree with all of those, but I'd definitely go with "creepy."
In the most basic sense, democracy is a popularity contest. But while most politicians learn to be likable in order to get elected, Cruz has shown from an early age that he’s unwilling — or perhaps just unable — to conceal the qualities that his colleagues tend to camouflage when seeking votes: the narcissism, the scheming, the blatant lust for power. Consider how Cruz is cozying up to Trump (and, to lesser degree, Carson) while at the same time all but admitting that the only reason he’s doing it is to siphon off supporters when the frontrunners inevitably go belly-up. It’s almost as if he has decided that he’s so skilled at outmaneuvering the competition that his maneuvering itself should be a selling point—a more important qualification than whether or not he’s likable.
Outside the classroom, Cruz achieved his greatest success at Princeton as a member of the Whig-Cliosophic Society, the school’s home for debate; he joined as a freshman, spent nearly every weekend on the road with the team and quickly became the number one collegiate debater in the nation.
While Cruz was legendary for his ability distill an argument to its simplest point, what he said was often secondary to how he said it. Often this meant bedeviling his opponents, and beguiling the student judges, with an array of tactical tricks developed during the late-night postgame recaps that Cruz forced his debating partner to participate in. “If we were fighting against us, what would we have done to win?” Cruz would ask. “What could we have done to get more points?”
What truly distinguished Cruz, though, was his knack for strategy.
“It’s chess to him,” says Sacha Zimmerman, a Columbia debater who knew Cruz from the circuit.
“He’s a machine. He sees all these options — plan Bs and Cs. ‘If this move happens, then this move happens.’”
Instead of responding to his opponents’ arguments, Zimmerman explains, Cruz would simply “reframe the whole debate.”
“Cruz thought of angles ahead of time and found ways make them work for whatever the theme of the debate was,” she says. “Most of us did not do that. We’d show up and find out that we were supposed to be talking about ‘ideas of freedom’ or whatever, and in our 10 minutes of prep time we’d come up with what we wanted to say. But Cruz would already have his approach thoroughly mapped out, and he would have already thought through every alternate argument too. It was huge advantage.”
Cruz, flanked by Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, during last month’s presidential debate in Boulder, Colo. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
To see Cruz execute his signature maneuver, rewatch last month’s CNBC debate in Boulder, Colo. At one point, moderator Carl Quintanilla asks Cruz whether his opposition to the recent bipartisan budget deal shows that he is “not the kind of problem solver American voters want.” In response, Cruz doesn’t just decline to answer; instead he transforms Quintanilla’s rather docile question into damning proof of the mainstream media’s alleged bias against Republicans.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz thunders. “This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?”

