100 Days Project

Nanogirl: Star Science

Nanogirl wants to find 100 friends to do science experiments with her to prove that no matter who you are or what your education level, you can always have fun with science.

Day 27:

4 year old Niamh learns about what makes you dizzy when you spin.

If you spin around enough times and then stop suddenly, you may find yourself feeling dizzy.  brain.  4 year old Niamh helped me to learn all about dizziness by spinning around with me and then telling me what she was feeling.

The body can sense things like whether we are standing up or lying down through three little fluid filled channels in the inner ear that make up the vestibular system.  When this fluid moves as we move, it tells our brain what movements we are making and our brain puts this information together with what it sees with our eyes to determine how we are moving.

If you take a bowl of water and spin it really fast, you will notice that when you stop the fluid still spins a little bit due to inertia.  The same happens in your ear, as you spin the fluid moves in the direction that you are spinning and when you stop suddenly, it still wants to flow in that direction for a little bit and so tells your brain that you are still moving.  Your eyes however can see that you have stopped, which sends two opposite signals to your brain, one saying that you are moving and one saying that you are not.  This confusing signal crossover is what causes us to feel dizzy and you can usually counter it by quickly spinning the opposite direction once before you stop spinning, as this moves the fluid back into the right place :)

What I learned from this experiment is that I become much more dizzy than Niamh does for the same number of spins!