Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Stripping a veil

Apart from the addictive properties of the blogworld - which Just Tenured and Jimbo have been kind enough to comment on, another advantage is that it allows you to sort of publicly comment on things that you might otherwise shrug off.

So, because I want to post this before the potential event, so that we can see if they were right, herewith a comment on Earthquake Prediction. It is, in a sense stripping away a little of my anonymity - though not a lot, and a quick check down the right side of Crooked Timber suggests that there aren't a lot of geologist bloggers anyway (though I am not either).

Under the influence of a glass of Zubrowka (which, for those of you not in the know, is a Polish "bison grass" vodka) and the remnants of that bottle of Korean Jinro House Wine (don't bother it needed ice to be palatable) I shall venture a comment on an article today in Salon.

The comment is that the basic science is not new - in the US the marker is generally radon - and that the argument presented in the paper is not totally correct. What happens in the lead up to an Earthquake (and I am stealing this from a general knowledge base) is that two beds of rock are sliding one against the other. As long as they slide there are small quakes and no big issues. However occasionally the two sides stick, and the small earthquakes stop. When this happens the rock is put under increased load and at about 60-80% of its strength it starts to crack. These cracks are fresh and water is drawn into them, because there are fresh surfaces on each side of the new cracks the water can dissolve out some of the rock. Then as the movement continues the cracks are squeezed shut and the water is forced out (you see this in well levels). It now contains these higher levels of whatever (radon, metals etc as in the paper), and they can be detected. Generally at this point the quake is close.

OK so why blog on this - well if you watch California earthquake events for a short while you start to note that there is a bit of the fault that hasn't shown a lot of earthquakes for a bit. (The gap is there again today). You then add a prediction that there will be an earthquake there in September coming from Vladimir Keilis-Borok. And being a curious animal you want to get people to see if this is right.

There are two additional thoughts - I got into this by trying to explain earthquakes to a nephew that lives in Berkeley - within 2 miles of the Heyward Fault, and I usually do this sort of thing in class, but given the hiatus that I mentioned a few posts ago that may not happen this semester (though actually I am starting to rebuild an enrolment - one student at a time - grr!)

The second comment is to satisfy my own curiosity. The other day I mentioned a couple of malt whiskies - and shortly thereafter the ad at the top of the page mentioned where they come from. I am sort of curious to see how the ad changes as I mention other consumables. (Us experimentalists just can't stop )

P.S. Who started this thing about lists - it's giving me a complex, since while everybody I've been to is happily posting lists with stuff lined out, for us who are disorganized at the end of every day I strike at most one or two things and have about 8 more added. (Not that I don't do it - I just hide the list from everybody). Am I that inefficient . . . . .


At 8:50 PM, Blogger bitchphd said...

I ain't doing the list thing either. Uh-uhnh.

At 11:01 PM, Blogger anbruch said...

Not sure where the list thing started. I find a list both useful and annoying. It's useful to me in the sense that it allows me to present an organization to myself. I posted my first list because I wanted to comment on how making the list didn't really make me feel any better, though it's something I do when I feel I'm beginning to spiral out of control. But it's annoying because I then realize how little I've actually gotten done and how I also tend to overcommit myself, and so set myself up for failure.

In a sense putting a list out in public like this is a good way of placing a check on myself. Therefore, I could look at my list and say: Gosh, there is no way I'm completing all of this today; whereas if I just drew it up privately (actually the private and much more extensive list is in iCal) I'd just beat myself up for not working hard enough to get everything done.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger PowerProf said...

I have lots of private lists. In fact, in grad school I had this steno book that I referred to as The Book of Lists. I need lists to keep me organized, but I find that I'm usually adding more than I'm scratching off. As for posting it online, I was unsure whether to do it. Posting forced me to try to make it a more managable list, which obviously didn't work as well as I'd hoped b/c I didn't cross much off. Also it's an announcement - a way of holding myself to task or face public humiliation by my blogger peers (not that you all would stone me, but...)


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