Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chilean earthquake literally knocked Earth off axis

earthquake A bit more holy-crap kind of news from this past weekend’s massive earthquake in Chile: The shake was enough to shift Earth’s axis and actually shortened the span of our days.

The numbers are, of course, very small – the axis shift was in inches and the day-shortening was in milliseconds, but still, that’s one heck of a shake. In fact, it was the seventh strongest earthquake ever measured.

The forces at work in something like this are mind-boggling. Think about how much of a shove it takes to knock over a stack of bricks or to shake a tree just a tiny bit. Now apply that same sort of thinking to the force required to flatten buildings and send huge ocean waves 7,000 miles across the Pacific. Makes me feel pretty insignificant and tiny.

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