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ZetaTalk: Tides

Note: written on Dec 15, 1995.

Humans have correctly ascribed the tides to the Moon's presence, but there they boggle. Is the water following the Moon? Simply stated, yes. However, the process is not as simple as all that. The water follows the Moon, but when the Moon goes off round the bend and its influence is obstructed by the body of the Earth itself, what then? Water seeks its own level, and having heaped up on one side of a body of water, it sloshes back, momentum carrying it to an extreme in the other direction. This momentum is in proportion to the speed of its original chase, mirroring this. Thus, as fast as the water chased the Moon, it recedes. As the pull of the Moon was greatest while directly overhead, the high tide chasing the Moon reflects the time only over half the body of water, an ocean, usually a 6 hour period. Thus, it rushes back in an equal time span, another 6 hour or so period. Thus sloshing, the water finds itself receding again for a third 6 hour or so period as the Moon hooves into influence again, but in keeping with its motion and speed, swings back toward where the Moon reappeared and again chases the Moon to the horizon for the last 6 hour or so period.

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