Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Porn for geeks

Speaking of Japan (who? when?), I finally took a peek at this month's National Geographic magazine which has been lying in its brown mailing wrapper on my kitchen table since sometime last week. I unwrapped it and was excited - because I am a geek - to see the cover story was on earthquakes! *sigh* I shoulda' been a geophysicist...

Anyway, I skipped to the earthquake article immediately, the final one in the issue (rather than reading each article in order, as I usually do), and read it over dinner (chicken thighs in honey and cayenne pepper, green beans, and a mountain of mashed potatoes - mmmmm). It talked about the science of earthquake prediction - or rather, the attempt thereof. Quite an inexact science, in fact; no one can quite determine if earthquakes occur on a fairly predictable schedule or whether they are completely inherently random. Well, Japan has decided that, like its bullet trains that run exactly on time down to the second, it can predict earthquakes, and in fact since 1978 has been preparing for the next big earthquake which is predicted to strike in the Tokai region (Shizuoka prefecture) sometime soon. When I say "big", I mean in the 8.5's or larger. We're talking the same size as the earthquake that hit the Indian Ocean off the Sumatra (Indonesia) coast on Christmas Day 2004, spawning the huge and horrific tsunami. Kobe, the 1995 earthquake that many still remember, was "only" 7.2. Anyway, Shizuoka prefecture has been aggressively targeted since 1978 by legislation and other government regulations that are all aimed at upping the emergency and earthquake preparedness* of the region.

Japan feels confident it can predict the next Tokai earthquake since the area has regularly had a massive quake every 100-150 years. We are at year 146. Many experts believe it may happen between now and 2010. We'll see. And hopefully if/when I go to Japan, that won't be the day it strikes...

* I'm a little annoyed about the fact that I just spent over half an hour searching Google for the original "How to Prepare for an Earthquake in Japan" guide that I had seen. I either dreamt it or the yakuza (Japanese mafia) removed all traces of it from the Web. The one linked here is good, but not as good nor as cute as the one I originally found. Mental note to self: When you find something cool, no matter how unlikely you think it is that you will want to return to the site another time, bookmark it!**

** My bookmarks are another story altogether, having mysteriously disappeared in their entirety from Netscape the other day, and I can't find them elsewhere on my laptop via a Windows Explorer search. Seems they have fallen deep into a fault-line somewhere.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

This isn't a comment on the blog entry (though I think you may have a future as a newspaper headline writer), but a request for an e-mail address! I found your blog linked on Lisa's blog site and enjoyed it immensely! Love to catch up with you sometime. You can reach me at andrea.n@ns.sympatico.ca (and yes I'm still a reporter, not a librarian even though I've graduated)
Andrea Nemetz (MLIS 06 if you can believe that!)