Storm in a Teacup

Question: Can spinning around really fast make you need a poo?

“After going on a spinning fairground ride in Ireland, a few of my friends and I sprinted to the loo out of desperation. Is there any science behind that?” -Toby Finnis and Joe Hipkiss

Perhaps surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of direct research on whether spinning people around really, really fast causes your bowels to get a shift on. But there is some logic to the idea.

Spinning around exerts a centrifugal force on the spinning object. Centrifugal force pushes you away from the centre of rotation – as you will know if you have ever tried to sit forward on the teacups. It is not to be confused with centripetal force, which is also exerted on spinning objects but pulls you towards the centre of rotation. Think planets orbiting the sun.

Now that centrifugal force is exerted on all parts of you, but faeces in your large intestine aren’t attached to the rest of your body. So it would make sense that when spinning around the contents of your bowels might shift about and get dislodged, speeding up the whole process of moving it towards your anus.

Based on nothing but a schoolboy understanding of physics and some biology guesswork, I’m going to say yes – a spinning fairground ride probably could make you desperate for a number two. Maybe that could be useful in space… astronauts have a pretty hard time going to the loo in zero gravity.

Have a question of your own to ask? Get in touch at a.shaunak@ntlworld.com and I’ll answer it for you!
Image is under creative commons license

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