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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

D.C. takes a jolt

Hard to believe, but there was a 5.8 earthquake in Virginia today, which shook up D.C., 84 miles away, and was felt in New York. There are two nuclear reactors in a complex 20 about seven miles from the epicenter, and they've been taken off line. One out of the four emergency diesel generators at the plant has failed, but we're told that the other three are enough to prevent a serious nuclear accident.

The reactors were designed to withstand a 5.9 to 6.1 earthquake, and so this one was a bit of a close call.

Apparently the National Cathedral has been damaged, and other landmarks in the nation's capital have been closed off while they're inspected. Other government buildings including the White House were evacuated temporarily. So far we can't find any reports of injury, although there has been some significant damage.

Comments (18)

Evidently they evacuated the control tower at EWR. That must have been a hoot.

No biggie. Those guys sneak out to Dunkin' Donuts all the time.

Quake sensors were removed from the North Anna reactor in the 1990s due to budget cuts. The quake is sitting on a fault:


Then Sunday comes Irene, locusts to come midweek next. In the meantime, check out the damage...


One of my favorite parts to the brown dwarf star theory is that it uses the Bible as an historical record. It's easy to say that people are crazy as hell to think the sun has a binary companion that approaches our solar system every few thousand years causing havoc. Yet, lots of people believe the Bible. Could this be one of those times where everyone is a little right? The Great Flood of the Bible did happen? It is mentioned in other cultures, you know.
Oh well. Maybe it's all Internet hype. Maybe Comet Elenin isn't an escort to something nasty that's going to rock our world. Something so big that it won't have to come too close to affect our sun, and hit us with some serious radiation and God knows what else. Maybe our government isn't building underground cities for a fortunate few to hole up in while this bastard goes by, and heads off to deep space. Who really knows? We are definitely going to find out though, and soon enough.
And one thing is certain: If it does happen, we can't say there weren't signs. I'd have to say this unusual quake today, would be in that group. Another would be the whole general economic behavior of our governments. This is exactly how'd you act if you knew the slate was going to be wiped clean and life on earth would go on in a much different way.

Surveying geology and reporting observations, for timely public preparedness, was discounted and denied value 5 months ago by the corrupt USHouse criminal Republican Cantor, in whose Cong.Dist. today's quake was epicentered. Who knew?

Quakes in Virginia stir the complexes of military infamy like this: Virginia Militarized: The Pervasive Presence of the US Military, by David Swanson and Shepherd Johnson, Global Research .org, August 15, 2011.

So, our government isn't building underground cities?


If you're following this stuff, it's like a puzzle on a scale of time and space that you'll never see again. To the millions of people who pondered the Casey Anthony trial, welcome to the most fascinating case ever. And win or lose, it will all proceed with the swiftness of a not-so-heavenly body speeding towards us.

I've read that only certain parts of the world will be safe. Denver comes up on the "Be there" list, as long as you're underground and can stay there for months.

What would we look for besides unusual seismic activity like an earthquake in Washington? Another possible clue for us is if one of these volcanos around here wakes up. Extra credit if it's Yellowstone. Also, follow how the sun is behaving.

Look, I don't know if there's anything to this. I just like puzzles. I listened for months as people discussed the details of Casey Anthony. All I'm saying is you might as well tune in to the ultimate case. We're all potentially on trial in this one.

Ahh, it could all be bunk. Of course, who would know if the CIA doesn't know? Then you read stories from 2005 about the CIA relocating its headquarters to Denver. Hmmm....

Bill, earthquakes happen all the time, in places that don't get earthquakes often, all the time. Go look through some USGS data one of these days. They're only noteworthy when they hit populated areas. We're not measuring more earthquakes than normal. Why would a companion brown dwarf star cause only a shift towards populated areas? I think it's a lot more likely this is simply random clumping.

A brown dwarf at the nemesis distance we haven't detected yet would have to be dim as hell. We're often finding quite dim brown dwarfs many light years away. The nemesis star was proposed decades ago and we've done survey after survey since, haven't found it yet.

I'm not saying stop looking, or that it's impossible, but I don't think there's compelling reason to suspect it's there. When you start evaluating every rare thing that occurs as potential evidence for <insert theory here>, you really risk confirmation bias. When it comes to cosmology, I try to follow the cosmological principle. It's not as fun, but I think it's a crucial discipline.

I admit I had to look up the cosmological principle, but in that regard the idea of a binary star isn't that unusual throughout the universe.
I can say definitively that I don't have confirmation bias. Instead I would put this in the category of, "things I am biased against to the point of wanting to adopt a protective blind spot, but I force myself to look, just in case it is correct."
I do want to know the truth. I'm biased towards that. I also love the fact that this subject comes with a time certain. I hope it's like the dire predictions from many smart people that the computers would crash when we got to Y2K. That was sweet, looking back at what didn't happen.

One flaw in your argument is when you write about this all-inclusive "we". We haven't found the brown dwarf star yet. We haven't detected it yet. I don't think that common people such as myself, get the straight story about anything. I've read NASA's view on this, but are you saying NASA has been completely forthcoming about what they know? When did that start? That leaves us sifting through a huge mass of data looking for clues. That's the puzzle part.
I admit I do enjoy it. It's fascinating but you have to pick and choose. I gravitate towards the topics with sizzle (JFK, aliens, 9/11) and try and skip the Casey Anthony obsessions as a waste of time, but I'm not consistent. One subject that I just don't look at it is global warming. For some reason, I just took that one off.

