No, the "supermoon" didn't cause the Japanese earthquake

By Phil Plait | March 11, 2011 10:02 am

[UPDATE: I have posted an article with more info on the earthquake and where you can donate money toward the relief efforts.]

Japan suffered a massive earthquake last night, measuring nearly magnitude 9. This is one of the largest quakes in its history, causing widespread and severe damage. Before I say anything else, I’m greatly saddened by the loss of life in Japan, and I’ll be donating to disaster relief organizations to help them get in there and do what they can to give aid to those in need.

While there isn’t much I can do to directly help the situation in Japan, I do hope I can help mitigate the panic and worry that can happen due to people blaming this earthquake on the so-called "supermoon" — a date when the Moon is especially close to the Earth at the same time it’s full. So let me be extremely clear:

Despite what a lot of people are saying, there is no way this earthquake was caused by the Moon.

The idea of the Moon affecting us on Earth isn’t total nonsense, but it cannot be behind this earthquake, and almost certainly won’t have any actual, measurable effect on us on March 19, when the full Moon is at its closest.

So, how can I be so sure?

The gravity of the situation

Here’s the deal. The Moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, so sometimes it’s closer to us and sometimes farther away. At perigee (closest point) it can be as close as 354,000 km (220,000 miles). At apogee, it can be as far as 410,000 km (254,000 miles). Since the Moon orbits the Earth every month or so, it goes between these two extremes every two weeks. So if, say, it’s at apogee on the first of the month, it’ll be at perigee in the middle of the month, two weeks later.

The strength of gravity depends on distance, so the gravitational effects of the Moon on the Earth are strongest at perigee.

However, the Moon is nowhere near perigee right now!

The Moon was at apogee on March 6, and will be at perigee on March 19. When the earthquake in Japan hit last night, the Moon was about 400,000 km (240,000 miles) away. So not only was it not at its closest point, it was actually farther away than it usually is on average.

So again, this earthquake in Japan had nothing to do with the Moon.

Time and tide

So why would people think this is due to the Moon?

On March 19, the Moon will be at perigee –about 354,000 km away. However, on that date it will also be full, and this has an effect on tides.

You can read my detailed essay on tides on my old website. The bullet points are that the Sun has an effect on our tides here on Earth, as does the Moon. When the Sun, Earth, and Moon are near a straight line in space — that is, at new or full Moon — these effects are maximized. We get what are called spring tides, with extra-high high tides, and extra-low low tides.

If this happens at perigee, the effects are even stronger. The tidal force from the Moon can be as much as 50% greater! While that sounds dangerous, it’s not like we’ll see huge earthquakes and roaring tidal waves from this, because even at their strongest, the tidal forces are fairly weak. It does mean people in low-lying regions and who usually experience monthly spring tide floods should take extra precautions, but it won’t be the epic disaster some people are breathlessly claiming.


The pseudoscience

The UK newspaper Daily Mail has a shameful article up asking if the Japan earthquake was caused by this "supermoon". While they do ask a geologist and an astronomer about it — and they both say it’s silly — the article spends quite a bit of its space whipping up fears that the gravity of the Moon will cause volcano eruptions and earthquakes.

I’ll note that the person who is making this claim, and who first called this effect a "supermoon", is an astrologer. Yeah. Let me be clear here as well: astrology doesn’t work. At all.

And that sort of thinking has failed here again. Study after study has shown that big earthquakes are not caused by the Moon, super or otherwise. It would make some sort of sense to think that maybe there is a connection, since the Moon pulls on the Earth, and the majority of earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates slipping past or under each other. However, you can look at the timing of earthquakes versus the distance (and phase) of the Moon, and at best there is a weak correlation between shallow, low intensity quakes and the Moon… and certainly none with major quakes.

Think about it: if there were some connection, and it were this obvious, geologists and seismologists would be issuing warnings every perigee and every full Moon. These are people who have devoted their lives to understanding how the Earth shakes, and would be screaming their heads off if it were something as easy and obvious as the Moon. They don’t because there’s no connection.

A storm isn’t rising

What about weather? This one is a bit tougher.

The tides from the Moon and Sun affect our oceans and large bodies of water, and they also affect the solid Earth — the land under you rises and falls by about a meter every single day as the Earth spins under the Moon!

As it happens, the tides affect the atmosphere as well. Since air is not solid or liquid, and has no real edge, the movement of air up and down due to tides is difficult to measure. But again, we can measure the dates and times of storms and other bad weather and compare it to the Moon, and to the best of my knowledge there is no correlation at all. Remember, meteorologists, like the other scientists I mentioned before, want to save lives. If they thought the Moon had any effect, they’d be all over it!

An article on Accuweather may be at the heart of this. The author repeats the claims of the astrologer I mentioned above, who links storms to the Moon. The article says:

There were SuperMoons in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005. These years had their share of extreme weather and other natural events. Is the Super Moon and these natural occurrences a coincidence? Some would say yes; some would say no. I’m not here to pick sides and say I’m a believer or non-believer in subjects like this, but as a scientist I know enough to ask questions and try to find answers.

But as I said before, the gravity of the Moon is strongest at perigee, and the Moon orbits the Earth once a month. There are actually 12 – 13 perigee every single year, so saying there was wild weather in a year when the Moon happened to be at perigee when it was full is meaningless. Unless the wild weather happened on the actual date of the "supermoon" then it must be coincidence, because on other dates the Moon was farther from the Earth!

Mind you, there are tens of thousands of thunderstorms on our planet each and every day, and conditions which give rise to them can take days to build. It’s hard therefore to correlate any given weather system with the Moon.

And it gets worse. Like where the Accuweather article says this:

AccuWeather Facebook fanpage member Daniel Vogler adds, "The last extreme super moon occurred was on January 10th, 2005, right around the time of the 9.0 Indonesia earthquake. That extreme super moon was a new moon. So be forewarned…"

The problem here is that this is total nonsense. The huge Indonesian earthquake was on December 26th, 2004: fully two weeks before the Moon was at perigee. In other words, that earthquake happened when the Moon was nearly at its farthest from the Earth, minimizing its effect on us.

But back to weather: it’s caused by an incredibly complex interaction between the Earth’s rotation, the heat input from the Sun, the way the oceans and seas absorb and radiate heat, and a million other factors. If the Moon contributes in any way, it is very, very small compared to these other massive factors.

Conclusion

We humans like to connect events in our heads, even if they have nothing to do with each other. Skeptics refer to this as "Correlation does not imply causation". In other words, just because two things happen near the same time or place doesn’t mean one actually caused the other. Out of such things are superstitions born.

Or "supermoons". I cannot say that there will be no earthquakes, volcano eruptions, or major storms come March 19 when the full Moon is at perigee. It would be silly to say that, since it’s entirely possible there will be, and in fact, given how common these disasters, I can practically guarantee there will be something that happens on that date! Just as there will be on March 18, and March 20, and June 17, and September 30, and and and.

But I can be fairly certain that if such events happen, they have little or nothing to do with our Moon. And the earthquake in Japan certainly had nothing to do with the Moon, since our satellite was actually closer to its farthest point in its orbit than its nearest!

I expect we’ll be seeing more terrible coverage of this as March 19 approaches. I’m already seeing it on Twitter and in the mainstream media (and we know how bad they are at covering science), and getting lots of emails from people who are hearing it from friends and family.

[UPDATE: I just found out PopSci has a solid, matter-of-fact article debunking this as well. Good on them! They even coincidentally used the same Moon picture I did.]

[UPDATE 2: Add the Washington Post to that list of good media, too.]

I hope that this article will put some of those fears to rest.

But I’ll leave you with this: if there is any good to come of these doomsday scares, it’s that they remind us that the Earth is a volatile place, and we are subject to disaster, sometimes without warning. Preparing yourself is rational and the smart thing to do! If you live in an area prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, severe weather, flooding, or what-have-you, check with your local government or the Red Cross to see what you can do to be prepared. When I lived in California we had an earthquake kit in the house, for example.

