Friday, April 18, 2008

Earth Trembles


Gateway Arch seen from Adams Mark Hotel.

Today the San Francisco (baseball) Giants begin a 3-game series in St. Louis against the Cardinals. April 18 is also the 102nd anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake and fire. This morning the event was commemorated with a 5.2 magnitude quake centred in the Midwest. Few regions of Earth, even New York or London, are safe from earthquakes. The New Madrid Quake of 1811 was centred just 225 kilometres Southeast of St. Louis. It had a magnitude of at least 7.0, greater than the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. A similiar quake today would be disastrous. Earthquakes and volcanoes may all be powered by a Black Hole in Earth's core.

Also today the Delta Queen (below) begins what may be her last season cruising the Mississipi. She is the last steam-powered sternwheeler making overnight trips in the US, and a National Historic Landmark. The ship was built in Scotland, then shipped in pieces to California where she began service from San Francisco to Sacramento. She has survived because her wooden superstructure has been exempted from US Coast Guard safety regulations. The US Congress has stupidly failed to renew this exemption, which could spell the end of an era. At one time 3,000 steamboats stopped at St. Louis each year. How foolish if politics and regulations caused this bit of history to end.

Watching a steam engine in operation is fascinating. Coal and oil both gain their chemical energy from Earth's internal heat. Recently we have found that Saturn's moon Titan contains even more hydrocarbons than Earth. Energy powering the Delta Queen up the Mississippi may also be a byproduct of a tiny Black Hole.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which ever political party runs the house should be voted out...

12:30 AM  
Blogger Qubit said...

Hi, do you think black holes come in male and female?

10:19 AM  

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