Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Media Disasters: What we should really worry about

Over the years, thanks to Hollywood and various news stations, there has been increasing dread over certain catastrophes that could occur that would greatly affect our way of living or just eliminate us all together. The most popular ones that you can catch in gossip and on the news are that California is going to break in half along the san andreas fault, a rouge tsunami, an asteroid crashing into the Earth, or possibly even our sun expanding to the point where it engulfs our solar system. Unfortunately what the media says is not always true, and is just used for its entertainment value.

Anyone who has taken the most basic Earth Science class can tell you why California is not going to split into two pieces. The type of fault that the San Andreas is happens to be the wrong type for the spreading apart motion. It is more likely that L.A. is going to wind up near Seattle in the next few million years. Those who are enlightened with this information will also know that there is a more prominent earthshaking threat. The New Madrid Fault Line stretches from Illinois to Alabama and can create earth moving events that can strike areas five states away. An earthquake in more dangerous in a land locked area because the only place for the seismic waves to disperse is through the adjacent ground. In the past the New Madrid Fault even diverted the course of the Mississippi river.

No matter how terrifying the idea of an asteroid striking the Earth may be, it doesn’t hold a candle to what a solar ejection could do. At most a asteroid would cause localized casualties and a change in the Earth’s climate. However is a large enough solar ejection was to come close enough to the Earth it would disrupt the operation of all electrical equipment worldwide. Just imagine all of our means of transportation just cutting out for a day. This has happened before in 1859, however the damage was minimal since the extent of the technology was telegraph lines.

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