The audience roars. According to Frank Luntz, who has been focus-grouping presidential debates for more than 15 years, Cruz’s response received a 98 out of 100, the most favorable rating ever recorded.
Yet on second viewing, what’s striking about Cruz’s pivot is how premeditated it sounds. Cruz’s tell is the way he was able to rattle off, with remarkable accuracy, the most unflattering questions his rivals had already been asked. It seems clear that Cruz arrived in Boulder planning to spend the first part of the debate making a mental list of every “biased” query for later use. By the time Quintanilla got around to him, he was ready to strike.
Cruz continued to strategize at Harvard Law. His byline — or, rather, bylines — were telling. When he wrote for the Harvard Latino Law Review, a journal that he co-founded, Cruz signed his articles “Rafael E. Cruz.” Elsewhere, such as in the conservative Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, “R. Ted Cruz” was his moniker of choice. Conversations with Cruz’s fellow law students, especially those who served with him on the prestigious Harvard Law Review, suggest that Cruz wasn’t always the most reliable contributor; he was widely seen as being too busy volunteering as a research assistant for various influential professors – the kind who could later write him recommendation letters – to bother with less urgent matters.  
Cruz’s main objective in Cambridge was clear: He wanted to win a clerkship with Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. (“From day one,” his study partner has recalled, “that was his tangible, near-term goal.”) Everyone knew that Rehnquist, a devoted tennis player, preferred to hire clerks who knew their way around the court. But Cruz had barely ever picked up a racket.
“Would you be willing to play tennis with me and my other clerks?” Rehnquist asked Cruz when they met for a job interview.
“I should tell you I’m not very good,” Cruz claims to have replied.
What Cruz doesn’t mention — and what several classmates remember him being “very open” about at the time — is that he had already described himself as a tennis player on his application for the clerkship.
Either way, Cruz got the job. To prepare, he spent the next several months cramming with a tennis coach. But the lessons didn’t seem to help: Cruz still bombed in his first doubles match with Rehnquist, whose team won in straight sets — 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.
In 1998, Cruz moved on to a boutique Washington, D.C., firm then known as Cooper & Carvin; he was the first associate hired. “Ted had a golden résumé,” says Mike Carvin today. (Carvin, who has been called “the hard right’s best advocate,” is the lawyer who earlier this year argued against Obamacare before the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell.) “We figured he would be a very good candidate to succeed in private practice as well.” Cruz’s plotting had paid off yet again.
From the beginning, Cruz proved particularly adept at the kind of law that he would go on to practice for the next decade: appellate litigation. This is key to understanding Cruz. As legal journalist Jeffrey Toobin wrote last year in the New Yorker, “Trial lawyers, civil or criminal, are often brought into cases when there are compromises to be made; much of their work winds up involving settlements or plea bargains. But appellate litigators, like Cruz, generally appear after the time for truce has passed. Their job is to make their best case and let the chips fall where they may.”
For Toobin, Cruz’s specific brand of legal expertise explains “the kind of politician Cruz has become — one who came to Washington not to make a deal but to make a point.”
That’s undoubtedly true. But there’s another difference between trial lawyers and appellate litigators that’s just as important in explaining Cruz. Trial lawyers argue over facts: Was the traffic light green or red? Appellate litigators, meanwhile, argue over the law itself — what it says, what it means, how it applies to the case at hand. To be a good appellate lawyer — and Cruz, according to James Ho, his successor as Texas solicitor general, is “easily the best appellate lawyer in the state of Texas and truly one of the best appellate lawyers in the nation” — knowing the rules very, very well is essential. But you also have to know how to make them work in your favor.
At Cooper & Carvin, the biggest test of Cruz’s burgeoning talent for appellate law was a case involving two sitting U.S. congressmen: Boehner v. McDermott. A Florida couple had used a police scanner to eavesdrop on Rep. John Boehner of Ohio discussing House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s ongoing ethics troubles during a conference call with Gingrich and other Republican leaders. The couple then gave an audiotape of the call to Democratic Rep. John McDermott, chair of the committee investigating Gingrich, and he, in turn, gave it to various newspapers. Boehner sued. Initially, a district court ruled that McDermott had not broken the law, arguing that even though someone else had recorded the call illegally, McDermott— the middleman — was protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment because the conversation on the tape was a matter of public concern. 
Boehner appealed, and that’s where the 28-year-old Cruz came in. As “the key architect of our legal strategy,” according to Carvin, Cruz reframed the whole debate, urging his bosses to question whether leaking a tape to a newspaper even qualified as speech in the first place. This time, the court sided with Boehner. According to its ruling, McDermott had merely “caused a copy of the tape” to be given to the press — meaning that while his behavior may have conveyed a message, it was essentially conduct and therefore not protected by the First Amendment.
As effective as Cruz was at Cooper & Carvin, however, his superiors could already sense that he was mulling his next move. “It was clear,” Cooper says. “He was very animated about public policy. He was very interested in politics himself. But the thing that was unusual about Ted wasn’t his interest. It was his real potential talent as a politician.”
More than a decade before he would run for office himself, Cruz joined George W. Bush’s presidential campaign as a domestic policy adviser. When the election devolved into a chaotic clash over Florida’s hanging chads, Cruz, who has described himself as “the only practicing constitutional litigator” on staff, was tapped to facilitate communication and maintain consistency across all seven of Bush’s legal teams. Again Cruz was put in a key strategic position — and again he excelled. “It was incredibly fast-paced and very difficult,” says Carvin, who, recruited by his former employee, wound up representing Bush before the Florida Supreme Court. “And Ted was always analyzing the various challenges in a very sophisticated, savvy way.”
Yet Cruz’s savviness had its limits. His strategic thinking may have been helpful to Bush in court, but after hours, Cruz couldn’t seem to turn it off. According to a report in GQ, Cruz so frequently sent “mundane work emails in the middle of the night” that his colleagues began to suspect him of “writing them ahead of time and programming his computer to send while he was asleep” in order to look like he’d been working around the clock. He would also issue regular updates on his accomplishments that one recipient likened to “the cards people send about their families at Christmas, except Ted’s were only about him and were more frequent.” After the election, many of Cruz’s campaign colleagues were rewarded with plum White House jobs, and Cruz was expecting the same. But once again his machinations had rubbed too many people the wrong way. He was exiled to the Justice Department and later the Federal Trade Commission instead.
