The Mississippi River
is unique in the world because it flows "uphill" - the mouth
of the river is 27 feet higher - ie. 27 further away from the center
of the earth - than the source of the river. So how does it happen?
Why does water not flow into the river from the sea?
Further research indicates
that the mouth of the Mississippi is about six *miles* further from
the center of the earth than Lake Itasca, the headwaters. Because? Because
the Earth is not really perfectly spherical, but flattened at the poles,
like a doorknob. The distance from sea level at the North Pole to the
center of the earth is 13.5 miles less than from sea level at the equator.
Because the Earth
is spinning so rapidly, and is made of such malleable rock, that the
equator bulges out, 'stealing' rock from the North and South Poles.
If the Earth stopped spinning, it would eventually settle back into
a more spherical shape. The same thing, on a larger scale, is happening
to Jupiter and Saturn. Only in those cases it is so extreme, because
they are gaseous and spinning so fast, that you can almost see the bulge
when you look at them with a good telescope.
Back to the Mississippi:
it is a North-South river, and one that does not descend from Himalaya-like
peaks, but just gently meanders flatly through the mid-section of the
country. But it is very long - long enough that New Orleans is considerably
further from the center of the Earth than Minneapolis. (You knew that
anyway, in your gut, right?)
So the same centrifugal
force that causes the Earth to bulge is also the same force that causes
the water in the Mississippi to spill out into the ocean, rather than
The Mysterious Mississippi.