Monday, December 19, 2011

What causes the seasons?

If you are reading Game of Thrones right now, as I am, you know, like the Starks, that "Winter is coming." [Please will someone start reading Game of Thrones - I want to talk to people about it!].  Apropos of the changing of the seasons, Kevin Drum links to dialogue from a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where it is explained that the seasons are caused by the Earth's orbit and its distance from the sun...Wrong! However, this is a VERY frequent mistake.  I once read a poll where over HALF of polled Harvard students actually answered the question "What causes the seasons?" incorrectly.  Unfortunately, I cannot find a link, but it was answered incorrectly by something like 60% of the respondents. So, without looking it up in wikipedia, who can answer the question correctly? BTW, I do know the answer.


  1. Pretty sure it is because of the tilt of the Earth on its axis that makes the sun shift from being centered on the equator to the tropic of cancer to the equator to the tropic of capricorn. This changes the solar intensity (insolation) as well as the duration of sunlight.

  2. actually knew that too

  3. Anonymous you are full of shit