Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nothing Trivial about Texas

The Texas Rangers are playing the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Yes, I know. Nothing new about that. But I thought some of the trivia about Texas shared on last night's game was interesting.

For example, Texas has more airports than any other state. (I didn't know that, but it makes sense. We need them to get from one part of the state to another in less than a day.)

In honor of the Texas Rangers, here are a few other randoms about Texas:

1. Texas spans 801 miles from its southern tip to its northern state line.

2. The Amarillo airport has the 3rd longest runway in the world and is designated as an alternate landing site for the space shuttle.

3. While Texas was a Republic, its northern panhandle extended all the way into southern Wyoming.

4. The Texas state capitol building is the largest of all the states. It spans 8.5 acres and has almost 500 rooms.

5. The largest county in Texas is Brewster County, which covers 6,233 square miles. That's more square miles than Connecticut.

So, when we say things are bigger in Texas, we really mean it.

Monday, October 17, 2011


So, last week, I mentioned the number of earthquakes in the world each year. Did you know that the moon has quakes too? Not surprisingly, they are called "moonquakes."

Buzz Aldrin planted a seismometer in the Sea of Tranquility while he was there. (Hmmm, that explains one of the little black boxes. My roommate from college always wondered about those, but I digress.)

According to NASA, there are at least four different kinds of moonquakes: (1) deep moonquakes, which are about 700 km below the surface, apparently caused by tides; (2) those that register vibrations from the impact of meteorites; (3) thermal quakes, believed to be caused by the expansion of the frigid crust when the morning sun first hits a spot after two weeks of deep-freeze lunar night; and (4) shallow moonquakes occurring only 20 or 30 kilometers below the surface.

Their equipment has even registered a 5.5 magnitude quake, which is strong enough to move heavy furniture and crack plaster on earth, according to NASA. Some scientists would like to deploy a series of seismometers around the moon to conduct a better study of moonquakes. That would give NASA a better idea of which parts of the moon are more stable so that they'd know where the best possible lunar base locations could be.

Too bad scientists didn't have a chance to do that before all those people moved to California.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What's Shaking?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there have been 3,678 earthquakes in the United States during 2011 as of October 10th. The USGS estimates that there are several million earthquakes worldwide each year, but many go undetected because of their remote locations or lack of magnitude.

The USGS also detects about 50 mine blasts each business day and maintains a separate explosion list -- just to keep the two straight.

No earthquake of a magnitude 3.5 or greater has occurred in my beloved State of Texas in the past thirty years. Now, if you want to talk about hurricanes, we've got you covered.

To check out real time earthquake activity, hop over to the USGS website: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/