The earthquake in Japan — and other natural disasters likely to happen in the next few days, weeks, and months — are terrible tragedies. We’re not making it any better by panicking over something we know isn’t real. In the long run, and even the short term, it’s science that will help us learn about these events, understand them better, and save lives. Keep a level head, think rationally, and do what you can to be prepared and to help if and when the time comes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Astronomy, Debunking

Comments (549)

Links to this Post

  1. There Is No Such Thing as a “Supermoon” « Science Vs. Pseudoscience | March 11, 2011
  2. Super Moon. Is the Cycle Connected to Disasters. - Blowout Cards Forums | March 11, 2011
  3. The Supermoon did NOT cause a tsunami « Atomic Spin | March 11, 2011
  4. The Moon Had Nothing To Do With the Japanese Earthquake [Science] | | March 11, 2011
  5. Supermoon Triggering Natural Disasters? Two Views…. « Angel Shadow's Blog | March 11, 2011
  6. Supermoon Triggering Natural Disasters? Two Views…. « Angel Shadow's Blog | March 11, 2011
  7. cosmic|techie » The Moon Had Nothing To Do With the Japanese Earthquake [Science] | March 11, 2011
  8. <<<SUPERMOON EFFECT >>> More Natural Disasters may b coming this week..... - Malayalam Cinema Forum | March 11, 2011
  9. Did 'Supermoon' Cause 8.9 Earthquake in Japan? - FlyerTalk Forums | March 11, 2011
  10. Breaking News of the Day: 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami [UPDATED x4] - The Daily What | March 11, 2011
  11. » No, the ’supermoon’ didn’t cause the Japan quake :: Granite Geek :: NashuaTelegraph.com | March 11, 2011
  12. Japan Tsunami - Page 2 - I don't feel 50 Forums | March 11, 2011
  13. The Moon Had Nothing To Do With the Japanese Earthquake [Science] | 44 Growing Pains | March 11, 2011
  14. Do not blame the earthquake in Japan to the Moon | Technology News Every Day :) | March 11, 2011
  15. Gizmodo Australia for Mobile » Japan Earthquake Strikes: Full Coverage | March 11, 2011
  16. Was Japan Haarped? « Arthur Goldwag | March 11, 2011
  17. No le echen la culpa del terremoto en Japón a la Luna | News of today world news every day | March 11, 2011
  18. No le echen la culpa del terremoto en Japón a la Luna - FayerWayer | March 11, 2011
  19. No le echen la culpa del terremoto en Japón a la Luna - FayerWayer | March 11, 2011
  20. The Moon Had Nothing To Do With the Japanese Earthquake [Science] | Guitar Master | March 11, 2011
  21. La Luna es inocente — Amazings.es | March 11, 2011
  22. Supermoon terrorizes small Norwegian village! « erlendaakre.com | March 11, 2011
  23. Gizmodo Australia for Mobile » The Moon Had Nothing To Do With The Japanese Earthquake | March 11, 2011
  24. astro-portail.star | Magazine | Just to be Clear: The Moon Did Not Cause the Earthquake in Japan | March 11, 2011
  25. The Moon Had Nothing To Do With the Japanese Earthquake [Science] | Gadgets Geekly | March 11, 2011
  26. El Tsunami que Azotó Japón. | Pablo Della Paolera | March 11, 2011
  27. Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami « Earth « Science Today: Beyond the Headlines | March 11, 2011
  28. The Moon Had Nothing To Do With the Japanese Earthquake [Science] | That Soviet Guy | March 11, 2011
  29. Phil Plait: No, The “Super-Moon” Didn’t Cause the Japanese Earthquake | Disinformation | March 11, 2011
  30. No le echen la culpa del terremoto en Japón a la Luna | probando esta vaina | March 11, 2011
  31. Para ser claro: La Luna no causó el terremoto en Japón | Animal de Ruta | March 11, 2011
  32. No le echen la culpa del terremoto en Japón a la Luna | Noticias del Cerebro Digital | March 11, 2011
  33. Resumen de información sobre el terremoto en Japón. « Formateado | March 11, 2011
  34. What do you know about Earthquakes? Are you prepared? | pakos.me | March 11, 2011
  35. Just the Science (and not the dark age dribble) | The Pink Flamingo | March 11, 2011
  36. No le echen la culpa del terremoto en Japón a la Luna « BN | March 11, 2011
  37. Do not blame the earthquake in Japan to the Moon | Newsfour.co.cc | The Lastest News Today | March 11, 2011
  38. News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.11 « Skepacabra | March 12, 2011
  39. No, la “superluna” non ha causato il terremoto in Giappone « Query Online | March 12, 2011
  40. Supermaan niet oorzaak aardbeving en tsunami Japan | Astroblogs | March 12, 2011
  41. Peoplelike.net | March 12, 2011
  42. THE DAY THE EARTH SHOOK: | Cbcburke9's Blog | March 12, 2011
  43. It’s a bood! It’s a ploon! It’s… Soopermoon! « Cubik's Rube | March 12, 2011
  44. Terremoto en Japón: efectos de la Luna y la emergencia nuclear « Conexión causal | March 12, 2011
  45. 8.9 Earthquake in Japan - Page 38 - Fires of Heaven Guild Message Board | March 12, 2011
  46. Japanese quake not the curse of the super moon | March 12, 2011
  47. UsTik » Japanese quake not the curse of the super moon | March 13, 2011
  48. The Mail wants the world to be like The Core | Jonathan Rothwell | March 13, 2011
  49. Japanese quake not the curse of the super moon | Vanisle Networks | March 13, 2011
  50. The Good News and the Crackpot on Fukushima | Rearranging Prejudices | March 14, 2011
  51. Monday Open Thread : Delaware Liberal | March 14, 2011
  52. Supermoon? « Lavonardo | March 14, 2011
  53. What’s to super about the “supermoon”? | Postings | March 14, 2011
  54. USAHM Conspiracy News » Phil Plait: No, The “Super-Moon” Didn’t Cause the Japanese Earthquake | March 14, 2011
  55. Blog de Astronomia do astroPT » Terramoto provocado pela super-Lua? | March 15, 2011
  56. Santhosh Mathew, PhD: The Moon Is Not a Harsh Mistress at NEWS.GeekNerdNetwork.com | March 15, 2011
  57. Sabato 19 marzo col naso in su a guardare la Superluna | La Lavatrice | March 17, 2011
  58. Supermoon about to trigger earthquakes?! | March 17, 2011
  59. Суперлуние: WTF? « arithmeticspiral | March 18, 2011
  60. Supermoon Misconception « Journey to the Stars | March 18, 2011
  61. Major Moon-Milk Opportunity! at Asymptotia | March 18, 2011
  62. Imminent Earthquake in North America - Page 2 - Nissan 370Z Forum | March 19, 2011
  63. Arriva la Superluna! Stupendo spettacolo o catastrofe annunciata? « A little Skeptic | March 19, 2011
  64. It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Supermoon! | Veracity Stew | March 19, 2011
  65. SuperMoon Today! Run for your lives! « JimmieJoe.com | March 19, 2011
  66. Non bastava il terremoto? « Oggi Scienza | March 21, 2011
  67. Super Lua | | March 22, 2011
  68. Literature Review: Tides & Earthquakes | GeoMika | March 23, 2011
  69. Episode #11- Om strålende måner og like strålende James Randi! « Saltklypa | March 24, 2011
  70. Double-Whammy of Stupid Regarding the Japanese Earthquake « The Skeptical Teacher | March 26, 2011
  71. Equinox | Keadaan Tunak | April 1, 2011
  72. Debunking the “Supermoon” with Clojure « Cataclysmic Mutation | April 21, 2011
  73. Japanese earthquake brings out a stupid ‘supermoon’ theory | May 24, 2011
  74. Superluna e terremoti | bUFOle & Co. | November 25, 2011
  75. Night of the Super Moon | Sci-ence | May 2, 2012
  76. Supermoon | The Spendy Pencil | September 24, 2012
  1. Old Muley

    It doesn’t surprise me that the pseudo-psience folks are looking for causation here. Surely the “2012” crowd will be jumping on this one soon as well. A sad, sad event that should be taken for what it was; a tragic, but natural, event.

  2. Todd

    The supermoon is as real as Godzilla.

  3. I think the more frustrating thing here is the conflation of the phase of the moon with its tidal effect. The amount of light being reflected back to us from it has NOTHING to do with its gravitational pull. Arguably, when the moon is full, it’s got LESS of an effect because it’s opposite from the sun!

    And of course, the fact that the cycle is about every four weeks means that being two weeks off makes it a completely meaningless designation. But people seem to think that whenever there’s something BIG and MAJOR that means that all of the time around it is also BIG and MAJOR.

  4. Phil – you left out units on your “400,000” in the 4th paragraph of your gravity section. Should be 400,000 km.

  5. Cranky Nerd

    Exactly. I can almost already hear the connective, apocalyptic predictions of what’s “to come” now. Undoubtedly the next week or so will be filled with predictions of the end of the world and the “evidence” of recent natural disasters, just like there is every time a natural tragedy strikes. It’s unfortunate how many people actually buy into this kind of thinking.

  6. Stuart Coleman

    Phil, if you’re going to do the (super annoying, in my mind) only-put-a-snippet-through-to-RSS thing, could you at least make it obvious when a post has it? Something like the “read more” links on scienceblogs. Doing only snippets AND giving no indication that they’re snippets is really frustrating.

  7. OmegaBaby

    I read the supermoon article on space.com just yesterday (http://www.space.com/11084-supermoon-earthquake-storm-natural-disasters.html). That’s kind of a huge coincidence.

    Phil…you’re probably right, but I can’t shake the idea that tides CAN trigger large earthquakes. Not cause them of course. And the earthquake would have happened eventually anyway. But my gut tells me that the extra energy provided by extra-strong tides is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. After all, I can’t think of anything else that could possibly cause additional pressure to temporarily build on a fault line.