Then Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott arrive outside federal court in Austin, Texas, in 2006 to argue a case involving congressional redistricting. (Photo: Harry Cabluck/AP)
It wasn’t long, however, before Cruz would get another chance to put his strategic skills to use.
Down in Texas, newly elected Attorney General Greg Abbott had resolved to build the most aggressive AG operation in the country — and in Cruz, whom he appointed solicitor general in 2002, Abbott found the perfect lieutenant. The pair scoured the country for fights brewing between the states and Washington, D.C., then inserted Texas into the proceedings whenever possible. In doing so, Cruz and Abbott were practicing a time-honored tradition; AGs have long targeted cases that can help them advance their own philosophical and electoral interests. Cruz and Abbott were just being particularly bold about it.
Cruz had found his calling. As solicitor general, he wound up arguing nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, more than any practicing lawyer in Texas and any current member of Congress. He won five and lost four. But while Cruz’s losses were relatively minor, his victories were momentous. Cruz’s successor, James Ho, who refers to the senator as his “mentor,” points to two in particular as examples of Cruz’s strategic genius.
The first is a case that Cruz has made a central part of his stump speech ever since he started running for the Senate in 2011: Medellín v. Texas. The facts were never in dispute. Jose Medellín, a Mexican citizen, was on death row for the rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston; he had confessed to the crime immediately after his arrest. But because U.S. authorities had failed to inform Medellín and 50 other similarly situated Mexican nationals of their right to seek legal assistance from the Mexican government, the judicial arm of the United Nations was now calling for their cases to be reopened — and the Bush administration was agreeing.
Medellín looked unwinnable. “From a strategic standpoint, on the other side were literally the president of the United States, the International Court of Justice and numerous foreign countries,” says Ho. “That’s quite a formidable wall of opposition.”
But Cruz, as always, had a plan. He would, yet again, reframe the whole debate. “In both law and politics, I think the essential battle is the meta-battle of framing the narrative,” Cruz has explained. “The other side’s narrative in Medellín was very simple and easy to understand. ‘Can the state of Texas flout U.S. treaty obligations, international law, the president of the United States and the world? … When Justice Kennedy comes home and he tells his grandson, ‘This case is about whether a state can ignore U.S. treaty obligations,’ we lose. So I spent a lot of time thinking about, What’s a different narrative to explain this case?”
Eventually Cruz figured it out. Medellín v. Texas would no longer be a fight between Texas and the United States; instead it would be a fight between the White House and Congress. Before the court, Cruz argued that if President Bush wanted to order Texas to reopen the case, he would need the specific authorization of Congress; without it, the president was violating the separation of powers. Six justices concurred with Cruz — including one liberal, John Paul Stevens, to the surprise of many observers. Cruz won the case.
Cruz addresses the press outside the Supreme Court after defending the redistricting of Texas in 2006. (Photo: Kevin Clark/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Cruz’s other standout Supreme Court performance wasn’t as high-profile as Medellín. But according to Ho, Cruz still helped to shape the winning strategy from behind the scenes. When a homeless Texan sought to have a 10 Commandments monument removed from the grounds of the Texas State Capitol in Van Orden v. Perry, Cruz prepared a brief that made many of the usual conservative arguments about why the monument in question did not violate the separation of church and state. But at least one of Cruz’s arguments was novel: that monuments like Texas’ are innately pluralistic because they aren’t derecognizing one thing in order to recognize something else.
“This is simply not a context in which the State is reasonably understood to be taking sides,” Cruz wrote. “The many monuments commemorating veterans do not communicate disapproval of pacifists; the Tribute to Children does not reflect negatively on older Texans; the Hiker and horse-riding Cowboy monuments send no message concerning motorized transport; and the Volunteer Firemen monument reflects no official disapproval of those who pursue firefighting as a paid profession.”
The Court again sided with Cruz. In fact, the Texan’s argument, delivered before the court by Abbott, was so convincing that it swayed even Stephen Breyer, a liberal justice who simultaneously came to the opposite conclusion in another, nearly identical 10 Commandments case.
“Ted has this powerful combination,” Ho says. “He’s able to fight for his vision of the Constitution and to fight for his principles. But he’s able to do so with the kind of rhetoric and the style of argumentation that convinces people who would normally disagree with him.”
Maybe so. But while Cruz clearly holds strong, sincere views on the original intent of the Framers and the power of free-market economics, winning — the argument, the debate, the case, the election — seems to be at least as important to him.
After leaving the Texas attorney general’s office in 2008, for example, Cruz joined the Houston office of the international law firm Morgan Lewis, where as a partner he earned $1.2 million in 2009 and $1.7 million in 2010. Few of Cruz’s cases at Morgan Lewis had anything to do with principle; some even appeared to contradict his oft-stated concern for everyday Americans struggling to get ahead in a globalized, too-big-to-fail economy. He served as counsel for drug manufacturer Pfizer in a lawsuit brought by a group of public hospitals and community health centers. He represented a student-loan company challenging the dismissal of a bankrupt student’s debt. He did the same for an insurance company attempting to avoid paying a plaintiff’s legal bills. And in November 2010, when Chinese tire manufacturer Shandong Linglong appealed a $26 million jury verdict awarded to a Florida businessman who alleged that the company had been using stolen blueprints to duplicate his designs, Cruz sided with the Chinese company over the American entrepreneur.
“In both public service and private practice, I was fortunate to enjoy multiple litigation victories in cases where the outside world deemed the odds all but insurmountable,” Cruz would later explain. “And I think the way to do so is to focus very pragmatically on how to win the case.”
That is Cruz in a nutshell: principled about where he ultimately wants to go, but pragmatic about how he gets there. How is he reframing the debate? How is he using the rules to his advantage? At the end of the day, Cruz has always been that restless 19-year-old up late in his dorm room trying to calculate what he could “have done to get more points.” And he probably always will be.
Editor's note: in this whole very long, very interesting article, they never mention once how much Ted loves Jesus. Could it be, gawd forbid, that he loves himself more?

