Marilyn may be Mistaken about Panama Canal Geography

Marilyn is Wrong Copyright © 1997-1998 Herb Weiner. All rights reserved.

Ask Marilyn ® by Marilyn vos Savant is a column in Parade Magazine, published by PARADE, 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA. According to Parade, Marilyn vos Savant is listed in the "Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame" for "Highest IQ."

In her Parade Magazine column of February 2, 1997, when asked where the Sun appears to rise in the West and set in the East, reports that East end of the Panama Canal is on the Pacific Ocean, and the West end is on the Atlantic Ocean.

Maybe not

Mike Wallace <> wrote to point out that the West end of the canal is actually on the Caribbean Sea.

Maybe so

Andre Everts <> claims that Marilyn was right with her answer, because the Caribbean Sea is a part of the Atlantic Ocean.

But that's not the Point

Steve Jacquot <> suspects that Marilyn may have missed the point of the original question with her digression about the Panama Canal. A better answer might be "near the geographic poles." Consider:

You're standing at the North Pole. The Sun begins to rise. Turn toward the Sun and take a step forward. As the Sun continues in its arc, travelling from left to right, you consult your map and see that east is on your left, and west is on your right, and that the Sun is rising in the east and setting in the west, as it usually does.

Take two steps backward. The Sun is still travelling left to right, but your map tells you that west is now on your left, east is on your right, and the Sun appears to be rising in the west and setting in the east.

The story is complicated by the fact of being above the Arctic Circle, but the Sun still rises and sets, just not every day.

This isn't really a case of Marilyn being wrong, just of her missing an obvious, arguably better, (and perhaps the intended) answer. Her answer really had nothing at all to do with the question.

Left and Right

RM Mentock <> wrote to point out that:

Above 23 degrees north, in the USA for instance, as you face the sun at noon, the sun appears to have risen on your left and will set on your right. In the southern hemisphere at higher latitudes, that will be reversed, inducing the appearance of the effect of the original question. last updated June 30, 1998 by