    But I trust scientists though, and if they’ve studied it and shown no statistical correlation between these supposed ‘supermoons’ and earthquakes, then so be it. But man, that’s still a freaky coincidence.

  8. Peter

    Never a miscommunication…

  9. Kirk

    Thank you, thank you, thank you again for this, Phil. I was looking to arm myself against this kind of thinking as soon as I heard about the earthquake this morning.

  10. Someone You Know

    I’ve been hearing a lot of silly people claiming that the earthquake must have been the work of this Elenin comet that all the nutjobs have been raving about lately.

    If you haven’t already, you should do a similar post about why this comet a) didn’t cause the earthquake and b) isn’t going to destroy us all. It’s always useful to have resources like this post to give to people who aren’t completely deranged yet.

  11. Dasi

    I’m bookmarking this one; I forsee having to mail it to a lot of people in the near future. Thank you!

  12. Delta

    Just so you guys in the US know, The Daily Mail is well known for it scaremongering here in the UK and is often subject to ridicule. I’m sure they’ll get around to blaming the whole thing on illegal immigrants and Benefit cheats.

    Phil calling the article “shameful” pretty much sums up the whole newspaper.

  13. Get Serious

    Yeah, I remember when the photos of Mars were posted on the web, and all these people were looking at them and saying that there were features obviously carved out by liquid water. The “experts” at NASA ridiculed them, and said they were caused by wind errosion. Today, those “experts” say they were caused by liquid water.

    Beware of know-it-alls, because they DON’T!

  14. Chuck

    Don’t worry, Pat Robertson will let us know shortly what REALLY caused the earthquake.

  15. Mr. Plait — I am sorry, but you are partially wrong. The super moon did, in fact, have some influence over the magnitude of this devastating earthquake. While I agree that the super moon wasn’t the sole cause of this tragedy, it is hard to remiss the fact that the moon’s influence made this earthquake much more powerful than it would have been normally. Yes, this quake would have occurred regardless of the state of the moon, but — and this is the important part — the super moon phenomenon increased the magnitude of the Japan earthquake. That is undeniable. Your readers should look carefully at the facts behind the super moon and judge for themselves, but in all honesty, this is the real deal. Expect more super moon induced phenomenon to arrive soon.

  16. Dude

    It was HAARP obviously.

  17. Jason Walker (16): Did you read what I wrote here? The Moon was almost as far away as it possibly can be last night, so it could not have had any effect on this earthquake. Even if this “supermoon” idea were right – and I think it’s nonsense – then it still wouldn’t have affected this earthquake. What you wrote is completely wrong.

  18. BJN

    @ OmegaBaby: Coincidences are only “freaky” because of the way people think about them. Really understanding that correlation does not equal causation is essential to not being misled by an innate tendency of the human mind.

    @Jason Walker: Citation please. Your uninformed opinion about the Moon’s influence is worthless, and that’s undeniable.

  19. Curious Roy

    I read that the moon is moving away from the earth at a rate of 4 cm a year.. Great, about many years from now, they will never blame the moon again..

  20. I wonder, while the Moon does not cause an earthquake directly, could it trigger one?
    It pulls and pushes the ground, so if there is already a near-critical tension build-up, would it be more likely to go loose into a quake on a change of a tide? Kinda hard to google through all the nonsense to find an answer to that, if anyone done the research.

  21. Jim In Texas

    OH MY! The sky is falling…the sky is falling!

    Chicken Little

    If you are less than 50, you may not know the Chicken Little reference, look it up, it’s part of history before history was edited by Union Schoolteachers.

  22. Roland

    Not only the moon or the weather: some people are also blaming solar activity and that HAARP thingie…

  23. bob

    It always cracks me up when scientistic types use absolute phrases like “cannot possibly have caused” etc. This is in fact the most unscientific approach imaginable. No scientist knows what DID cause this quake or any other natural disaster. If they did, they would have the next century’s worth of global natural catastrophes mapped out in advance with all the data – times, durations, extent, etc. But they can’t, because they have no idea what they’re on about when it comes to this, science being only a few centuries old and still learning how ignorant it really is where reality is concerned. It may well be that the supermoon’s approach is triggered some deep-earth event which is connected by ways which we have yet to learn to today’s earthquake in Japan. Quite simply, just admit that you really don’t know. You’re guessing, even guessing in a calculated way, but you don’t KNOW what did and what “could not possibly have” caused this earthquake.

  24. We could also look at the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated the Kobe region of Japan (magnitude 6.9…significantly weaker than today’s quake). Apogee was on January 11. Perigee on January 27. The quake hit on January 17. More evidence that the moon don’t do diddly to earthquakes.

  25. It is crazy to think that the Sun and the Moon don’t directly effect the Earth.

  26. Geogal

    Jason Walker, higher magnitude earthquakes tend to occur along subduction zones, and what do you know, Japan lies along such a boundary! Please please PLEASE read about the different sorts of plate boundaries, how the interaction of plates cause what nature of earthquakes, and how the building and releasing of stresses on the plates effects magnitude. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor.

  27. Great post, Phil!

    Did you hear that some people are saying that climate change is responsible for large earthquakes such as this? Ridiculous pseudoscience & bad reporting.

    For those who might be interested, I wrote a post called “Why are there Earthquakes and Volcanoes in Japan?” on my geology blog:
    http://georneys.blogspot.com/2011/03/why-are-there-earthquakes-and-volcanoes.html

  28. Maneesh

    To say that there is no connection between what happens on earth and the effect of the moon is absurd. It doesn’t matter if the moon is at its perigee or apogee, because other factors of the moon come into play. Yes you will see disasters from time to time, but none on this scale. And to say that the moon has absolutely no bearing on this is to say that I will not get sunburned by the Sun because it is too far away. This is not superstition of any kind, just that we cannot deny the presence of external forces and their effects on this world.

  29. @Jason Walker,

    Exactly how is it undeniable? I think Phil did a pretty good job of denying it. I don’t see any “fact” that some supermoon made the earthquake more powerful. Just a theory that this is what happened. And Phil did a good job of disproving that theory.

    Now, if you have some proof of the supermoon’s influence (beyond simply saying “it’s a fact” or “it did this”), I’m sure everyone here (including Phil) would love to see it. If the proof is strong enough, we’ll be among the most vocal supermoon proponents. (Not that I’d hold my breath that we’ll be making a “Supermoon is real” banner anytime soon!)

  30. tacitus

    Moon, shmoon…

    Apparently, the New World Order conspiracy theorists are blaming some nefarious plot by people running the HAARP Project.

    Yeah, right, much more likely….

    /sarc

  31. Altabadger

    You do know, though, that “Correlation does not imply causation” goes against a lot of what our society is built on. I mean, sure, just because I was running out of the bank just after it got robbed doesn’t prove that I was the one that robbed it. However, if my ONLY defense is to simply state that correlation does not imply causation… well, I’d be going to jail then. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take an opposite position here, I’m simply trying to understand something. If I ask a scientist how old a fossil is, they say that they can base it’s age on the layer of dirt it was found in. How is that not implying by correlation? Is it because they have found thousands of that type of fossil in that same layer around the world? Wouldn’t that mean then that “Correlation does not imply causation, unless it happens a lot”? Sounds a little like the rules in Orwells “Animal Farm”. Again, I’m not building an argument for or against anything, it’s just something I’ve wondered. It just seems to me, with my admittedly limited science background, that correlation DOES and SHOULD imply causation, but only IMPLIES it, and doesn’t PROVE it. Or is there a scientific definition of the word imply that doesn’t mean “to suggest or indicate indirectly”. Shouldn’t it be changed to “Correlation ALONE does not PROVE causation and therefore further thought may be needed on the matter.” I don’t know, maybe that’s too long to be snappy…

  32. Jeebus

    “so it could not have had any effect on this earthquake”
    Phil Plait: if you honestly think that the moon had no effect whatsoever, you’ve got some learning to do.

  33. Mapnut

    The Bad Astronomy Blog is like a vaccine against Bad News. I came across the Supermoon article on Yahoo News just minutes after reading the above.

    By the way, how much closer to the Earth is the March 19 Supermoon perigee than your average perigee? 2%?

    Never mind, we now have a better explanation for the earthquake in the BAUT Conspiracy Theory section. It was the Large Hadron Collider.

  34. JD

    Hi Phil,

    You seem to believe that the Moon has to be closest to Earth to have a major effect on earthquakes. Couldn’t it be possible that the LACK of additional gravitational effect by the Moon (when the Moon is farthest away from the Earth) can have its own effect? Perhaps the Moon has a protective effect that diminishes with distance from the Earth, rather than a detrimental effect that diminishes with distance.

    Maybe this is a crazy idea, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    And, regarding what Old Muley says above, the last I heard, the orbit of the Moon is a naturally-occurring event, whether or not it had an effect on today’s earthquake.

  35. CGA

    Can’t you guess it out as we all did ??? 400,000 (240,000 miles)

  36. Delta

    I really don’t understand why the likes of Jason Walker (19) and Maneesh (29) both with this blog. They clearly have no interest in science.

