Category Archives: Science

The Speed Of Sound

I got to thinking about the speed of sound this morning and wondered just how they were able to accurately determine what this was, especially without the latest technology that we have today.

This all came about when I went in the bathroom to shower and shave before I went to work, and having shaved I wondered how my razor got it’s name, the Gillette “Mach 3”.

Now I can see that the 3 relates to the number of blades, but I can’t see that this has any effect on the speed of shaving, so why Mach 3 which is 3 times the speed of sound?

Well I quickly gave up on that thought, and while I was in the shower my thoughts around this went deeper, and I wondered just how they were able to determine the speed at which sound travels.

I know that without looking this up that this is somewhere around 700 miles per hour, which is pretty fast in the scheme of things, but just how do you measure it?

I conjured up an image of 2 people standing a mile apart on hill tops, each with a stop watch and one with a gun.  The first fires the gun and at the same time clicks stop on his watch. The second meantime listens for the gun being fired and clicks his watch when he hears it.

Well this is all well and good, except that you can’t rely on either person clicking their watches at exactly the right time, plus of course the speed of light comes into play, because the sight of the first person firing the gun might make the second person click his watch before he actually hears the shot being fired..

Assuming that some way could be found to click the watches at exactly the right time, I guess you could measure the speed of sound, however you would have to adjust the result to allow for the speed of light.

The problem is now that you would have to know the speed of light in order to determine the speed of sound, so a means of actually doing this ends up beyond my realitively unscientific brain, plus of course by the time my thoughts reached this point I had finished showering and so my thoughts then focused on breakfast and what to wear to work.

My best experience of the difference between the speed of sound and the speed of light was when I watched one of the Space Shuttles launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

We watched the launch from Titusville, which is about 12 miles from the launch pad, and as the shuttle launched I was in total awe, not realising that you couldn’t hear anything.

I’m not sure how long it took before you could hear the noise, and feel the vibration too, but it seemed like half a minute at the time, and then there was a tremendous roar and a shockwave coming across the Indian River, which in itself was quite amazing.

Do you ever have deep thoughts about things where the answer is beyond you?  If so, please leave a comment and share.

It’s Written In The Stars – Life As We Know It Is Going To End

It’s official, written in the stars you might say.  According to astronomers, life as we know it is going to end.

Sad and shocking news I know, and with 21 December 2012 just around the corner.

Using data from the Hubble Telescope, scientists have shown that things are going to change, with our closest neighbour the Andromeda Galaxy on it’s way to crash into our own Milky Way.

While they think that our Sun and Planets may be “relatively” unaffected, in other words they might not be blown to smithereens and vaporised, this great upheaval in the heavens is sure to create chaos, with the tectonic plates shifting, maybe great tidal waves and earthquakes and other natural disasters.

You can read more about this on this article from the BBC News.

The good news though is that this cataclysmic event is not due to happen for another 3.75 billion years, so we can all breath easily again and sleep comfortable in our beds tonight.

Are We Seeing A New Wave Of Major Earthquake Activity?

Are we beginning a new wave of earthquake activity around the world I wonder?

There have been few major earthquakes hitting the news headlines in the last few months, after a rather worrying trend of activity in 2011, but in the last weeks a new succession of major tremors in some of the world’s hot spots has me wondering whether this is just a coincidence or whether this is part of a cataclysmic pattern that will steadily increase throughout 2012.

I’m not one to proclaim that the Mayan Apocalypse will happen at the end of this year, far from it in fact, but if you were to ask me whether I thought that the Maya (along with many other ancient civilizations) knew far more than we give them credit for, my answer would be a resounding YES.

But back to reality, and the recent succession of earthquakes, that hit the news on 12 April 2012 with the intense 8.6 earthquake in Indonesia that sparked fears of a huge tsunami, which fortunately never materialised.

The following day there were two powerful quakes off the coast of Mexico, and today Reuters reports that the Mexican government have raised the warning level for the Popocatepetl volcano that lies just 50 miles away from Mexico City and which has shown signs of increased activity over the last few months, and signs in the last few days that it is expanding.

Today there are also reports of a powerful 6.7 earthquake with numerous aftershocks in Valparaiso in Chile, and with other recent significant tremors around the Pacific rim, there may be cause for concern.

