0723: "Seismic Waves"

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0723: "Seismic Waves"

Postby rankun » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:34 am UTC

Image

Alt-text: The USGS operates a really neat email/SMS earthquake notification service (earthquake.usgs.gov/ens/) that allows fine-grained control of notifiations.


If I didn't still have a concussion from this weekends pillow fight, I might find this funny

Note: This was my first post.
Last edited by rankun on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:39 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

SandyCaesar
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Re: Seismic Waves

Postby SandyCaesar » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:36 am UTC

(No longer) first, since someone is bound to have posted before I did.

Either Randall drew this only a few hours ago, or he was prescient. Only a few hours ago I and the rest of Southern California was hit by a quake. However, the wave of news posts seemed to have traveled much more slowly than that...

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Re: Seismic Waves

Postby rankun » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:38 am UTC

SandyCaesar wrote:(No longer) first, since someone is bound to have posted before I did.

Either Randall drew this only a few hours ago, or he was prescient. Only a few hours ago I and the rest of Southern California was hit by a quake. However, the wave of news posts seemed to have traveled much more slowly than that...


Or, Prepare for a mind blow, Randall planned the earthquake.....

No really, he might have had this stored up for the next big earthquake

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:40 am UTC

It's not so much funny as accurate
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby westrim » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:40 am UTC

Gee, I can't imagine what was the genesis for this comic *sarcasm*. As a resident of Southern California it was mighty amusing watching people freak out on the intertubes (and calming down my aunt in Georgia). All it did for me was make things sway a bit. Though I am surprised it didn't do more damage at the epicenter.

SandyCaesar wrote: Either Randall drew this only a few hours ago, or he was prescient.


It's not like stick figures take that long to draw.
Last edited by westrim on Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:44 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Lunar Savage » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:41 am UTC

lmao xD

I could believe it!
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby chocolate.razorblades » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:41 am UTC

First instinct: RETWEET.

Twitterer? Is that the term?

And is it "facebookie"?

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Omegaton » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:43 am UTC

Yay for topical comics.

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:It's not so much funny as accurate

That's what I thought as well, haha.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby dragoneye776 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:44 am UTC

Not to be a grammar Nazi, but he misspelled "Notifications" or I haven't learned what the other term meant.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Ctta0s » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:46 am UTC

dragoneye776 wrote:Not to be a grammar Nazi, but he misspelled "Notifications" or I haven't learned what the other term meant.


You're not being a grammar nazi. That's a spelling error.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby LSN » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:46 am UTC

Guilty as charged. First thing I did after the earthquake today in southern California was update my Facebook status about it.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby P.S.ILoveYue » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:47 am UTC

A similar phenomenon happens with supernovae all the time; scientists are alerted to supernovae by the increase in neutrinos in a specific direction before the light gets here. There's this whole system (called the SNEWS) where the neutrino people at, say, the Super Kamiokande detect supernova neutrinos, and alert the telescope people to point their telescopes to a currently "quiet" part of the sky which will light up with supernova in the near future. It's automated :D

EDIT: Ok, maybe not "all the time." SNEWS hasn't reported anything since 2007.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby baltakatei » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:06 am UTC

I'd subscribe to the notification service at https://sslearthquake.usgs.gov/ens/ but apparently xkcd DDOS'ed it into tomorrow.

And as for the afternoon quake in California today: I really should learn to not take a nap when these things hit. I'm beginning to feel left out.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby JayAr » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:08 am UTC

Omegaton wrote:Yay for topical comics.

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:It's not so much funny as accurate

That's what I thought as well, haha.


As well here... I thought is was rather interesting, but at what distance does the tweet have more kinetic energy than the earthquake?

Edit: looks like an idiotic question, I want to see what answers come up though.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Alsadius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:09 am UTC

chocolate.razorblades wrote:First instinct: RETWEET.

Twitterer? Is that the term?

And is it "facebookie"?


Actually, the proper term is "twit".

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby gravly » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:10 am UTC

Should have said "ROFLMAO - HUGE EARTHQUAKE HERE!"

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby siecraticmethod » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:13 am UTC

Alsadius wrote:
chocolate.razorblades wrote:First instinct: RETWEET.

Twitterer? Is that the term?

And is it "facebookie"?


Actually, the proper term is "twit".

Or, if Gabe of Penny Arcade is to believed, it's "twitter shitter"

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby SorryBoringNickName » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:31 am UTC

1.- I'm missing the link to the comic, OP.

2.- I'm Chilean. About 2 hours ago there was a decent aftershock. My very first instinct (after looking at the hanging lamps ofc) was check Facebook and a couple of news' pages. Facebook was slow, the news' pages were totally inaccessible, with the classic DDoS's symptoms (didn't even try to access twitter after that).

I fuking lol'd with this comic, even though I think it's not actually meant to be fumy. I actually think that's somehow scary.

