Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 33: May-Jun 1984

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Falling Masses Swerve South

In 1901, Florian Cajori had a paper published in Science with the title: "The Unexplained Southerly Deviation of Falling Bodies." Cajori reviewed the pertinent measurements that had been made prior to 1901 on falling bodies, emphasizing that the anomaly described in the title of his paper truly existed.

In a recent letter to the American Journal of Physics, A.P. French brings the record up to date. (It should be pointed out here that a slight easterly deflection of falling bodies is predicted, but that a southerly deflection should be negligible, although not zero.) In the post-1901 experiments, small southerly and northerly deflections have been detected. These should not occur for an ideal rotating sphere -- which the earth isn't. French ends his brief review by stating that the earth's gravitational field is now known well enough so that further experiments with falling objects might once-and-for-all determine the nature (and reality) of the delightful anomaly.

(French, A.P., "The Deflection of Falling Objects," American Journal of Physics, 52:199, 1984.)

From Science Frontiers #33, MAY-JUN 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987