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April 5, 2010

#723: Seismic Waves

Seismic Waves

When an earthquake hits, people flood the internet with posts about it–some within 20 or 30 seconds.

[[A room with a desk, chair, and computer are shaking. The person in it is on his phone, using Twitter.]]

RobM163 Huge earthquake here!

Damaging seismic waves travel at 3-5km

s. Fiber signals move at ~200,000kh


(minus network lag)

This means when the seismic waves are about 100km out, they begin to be overtaken by the waves of posts ABOUT them.

[[There is a geographical border on a map; the front edge of the wave of the quake is shown, with the front edge of the wave of tweets surpassing it.]]

People outside this radius may get woord of the quake via Twitter, IRC, or SMS BEFORE the shaking hits.

[[A man and woman are standing, holding cell phones. The woman is looking at hers.]]

Woman: Whoa! Earthquake!

Sadly, a Twitterer’s first instinct is not to find shelter.

Man and Woman (on phones): RT @RobM163 Huge earthquake here!

{{Title text: The USGS operates a really neat email

SMS earthquake notification service (earthquake.usgs.gov


) that allows fine-grained control of notifications.}}