And now from the University of New South Wales School of Physics in Sydney, Australia ...some shit scientists made up

Click here for the original article, complete with animations and links for further information.

The Foucault pendulum

The Foucault pendulum: a simple explanation, some history about the ideas of inertial frames, some implications, correction of a few common misunderstandings and finally a detailed analysis of the motion.

Does The Earth Move For You Too?

The stars appear to move in circles about a line through the poles of the earth. An ancient explanation of this (probably predating classical Greece) is that the stars are attached to a sphere which rotates about the earth. Aristarchus of Samos (third century BC) explained the apparent motion of the stars and planets by proposing that the earth turns on its own axis and also travels around the sun. Hipparchus (second century BC) and Ptolemy (second century AD) rejected this view for two reasons. First, one cannot feel the rotation of the earth. Second, one cannot (without powerful telescopes) see annual changes in the relative position of the stars. The earth-centred view dominated European science until the seventeenth century.

Whether or not the earth moves used to be an important question for Christians, as well as cosmologists. Giordano Bruno taught that the earth moved. He held a range of heretical views and was charged by the Holy Inquisition in Venice. He was sentenced by Pope Clement VIII and was burned alive, with his tongue gagged, in 1600. Galileo also taught that the Earth moved. He was charged with the same heresy in 1633 but he was spared on condition that he renounced his views. (The Vatican has since changed its position: in 1992 Pope John Paul II officially expressed regret at the church's treatment of Galileo.)

Jean-Bernard-Leon FoucaultThe observation of Hipparchus and Ptolemy that one cannot feel the rotation of the earth is correct. However, the rate of rotation required for the heliocentric picture (0.0007 revolutions per minute) is so slow that one would not expect to feel it. How can one measure such a slow rotation? In 1851, Jean-Bernard-Leon Foucault suspended a 67 metre, 28 kilogram pendulum from the dome of the Pantheon in Paris. The plane of its motion, with respect to the earth, rotated slowly clockwise. This motion is most easily explained if the earth turns.
The Foucault Pendulum at the University of New South Wales

(animations require flash 8 plugin)

The pendulum ball (above, left) has just been released from in front of the camera position. The close-up (middle) shows a fine cable under the handrail of the stairs. Behind this is a line on the wall. Together they define a reference plane in the North-South direction.