Not directly connected to earthquake activity of course is the recent series of intense tornados that have struck the USA, and with relatively low hurricane intensity for several years this could potentially be a bad one. Add to this the climatic concerns from around the world, severe flooding in some places, equally severe droughts in others (the UK included), and it’s easy to get yourself into a mindset where the end of the world as we know it could be just around the corner.

It’s not enough of course that the earth creates it’s own tremors. Fracking (causing rocks deep down to fracture) to try and locate new sources of natural gas is legal in the UK, and has been shown to be the cause of the Blackpool earthquake in June 2011. Fracking is becoming commonplace in the USA, and according to The Guardian:

“getting rid of the vast quantities of dirty water produced by fracking by squirting it underground is precisely the reason why magnitude three and greater earthquakes in the US have more than quadrupled since 2008”.

It’s all rather worrying in my opinion, the combined powers of Mother Nature together with man blindly interfering with the way that the earth works. We had better hope that this is just a few intensive earthquakes occurring in a short time period, rather than a trend.

What is your opinion. Are we worrying for nothing, or do you think there is cause for concern? Please feel free to leave a comment below and let our readers know what you think.

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How Much Do You Know About Aftershocks And The Earthquakes That Struck Christchurch In New Zealand

This article was previously published on the Yahoo Contributor Network

The media normally reports only the major earthquakes that occur around the world, even though there are dozens each day, many of which are insignificant and cause no damage.

 The earthquake that struck Christchurch in New Zealand on Wednesday 22nd February 2011 however was just one of a large number of aftershocks that had hit the area since a large earthquake on 4th September 2010.

 The main earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.1, did far less damage than the big aftershock on 22nd February, and for two reasons.   Firstly, the depth was greater at 10km, and the epicentre was 40km west of Christchurch.   Secondly, it occurred at 4:35am, when most people were in bed and sleeping.

 The aftershock that hit Christchurch on 22nd February 2011 was by comparison only 6.3 in magnitude, but was much shallower and the epicentre was only 10km southeast of the city.

 The effect of that shock, like all the other shallow aftershocks, had the effect of liquefying the ground, rather like shaking a bowl of jelly.   It also occurred shortly after midday, when people were at work, or having lunch, and the streets and office buildings were crowded.

 Having seen all about the horrific earthquake in Christchurch, aside from knowing that it was an aftershock, do you have any idea how many aftershocks there have been in the Christchurch area since the big earthquake on 4th September 2010?

 How many aftershocks do you think there have been?

100?   200?   500?

 How about more than 5,100 aftershocks, many of which were close to the city, and also at a shallow depth.

 That is more than 5,100 significant tremors in 5 months.  Assuming that they were all spread evenly over that period of time, that’s roughly 1,000 a month, or 30 a day, certainly more than 1 every hour.

 I don’t know about you, but I would certainly have been very concerned to have been living in the Christchurch area, and with hindsight, I think a lot more people probably now wish that they had left sooner.

 5,100 however is still just a number, and numbers are hard to visualise.   Paul Nicholls of the University of Canterbury’s Digital Media Group has put together a time-lapse map of the earthquakes and tremors that have taken place since the 7.1 earthquake on 4th September 2010, which you can see HERE.

 It’s quite an amazing plot, especially if you look at the number of aftershocks around the 22nd February 2011.   There were 65 aftershocks on that day, including the one that caused all the damage, 79 aftershocks on the 23rd February, and 70 on the 24th February.

 I think that only those who have been in a situation like this can fully understand what it is like to experience the earth shaking below your feet more or less constantly.

I think you will agree with me though, that putting statistics like this into a time lapse image, really paints a far more impressive picture of what was happening in the Christchurch area over the last few months.

 I can just see those of you who live in the Los Angeles area or any other zone that is prone to earthquake activity, Googling to see if there are any time lapse maps available.


Christchurch Quake Map

 New Zealand Herald

 See Also:

 Should We Be Concerned About Increased Major Earthquakes Around The World

Should We Be Concerned About Increased Large Earthquakes Around the World

Dozens of earthquakes occur daily around the world, but we only ever hear about the big ones, those that cause major damage, destruction or loss of life.

It does seem though that in the last several years, there have been more than the average number of major earthquakes, as well as some significant volcanic activity around the world.

Should we be concerned about this? Is it related to Global Warming or Climate Change? Is the earth going through some changes that could bring about the end of the world as we know it?

Read the full story here:
Should We Be Concerned About Increased Major Earthquakes Around the World