by PHILIP WHITE
Dr. Angela Moles, an ecologist at the University of New South Wales, made the newspapers today with her announcement that 92 per cent of the world’s vines twist anti-clockwise.
Her colleagues had made three predictions. First, that vines would twist in one direction in the southern hemisphere, and the other direction in the north, in a possible confusion with the popular misbelief that the Coriolis effect makes drainwater spin one way in the north, and the opposite in the south. Second, they postured that vines would twist in opposite directions in each hemisphere as they followed the sun. The third idea was that vines would twist at random.
Dr. Moles speculates that the twist may be dictated by the asymmetrical nature of protein molecules.
“All proteins appear to be left-handed”, she said. “When you put them together to build up a plant skeleton, that may give cells a tendency to twist in certain direction. But that’s just a hypothesis. I’d love to hear other ideas”.
I mentioned the discovery to Michael Lane, the vineyard manager at Yangarra Estate.
“They taught me that all vines twist in the same direction at school twenty years ago”, he said.