A few thoughts about today’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The video coming out of there is horrific. There will surely be many thousands of casualties.
It has been great to see the immediate reaction of help, efforts both large and small: from the U.S. military sending ships with hospital and disaster relief supplies to the FaxZero company waiving fees for faxes to Japan to help family and friends can communicate with loved ones there.
I have a good friend who lives there, and he’s fine; nice that he had power and Internet connection to reply to my email very quickly.
But I had to roll my eyes about some of the news coverage. Even after the 2004 quake and tsunami in Indonesia, so many of the news people just don’t have their tsunami facts clear.
Before I worked for NASA I was a freelance science writer, and it happens that back in 1986, I wrote an article which explains how tsunamis work, and why it’s so difficult to predict what distant shores will be hit (and how hard). By noon today the article, which is on my rarely updated personal web site, had more than 10,000 page views, so it’s clear to me people are searching for information and finding that article.
Trivia: that article happened to be published in Westways magazine the day before I interviewed at JPL. I was able to take a copy of the magazine to the interview to show a sample of my “recent work,” and the guy interviewing me replied, “Yeah, I saw that yesterday — I subscribe.” I don’t know if that cemented me getting the job, but it sure didn’t hurt!
California Knows Tsunamis
I used to live on California’s North Coast. In 1964, Crescent City was wiped out by a tsunami after an earthquake in Alaska; 18 people were killed. Today, knowing that a tsunami was inbound, many obliviots rushed to the beach to watch it come in. Four were swept out to sea; at least one of them is dead.
Evacuations are done for a reason, and Social Darwinism will make examples out of some of the people who refuse to think.
Here’s a video of waves hitting the coast by Crescent City, taken by a guy who knew enough to be on higher ground (but he still almost got wet!) It’s amazing how fast the water came up.
Think about being on a coastline that doesn’t have hills: in one area of Japan, waves reached 10km inland — about six miles!
Wikipedia already has an extensive article on the disaster, which puts the mass of information about this particular event into good perspective.
There’s an interesting NASA-generated map of the quake and its pre/aftershock locations and magnitudes. (Link removed: no longer online)
Astounding video of the tsunami (with English narration) by Sky News. (Link removed: no longer online)
Last, True isn’t hugely popular in Japan — just a few dozen addresses ending in “.jp” are subscribed, though I know plenty more there surely are using .com addresses. But today, we’re all partly Japanese. ご幸運を祈ります。 (Gokouun o inorimasu — good luck).
|Aid to Japan|
In the newsletter sent out a week later, I offered to send $20 toward earthquake/tsunami relief for every new $24 subscription upgrade. I expected to be able to send about $2,000 to the effort.
Well, This is True readers came through: by the time the deal ended, there were 315 new upgrades, plus several readers added to the pot to bring the total up to $6,540! Thank you to all the readers who helped!