Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Supermoons and silliness

I didn't actually hear about this one. The idea is that the full moon which is also at it's closest point can destabilize the crust, making earthquakes more likely. There was one March 11. There was a bunch of people trying to link the Sim-City:Japan disasters to it. There is a good overview here.

The comments to the link are the most depressing... consider:

I'm not a scientist, but it is obvious that this writer has NOT done her homework with the few statistics that I do know, and as a lay person on the matter that creates a huge red flag to the general quality of this article. -- Zack
... apart from the disputed statistic actually not being claimed, the bit that was wrong about the statistic (that the Indonesian earthquake+tsunami was the most devastating recorded) was not important to its use in the article. This is by no means a "huge" red flag.

do we know enough about how the universe affects our planet. as our planet comes into alignment with the center of the milky way is this what is affecting us here -- barb

... some leading questions. "Do we know enough"... for what? Barb does not say. We do know enough to know that the full moon did not cause the Japan quake. The second question about alignment with the center of the milky way? We are always "in alignment" - but no, Barb is thinking about the 2012 doomsday prophesy. It seems that the Earth's axial tilt will hit its maximum sometime in 2012... some people are incorrectly calling this an "alignment" sounds mad? It is.  Basically she is asking if this event is a precursor to the 2012 End of the World. So the answer is: "no".

An astronomer I know told me that the difference between the astronomers and the astrologers can be summed up by saying that the "scientific" astronomers don't think patterns in the sky are significant. He used the term "coincidental." Well, just because we don't understand it, it doesn't mean the pattern's not significant. -- philomedia
... that summary is like saying that Hamlet is about this guy who never gets around to killing his uncle and ends up killed himself. Anyway, the conclusion is based on a false premise: that "we" do not understand the patterns in the sky. We do: the constellations are made-up pictures ... we understand this sort of thing very well and it has a special name: fiction.

The new moon and full moon are having control on earth quakes and tsunamis . Definitely the increase of tides during the full moon and new moon making thrusts on the tectonic plates and shaking them resulting tremors, earth quakes and tsunamis .

Due to global warming , there is an increase in sea level as well the sea water quantum also been increased , thereby earth dynamics might have deviated due to quantum increase of water body to an extend, causing all these troubles. May be the nature is executing some correction steps to balance it self . We may expect some after effects during super moon too.  
-- jayaveeriah
This is a good example of pseudoscience ... it tries very hard to sound scientific without actually coming within a megaparsec of anything sciencey. Notice the frequent use of "quantum"? Makes it sound a bit like quantum mechanics doesn't it? The description of the moons effects is almost pornographic! Lets see:

The tides do affect the Earth - well done - but they do not "shake" the tectonic plates. Shaking the plates does not result in tremors, shaking plates is what tremors are. It is hard to know what he means by "sea water quantum" - just google the term for a range of uses. It sounds like he means "quantity". The dynamics (type of motion) may have changed due to an increase in the amount of liquid water around, however, this would make the Earth a bit more stable (mass redistributed from the poles to the equator - wide objects have a smoother spin) not less like would give you earthquakes. It may seem like it but "Global Warming" is not a magic phrase that lends credence to anything it is attached to. "Wingardiam levioso."

However, jayaveeriah does not want to give up the "supermoon = disaster" thing: this quake may not have been the supermoon but the moon could still bring  something else. (At time of writing: nope.) The article actually debunks this as well by charting historical supermoons with reference to the lack of natural disaster clusters in those times.

Chris tries his hand at science, takes a long waffley time to say that there is no way to predict earthquakes, and ends:
Sure, a full moon could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. There has to be that proverbial straw. But this moon is only that, a straw. It's not a sack of sand. -- chris
...well, no it can't be. The really small stress from tides in the crust can be a contributing factor to an earthquake but it is not the last thing on the load as implied by the proverb. We may say " what with everything else, if the moon were not a supermoon at that time then the quake would not have happened" and we may even be right (though how would you tell?) but we could equally say that without that last millimeter's subduction it would not have happened either: which is "the last straw"? Neither: they both contribute. "The last straw" is actually a "single cause" fallacy.

"Not a sack of sand." is right though: the tide's effect is so small that the phase of the moon has no predictive value for earthquakes. Now somebody is going to ask me about the full moon and psychology...

No comments:

Post a Comment