Tag Archives | Natural Disasters

A Drop of Water Can Start A Forest Fire

DropWaterLeafSounds like a joke, but it’s for real. Truly bizarre. Reports LiveScience:

Many gardeners swear you should not water in the midday because water droplets on plants can magnify the sun’s rays and burn leaves. But the idea has never been rigorously tested, until now.

“This is far from a trivial question,” said biophysicist Gabor Horvath at Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary. “The prevailing opinion is that forest fires can be sparked by intense sunlight focused by water drops on dried-out vegetation.”

Horvath and colleagues used both experiments and computer modeling to figure out the physics that goes on. The results varied depending on the type of leaf.

On smooth surfaces, such as a healthy maple leaf, no leaf burn occurred.

But on leaves with small wax hairs, such as those of the floating fern, the hairs were able to hold water droplets above the leaf surface, creating a magnifying-glass effect that gave the leaves a noticeable sunburn — though no open flames resulted.

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For Tsunami’s Baby 81, Fame Brought Misfortune

By Shihar Aneez for Reuters:

BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) – The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami brought international fame to Baby 81, but the parents of the two-month-old who miraculously survived the deadly wave say it has only brought misfortune.

Found in the debris left by the wave that wrecked swathes of Sri Lanka’s coast and killed 226,000 along the Indian Ocean rim, Abhilash Jeyaraj became a phenomenon after international media reported nine sets of parents had come forward to claim him.

He was brought to the hospital by a villager who found him and, since he had no identification, was named after his hospital admission number: Baby 81.

After his injured parents got out of another hospital two days later and went to claim him, a media storm erupted, which eventually forced Abhilash’s parents to go to the police and courts to get their son back.

They were even arrested when they tried to force their way into the hospital to get their son back and could only bring him home after the father supplied a DNA sample — six weeks after the tsunami.

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Five Years After Tsunami, Many Still Without Shelter

Amantha Perera at oneworld.net:

KALMUNAI, Sri Lanka, (IPS) – “We have been here for almost five years. So many promises have been made, but very few have been kept,” complains Mohideen Nafia, 22, one of the survivors of the 2004 Asian tsunami still living in a temporary facility in the coastal town of Kalmunai, located 300 kilometres east of the capital, Colombo.

Newly married Nafia would have preferred a house of her own with her husband. But at the moment she has to make do with what amounts to a shelter, a one-room unit in a government-provided disaster camp, which the couple shares with Nafia’s family of five and is located about one kilometre from the beach.

Nafia hails from the Sainathimaruthu village in Kalmunai, a major domestic fishing hub that bore the brunt of what has been touted as one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Three of its villages facing the sea — Maradamunai, Sainathimaruthu and Karathivu — suffered the heaviest damage at the time of the tsunami.

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A Real Life Lex Luthor? Switzerland Geologist on Trial for ‘Causing Quakes’

LexLuthorA real life Lex Luthor... Was it all a real estate scam to create "beachfront" property in this land-locked country? Let's find out. BBC News reports:
The head of a geothermal energy company has gone on trial in Switzerland accused of damaging property by triggering earthquakes. Markus Haering's company had been working with the authorities in Basel to try to convert the heat in deep-seated rocks into electricity. But the project was suspended in 2006 when drilling triggered the quakes. They caused no injuries but led to $9m (£5.54m) of damage. Mr Haering denies deliberately damaging property. The project was shut down permanently last week after a government study found that similar quakes caused by the project would lead to millions of dollars worth of damage each year.
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Porn Causes Tsunamis and Earthquakes

untitledThe interesting PZ Myers writes on Pharyngula:

Powerful stuff, that porn. The Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information (who must be very smart to have a title like that) has determined that recent natural disasters in his country are a consequence of the ubiquity of pornographic DVDs. His logic is something like this:

1) it is a fact that one can easily buy porn in local markets, and

2) it is a fact that the Padang earthquake killed over a thousand people and that the Aceh tsunami devastated an entire region, therefore

3) it is a fact that the two are causally related.

Well, point 3 is a little shaky, but 1 and 2 are so strong it must make up for the absence of a causal relationship. Right? Right?

Anyway, you must all now unplug the internet and go through your magazines and DVDs and dispose of anything that might stir the wrath of gods.

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Scientists Say That Earthquakes Never End

A train thrown down by the earthquake that struck San Francisco on April 18, 1906 (via Wikimedia Commons).

Steve Connor writes in the Independent:

Some of the most violent earthquakes that have occurred unexpectedly in places with no recent record of tremors may be the aftershocks of previous earthquakes that took place decades or even centuries ago, scientists have discovered.

Earthquakes usually occur at the boundary of two or more tectonic plates — the massive chunks of the earth’s crust that grind slowly against one another. However, they can also occur many hundreds of miles from a fault line and it is these earthquakes that scientists believe may be the result of long aftershocks rather than background seismic activity.

A laboratory study that tested how tectonic faults work has found that the further away an earthquake is from such fault line, the stronger the likelihood that it could be the long aftershock of a previous earthquake that has taken many years to make itself felt in terms of a second series of violent ground movements.

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