Another Missed Opportunity

As I said elsewhere, our world could be a lot more wonderful and remarkable if people had a decent science education. Here’s another simple example of what I mean….

Compass Rose Water Fountain

This is a water fountain in Lake Forest, CA. Whoever built it went to a lot of trouble to make the platform and the surrounding wall perfectly circular, and to make the platform flat and level, so that the water runs off evenly in all directions. (It is hard to tell from the photograph, but the water slides outwards to the edges and down the sides, forming a pretty curtain of drips around the perimeter of the platform.) The builder even laid out the tiles in a nice compass rose pattern…but he aligned the pointers at right angles with the buildings, rather than with North. (The picture was taken facing due North.) How much harder would it have been to align the arms of the rose properly with North? For a few dollars more, he could have placed four specially engraved or painted tiles labeled “N”, “S”, “W”, and “E” at the tips of each arm. For a little extra expense, the alternating tiles around the outermost ring would have been a good place to put numbers indicating the compass heading in degrees. If you are going to go to the trouble of building a pretty fountain like this, why not go a little further and show passers-by a large, beautiful, accurate compass rose? Why not give passers-by the chance to see with precision which way is which, and to feel that much more connected to the world they live in?

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