Why can you only go so far north and you're going south again...but you can go east forever?

On Earth, you can only travel so far north and then you're going south again (and vice versa). But you can go east forever and ever and you're still going east; and the same is true of west. Why is that?

18 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    This has to do with the fact that the North and South poles are TERMINAL POINTS on the earth. Being terminal points, once you reach them, by definition you must switch directions if you continue on the same path. There is no terminal "east" or "west" pole, and therefore they are only directions to travel.

    In summary:

    North is both a Direction and has a terminal point.

    South is both a Direction and has a terminal point.

    East is only a Direction.

    West is only a Direction.

  • 1 decade ago

    A magnet has a North and a South pole... with magnetic field lines moving out of the south towards the north. The Earth has the geographic North (debatedly) in Canada, Russia or Greenland, and geographic South in Antarctica. These are ABSOLUTE (which means you don't have to know anything else). Once you get to the North Pole, you are absolutely at the "northest" part of the Earth. You can only go South from there. The reason why they are absolute is because magnets orient themselves according to North and South (the field lines).

    East and West are RELATIVE to North and South. You can only know East and West IF you know where North or South are. If you face directly at North, your right hand would point to East (and left to West). Because the Earth is a sphere, no matter where you stand on the Earth, if you face towards North, East will always be on your right forever, and West will always be on your left forever.

    The actual MAGNETIC north is declining every year (which means it's becoming more and more geographically south), but I don't know the actual rate. Theoretically, therefore, the magnetic north may end up at the equator, establishing a true ABSOLUTE East and West compass then. That's something to think about!

  • 1 decade ago

    Traveling North or South is no different than traveling East or West... how you view it depends on your reference point. for North and South that point is typically the North and South poles. Of course there is no East or West pole, but for navigational purposes, there is a prime meridian which passes through Greewich, England and eventually the equator at opposite ends of the earth, halfway bewteen the poles. This point is the logical 'reference point' from which to define east/west. a 'east or west pole' if you will. The prime meridian and the Equator are the reference points which define lattitude and longitude.

  • 1 decade ago

    It's because there are two magnetic poles, one in the north and one in the south. Since there are no east and west poles you will never reach the end. As there is a north pole you will eventually reach it, pass it and therefore revert to the opposite, south (and vice versa).

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  • 1 decade ago

    When you're heading NORTH you are travelling to a more or less specific fixed location, the 'north pole'. When you PASS it, you are heading south.

    Travelling easterly, there is NO specific end to your travel other than where you start from, because the earth is rotating on the same axis as your travel, therefore you are always going east.

  • 1 decade ago

    because east and west is just a direction for example left and right, but north and south is directed to points- the north and south pole, which you can actually reach and after you reached it every movement will bring you further away from it but theres no east or west point.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    B/c north and south are actual locations. You can go to the North pole and the south pole. There is no east or west pole. Think about it.

  • 1 decade ago

    Because their is a pole running north to south and consequently defining it, but east and west does not have this.

  • 1 decade ago

    north and south are up and down, if you go up you must come back down, but going east or west is like just walking around in a circle, you go one way and its the same way all the time

  • 1 decade ago

    those are pretty scientific answers don't u think? but what about the common unscientific person who wakes up to the morning breakfast as soon as s/he sees the sun rise in the EAST? man

    the as u move towards the east, "where the sun rises", a new east is created for u to move towards, all because everything is moving east except this huge ball of rocks and liquid, which is what u are walking on towards the east u are searching for.(that is why the sun is alwasy rising in the east

    Source(s): common sense
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