  37. I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about the quake being caused by the Large Hadron Collider. I mean, past earthquakes have been blamed on it (warning crazy in that link).

  38. NoOneOfConsequence

    Japan suffered a massive earthquake last night, measuring nearly magnitude 9.

    Since it is logarithmic, wouldn’t it have to be almost twice as strong to get from 8.9 to 9.0 or is my mental math off?

  39. Todd (#3):

    The supermoon is as real as Godzilla.

    You are correct. Since there are times when perigee occurs at the new or full moon, the “supermoon” is real. And “Godzilla” is real, too. They even made several sequels and remakes.

    Of course, just because the latter can wreak havoc on Japan doesn’t mean that the former can.

  40. Carey

    @fluffy #4: “I think the more frustrating thing here is the conflation of the phase of the moon with its tidal effect. The amount of light being reflected back to us from it has NOTHING to do with its gravitational pull.”

    The moon does have a greater tidal effect when it is full, not because of the increased light of course, but because it is opposite the sun. Phil’s article on tides that he linked to in this post explains tides better than anything else I’ve ever read. Check it out.

  41. The Indonesian Tsunami happened 2 weeks before a “Super Moon” in 2005. Another one is ahead on the 19th of this month. Is it something that we should ignore as a mere co-incidence.

    It is indeed true that it’s human nature to connect one thing with the other but I believe we should keep our mind open for everything.

    Japan had faced more than 100 mild earthquakes in last week or so until today. It is a tragic and an uncontrollable thing for a highly developed nation like Japan but thanks to their earthquake proof buildings which managed to stand ground even at a magnitude of 8.9 Richter scale, else the incident could have been much worse.

  42. Justin

    I first read the news of the earthquake on Yahoo.ca, man…the commenters there are all INSANE. From down right disrespectful to outright ignorant.

  43. I hereby lay copyright claim to the following nonsense. Anyone who wishes to use it to back up their “proof” that the “supermoon” caused the recent quake (I was going to call it “last night’s quake”, but I think it was tomorrow in Japan) can contact me for licensing fees:

    Obviously, it’s not that the Moon was at perigee. Rather, it occurred during the ramp-up from apogee to the perigee-full-moon. It wasn’t the “extreme” pull at perigee, but rather the “release” of the Moon’s pull at apogee.

    :-)

    And, as for this:

    There were SuperMoons in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005. These years had their share of extreme weather and other natural events. Is the Super Moon and these natural occurrences a coincidence? Some would say yes; some would say no.

    all I have to say is one word — cectic.com

    http://cectic.com/145.html

  44. Jason

    All we can do is wait and see.

  45. Altabadger

    @NoOneOfConsequence #34: Well, if my math is correct, the amount of TNT for a similar seismic energy yield of an 8.9 earthquake is approximately 336 megatons. For a 9 it’s 474 megatons. So that’s a difference of 138,000,000 tons of TNT. Not twice as strong, but no, an 8.9 is absolutely not “nearly a 9.0″

  46. Damase

    Wait. You mean the end of the Mayan calendar cycle doesn’t mean the end of life as we know it? (chuckle) Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  47. @neptunestarbaby/Maneesh,

    Nobody’s saying that the Moon doesn’t have an effect on the Earth. The tides are proof of that. The question is magnitude. Does the Moon exert enough of a pull to cause tides? Yes. Definitely. Does the Moon exert enough of a pull to cause earthquakes? No. (Beyond a weak correlation to shallow, low intensity quakes.) The so-called “super” status of the Moon doesn’t increase its pull enough to cause any earthquakes.

    Now, in the grand tradition of the Mythbusters replicating the results, I wonder how much closer the Moon would need to get before its gravitational pull *DID* start to cause quakes. Anyone know how to figure this out? (I’d wager a guess that, at that point, we’d probably be less worried about the earthquakes and more worried about the Moon slamming into the Earth.)

  48. Waiting for Pat Robertson to weigh in on this…

    Seriously, my thoughts are with the people affected by this tragic disaster.

  49. ScienceMan323

    This is based on known science .

    It amazes me how people debunk something the same day after it takes place without time to investigate .

    the moon did have an effect on the power of this earthquake . Your correct it did not produce the event . But it DID have an effect on his powerful it was .

  50. Quiet Desperation

    THAT’S NO MOO- [Cliche detected. Internet kill switch activated. Post terminated. Have a nice day.]

  51. Honestly, us geologists get driven mad by all this “Supermoon” nonsense as well. It just detracts from the real research that will help us better understand and prepare for earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Here’s my volcano-based take on it all:

    http://bigthink.com/ideas/31585

  52. A field can have intensity, gradient, divergence, and curl. The time derivatives of (distance)(mass) starting with the zeroeth are position-moment, velocity-momentum, acceleration-force, jerk-yank, snap-tug… Quadrupole tide effects are phase-shifted vs. lunar orbital position by the Earth’s spin. Check out grunion spawning timing vs. full moon. There’s a lag.

    Examine the historical record for lunar phase and distance vs. big quakes. If there is a Fourier fit, Uncle Al’s name goes first. You can have the asterisk.

  53. Dasi

    Did you even read the article Maneesh? You’re arguing against statements people didn’t make. Plait acknowledged that the moon has an impact on us, repeatedly. All he said is that the moon didn’t magically cause the earthquake because it was super close to the earth, partly because the moon was not super close to the earth yesterday.

    I don’t even have a response for Jason Walker, since he didn’t actual post any contrary evidence to argue.

  54. Jim Riley

    I would say the pull of the moon would be at it’s maximum when it is in apogee, while gravitational forces would be at their maximum to pull back to perigee.

  55. ScienceMan323

    The moon does have an effect on the earth . It always has . Period .

  56. XKCD on Correlation (don’t forget to hover to get the bonus punchline)
    http://xkcd.com/552/

  57. Quiet Desperation

    No scientist knows what DID cause this quake

    Er… the shifting of continental plates against each other?

    Just a wild, wacky hypothesis I’m tossin’ out there.

  58. Daniel Preston

    I echo Kirks thanks.
    As being the chap at work that people talk to about such events, you have provided the details to help me ease peoples fears and dispel myths that some of the sensationalist media ( I hate the Daily Mail) dish out.

  59. Sushi

    I say we toss some virgins in a volcano so the gods will not be so angry, perhaps burn a few witches for good measure…
    Geez, have we become so uneducated that we have to debunk Moon spots now? I learned most of these basics in grade school (back in the 60’s when education was funded by Kennedy’s space race efforts). We seriously need to fund public education so we don’t end up believing in myths and mystics again.

    “The Moon was once believed to be made out of green cheese, but then scientists discovered that it is just a big rock. Well, that’s what happens to cheese when you leave it out!”

  60. Joe

    @Mapnut: You may have a point. It was one of those micro black holes that the LHC created that must have caused the earthquake. They were right! LHC has doomed us all!!! (j/k of course :))

  61. lyrically blest

    So let me understand this…
    1. The single greatest force that we know of, on our earthly planet is gravity.
    2. The moon, however near or far it is (which only changes 2-4% whether it’s at its nearest or farthest), has enough gravitational affect to manipulate the single most abundant element on our planet (the ocean).
    3. You claim there is NO WAY the moon is involved??

    Sounds logical.

  62. Paul Saidi

    Ok first thing the moon does effect the crust of the earth. In fact it pulls a large bulge towards it as it turns around. This lifts sea and landless. It is highly possible that built up pressure in fault lines could be released as the moon pulls over that area. I don’t really know a lot about science, however I hopethis makes some sense.

  63. Doug

    I need to point out a contradiction that you need to correct, Phil:

    “Unless the wild weather happened on the actual date of the “supermoon” then it must be coincidence, because on other dates the Moon was farther from the Earth!

    Mind you, there are tens of thousands of thunderstorms on our planet each and every day, and conditions which give rise to them can take days to build. It’s hard therefore to correlate any given weather system with the Moon.”

    These two paragraphs, while both true in their own way, contradict each other. Wild weather doesn’t have to occur on the date of the super moon — I’d say anything a week+ afterword could potentially qualify. After all, maybe it took a few days for the effect to be noticeable in the weather patterns.

    But, in the end, it becomes nearly impossible to make any sensible correlation, even if you widen the window a bit. And, of course, trying to say a storm (or earthquake) was caused a by an event a week or more in the future is absurd.

  64. Jim Riley

    Further wouldn’t perigee have maximum repelling force. Therefore to some degree either could have an effect on natural tectonic shift.

  65. Some personal thoughts on the quake here. Anyone else care to share?

  66. And neither did the solar flares. (Just thought that should be added in.)

  67. Melusine

    Maybe Oceanography courses should be mandatory in school. Understanding the earth’s crust, plates, the hotspots of underwater volcanoes that build islands like Hawaii, etc. The idea of the moon affecting all this under-crust and plate activity seems illogical to the formation of the Earth. Thanks Phil for your continual debunking.