3.- I think someone screwed up some translation/maths when checking dates from the mayan calendar. It's 2010, not 2012.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Alsadius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:35 am UTC

JayAr wrote:As well here... I thought is was rather interesting, but at what distance does the tweet have more kinetic energy than the earthquake?

Edit: looks like an idiotic question, I want to see what answers come up though.


The problem is that the Earth is spherical, so dissipation of energy doesn't follow the inverse square law over long distances. Spreading it over the volume of the Earth might not be a large enough dispersion to get below the kinetic energy of a tweet.

That said, the question is funny enough I'll ignore that. The earthquake was a 7.2 on the Richter scale. A 7.0 is 132.3 PJ, or 1.323x10^17 joules. The Richter scale is logarithmic, such that 2 points is a factor of 1000, which means that 0.2 points is 1000^0.1, or a touch under 2. Thus, a 7.2 is 2.64x10^17 joules. Assuming that energy spreads evenly over a half-sphere(since air carries negligible energy), energy at a given distance(measured in metres) will equal 2.64x10^17/(2*pi*r^2) joules.

The tweet is a bit harder to calculate, but I'll give it a shot. Over long distances, the transmission mechanism is likely to be undersea fibre optic cables. I can't find any really good numbers on those, but what I can find implies currents of as much as 100 amps at 15 kV, though those numbers are on the high end and not much used. Let's take 10 amps at 10kV as our approximation, for 100 kW total power throughput, which is 1x10^5 J/s. The newest transatlantic fibre cable carries some 150 GB/sec, which equates to some 681 J/GB, or 0.681 microjoules per byte. A tweet is 140 characters, so 140 bytes, or 9.536x10^-5 J. Sub that back into the earthquake formula:

9.536x10^-5 = 2.64x10^17/(2*pi*r^2)
r^2 = 2.64x10^17/9.536x10^-5*2*pi
r^2 = 4.4x10^10^20
r = 2.1x10^10m

So after some 21 million kilometres, the tweet has more kinetic energy than the quake.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Det. » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:37 am UTC

Alsadius wrote:
chocolate.razorblades wrote:First instinct: RETWEET.

Twitterer? Is that the term?

And is it "facebookie"?


Actually, the proper term is "twit".

and the people who use it are called "twats".
...who didn't see this coming? fess up now.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby simmerian » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:40 am UTC

RobM163 from the first panel is here: http://twitter.com/robm163

"Huge earthquake here!
about 1 hour ago via web"

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Coquelicot » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:45 am UTC

I'm imagining somewhere where the tweets have outrun the seismic waves by such a huge distance that the Twitterers have time to retweet, have a snack, read a magazine and then run for cover maybe an hour later.

(To anyone whose life has been disrupted by earthquakes, I apologize for my facetiousness. To any mathematicians or scientists, I apologize for my imagination's inattention to real-life mathematical and scientific principles.)
Last edited by Coquelicot on Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:47 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Alsadius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:46 am UTC

siecraticmethod wrote:Or, if Gabe of Penny Arcade is to believed, it's "twitter shitter"


No, that only applies to a certain subset of twits. If you don't feel the need to tell the world of your bowel movements, then you're not a twitter shitter.

Det. wrote:and the people who use it are called "twats".
...who didn't see this coming? fess up now.


Now now, such terms are highly offensive. We prefer the term "people with an attention span".

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby —Clive— » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:56 am UTC

Why "find shelter" anyway? Isn't it best to go stand in a field, or at least the street? I thought collapsing shelter was the principal danger of an earthquake.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby dennisw » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:56 am UTC

Alsadius wrote:
JayAr wrote:As well here... I thought is was rather interesting, but at what distance does the tweet have more kinetic energy than the earthquake?

Edit: looks like an idiotic question, I want to see what answers come up though.


The problem is that the Earth is spherical, so dissipation of energy doesn't follow the inverse square law over long distances. Spreading it over the volume of the Earth might not be a large enough dispersion to get below the kinetic energy of a tweet.

That said, the question is funny enough I'll ignore that. The earthquake was a 7.2 on the Richter scale. A 7.0 is 132.3 PJ, or 1.323x10^17 joules. The Richter scale is logarithmic, such that 2 points is a factor of 1000, which means that 0.2 points is 1000^0.1, or a touch under 2. Thus, a 7.2 is 2.64x10^17 joules. Assuming that energy spreads evenly over a half-sphere(since air carries negligible energy), energy at a given distance(measured in metres) will equal 2.64x10^17/(2*pi*r^2) joules.

