The Blob

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Tsunami: Close-up

For the past couple of days, I’ve been trying to get a better understanding and visualization of the immensity of the recent Indian Ocean tsunami. Last night, I discovered two new Web sites that have links to videos and photos that put you in the middle of the maelstrom. The videos are riveting, not because you see death, but because you are put in the middle of the event. No news organization has presented this in such clear terms. If you wanted to understand the magnitude of this disaster as a basis for charitable contributions, this is perhaps the best way to understand what it was like. (My apologies to those of you who may have already seen some of these.)

You can see videos and photos here:

Cheese and Crackers Blog

Wizbang Blog

Photo sequnce of the tsunami impact

Wikipedia has a very good description of what happened here

You can donate to help the victims of this disaster through the following Web sites:

Wikipedia Donation Site

Apple Computer Home Page (has links to many charitable organizations)

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What could be

Given the tremendous loss of life from the Indian Ocean tsunami, we might want to consider a future catastrophic threat to American continent's eastern coastline the Carribbean islands posed by the possible collapse of the southern flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.

The collapse of the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, on the southern half of La Palma, is not going to happen tomorrow or next week. What scientists are predicting is that the collapse is likely to happen any time within the next few thousand years. Scientists have discovered that La Palma will collapse at the time of some future volcanic eruption on the summit of the Cumbre Vieja volcano. Eruptions on the summit occur on average every 200 years or so. The last summit eruption was in 1949, so it may be many decades before the next summit eruption takes place.

Furthermore, the collapse will not necessarily happen during the next summit eruption. It may well take five, ten or more summit eruptions before the collapse occurs. But scientists simply do not know how many eruptions it will take. What we do know is that this would be big. Really big. If you live on the US east coast or in the Carribbean, it's not a comforthing thought.

The western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano would slide down westwards into the Atlantic ocean. There would be very strong earthquakes across La Palma while the flank was sliding. As the flank slid into the sea, it would create a very large wave called a mega-tsunami. This wave would move rapidly westwards.

Most of the energy of the wave would head straight out across the Atlantic towards the United States, Bahamas and the Caribbean, but a smaller wave or waves would head in other directions too. All these waves would get smaller as they cross the Atlantic. However scientists believe that they could still be as much as 50 metres (150 feet) high, for example, when they reach the east coast of the United States. To provide some perspective, the Indian Ocean tsunami created waves as high as 10 meters (30 feet) in height.

Full information on La Palma can be seen on the BBC television Web site.

In the meantime, let's do what we can for people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves facing starvation, disease and homelessness resulting from the Indian Ocean Tsunami. You can find useful links to contribute money to aid agencies on the Apple Computer home page.

Two companies that matter

It's fashionable to slam large successful companies these days. But you can tell a lot about a company by its home page. Given the enormous human tragedy resulting from the Indian Ocean tsunami, it’s interesting to contrast the company home pages of Apple Computer and with those of Microsoft and Dell.

Sometimes, being a successful company isn’t all about making money.