    A simple article today about the geology of the earthquake:
    http://www.livescience.com/13177-japan-deadly-earthquake-tsunami.html

  68. Todd G.

    Another time we had one of these big ass quakes (a 9.0) it was 2 weeks before the perigee or “supermoon”, I guess that is just another strange coincidence. I believe it was the one that flattened Indonesia. Go to: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/ you can follow all of the strange and now “numerous” events that are happening. They are mapped regionally and globally. We are having record flooding (I should know, it’s happening right now in my state) , huge earthquakes, tsunamis, and very bizarre volcanic activity all on the same night/day. Nothing strange about that.

  69. DigitalAxis

    @33. Jeebus:

    If you’re going to imply that Phil was wrong in saying that the moon had no effect [on the Earth, at all], you’re wrong; he mentioned [i]several[/i] ways the Earth is affected by the Moon. If you’re going to imply that Phil was wrong in saying that the moon had no effect [on the Japan earthquake], you are going to need to explain why a moon that wasn’t anywhere particularly special (as far as anyone knows) and definitely wasn’t in the ‘SuperMoon’ configuration caused the massive earthquake, but did nothing last month, or the month before that, or the month before that…

  70. Geogal

    Just cause…

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/historical_country.php#japan

    “If I ask a scientist how old a fossil is, they say that they can base it’s age on the layer of dirt it was found in. How is that not implying by correlation? Is it because they have found thousands of that type of fossil in that same layer around the world? Wouldn’t that mean then that “Correlation does not imply causation, unless it happens a lot”?”

    That made me eek, giggle a bit, and eek some more. The usage of “dirt” made me particularly sad. That’s called relative dating, but would not give you its absolute age. It takes the understanding of how sediments are deposited, lithified, etc. as well as how fossilization occurs to get to understanding that you CAN use the layer of rock the fossil is found in (generally) to give a relative age. It is more than simply saying “it’s this old cause I found it in this layer of ‘dirt'”. No one simply pulled the idea out of their hind quarters.

  71. Vinnie From Indy

    Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the science denying, right-wing hate merchants are blaming the earthquake and resulting tsunami on union workers, liberals and middle class Americans. They are demanding that the richest 1% of Americans immediately be given additional tax breaks to pay for the damages this horrific disaster may have caused to their palatial beach homes and yachts. They are also insisting that Social Security be immediately dismantled to prevent this from ever happening again.

  72. at best there is a weak correlation between shallow, low intensity quakes and the Moon

    Not surprising since the frequency of these small-scale events is much higher than that of more powerful quakes.

  73. alfaniner

    I can almost guarantee that very soon some “news” site will have a feature headlined “Did Supermoon Cause Japan Quake?”

  74. Kevin Devine

    Thanks Phil, I knew the article about the “supermoon” was crap when I read that the authority was an astrologer, but I always like to check with my favorite astronomer for the facts. As always, your skepticism and other insights are on-point and keep me level-headed.

  75. This supermoon business never sounded kosher.

    With that said, 4 of the 10 largest recorded earthquakes since 1900 have happened within the last 7 years (including Japan’s 8.9.). 2 of those have now occurred within the last 2 consecutive years. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/10_largest_world.php

    Also, If you want to see an interesting bit of Wolfram-Alpha data follow these links, in order, and note the further back you go, the greater the gaps between each event:

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2010+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2009+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2008+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2007+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2006+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2005+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2004+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2003+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2002+magnitude+%3E+6
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2001+magnitude+%3E+6

    Play around with the numbers if you want.

    It’s a rather disturbing dataset. Forget the pseudo-science, ancient calendars, and religious nutjobs and just observe the data. A chunk of the scientific community is still suggesting that “it only *appears* earthquakes are on the rise because of a increase in global communication” (e.g., it’s an optical illusion, peasants, now go on about your normal to-do’s), but c’mon… this isn’t comparing data between decades, it’s comparing data between mere months and years. Our communicative abilities in 2007 were just as spiffy as they were last year… yet, there is a clear increase in frequency and magnitude of earthquakes.

    As much as I love debunking foolish notions (e.g., the supermoon), it would be nice if the larger scientific community wrote a bit more about this troubling pattern in the recorded data.

    When we don’t understand something we all look for answers. It’s a rather lovely feature of our species. Religion birthed philosophy and philosophy birthed science, this is the evolution of answer-seeking. You can’t blame people for wanting answers. Digging into a bit of the pseudo-psychology, I think the reason so many within the scientific community spend so much time debunking baseless theories is because they, honestly, don’t know how to wrap their minds around what’s happening to our planet right now. (Yes, I’m saying the “boiling toad” concept exists every bit as much within the scientific community as it does within the general public.)

    Perhaps it’s time officials and experts stop playing the father-figure to the general populace. We don’t need someone to hold our hand and tell us everything’s going to be okay — we need simple acknowledgement, admission of indigenous-ignorance, and much more public answer-seeking.

  76. Eric Otto

    This is funny. After reading this and watching the damage in Japan today, I think I’m going to be careful around the next supermoon. Call me supeticious, call me a fool, but this is a very odd coincidence.

  77. Chappy

    Hello.

    Knowing that the sun is acting up a bit lately, it reminded me of how some 2012 doom-sayers are saying there is actual evidence between solar activity (flares to be more precise) and earthquakes. Is that really true? I tried to do a Google search about it but I was just getting nothing but 2012 nonsense.

    I sometimes listen to Coast to Coast just to get some laughs and they had “Earth changes expert” on there named Mitch Battros who stated this quake could possibly be linked to the solar flare activity. So I am just curious. Any info would be great. Thanks!

  78. Geogal

    Todd G, I wouldn’t call any of the earthquakes, volcanic activity, etc. bizarre or new. But then I’m always interested in what’s going on with the earth, not just when people are in a panic over it.

  79. some of my less than critical thinking “friends” are blaming the HAARP , that’s the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program and not the album by Muse, for super heating the ionosphere and instigating the quake.

  80. Andrew

    Hey Phil,

    let me be among the stupid, but… They just said on the radio that due to the earthquake the Earth’s axis *moved* 10 cantimeters (4 inches). HOW??? WHERE??? WILL WE DIE???

    from Russia with… well, you know…

  81. saphroneth

    Yes, the moon is going to be closer at that specific time. Yes, it has an effect on the planet from that kind of distance. But the moon moves in and out. Specifically, it’s going to be, what, on the order of six hours or less that it’s “closer than in twenty years”.
    This was in the blog post. Why is it hard to understand?

    And to the poster talking about “two weeks before the last Supermoon”.
    Think.
    Two weeks before the Supermoon, the moon was at apogee. Almost as far as it gets. If you count “within two weeks” as correlation for a lunar cycle, you’ve elected to do something like attribute a burst water main to unusually low tides.

  82. Suzie

    I just love how so many people on here think they “know” everything… Scientific rational prejudice stinks. Thank you Bob for posting. Scientists think they KNOW a lot of things, when in reality they don’t UNDERSTAND many things but their egos won’t let them admit that, and then they try to tell the rest of us that this kinda stuff isn’t somehow related?? Pssshh. I don’t buy it. Call me an idiot if you want, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime many years later, someone comes up with a theory to explain all this stuff that you vehemently deny is related! Anyone on this blog a theoretical or astro physicist? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

  83. CB

    I don’t believe in the supermoon stuff, but isn’t possible that the periodic increasing and decreasing pull of the moon and the sun can affect fault lines at seemingly random times. It would be like the expanding and contracting of concrete eventually causing potholes in the roads.

  84. Amazing how quickly people forget all the *other* huge earthquakes (Haiti, Chile, etc.) that have happened recently that weren’t anywhere near a “supermoon.”

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/year/byyear.php

  85. Pat

    >>However, on that date it will also be full, and this has an effect on tides.

    Why?
    Aren’t the phases of the moon just a matter of how much sunlight is reflected from it? It’s not like a full moon has any increased mass over a waning moon.
    Can someone explain?
    Pat

  86. Lorne

    The quake was not due to the “super moon”, solar flare activity, super sekret high-frequency radio wave experiment, plate tectonics etc. It’s due to a clandestine Boob Quake operation the CIA, KGB, NKDV, MOSSAD, CISIS etc got Blaghag to do to try and take out Gaddafi. Unfortunately she got the coordinates mixed up.

  87. Astrology works

    Astrology works. Not in the way 3d, material scientists want, however.

    Ancient Babylonians observed behavior first, and named the skies second.

    This is obviously a New World Order job cover up.

  88. lyrically blest Says:
    “2. The moon, however near or far it is (which only changes 2-4% whether it’s at its nearest or farthest), has enough gravitational affect to manipulate the single most abundant element on our planet (the ocean).”

    The tsunami was caused by the shifting of three tectonic plates (pacific, eurasian, philipine), not the moon.

  89. Gary Ansorge

    65. lyrically blest

    “1. The single greatest force that we know of, on our earthly planet is gravity.”

    Single greatest force??? ,,,and it only takes 6 X 10^24 kg to generate that force. Gravity is about 10^40th times weaker than the electromagnetic force. Gravity is hardly what I would call the Single Greatest Force,,,I would actually have to ascribe that statement to human stupidity.

