Earthquake Prediction: Could We Ever Forecast the Next Big One?

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I traveled to Japan recently with PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien, and helped shoot and produce a series of stories related to the March 11 disasters: earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. The first of those stories from Miles aired last night: on "the elusive science of earthquake prediction -- whether seismologists will ever be able to predict an earthquake with any certainty -- and how far they've come in Japan come toward making that a reality."

Read the story transcript here.

Coincidentally, this piece aired on the same day hundreds of cities on the U.S. West Coast took part in the 2011 Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill —and the same day as first one, then another moderate but jarring quake hit the San Francisco Bay Area. Twitter was all aflutter.

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Japanese tsunami and the birth of icebergs

Scientists have long speculated that large tsunamis could be linked to the calving of icebergs—where chunks of ice break off of the side of a glacier or ice shelf and float away. The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that happened in March off the coast of Japan finally gave them much more direct evidence of this phenomenon. Fascinating stuff, and a great reminder of how interconnected the world really is.

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Via Jeremy Hsu Read the rest

Climate change and earthquakes: It's complicated

In the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami last March, I started seeing a lot of headlines like this:

"Does climate change mean more tsunamis?"

"Did climate change cause the Japanese earthquake?"

In those stories, environmentalists and climate science deniers went head-to-head, with one side pointing out yet another unintended consequence of fossil fuel consumption, and the other side pointing and laughing at what it saw as patently ridiculous fear-mongering. Missing: The nuance. And you know how much I love the nuance.

This is a story that contains a whole lot of yesbut. Yes, it really does make sense that climate change could trigger earthquakes. But it's very, very unlikely that that effect is responsible for any of the monster quakes we've experienced recently. And behind that apparent contradiction lies some really, really interesting science. Read the rest

Photo: Escher painting refracted in a drop of falling water

Reddit's Smsilton took this incredible 60mm macro shot of an iconic MC Escher painting being refracted through a drop of falling water, and documented the process:

Yeah I used the Canon 60mm macro f/2.8. I shot at ISO 640 and 1/250. It took about 150ish shots to get that one, ~2 hours. The hardest part was focusing, in the set up picture I posted in the first comment you can see a piece of string above the eye dropper. I would let that hang down off the eye dropper and focus on that, then move it and squeeze the dropper and the shutter at almost the same time. I have like 30ish more pictures with the drop clearly in the shot but the sketch behind it isn't in focus, this was the clearest one I got.

Water drop falling in front of an MC Escher sketch, I took this pic (

(via Neatorama) Read the rest

Incubot shiroi "voltron + shiroi nekobot USB" Japan tsunami relief

Greetings from Tokyo! Sean Bonner, who I'll be meeting in a few days along with the Safecast crew, shares word of a nifty, limited-edition USB gadget to benefit Japan tsunami relief.

The tsunami and earthquake have faded from the headlines, but the need for aid is still real. Incubot, in conjunction with partners World Events Productions and CustomUSB, have created a line of Japan Relief customs 2G USB drives: limited edition, fully licensed, and in colors honoring the japanese flag. Packaged in "Ganbari Japan!" custom boxes.

100% of profits go to Japanese Red Cross Society and to Safecast radiation monitoring efforts.

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Japan: angry Fukushima citizens confront government (video)

The video above documents what I am told is a meeting between Fukushima residents and government officials from Tokyo, said to have taken place on 19 July 2011. The citizens are demanding their government evacuate people from a broader area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, because of ever-increasing fears about the still-spreading radiation. They are demanding that their government provide financial and logistical support to get out. In the video above, you can see that some participants actually brought samples of their children's urine to the meeting, and they demanded that the government test it for radioactivity.

When asked by one person at the meeting about citizens' right to live a healthy and radioactive-free life, Local Nuclear Emergency Response Team Director Akira Satoh replies "I don't know if they have that right."

Boing Boing reader Rob Pongi spotted this online and sent this in to us. I asked him for more info.