One hour later, the amplitude of the swing has diminished, and the plane has precessed about 9 degrees in the anti-clockwise direction (Sydney is in the Southern hemisphere*). We clearly see the pendulum crossing the reference plane.


Why Does The Orbit Of Foucault's Pendulum Precess?

Suppose* someone put a pendulum above the South Pole and sets it swinging in a simple arc. To someone directly above the Pole and not turning with the earth, the pendulum would seem to trace repeatedly an arc in the same plane while the earth rotated slowly clockwise below it. To someone on the earth, however, the earth seems to be stationary, and the plane of the pendulum's motion would seem to move slowly anticlockwise, viewed from above. We say that the pendulum's motion precesses. The earth turns on its axis every 23.93 hours, so to the terrestrial observer at the pole, the plane of the pendulum seems to precess through 360 degrees in that time.        

* When this paragraph was written, it was hypothetical. Town et al have since assembled and reported the motion of a pendulum at the South Pole.
The situation is more complicated for other latitudes. On the equator, the pendulum would not precess at all - its precession period is infinite. At intermediate latitudes the period has intermediate values. One can calculate that the precession period for an ideal pendulum and support system is 23.93 hours divided by the sine of the latitude (see details). For example, at Sydney's latitude of 34 degrees S, the period is about 43 hours, a precession rate of about one degree every seven minutes.

The same effect that causes a pendulum to appear to veer slightly to the left (in the Southern hemisphere) is also responsible for the apparent motion of the major ocean currents. In the Southern hemisphere these are anticlockwise (they appear to turn to the left) and conversely in the Northern hemisphere.

One might choose to say that the earth was stationary but that a mysterious force makes moving objects turn. Using Newton's laws and the known rotation rate of the earth, one can calculate the size of these "forces", which are called Coriolis forces. Because it is so convenient to measure motion with respect to the surface of the earth, these forces are often used in calculation.

The animation below shows a pendulum swinging above the South pole. At left is the view from a position high above the equator at midday on the equinox---an observer near the sun would see this. The view at right is the view from directly below the South pole. Note how the path, as seen from the Earth, curves always to the left. (To make the details easy to see, the pendulum is depicted as very large and very slow. the amplitude of its motion was chosen equal to the radius of the Earth, and its period 8 hours: these values have no special significance. The animation makes some approximations about the motion.


Cosmological Questions

What does non-rotating mean? What is the frame of reference in which centrifugal and Coriolis forces vanish, the frame where Newton's laws work? Observationally, we find that this Newtonian or inertial frame is one in which the distant galaxies are not rotating. But if we removed everything in the universe except the earth, how would we know if the earth were turning or not? How would the pendulum know whether to precess or not? Or, to put the question formally, is it just a coincidence that the frame in which the distant galaxies do not rotate is an inertial frame? Ernst Mach thought not, and speculated that the distant stars must somehow affect inertia (Mach's Principle), but no-one has yet come up with a successful and elegant theory. The recent cosmological hypothesis of the inflationary universe offers hope of a different resolution: if the universe expanded exceedingly rapidly in its early phase, any initial rotation will have slowed down correspondingly and so the distant objects have almost no rotation. For more about inertial frames, see our Relativity Site.


What of Ptolemy's objection?

So, if we are whizzing around the earth's axis, and around the sun. why don't we feel it? We do not feel uniform motion: we feel forces, and they are more closely associated with acceleration than with motion. (See An introduction to Galilean and Newtonian mechanics.) If the sea is smooth and the ship's motion also smooth, you may not even notice that it is moving, though you will notice the waves if present. The waves accelerate the ship up and down, so it exerts variable forces on your feet. They accelerate you, and you feel the variable forces doing that.

The acceleration due to the Earth's rotation, at Sydney's latitude, is 28 mm.s−2. This requires a force that is 0.3% of your weight, and it doesn't vary quickly. From this calculation, you wouldn't expect to feel the Earth rotating. Due to its orbit around the sun, the acceleration is 7 mm.s−2. The speeds may be high, but the accelerations are trivial. In motion, you don't feel speed, you feel the forces associated with acceleration. (See Physclips' section on circular motion for the details of these calculations.)