    Gary 7

  90. Mapnut

    Holy crap! The number of people popping up here to say “You can’t say that because science doesn’t know everything” is depressing. Most of them don’t even understand that the “Supermoon” hasn’t happened yet. Should we just ignore all the things science does know? Like what causes earthquakes, how to calculate correlation coefficients, how to predict tide heights within 0.1 foot 20 years in advance, and how to get high-resolution photographs of the moons of Saturn?

  91. Jon

    Actually there is one gross inaccuracy in your article. You call the Daily Mail a newspaper.

  92. Rorgg

    None on this scale? I can think of two 9-point earthquakes in the last YEAR off the top of my head. Come on.

  93. So one thing occurs to me, is that if there are 12 or 13 perigees per year, there have to be near-super-moons pretty regularly, with full moons or new moons within a day or two of perigee. Zero-calculation-estimate of maybe one every year or two. Now given that the lunar distance is going to be roughly sinusoidal, so a true supermoon, with full moon within maybe 12 hours of perigee would only be slightly stronger than a near-supermoon with full moon within 36 hours of perigee.

    So we’d be seeing near-supermoons every couple of years, and having no ill effects, so a full-on supermoon should be virtually indistinguishable from these near-supermoons.

  94. MikhailBorg

    “Science doesn’t know everything,” they say; doing so using computers that fit on a pocket or desktop, connected to a world-wide network of information, all developed by scientists.

    Thank goodness, my irony levels were running low.

  95. CFinSURREY

    I thank you for posting this and putting the correct facts out there. People who are astrologers are freaks and dont know anything. Its sad how people think they need to go out of their way to lie to people when they know that in the end, people are gonna get the correct facts anyways! http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/japan-tsunami-was-supermoon-to-blame/article1938692/comments/ <— Are you freaking kidding me?!

  96. Astrology works Says: “Astrology works.”

    No, it doesn’t.

    And you’re probably too ignorant of astronomy, cosmology and physics to know why.

  97. Dewi

    I just wonder how do animals like cats and snakes manage to detect earthquakes a few minutes before they are going to occur. Could animals be able to detect things that we do not know about?

  98. lyrically blest Said:

    “The single greatest force that we know of, on our earthly planet is gravity.”

    Hardly.

    Gravitation is by far the weakest of the four fundamental interactions (or, interactive forces) comprising: electromagnetism, strong interaction, weak interaction (also known as “strong” and “weak nuclear force” respectively) and gravitation.

    Google is your friend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction

  99. @ 82 – Trench

    It’s true that two of the top ten earthquakes historically happened in the past two years, and and 4 in the past decade, but that’s less striking when you consider that 3 of the top ten, and BOTH the top two, occured in the five-year span from spring 1960 to winter 1965, and 7 of the top 15 occurred between 1950 and 1965.

    Only 5 of the top 15 earthquakes have happened in the past 45 years.

  100. WalterWalkie

    @Trench .. The “boiling toad” concept actually does not exist to the same extent among scientists because more of them actually did the experiment, slowly heating water with a toad in it, and found out that old saying is completely false, the toads jumps out every time.

  101. terry

    Supermoon is some BS. Shame so many here have fallen for their brain’s pareidolia.

    Also, @trench (82), has it occurred to you that perhaps, just perhaps, the “increase” in earthquakes is due to the fact that there’s been 1. a massive increase in population and 2. a huge increase in the amount of monitoring we do? Seismographs didn’t really exist before 1850. Now they’re everywhere. They pick up a lot of earthquakes (even big ones) that would otherwise be unnoticed.

  102. Nemo

    I think the more frustrating thing here is the conflation of the phase of the moon with its tidal effect.

    This.

    I had to point this out to my own mother — normally a pretty smart woman — not long ago. She was arguing for the reality of the “full moon effect”, and brought up the tides. Sigh.

  103. Ema Nymton

    Wow, Jim in Texas. You’re a worthless crapsucker, aren’t you?

  104. Martha

    yep the 49 states and Texas. How’s shrub doing these days, Jim.

  105. lyrically blest (#65):

    1. The single greatest force that we know of, on our earthly planet is gravity.

    Gravity is “the single greatest force that we know of”? Since when?

    Take an iron nail. Hold it a couple of feet off the ground, and then let go. It falls due to gravity.

    Now, take a small magnet and hover it slightly above the same nail. The magnet attracts it.

    That tiny magnet was more powerful than the gravitational force of the entire Earth. Do you still stand by your assertion?

  106. Daniel

    This most frustrating thing is the group of people crying “Science doesn’t know EVERYTHING” as if this means scientists cannot weigh in on ANYTHING. Yes, science does not know everything, but scientists actually do know quite a bit. More than these so-called skeptics give them credit for. I hesitate to call them skeptics, because they don’t understand a thing about scientific skepticism.

    The burden of proof rests on THEIR shoulders to show how this moon (not in the “Supermoon” configuration) somehow affected this quake. Show the statistics, the weight of historical correlations, measurements and data. THEN we can have the discussion of whether the moon is affecting earthquake intensity. Until then, snarkily saying “Scientists don’t know everything” is about as fruitful as thinking you can fly because we don’t really understand gravity’s exact mechanisms yet.

  107. Unaspammer

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the phase of the moon at perigee entirely dependent on the time of year? So if it’s going to happen in a year, shouldn’t it be at same time that it happens in any other year, maybe plus or minus a couple weeks?

    Then how is it that the 2005 supermoon occurred on January 10, but this one is happening on March 19, more than two months apart?

  108. NoOneOfConsequence

    @Altabadger – THANKS – so 9.0 is close to 50% stronger than 8.9.

  109. eyesoars

    Two things:

    (1) NoOneOfConsequence@39: Each increment of 1 on the Richter scale (IIRC) is 30 times more powerful than its predecessor. So, if I’m doing my arithmetic right, an 8.9 earthquake would be about 71% as powerful as a 9.0 earthquake. (e^(log(30)/10)) = .71168)

    (2) If the “supermoon” theory were true, then there would be correlations both at full moon (sun and moon opposite) and at new moon (sun and moon both sunwards). Not that I would believe this significant w/o evidence.

    /es

  110. Michael Swanson

    @ 16. Jason Walker

    “…Expect more super moon induced phenomenon to arrive soon.”

    You realize there has been a “supermoon” for as long as there has been a moon, right? That’s it’s a coincidental state between the moon’s proximity and its phase? And that the phase of the moon affects absolutely nothing other the amount of light reflected?

    You make it sound as if the “supermoon effect” is ramping up, and that we should be expect bigger hurricanes, more powerful earthquakes and more excessively runny noses than in the past – the four and a half billion year old past!

  111. Fizzle

    Phil, the Washington Post link is pointing to the PopSci article.

  112. Unaspammer

    @ 112. Dewi

    I just wonder how do animals like cats and snakes manage to detect earthquakes a few minutes before they are going to occur. Could animals be able to detect things that we do not know about?

    There is no real evidence that they do, only anecdotes. If your parrot is acting strangely, and then an earthquake hits, then afterwards you might remember the strange behavior and link the two. On the other hand, if your parrot is acting strangely, and nothing happens, you will probably just forget about it. So the claim is most likely just cognitive bias reinforced by urban legend.

    And if animals do sometimes sense major earthquakes, they are probably just picking up on the foreshocks that sometimes accompany them, something that geologists are already well-equipped to do.

  113. Sigthor

    I come from Iceland so I am no stranger to earthquakes, and I agree to many people that moon has some effect, but did not cause the earthquake, JD made an interesting point, if the moon was so far and therefor the gravitational pull was at it least, could have helped trigger the quake.

    But I am more closer to the theory that earth is just moving into more active period, the last few hundred years we have had relatively calm earth, is it so crazy to think that the earth goes into calm and active periods, just like the sun?

    In Iceland we have had relatively calm period of volcanoes, but now most volcanoes are overdue, so geologists expect more active decades ahead of us including few massive eruptions, this is the same all around the world where many volcanoes have been dormant for longer time the usual and there for have built up a lot of pressure, everything works together.

    I personally find it irresponsible of scientist to say that there is no connection between moon and natural disasters on earth, when scientist have made it wrong so often.

  114. Sigthor

    131. Unaspammer Says:

    I saw an interesting interview few years ago about a man in America predicted quakes, he had surprisingly good record, but what he did was to follow “lost pet” notes in the newspapers.

    He has proved that more pets go missing before earthquakes then normally happens.

    Its a raw science but something worth noting

  115. DigitalAxis

    @119 Nemo:
    That conflation is not entirely wrong… tides are bigger when the Sun and the Moon are pulling along the same line. This configuration also happens to make the Moon ‘full’ The fullness of the moon has nothing to do with the tides, except that they are BOTH affected by the Sun-Earth-Moon angle.

  116. Geogal

    For those running around screaming about “earthquakes are on the rise” and other run stuff, particularly the person who said “but c’mon… this isn’t comparing data between decades, it’s comparing data between mere months and years.”….