The tweet is a bit harder to calculate, but I'll give it a shot. Over long distances, the transmission mechanism is likely to be undersea fibre optic cables. I can't find any really good numbers on those, but what I can find implies currents of as much as 100 amps at 15 kV, though those numbers are on the high end and not much used. Let's take 10 amps at 10kV as our approximation, for 100 kW total power throughput, which is 1x10^5 J/s. The newest transatlantic fibre cable carries some 150 GB/sec, which equates to some 681 J/GB, or 0.681 microjoules per byte. A tweet is 140 characters, so 140 bytes, or 9.536x10^-5 J. Sub that back into the earthquake formula:

9.536x10^-5 = 2.64x10^17/(2*pi*r^2)
r^2 = 2.64x10^17/9.536x10^-5*2*pi
r^2 = 4.4x10^10^20
r = 2.1x10^10m

So after some 21 million kilometres, the tweet has more kinetic energy than the quake.


Um, would it make a difference that they're photons rather than electrons since we're talking about fiber optic cables?
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Alsadius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:14 am UTC

dennisw wrote:Um, would it make a difference that they're photons rather than electrons since we're talking about fiber optic cables?


I was using the simplifying assumption that the electricity being pumped into the system was entirely converted to the energy of the photons. That's not actually true - there are many repeater stations on long cables, not just one - but I lowballed the power transmitted fairly seriously, so I'm calling it a wash.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby JohnTheWysard » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:16 am UTC

I understand that in Japan - and possibly in California - there are in fact earthquake warning systems; seismometers detect ground motion, computers analyze the source location and strength, and signals are sent to critical systems such as the Shinkansen bullet train, nuclear power plants and so on, allowing them to do a fast safe shutdown before the ground motion arrives.

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Re: Seismic Waves

Postby musashi1600 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:39 am UTC

rankun wrote:
SandyCaesar wrote:(No longer) first, since someone is bound to have posted before I did.

Either Randall drew this only a few hours ago, or he was prescient. Only a few hours ago I and the rest of Southern California was hit by a quake. However, the wave of news posts seemed to have traveled much more slowly than that...


Or, Prepare for a mind blow, Randall planned the earthquake.....

No really, he might have had this stored up for the next big earthquake


Mr. Munroe has evidently joined the conspiracy of the architects and engineers who have learned how to predict when and where an earthquake will hit.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby nomulous » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:51 am UTC

Reminds me of the "brb, volcano" type comments in IRC.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:14 am UTC

This reminds me of when my brother and his friend who lived about half a mile away used to yell to each other while on the phone. We would hear him yelling on the phone like a full second before we heard the actual yelling.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:04 am UTC

nomulous wrote:Reminds me of the "brb, volcano" type comments in IRC.

You must hang out in #iceland a lot.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Red Hal » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:04 am UTC

Alsadius, well done! That is precisely the sort of thing there should be more of.

On the other hand, those of you attributing the timeliness of this comic to prescience or conspiracy may wish to turn your minds' eyes toward Haiti or Chile before invoking supernatural phenomena.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby mikekearn » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:08 am UTC

I was asleep when the quake hit, and it woke me up. The first thing I did was grab my iPod Touch and check Echofon to see if anyone else had tweeted about it, to make sure it hadn't been a vivid dream.

I'm also reminded of something I saw once, though I can't remember where, that talked about how much faster electromagnetic radiation was than the speed of sound. The example talked about how a camera behind home plate at a baseball game, complete with microphone, would be able to capture the sound of the bat striking the ball and transmit it through cables and out to the broadcasting station and up into a satellite and back down into someone's home, where their TV converted the signal back to sound for the remaining few feet to the person on the couch, and all faster than the crack of the bat would reach people up high in the grandstands. I don't know how accurate the science was, but it was left an impression.
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby MeltingCactus » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:15 am UTC

Well timed. This earthquake was a bit of a novel experience for me, since I was hardly expecting to encounter one in Phoenix. My initial response upon seeing the ceiling lamps swaying was to go look at the usgs site.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby seventoes » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:40 am UTC

I love the future....
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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby notnarb » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:10 am UTC

Happened to me. I have a lot of Facebook friends in San Diego and, living a little over 200 miles north of SD, I had almost a whole minute with which to Google the earthquake - returning many different tweets - before it actually hit us, causing a slight swaying here on the 10th story of a building.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby eviloatmeal » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:50 am UTC

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby jype » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:57 am UTC

Japan _does_ have a very effective early warning system (that beats twitter in terms of speed and reliability).

Read/watch more on

http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/en/Activities/eew.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_8ZkBXVvMw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake ... 28Japan%29

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%B7%8A% ... F%E5%A0%B1 has much more information, but you may need the help of a translation robot. At any rate, the image there explains how it works.

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby MrGuy » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:04 am UTC

We should start hooking twitterites up to lie detectors to improve the accuracy of the system...

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Re: "Seismic Waves" Discussion

Postby Dobblesworth » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am UTC

I think the term for "people who use twitter and who tweet" is twitterati apparently. But twit/twat (n.) works well too. But it's definitely tweet (v.).


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