June 30th, 2004


Something new.

I have nothing to do.

He spent all of ten minutes talking about Powerpoint, and now he's done, and I've got nothing to do: assuming I counted having someone explain Powerpoint as something. (I mean, it's Powerpoint. Don't they teach that in elementary schools now?)

Also, the wheel on this wheelmouse is stuck. *glares*

I'd fiddle with LJ some more, but it's still being all PMSy and I don't think I want to risk more than it takes to post this. At least I brought a book. I think. *worried look in direction of backpack* I hope.

Um... yeah. Bored. Don't even have an assignment. Don't have to study for anything. Uh. Fine. Going down to CLS to see about that five-dollar Office XP rumour. *goes*
  • Current Mood
    bored bored

Earthquakes, and why here is a bad place to be if one happens.

The lecture today was basically the same as last semester's in Environmental Science: same Powerpoint, even. Did learn something new, though.

So there are three kinds of tectonic plate boundaries. Transform, Convergent, and Divergent. Transform is where the plates just move past each other (California). They have the least serious quakes, because they have fewer of the kinds of waves (think sound waves in the ground) that cause big damage. Divergent is where the plates are moving apart: that's usually where the cracks happen, 'cause, duh, plates moving apart. Convergent boundaries (like the one off the coast of BC) are where the plates are shoving into one another. These have the worst quakes, when they do have quakes, because they usually also have subduction zones, which is where one plate tilts and slips under the other, usually grinding everything off the top of the plate in the process. They also have practically every kind of seismic wave known to science, because they move the slowest, and the slower waves are more dangerous.

Okay. Anyway. The new thing. Our earthquakes, technically, are worse than California's. At least they would be if we *had* that many. They're potentially worse, anyway. 'Cause of us being on a subduction boundary (where one plate's sliding under another, in this case the Juan de Fuca plate is shoving under the North American Continental plate) whereas Cali's on a transform boundary. Which is why California would never fall into the sea: there's nowhere for it to go. We, on the other hand, would. A little. Well. Richmond/Delta would. *shrug*

Stupid disaster movies always have big cracks opening in the ground and sucking people in, then closing again. Okay, well, first of all, that's stupid: not only does that almost never happen, even at divergent boundaries, but the fractures do not close up again and trap/crush people. Sure, people fall in, but they're more likely to die from the impact at the bottom than by being crushed.

Actually, they're more likely to be crushed by falling buildings. "Earthquakes don't kill people. Buildings kill people."

Apparently the whole joke about fissures opening and swallowing people was started after a quake back in the early 1900s. A farmer found that one of his cows had had a heart attack during the quake and died. He also found that a fracture (just a little one) had opened on his property. He looked at the cow, he looked at the fracture, and since the cow had been dead too long to butcher, he dropped the cow into the fracture and started filling it with dirt.

Along came a city reporter. The reporter saw the fracture, the cow inside, looked at the farmer, all wide-eyed, and asked:

"Did that fracture catch/crush that cow?"

The farmer blinked, looked at the cow, looked at the reporter, and said: "Uh... yes."

So all this crap about fissures opening and sucking people into the ground and closing up again behind them all started because some farmer wanted to screw with the city-folk. ;)

The Richter Scale is funny. Geologists haven't used it for about ten years, because it's kind of inaccurate. But, Brett says: "we gave it to the media. Never give anything to the media."

Know what else is funny? The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale. It's funny 'cause it's a qualitative, subjective scale based entirely on the level of human panic. It goes from "I: not felt except by a very few under especially favorable circumstances" to "IV: sets off car alarms" to "VII: Everybody runs outdoors." to "VIII: sand volcanoes" to "XI: giant fissures open" and goes from there. It's kind of amusing if you look at it from a scientific perspective. Brett thinks they should modify it to range from "I: everyone picks up the phone and asks 'did you *feel* that?'" to "XII: people stop trying to use the phone because the lines are down from everyone calling to ask 'did you *feel* that?'".

I really need to use the big earthquake at some point in the Paxverse. I even know what parts of the GVRD will be a metre deep in seawater. *nods*
  • Current Mood
    geeky geeky

About I, Robot...

Okay. I'm reserving final judgement 'til I actually *see* the movie, but just the previews for I, Robot have me ready to weep for the utter bastardization of the book. Poor, poor Asimov must be twitching in his grave. I mean, maybe they're just really, really bad previews: but they do not give the impression that Alex Proyas has even *heard* of the Three Laws, despite all those terribly clever "Three Laws Safe" ads at Silver City.

I'm a little fuzzy on the Asimov universe timeline, anyway. My brain keeps going to Elijah Baley and the generally agoraphobic state of his humanity. I don't remember when the various bits of I, Robot took place. 'Course, it's been about ten years since I *read* I, Robot, so maybe there really *is* a crazy robot army in there I just don't remember. (I remember The Norby Chronicles, though. And Bicentennial Man. ;) What I *do* remember from Asimov, though, is that no matter how obvious it seemed that a robot had done the Bad Thing, it always turned out they hadn't. Hmm. Never got through the Foundation series, either. Should do that once I finish my current McCaffrey trip.

But... legions of evil robots converging on Will Smith in a violent manner. Just... no. *headshake*

I am reserving judgement.


  • Current Mood
    geeky geeky