The current evacuation zone in Fukushima is only 20-30 kilometers. The Japanese government has compensated the evacuees from inside that zone and has financially supported them in moving out of it. However, as more and more high levels of radiation are being discovered outside of the evacuation zone, many more Fukushima residents (and many others located nearby Fukushima) want the government to also help them logistically and financially so that they can move out further away from the nuclear plants. Especially since many children are now being exposed. But the government does not want to do this at all and many people are getting very upset.

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Twitter-organized essay collection to benefit Japan quake, with contributions from Gibson and Yoko Ono

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake is a fundraising anthology of essays about the Japan quake and tsunami. It was organized on Twitter and published in a very short time (it's a Kindle book). Contributors include Yoko Ono and William Gibson, who explains his motives to the Globe and Mail:

His contribution begins with a description of a weird scene he once witnessed in Tokyo while riding in a taxi along an elevated highway and seeing into a lit room where a naked man sat at a long marble table. That unsettling vision leads him into "this strange meditation on the profound restlessness I was feeling after the quake and the tsunami, which made me feel I should go there, I should do something. I don't even know if it was an urge to help. It was an urge to make sure one of my favourite places was there..."

"These are what the Victorians would have called occasional pieces: 'on the occasion of the great earthquake.' The form is an ancient one, but the platform is up to date. ... In the past, it was gathered after the fact. Now, we have this facility to respond in real time."

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

(Globe and Mail)

Quakebook excerpts

(via IO9) Read the rest

Panorama of quake damage in Rikuzen-Takada, Iwate, Japan

The 360Cities panorama site has a hair-raising pano of the earthquake damage to Rikuzen-Takada in Japan's Iwate Prefecture -- a whole town reduced to flinders and rubble.

Damage in Rikuzen-Takada, Iwate Pref. (12) Read the rest

Japan (Photo): Inside an evacuation center near Fukushima

A girl from a displaced family holds her stuffed animals at an evacuation center in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, March 31, 2011. This shelter is located about 70 km (44 miles) from the earthquake and tsunami-crippled nuclear reactor. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon) Read the rest

Japan: Seawater contaminated near Fukushima; removal of radioactive water inside plant hits new problems

PHOTO, CLICK FOR LARGE: An aerial view from a height of some 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) and distance of more than 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, March 29, 2011. From right are the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors. (REUTERS/Kyodo)

The government of Japan today announced that levels of radioactive iodine-131 in a seawater sample near the Fukushima plant were measured at a concentration of 3,355 times the maximum level permitted under law.

The leak is believed to be ongoing, and to have originated from the cores of nuclear reactors (probably in buildings 1 or 2, if I'm reading this right) where fuel rods have partially melted.

From the English edition of the Mainichi Daily News:

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said the exact cause of the high iodine concentration remains unknown but that data collected by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. indicate radiation that has leaked at the site during the ongoing crisis "somehow" flowed into the sea. He reiterated that the polluted seawater does not pose an immediate risk to health because fishing is not being conducted in the evacuation zone within 20 kilometers of the plant and radiation-emitting substances would be "significantly diluted" by the time they are consumed by marine species and then by people.

In related news, workers inside the Fukushima plant are today struggling to drain thousands of metric tons of water highly contaminated with radioactivity from the basements of turbine buildings. Read the rest

SF e-anthology to benefit Christchurch earthquake

Discorobot sez, "Tales for Canterbury - a collection of short fiction published to raise money to help those affected by the recent Canterbury Earthquake - is now available for preorder.

Edited by NZ writers Cassie Hart and Anna Caro, the anthology is centred round the themes of survival, hope and future. It includes fiction by overseas and local writers, including Jeff Vandermeer, Tina Makereti, Neil Gaiman, Cat Connor and Sean Williams.

Available in both ebook and print versions in April." Read the rest

Video of 6 main Japanese TV channels, as the quake hits

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Via Time Out Tokyo, which tweets, "This is why we watch NHK." Read the rest

Japan: Gov. officials and TEPCO update on emergency water drop operations at Fukushima

(Image, from NHK TV: A Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter collects seawater from Japan's northeast coast, en route to aerial operations over the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.)

