Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Hungry for News

Southern California was hit with a moderate earthquake today just before noon. It was a 5.8 on the Richter Scale. No one was killed, or even injured and no buildings were damaged severely. However, you wouldn't have know that from the semi-hysterical wall to wall news on the all news all the time channels. Cheesh.

The Richter Scale is a complicated equation from the 1930s which creates a logarithm from the amplitude of the lines on a seismometer along with other information. It is designed to show the amount of energy released in the quake. Because the scale is logarithmic, each whole number increase represents a ten fold increase in amplitude and 32 times the energy in the quake, but even that doesn't capture the increase up the scale. Think of a graph accelerating the rate of change and going, in the end, straight up. A 5.8 earthquake can be felt of course but an 8.8 involves not just 96 times more energy but several orders of magnitude more energy. There is no theoretical upper limit to the scale, but a 12 would nearly have to involve collision with a large asteroid. There has never been recorded a 10 yet.

The story was worth about 30 minutes in my book, so it got all day as if this unnamed, middling earthquake were the ground shaking equivalent of Katrina. Give me a break.


I read it was a 5.4. Man, when I lived in Mammoth Lakes, that wasn't even enough to talk about for more than a minute.
When I was a kid, I was living just outside Lima, Peru (my Dad was posted to the American embassy there). We had a 6.8 in around 1967, I think it was. NEVER want to see/feel anything like that again.
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