    Please try to think in terms of geologic time. A month or a year is but a grain of sand in a giant hourglass, IF that. An apparent increase in your lifetime, or even your parents’ and grandparents’ time is nothing.

  117. Sigthor

    Because of all this moonageddon talk I decided to look at Iceland the year 2000 17th of June that incidentally is the independence day of Iceland, and again Incidentally it was full moon and we got another aftershock 2 days later, they measured 7,3 and 7,1.

    Im not saying it caused it but could have helped in the intensity… who knows

    http://www.fullmoon.info/en/fullmoon-calendar.html

  118. DrBB

    Well, it’s fun to read the stoopid, even if it burns me. I was thinking of posting something along the lines that maybe some of ‘em, having been driven here from other sites and all hot to attack anyone who dares debunk their latest boogyman, might stick around and actually learn a little science. But that’s clearly not gonna happen, because none of them seem to even bother to READ the dratted blog, just jump in with their uninformed ideas cuz, as the entire culture is busy teaching them every second of the day, Their Opinion Is Just As Good As Anyone’s on any subject. Hopefully the thread will continue to toss up more amusing examples but so far here’s my faves:

    @90 Suzie ” Anyone on this blog a theoretical or astro physicist? If so, I’d love to hear from you.”

    Um, the guy who runs it is a professional astronomer, which entails knowing a thingertwo about that stuff, so um yeah, you already did. Or would have if you’d bothered to read the thing. Too much science, more fun to just jump in with what you thunk he musta said.

    @29. Maneesh “To say that there is no connection between what happens on earth and the effect of the moon is absurd. It doesn’t matter if the moon is at its perigee or apogee, because other factors of the moon come into play.”

    Like its Superness, which comes into play a lot, and kind of radiates out from it in a way that is apparently completely unrelated to how close it is. Which is what the “super” is supposed to refer to. And no, he didn’t say “no connection,” quite the opposite, but then you didn’t actually read the article did you? Too much science, more fun to just jump in with what you thunk he musta said.

    @24 Bob “It may well be that the supermoon’s approach is triggered some deep-earth event which is connected by ways which we have yet to learn to today’s earthquake in Japan.”

    Cuz this time around its a Supermoon, its Supermoonness kinda radiates out in front and back, in ways it normally doesn’t, when it’s not, y’know, Super? You didn’t read the article either didja Bob? All that stuff about how long the lunar month is ‘n’ stuff. Cuz 2 weeks out of a 28-day cycle, that’s about as far from either end of the cycle as you can get and….. “Just what is it about the word ‘Super’ you don’t understand, buddy?”

    And of course everyone’s fave is mine too:

    @ 16. Jason Walker
    “…Expect more super moon induced phenomenon to arrive soon.”

    And again the month after that, and the month after that, and the month after that, and the month after that, and the month after that… Clearly Jason is one with the other believers in the concept that appending the adjective “super” to “moon” invests the latter with some mystic force that kinda radiates out from it wherever it is on its little 28-day journey around the earth. “When it’s super, it don’t matter how close it is, don’t you get it???”

    For my part I blame The History Channel. How many shows about ancient aliens, Nostradamus, and the impending doom of 2012 do you have to watch before you absorb the idea that this kind of thing represents actual thinking?

  119. I always found the best analogy to describing the moons affects in tides like using an elastic band.

    That way you can demonstrate how the pull of the moon against the water on the earth affects it as it freefalls around the earth in it’s orbit.

    As the moon moves around it stretches the opposite sides like pulling an elastic band and thus you get the sinosoidal like wave front.

  120. Michael Swanson

    @136. DrBB

    “For my part I blame The History Channel. How many shows about ancient aliens, Nostradamus, and the impending doom of 2012 do you have to watch before you absorb the idea that this kind of thing represents actual thinking?”

    This kind of thing does represent actual thinking, unfortunately, just not actual facts.

    MSNBC has a brief article that also states the earthquake was not caused by the supermoon, but…

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42035125/ns/technology_and_science-space/

    “…it happened now — exactly a week away from the date the moon will be full, and almost a week after it was new, the two times that the moon exerts its greatest pull on the planet.”

    …they screwed up their own science!

  121. Mike Mullen

    Well On the BAUT forum someone is suggesting the Large Hadron Collider caused the earthquake. The thing is we know exactly what causes earthquakes but the events themselves are to random in nature to accurately predict with any current science. Blaming the supermoon, the LHC, HAARP is all just hysterical nonsense.

  122. Martha

    Not only is there no connection between the so called supermoon and today’s earthquake, but the full moon effect is as much rubbish as astrology.

    “Ivan Kelly, James Rotton and Roger Culver (1996) examined over 100 studies on lunar effects and concluded that the studies have failed to show a reliable and significant correlation (i.e., one not likely due to chance) between the full moon, or any other phase of the moon, and each of the following:

    -the homicide rate
    -traffic accidents
    -crisis calls to police or fire stations
    -domestic violence
    -births of babies
    -suicide
    -major disasters
    -casino payout rates
    -assassinations
    -kidnappings
    -aggression by professional hockey players
    -violence in prisons
    -psychiatric admissions [one study found admissions were lowest during a full moon]
    -agitated behavior by nursing home residents
    -assaults
    -gunshot wounds
    -stabbings
    -emergency room admissions [but see]
    -behavioral outbursts of psychologically challenged rural adults
    -lycanthropy
    -vampirism
    -alcoholism
    -sleep walking
    -epilepsy

    If so many studies have failed to prove a significant correlation between the full moon and anything, why do so many people believe in these lunar myths? Kelly, Rotton, and Culver suspect four factors: media effects, folklore and tradition, misconceptions, and cognitive biases. A fifth factor should be considered, as well: communal reinforcement.”
    http://www.skepdic.com/fullmoon.html
    —————————–

    In another online forum I was told that posting such information was an offense to people’s “psychic sensibilities.” I say if you can’t be bothered to read some actual facts about these issues then really I could care less about your “psychic sensibilities.” BTW there is no such thing as a psychic.
    http://www.skepdic.com/psychic.html

  123. Charly

    Has anyone else noticed that everyone is misspelling “supermoon”? Aren’t they missing a strategically placed “R”?

  124. Kirk

    @138 DrBB

    I like you.

  125. with 150 Strong (6.0 or larger) earthquakes each year randomly distributed, the chance of one of them occurring 1 week before or after a specific date (like march 19th) is actually 99.963459%

  126. Martha

    @141 Charly. As in the Moronic Convergence of 1987?

  127. Maneesh

    People of science background think they have all the answers to the universe. lol

  128. 90. Suzie Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    “I just love how so many people on here think they “know” everything… Scientific rational prejudice stinks. Thank you Bob for posting. Scientists think they KNOW a lot of things, when in reality they don’t UNDERSTAND many things but their egos won’t let them admit that, and then they try to tell the rest of us that this kinda stuff isn’t somehow related?? Pssshh. I don’t buy it. Call me an idiot if you want, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime many years later, someone comes up with a theory to explain all this stuff that you vehemently deny is related! Anyone on this blog a theoretical or astro physicist? If so, I’d love to hear from you.”

    Suzie, I am not a scientist, just a “lay-person’ with a great interest in astronomy and geology. I do know that science already has a theory to explain this. Plate Tectonics. I will try to explain this as I understand it. Japan lies in an area known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area including Alaska, the west coast of North and South America, Indonesia and Asia.

    What happened here today is one tectonic plate, under the Pacific Ocean, is basically “diving”” under the tectonic plate that Japan and Asia “rests” upon. Since these plates basically rub against each other, they get stuck since there is nothing to “lubricate” as it were, these plates. Stress build up to the point where it is released in an earthquake. It is widely not believed that the moon or any other celestial body has any effect on this. It is believed that this is strictly an event caused by what I have tried to describe (probably not very well, but I hope I have the basics). Maybe someone else can expand on this and correct me if I am wrong.

  129. Gark32

    @ 143 Maneesh
    I’m trying to figure out the unseen connection between Obesity and the Earthquake in question. Or are you just trying to rile up the commenters here? Perhaps i should ask, do you know how magnets work?

  130. Michael Swanson

    @ 144. Maneesh

    “People of science background think they have all the answers to the universe.”

    Not at all. Any scientifically or skeptically minded person will readily say that. We are, however, pretty comfortable with the knowledge base that we have amassed through science. Science is merely an impartial study of the natural processes in the world around us. It’s that simple. (Yes, there are plenty of bad scientists, but the process of science will leave them behind.)

    But you seem to think that you have more answers. But based on what? Hunches? Coincidences? Faith? Astrology websites? Enlighten us.

    And as for …”lol to all you science fags.” This kind of hateful language isn’t welcome here. Leave it in the schoolyard, child.