I would finish by questioning the bias in your notion that we would have detected something by now. We just found a trojan asteroid. That's an asteroid following our own orbit.
Nearly every week there are astounding things reported on that we hadn't detected yet.
The cosmological principle is based on a uniformity throughout the universe - that the universe works the same way elsewhere - but just a few weeks ago, there was an article about parts of our universe that seem to have dents from collisions with other universes. I wish I was making that up. The idea of multi-verses is now thrown around and gets a lot of respect.
If we're just one universe out of many, then what we've detected so far is very little.

Bill, my point with the cosmological assumption deal was only that I'm under an impression a dwarf being as dim as it needs to be, in the right spot, and meeting the criteria necessary to have thus far gone undetected would result in a rather rare configuration. But you're right, there's nothing about this that inherently violates the cosmological principle. One should really only use it as a take-down for stuff like "Maybe there's no expansion of the universe, and instead we're in a low-density void with lots of stuff beyond the horizon pulling at things from all directions.", et cetera.

"We" is just us humans. I didn't bring up anything from NASA. There's a world-wide community of astronomers, from amateurs to folks at universities. Anyone with cash (or more likely, a grant from their school) can rent out time at an observatory and do whatever they like they like and look for whatever they like. NASA doesn't get to censor you.

All science is is a way to try to systematically get at the truth, based on evidence. Of course we're totally off about a lot of stuff, our models are all wrong, and there's stuff we don't even know we don't know. Pick any year in history and you'll find a whole bunch of since-disproved stuff that was believed. But, science isn't an almanac, it's a process. The trend has been to build upon previous theories with new evidence and insight, whittling down the truth towards being more true. I'm big on figuring out truth as you are, but since I currently lack the training to do real astrophysics myself, the best I can do is trust the best science has to offer.

One might not completely trust the scientific consensus. Plenty of folks don't, as a rule. To me, if the science-proven stuff is as fraught with fallibility as some would argue, I don't even want to touch that unproven stuff.

I don't argue that the theory is wrong — only that there's not enough evidence to bother. There's just very, very, little evidence supporting the hypothetical nemesis star.

I love astronomy, and there is exciting stuff coming out constantly. I find it a lot more rewarding trying to wrap my head around developing, unsure stuff that the scientific stargazing community think is actually on track. Like the shape of the universe. It's looking like it's probably a hypertorus . A 4D donut. With a three-dimensional surface in the same manner a 3D sphere or 3D donut has a two-dimensional surface. And the same implication that if you were to head off in one direction long enough, eventually you wrap back around to where you started (but it'd take you much longer than the age of the universe to do this, and your original location will have expanded away, but who cares?). Isn't that awesome?

I went to a Stephen Hawking lecture and he said - through his voice machine - that the universe is like the skin of an expanding balloon. He resisted string theory but I guess the numbers don't add up without it.
All I can say about the 4-D donut is you have to be careful when a theory has a hole in it.

Bill, I don't think you have to worry about Comet Elenin. Remember Comet Hale-Bopp? The same claims were made for it-- in fact suicide culters did away with themselves, expecting to be carried away by the extraterrestials hiding behind Hale-Bopp,

The current joke making the rounds: Hipsters in DC are bragging about how they were into the earthquake WAAAAAAAY before it ever got to New York.

Comet Elenin is not the issue - for me anyway. The drama could come from a binary star.
There have been recent stories about the possibility of that.
Then there's the ancient stuff. Maybe the earth has always been a peaceful place for humans, but these ancient texts seem to indicate cataclysmic events. And I'm not the one pushing the religious aspects either. When enough different cultures describe an event you have to wonder. Were they all just being creative or did something big occur?
I'm going to go with my own theory, developed starting when I was a kid in grade school: The gist of every science class is to downplay the excitement level of the universe. The theme is always, "Don't worry. Nothing dramatic is going to happen. We understand this. The universe is a dull place, much like this science class."
Meanwhile, everywhere we look, we find the universe to be a much more interesting place than we thought.
I would say that's my theory: If you're pondering the existence of anything, always bet on "more interesting than you thought."

Frankly, if I died in something that only happens every few thousand years, compared to getting hit by a Tri-Met bus, I'd consider it a really lucky break. I don't want it to happen, but if it does, I want to be there, for the rush.

The expanding balloon is pretty much the best analogy out there. It applies to the donut too. Many people really have no idea what the big bang is supposed to be or what the the expansion really is. People imagine a big giant explosion and all sorts of stuff coming out of it and filling up the universe with stars and crap. The balloon analogy has them imagine a balloon with a bunch of dots on it, and then as the balloon is inflated, all the dots move equally farther and farther apart from one another, like stars in our universe. It's just a way to visualize things and grasp that there's no center of the universe and that the universe isn't expanding into anything, the analogy has nothing to do with the shape.

Sorry your science classes sucked, most of mine did too with the exception of an amazing Zoology class. Too many teachers don't have special knowledge of the sciences courses they're teaching and aren't all that excited about what's simply a curriculum to some. It should not be a inherently difficult task to get kids excited about stars and dinosaurs. I'd love to see more of the Carl Sagan/Neil deGrass Tyson/Bill Nye-type personalities teaching science in public school.

God said "BANG!!!!" and it was big.

Of course there have been spectacular, cataclysmic events. Big things have occurred lots of times! That realization is probably most shocking to those who were raised in the steady-state America of the 50s. (Ahh the Eisenhower years. ) I learned in school that all volcanoes in America were extinct. In the 60s, tectonic plantes were regarded as theoretical, and all earthquakes thought to be completely distinct and separate events-- as if the thigh bone isn’t connected to the knee bone!

Lately it’s become clear to scientists that, historically, great earth changes have happened faster than they imagined, sometimes in the scale of decades. You may get your rush, Bill. We live in interesting times.

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