Mental Floss

Why Do Rivers Curve?

Chris Higgins
YouTube / MinuteEarth
YouTube / MinuteEarth / YouTube / MinuteEarth

Here's a question I hadn't thought to ask: Why don't rivers just run straight? Why do they curve in oddly regular, sinuous bends? It seems logical that water would flow straight from source to destination, just powering through (the shortest path between two points is a straight line, right?). So what's up with all the curvy rivers around the world?

In about two and a half minutes, the folks at MinuteEarth give us a solid explanation incorporating fluid dynamics, fractals, and some interesting examples of what happens when rivers get "too bendy" and the bends collide. Enjoy:

The narrator is Emily Elert, science writer and longtime contributor to Popular Science. I look forward to more MinuteEarth videos!