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Saturday, September 29, 2007

The best of times!

As we are just starting the 2007 autumn season, if I may borrow a partial expression that was made legendary by Charles Dickens, I would like to say that in my mind the summer of 2007 we've just gone through could be considered as the "best of times!" My reasons are fairly simple, let me count the ways:
  • There has not been a real freaque wave case reported anywhere most of this summer.
  • There's only one named tropical storm in North Atlantic so far became a hurricane. (Tropical storm Dean was upgraded to the first hurricane of the 2007 season on August 16.)
  • A number of large damaging earthquakes ran off Indonesian island of Sumatra. Tsunami warnings were triggered all over -- but no tsunami was really actualized.
  • We are winning the counterinsurgency war in Iraq.
I guess for someone who regards half-full as half-empty may feel differently. Anyway the summer of 2007 on the planet earth is certainly not at all ordinary -- plenty of challenges for scientists and whoever it may concern. I think the no tsunami earthquake cases are especially challenging to the geophysists to find out how and why to avoid headlines such as: "Tsunami alerts quickly followed Indonesian quakes, though some sparked panic" in the International Herald Tribune, September 13, 2007 or as this kind of news questions: "Were tsunami alerts necessary?" in the Sunday Times online of Sri lanka.

In the June 2005 issue of 'Physics Today," six month after the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Sumatra, a posted question was "What is the appropriate scientific response to a human tragedy?" That's too big an issue to dwell upon here. Until scientist can provide tangible answers beyond pitiful personal interests, I suggest everyone can take a look at this advice I found from this National Geographic News
Use your common sense. If you feel or hear of a strong earthquake do not wait for an official tsunami warning. Tell your family and friends to join you in leaving for high ground.
I don't think the current crop of tsunami warning systems can do that much better than this common sense one. But, alas! we just can't make similar kind of common sense advice to anyone who might otherwise concern about freaque waves!

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