What is the Coriolis Effect and how does it work?

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The Coriolis effect was first explained by the French mathematician Gustave Coriolis in the early 1800s. This inertial effect describes the movement of an object in a rotating system. In a rotating system, a moving object, following Newtonian laws of motion, is also acted on by any rotational forces present. These forces must be taken into account in order to determine the final position of the object. This is important on the earth, where the poles rotate slower than the equator. Over a large distance, this difference in rotation speeds causes the object to move eastward, because the earth rotates from east to west as it moves. This is especially important when the object is moving directly longitudinal. 

It is important to note that the Coriolis effect is due to the rotation of the object, in this case the earth, and not an actual change in the motion of the moving object, which continues in a straight line from its initial point. This means that the "deflection" of the object to its actual final position is due to the rotating force alone.

The practical application of the Coriolis effect is not trivial, and these forces must be taken into account by pilots when charting long flight paths, or when trying to predict weather phenomena such as prevailing winds or storms. The Coriolis effect also comes into play in the military, and must be accounted for when launching long range missiles. In the case of a sniper attempting a shot outside of range of around 100 meters, the effect is small but present.

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