Coincidental Quakes and a New Reason to Drink
Another exciting moment in the science of scum. Credit: Paul Wilmes
As I mentioned in yesterday’s comments, we had our third small earthquake in four days just hours after yesterday’s post. It’s basically just a coincidence, I hope. Coincidences happen, Parkfield California had 6.0 quakes in 1857, 1881, 1901, 1922, 1934, and 1966. From this scientists concluded that there would be another quake before 1993 and a lot of money was spent setting up equipment to “capture” and measure the expected quake. And capture it they did, but it was more than ten years late and scientists spent a lot of time and money twiddling their thumbs so to speak.
I live on top of the Hayward fault, one of the world’s most dangerous faults. One can drive around and see where roads, sidewalks, buildings, and a football stadium have been offset a foot or more by slow movement along the fault line. On the plus side, I am relatively safe from hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornadoes. It’s all relative though, and nowhere is completely safe from any natural disaster. The largest earthquake in history could strike tomorrow anywhere on Earth. True, it’s more likely to strike in some areas than others, but at least we’re more or less ready for it. I keep flashlights taped to my cats at all times.
There’s been a bit of good news for drinkers, it appears that moderate levels of alcohol in the blood increases the chances of surviving a serious head injury. The effect is so noticeable that someday emergency rooms may administer alcohol to patients with serious head injuries. The authors of the study also sagely point out that drinking dramatically increases your chances of suffering that head injury in the first place, so this is not a good excuse to be drunk all the time. Nonetheless I am relieved, and henceforth will not wear a motorcycle helmet to Christmas parties, wakes, and other social drinking occasions.
In further science news, scientists studying scum (science is not nearly as romantic and exciting as Hollywood would have us think) may have discovered the world’s smallest germs. About four million of these puppies could fit in a space the size of a period, which I will helpfully illustrate here: . They are a form of Archaea, an ancient branch on the bacteria tree so to speak. While of little immediate practical use (we need smaller germs?) this discovery will be of interest to people searching for bacteria on Mars and elsewhere in space. I saw a show recently about another exciting germ discovery, a type of germ that was thought to have been extinct for a billion years was discovered alive and well, by scientists studying soil outside a castle door that people had been using as a urinal for four hundred years. (Note previous comment about the romance and excitement of science.) And no, I didn’t make that up.
Speaking of tiny little things, I have been asked if I can put a button on my site that will allow readers to increase the font size. Sometimes I forget that not every family is blessed with eternal youth and health like mine (long boring story involving gypsies, vampires, and talking horses.) Sadly I must report that this is not an option on the blog host at this time. I do agree it is a problem, and will shortly switch to a template with a larger font size.
In today’s world news, Ethiopia blows up Somalia, Ahmadinejad blows a gasket, and parts of Australia are blowing away. Yadda yadda yadda. I’m off to buy my traditional Holiday rutabagas, drink a lot of beer and eggnog, and celebrate the birth of our Lord in fine Berkeley style. Cheers and Blessed Be all.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post.)