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Thread: Physics: The Savior?

  1. #1 Physics: The Savior? 
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    Natural disasters have struck the earth for a myriad of years now leaving the land in pieces, killing millions. As physics is the study of natural things perhaps it would be time we moved our focus from exploring the cosmos to protecting our own planet.

    After seeing the earth quake/tsunami in Japan today my question is thus; how can seismic activity be reduced? I dont know of any indepth and practical research into the movement of tectonic plates (although practical research would be difficult for obvious reasons.) Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter?


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    There does not seem to be any plausible way of reducing seimic activity: the forces involved are many orders of magnitude too high. There are three ways in which the effects of seismic activity could be reduced.

    1) Improved construction.
    2) Improved predictive methods.
    3) Geoengineering that encourages gradual movement along plate boundaries and other discontinuities, perhaps by injection of large volumes of water, thus reducing the magnitude of any quakes that do occur.


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    Perhaps, but nonetheless natural disasters are likely to be the down fall of the human race one day. Perhaps there would be a way of combating tsunamis?.

    I know the technology wont be possible for many years but after seeing such sights one has to wonder how much more the world can take. Especially if the tsunami strikes a nuclear power plant (Chernobyl all over again only on a much larger scale)

    Individuals say it is not possible to combat these disasters but where are the visionaries? it was not so long ago our race could only dream of traveling to space people said it was impossible but it happened.
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  5. #4  
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    Ophiolite's advice is probably the best that can be given. Natural disasters are part of the world in which we live. This is true of the Earth as well as the greater cosmos that lies beyond.

    Mankind has survived earthquakes, floods, volcanos, plagues and all manner of lesser disasters - not to mention the wars we've visited upon ourselves that have caused more death, destruction and suffering than all the aforementioned natural disasters combined.

    Chris
    It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
    Robert H. Goddard - 1904
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  6. #5 Re: Physics: The Savior? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKingOfPhysics
    Natural disasters have struck the earth for a myriad of years now leaving the land in pieces, killing millions. As physics is the study of natural things perhaps it would be time we moved our focus from exploring the cosmos to protecting our own planet.

    After seeing the earth quake/tsunami in Japan today my question is thus; how can seismic activity be reduced? I dont know of any indepth and practical research into the movement of tectonic plates (although practical research would be difficult for obvious reasons.) Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter?
    Emphasis mine. I hate this kind of narrow-mindedness. It's not like there aren't people out there researching exactly this. Why does that preclude others from researching other things?
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    KingofPhysics, you appear not to have understood the full impact of my three suggestions. Properly implemented these would reduce the risk to life and property to levels we would currently find wholly acceptable. They are not 'hole in the dyke' measures, but practical, effective appraoches that can produce the desired result.
    We are well on the way with item 1, construction. Gaining every day in item 2, prediction. And will have the capacity to evolve number 3 sometime this century.

    In the meantime would you tell me why you wish to focus our research on seismic control? Such events kill only a few thousand people a year. On the other hand a child dies of malnutrition or porr water every three seconds. In one day we lose more than we do to earthquakes in a year. What do you propose to do about that?
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  8. #7 Re: Physics: The Savior? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKingOfPhysics
    After seeing the earth quake/tsunami in Japan today my question is thus; how can seismic activity be reduced? I dont know of any indepth and practical research into the movement of tectonic plates (although practical research would be difficult for obvious reasons.) Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter?
    Yes. Just suppose you could stop all the seismic activity. You bring plate tectonics to a halt. Guess what? After a few hundred million years all the land has been eroded, and you're living on waterworld.

    I'm afraid earthquakes are a fact of life. We could mitigate their effects fairly easily. Don't build highrise, build expensive earthquake-resistant buildings. Don't live near the sea. That kind of thing. But people don't have the will to do this kind of thing.
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