A Peculiar Domestic Question

Does the rotation of the earth affect the way in which water runs down the plug hole when you empty the bath? Some people say that the water goes down clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the Northern hemisphere. Such people have probably never, or very rarely, looked. In some bathtubs (basins, toilets etc) and under some conditions, the water runs out clockwise, in others it runs out anticlockwise. There is no correlation with the hemisphere. Other effects may lead to the direction of draining. For instance, some basins have separate cold and hot water taps that are positioned symmetrically left and right. If you fill the basin using the left hand tap, you set up a rotation in one direction, and this will determine the direction in which it drains. Using the other tap reverses the direction. Many basins and baths are sufficiently symmetrical that it is possible, with some care, to have the water drain with no observable rotation.


Ocean currents and winds

The rotation of the Earth does, however, account for the direction of the major circulations of air and wind on the planet. A non-mathematical discussion of the
coriolis forces that give rise to these currents.


The 'plane' of the pendulum's swing is not fixed in space

It is worthwhile correcting a common misunderstanding about Foucault's Pendulum. It is sometimes said (perhaps poetically) that the pendulum swings in a plane fixed with respect to the distant stars while the Earth rotates beneath it. This is true at the poles. (It is also true for a pendulum swinging East-West at the equator.) At all other latitudes, however, it is not true. At all other latitudes, the plane of the pendulum's motion rotates with respect to an inertial frame.

It is easy to deal with this misunderstanding. Consider a pendulum at the equator, swinging in a North South plane. It's obvious from symmetry that the plane of this pendulum doesn't rotate with respect to the earth and that, relative to an inertial frame, it rotates once every 24 hours.

description Alternatively, consider the motion of a point on the earth at a place that is neither at the poles or the equator. During a day, a vertical line at that place traces out a cone, as shown in the sketch at right. (If the earth were not turning, the half angle of the cone would be 90° minus the latitude.) During each cycle of the pendulum, when it reaches its lowest point its supporting wire passes very close to the vertical. So, at each lowest point of the pendulum, its wire is a different line in this cone. This cone is not a plane, so those lines do not all lie in the same plane!

For yet another argument, consider the motion of the pendulum after one rotation of the earth. With respect to the earth, the period of precession of the pendulum is 23.9 hours divided by the sine of the latitude. For most latitudes, this is considerably longer than a day. So, after the earth has turned once, the pendulum has not returned to its original plane with respect to the earth. For example, our pendulum in Sydney precesses at a rate of one degree every seven minutes, or one complete circle in 43 hours.

(I apologise for emphasising this rather obvious point. I only do so because a correspondent has pointed out to me that many web pages about the Foucault pendulum – and even, allegedly, a few old text books! – make the mistake of stating that the pendulum swings in a fixed plane while the earth rotates beneath it.)

So, what is the path of motion of the pendulum? Remember that the point of suspension of the pendulum is accelerating around Earth's axis. So the forces acting on the pendulum are a little complicated, and to describe its motion requires some mathematics. (Indeed, even talking of a 'plane' of motion on a short time scale is an approximation because even in half a cycle the supporting wire actually sweeps out a very slightly curved surface.)


Our Foucault Pendulum

The Foucault Pendulum at the School of Physics of The University of New South Wales is a "hands-on" version. There is no electromagnetic drive but, because of its size once it is started it will swing for several hours. Visitors are invited to start it swinging in a plane that is accurately defined by a fixed vertical wire and a vertical line on the wall.
(See the animation above) The pendulum takes seven minutes to precess one degree, but even smaller angles than this can be seen by sighting along the reference plane.


The Motion of Foucault's Pendulum

For more information about the motion of the Foucault pendulum see:            

Most Foucault's pendulums are in the Northern hemisphere, from where the Earth appears to turn counterclockwise, or the plane of the pendulum appears to precess clockwise. I recently visited the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, where two Americans, Mike and Hilary, took this film clip. You'll also see a guide explaining the pendulum – in sign – using a small model.



Further Information

Animations by George Hatsidimitris and Zara Pamboukhtchian