About two hours ago, between 9am and 10am local time in Japan, emergency operations to drop water on to the Fukushima nuclear plant began: specifically, the No. 3. and 4 reactor buildings, including the depleted water pool in which spent fuel is stored. Without water, the fear is that this spent fuel would enter a state that would cause a catastrophic, massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. Government officials say this pool in reactor No. 4. seems to still contain some water, which is positive news; Water levels in no. 3, however, are very low or may be empty, so right now the focus is on No. 3. Immediately after the first phase of aerial water drop operations concluded, Japan's Defense Minister and government spokesman Yukio Edano gave press conferences, followed by a TEPCO press conference. Notes here are hastily transcribed from live broadcast on Japan's NHK TV. Read the rest

Tokyo Hackspace plans solar LED lanterns for use in relief efforts

Penguinsix sez, "The Tokyo Hackerspace is calling for help.

They are planning to build 150 solar powered LED lanterns and are calling on hackerspace members from around the world to lend a hand, soon: 'Soon we will release a list of critical equipment and supplies which we may have difficulty sourcing locally. If you have access to anything on the list, please contact us to make shipping arrangements. If not, please DO NOT ship us anything not on the list (In some cases, it may be VERY specific)' (via Submitterator) Read the rest

Hand-painted lake-monsters to benefit Japan quake and tsunami victims

Artists Joe Somers and Kirby Kerr are auctioning off three hand-painted vinyl lake-monster figurines (sculpted by Chris Ryniak) with proceeds to benefit people in Japan:

Over the years we've had the good fortune to get to know a lot of Japanese artists and toymakers. They are the ones who inspired us to do our "Lake Monsters" project to create monster toys in the "kaiju" style. We've been in touch with all of our friends in Japan, and luckily, everyone we're personally acquainted with is ok, but with Japan currently suffering the after effects of a large earthquake and tsunami, we wanted to make a small token of appreciation and hopefully help out a little.

100% of the proceeds of this auction will be donated to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund operated by

This handpainted figure is a strictly limited one off figure painted in the United States by Squibbles Ink's Joe Somers and Rotofugi's Kirby Kerr. The vinyl figure is from our "Lake Monsters" series and was designed and sculpted by noted artist Chris Ryniak.

Handpainted Big Muscamoot

(via Super Punch)

  Fraudsters break all records in Japan relief ripoffs - Boing Boing How to text $10 to the Red Cross for Japan disaster relief - Boing ... HELP JAPAN POSTER - Boing Boing Read the rest

Fraudsters break all records in Japan relief ripoffs

Fraudster scumbags have beaten all records in setting up fake Japan relief pages, fielding more than 1.7 million malware pages, 419 scams trading on the Japanese disasters, 50+ fake domains with "Japan tsunami" or "Japan earthquake" in their URLs. MacWorld recommends donating via the Red Cross, or other established charities that you're familiar with.

Monday, Trend Micro reported on one phishing site that included "japan" in its URL, saying that the site was harvesting email addresses and other personal information from unsuspecting users.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint effort by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, issued an alert last Friday that warned consumers to be wary of responding to donation requests following a disaster like Japan's.

Fake anti-virus vendors have also gotten in on the action, according to the SAN Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC). Makers of the bogus security software stay atop breaking news by automatically poisoning search engine results with links to their wares.

The ISC came up with a tally of 1.7 million poisoned pages that tout the earthquake and tsunami, a number beyond even Google's ability to rapidly delete.

Fraudsters prey on Japan earthquake charity donations Read the rest

Libraries after the Japan quake and tsunami

Here's a heart-breaking saddening collection of photos showing earthquake and tsnuami damage to Japanese libraries, apparently uploaded by Japanese librarians and library workers.

図書館の被害画像(2011年東北地方太平洋沖地震)Earthquake Damage to Libraries 新規

(Thanks, Thrind, via Submitterator)

(Image: Popongap) Read the rest

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