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Japan Quake: NOT caused by the supermoon/DID alter our day length

March 15, 2011

First of all if you haven’t donated to the Red Cross relief efforts in Japan, do it RIGHT NOW by texting “RED CROSS” to 90999. It’s only $10 and I don’t care how fucking broke you are, you can afford to give $10 to help people who have it WAY WORSE. And all you have to do is send a couple texts. They take it out of your phone bill.

There has been a lot of speculation about this quake being caused by the “supermoon.” That is absolute bullshit. Click those words for three different stories from very reliable and respected sources for detailed explanations as to why the moon didn’t cause this quake. In short- the moon’s orbit is elliptical, so it’s distance from earth varies over a 2-week period. When it’s closest we call it perigee, and when it’s farthest it’s called apogee. When the full moon happens to coincide with perigee, we call it a supermoon, because this full moon will appear just a tiny bit bigger than the rest because the moon is at it’s closest.  The phase of the moon (how much of it is lit by the sun) cannot have any effect on earth whatsoever beyond the fact that a clear, full moon-lit night will be a little brighter than a clear, new moon-lit (unlit) night. What does have some effect on earth is the moon’s gravity (which causes tides), which is understandably just tiny bit stronger at perigee. If those tiny fluctuations in the moon’s gravitational tug had any effect on earthquakes we would see it every TWO WEEKS because that’s how often the moon goes from perigee to apogee! Again, for more info click those links above.

One thing that is based on scientific fact is that the quake altered the length of one day, and shifted the Earth’s figure axis. The changes are so minute that they are completely insignificant, but interesting nonetheless. According to computer models, Earth’s day is about 1.8 microseconds (millionths of a second) shorter and the Earth’s figure axis moved by about 6.5 inches (17 centimeters). These changes are tiny compared to normal fluctuations of the both of these measurements over a year’s time, however. Both the length of a day and the position of the Earth’s figure axis fluctuate yearly by a margin greater than the amount the earthquake changed them. So, this is nothing to worry about, but it’s still amazing. (Via Universe Today)

I must also point out that Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog, as always, has an amazing collection of stunning photos from the aftermath. Definitely a must-see.

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