12 October, 2006

Some updates

More info on the North Korean nuclear test (or ‘tesr’, as it was in my title for a couple of days): Jake points to CNN report that it was supposed to be a 4 kiloton device - that’s what the Chinese were told by North Korean officials before the test, anyway. If a 10-15 kT device generates a magnitude 5, magnitude 4.2 would represent a yield of 1.6-2.4 kT (very rough calculation – it’s a logarithmic scale, and the starting figure isn’t exactly precise), so it’s a little on the low side, indicating something didn’t go right (it’s not completely impossible that some bizarre combination of large cavity size and local geology led to very inefficient conversion into seismic waves, but that would be mighty convenient). Arms Control Wonk has some speculations on what - plutonium is much more tricky than uranium, it seems. Meanwhile, the Lab Lemming takes the time to debunk the hysteria over a possible second test (quite how a subduction zone earthquake off the Japanese coast got mixed up with a shallow explosion on the Korean Penisula is beyond me - when I first heard this rumour I just looked up the USGS map of recent activity - which clearly just shows Monday's event - and that was that).

Further to my rant about Truth in Science, I was glad to discover that there’s more than a few of us who aren’t going to let their false appeal to ‘balance’ fool anyone. The British Centre For Science Education have a whole section devoted to Truth in Science, and they’ve dug up some interesting facts about the clear creationist roots of the major players in this organisation as well as joining in the debunk-fest. Science, Just Science are also on the case, with a whole topic in their discussion forums. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one worrying about this; although we may not be quite as infected with the creationism meme over here, we don’t have that pesky separation of church and state thing either.


Western geologist said...

Many thanks for the update, the links were very interesting.

I spent some time in the UK a while back (around 10 years ago now). I remember hearing that Ken Ham had visited the city I was staying in not too long before I'd arrived. Some of my friends there were impressed with him.

I'm happy to hear that people in the UK are trying to counter the creationist influence their. I think a big part of the problem in the US is that creationists were able to build up a big groundswell of popular support because they presented their arguments without being opposed. It seems to me that they were largely ignored by the scientific community (with some notable exceptions) until their arguments had been making the rounds for decades. Quite a few of George Macready Price's arguments from the early 20th century are still used by modern creationists.

Western geologist said...

I just read that there's been a preliminary detection of radioactive material from the North Korean test site.

element said...

I can't find an email address for you or a more appropriate place to post a question. I'm looking for someone, anyone, who has any ideas about the cause of Sunday's Hawaiian earthquake. I've posted the question on my blog at ElementList. The quake was very deep (~38 km) and was strike-slip. This seems like an odd place for that kind of quake. Any ideas?

CJR said...

I've tried my best to answer your question here