Monday, August 20, 2007

Talcum Powder May Prevent Quakes

You know talcum powder is useful in preventing chafing or controlling moisture in your shoes, but did you know it may also fend off killer quakes?

Scientists in California are trying to uncover why a stretch of the deadly San Andreas Fault slides smoothly rather than sticking for years, and then slipping violently. After drilling a 2-mile-deep hole in the smooth-moving fault, they discovered lots and lots of talcum powder,
reports the LA Daily News.

My question, when are we going to start powdering the worlds most violent faults? Is the idea any crazier than shooting a trillion (yes, trillion) tiny spacecraft into orbit with the goal of blocking enough of the sun’s light to cool the earth in the case of runaway global warming? That’s
a real suggestion form University of Arizona astronomer Roger Angel.

Interestingly enough, it would be prohibitively expensive to execute Angel’s plan with a conventional rocket, so he recommends shooting the sunshades into orbit with an electromagnetic space cannon mounted on the planet’s surface. Seriously. The plan would cost around 2.5 trillion dollars to pull off (.2 percent of global GDP). Once funding is in place, it would take 10 years (launching a craft every five minutes) to complete the shade, which is actually a cloud of little spacecraft.

So if a plan like that is floating around out there, don’t be surprised if some geologist comes up with a scheme to lube the Earth’s deadliest faults with talcum powder. Just remember where you read about it first.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.