  131. 87. Andrew Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Phil,

    let me be among the stupid, but… They just said on the radio that due to the earthquake the Earth’s axis *moved* 10 cantimeters (4 inches). HOW??? WHERE??? WILL WE DIE???

    from Russia with… well, you know…

    Andrew, check this link out, and it explains what happened in relation to that:
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Japan+quake+shifts+earth+axis+centimetres/4426356/story.html

  132. Sigthor

    Let me see, the plates are stuck, one plate is surging down, gravity works that earth pull things down, the moon comes and tries to fight the gravity and one plate is lighter then the other.

    So while earth pulls down a plate that desperetly wants to go down, and the moon is so far away that there effect on gravity is at its lowest the other one releases a pressure on the one going down, and kaboom both objects go to a position that they were aiming 2.

    Is this honestly so impossible that scientist and astronomers can dismiss this as “silly” “no way” “outrageous idea” to me it sounds kind sensible.

    I think of it as if I have maybe a stick of plastic bending a bit down, then I come with a stick of steel, that stick of steel is 1cm lower then the plastic stick, when I press them together I put pressure on the plastic stick, and as I keep on pressing it builds up pressure and changes the little bending on the plastic to a curve, then when I move my hand away and release the pressure on the plastic stick it goes up with 100 times the force I bent it….

    The moon does the same, it releases pressure from the plates.. and kabuuuuuum we have earthquake….dunno just sounds logic to me

  133. Lorne

    if this happened on March 15th could you then say the it was fault of the “tIDES” of March brought on by the supermoon :)

  134. Maneesh

    If a massive solar flare discharge from the Sun’s surface has the capacity to interrupt satellites orbiting in space, then why not a mere earth satellite called the moon have the capacity to influence earth’s crust as well. If the moon is coming closer to the earth in a few days, that means this activity is not normal, and therefore, since the massive tsunami occurred around this time, we can correlate both factors playing a major influence in the devastation that occurred in Japan.

  135. As long as we’re bustin’ myths…. Nobody ever believed the moon was made of green cheese; the idea first turns up a few centuries ago as a fanciful example of what a fool /might/ believe.

  136. Sigthor

    160. Maneesh Says:

    Actually as he says in his blog, the moon is now as it furthest point away from earth as possible, so therefor the pull on gravity is at it least, and that releases pressure on the plates which allows the release of the pressure.

  137. John

    Dear Mr. Phil Plait, I am sure you are neither an astronomer nor a physicist. Please refrain from writing scientific opionions like “No, the supermoon didn’t cause the Japanese earthquake.” It makes it seem like your jealous of the astrologers. The truth is that the forces the moon excerts when in perigee differs depending on the angle that it is happening at; it does not happen at the same angle every month! It is incredible that someone made an acurate prediction based on physical evidence (similar to a hypothesis) and you can not cope with that. These type of articles make me want to hit the writers because they spread mis-information without truelly knowning.

  138. Kirk

    @160 Maneesh

    I’m no expert in logical fallacies, but I believe the one you just laid out (saying that if solar flares disrupt satellites then the moon can cause earthquakes) is called a false equivalency. Anyone know if I’m right on that?

  139. Gark32

    @160 Maneesh

    stop trolling. “If the moon is coming closer to the earth in a few days, that means this activity is not normal. . .” doesn’t make even a little bit of sense. neither does correlating the effects of a CME or flare with gravity from the moon. you’re just talking and talking but you’re Not Making Sense.

  140. John (166): I have a lot of snarky replies I could give, but instead, I’ll ask you this: what makes you think I’m not an astronomer?

  141. 166. John Says:
    “Dear Mr. Phil Plait, I am sure you are neither an astronomer nor a physicist.”

    Dr. Plait is an astronomer (Ph.D from the University of Virginia in 1994) .

  142. Martha

    @ John 166:

    “Let’s not mince words: Astrology is stupid. Astrology is invalid and obsolete—a completely fictional belief system which is predicated on people’s gullibility and superstitious tendencies. Astrology is noting more than an emotional panacea that is antithetical to active inquiry. There is simply no way the position of the Sun, Moon, and planets at the moment we are born somehow affects or determines our personalities, and the way our lives unfold.

    Astrology is pseudoscience based on antiquated ideas. Scientific research clearly and continually confirms that astrology is a pseudoscientific pursuit amounting to little more than wishful thinking. There has been no scientifically valid evidence to back up astrological beliefs. Furthermore, (and perhaps most importantly) not a single astrologer has contributed anything of cognitive value to any field of the social sciences. ”
    http://stupidastrology.tribe.net/?_click_path=Applicationtribe.Tribef7c8891d-6834-4095-917a-686386e149d5#

    Of course Brian Cox summed it up best:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq1aX8gsaCs

  143. Unaspammer

    @166:
    “The truth is that the forces the moon excerts when in perigee differs depending on the angle that it is happening at; it does not happen at the same angle every month!”

    You do realize that the moon is at perigee (or very close to it) for a day or two. During that time, the earth makes a complete rotation or two. So in fact the moon exerts its gravitational force from perigee (and apogee) at every angle every month.

  144. tmac57

    I’ve looked into this,and have found that every natural disaster in recorded history has occurred approximately 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after a full moon,so that is a clear smoking gun…right? But seriously, whatever effects the moon’s gravity has on the Earth, if it they were obvious enough to make reliable correlations,they probably would have been documented by now (such as tidal forces).The key word here is ‘reliable”,because if there are effects,but they are indistinguishable from random events,then what good are they from a “be prepared for disaster” point of view?All we can do is prepare for predictable events,and the rest we just cope with.

  145. Unaspammer

    @132 Sigthor:

    I personally find it irresponsible of scientist to say that there is no connection between moon and natural disasters on earth, when scientist have made it wrong so often.

    Why is it irresponsible to make an assertion when the scientific data on the subject supports that assertion?

    I saw an interesting interview few years ago about a man in America predicted quakes, he had surprisingly good record, but what he did was to follow “lost pet” notes in the newspapers.

    He has proved that more pets go missing before earthquakes then normally happens.

    Its a raw science but something worth noting

    Do you have a link? I would be interested in reading up on the methods used and the evaluation of the results.

  146. Unaspammer

    @158 Sigthor:

    Let me see, the plates are stuck, one plate is surging down, gravity works that earth pull things down, the moon comes and tries to fight the gravity and one plate is lighter then the other.

    All the while, the earth is rotating. So if the moon is pulling the plates up a bit, then 12 hours later it will be pulling them down a bit, and then in another 12 hours it pulls them up again.

    Surely this would have far more impact on the plates than a relatively small, monthly variation in distance, would it not?

  147. Sigthor

    173. Unaspammer Says:

    Why is it irresponsible to make an assertion when the scientific data on the subject supports that assertion?

    I say it is irresponsible because throughout history scientists have been proved wrong, at every single time they have considered that they had the technology to prove things 100% only to be proven wrong decades or centuries later in many cases but not all.

    Also, scientist say that earthquakes are to complex and that they do not understand all factors that trigger earthquakes, they cant predict them, they cant see the signs they dont know if they can trigger eruptions on other continents in fact they know very little about earthquakes.

    For me it is irresponsible for people that do not understand what is happening to say that some factor is not connected to the event, on top of that people have no understanding on the affect of how other planets and moon affect earth so it is again, irresponsible to rule out things that you do not understand fully. Earthquakes are in the process of being researched, but they have not been researched fully, therefor all theories should be embraced and researched to increase the understanding on this natural phenomenon.

    Do you have a link? I would be interested in reading up on the methods used and the evaluation of the results.

    No, I do not have the link, but I saw this show on National Geographic where they were speaking to scientists and how they predicted earthquakes and other people that used different methods to predict them.
    And to my surprise the scientist did not predict earthquakes any better then Jhon Doe.

    Hope this answers you questions.

  148. Thomas Siefert

    I think legal action should be taken against all those who claim that the Moon is the cause of the earthquake and following tsunami.
    They have withheld important information that could have saved thousands of lives.
    Also the property damages could impact the Japanese economy in a way that might hold back the recovery of the world economy.

    So, Supermooners, tell us what will the Moon cause to happen next? Don’t tell us that it is unpredictable. You are very specific about the mechanics of this earthquake, so you must have a level of understanding that enables you to predict the next many disasters and their precise locations.

  149. HiLander

    Maybe it was Bizarro Supermoon?

  150. AndrewL

    The increase and severity of earthquakes are caused by the removal of the vast amounts of oil from beneath the Earth’s crust. The oil removal causes a weight redistribution issue of the Earth and the oil itself had a cushioning effect on plate movements as it absorbed much of the vibrations.

  151. Sigthor

    174. Unaspammer Says:

    First let me say this: I am not any way supporting the theory that the moon caused this disaster, but I am simply not ruling out the possibility.

    All the while, the earth is rotating. So if the moon is pulling the plates up a bit, then 12 hours later it will be pulling them down a bit, and then in another 12 hours it pulls them up again.

    Surely this would have far more impact on the plates than a relatively small, monthly variation in distance, would it not?

    In this instance the moon goes from being the almost the furthest possible away from earth as possible, to being as close as possible in only 2 weeks… Could that not be something that would affect the earth?

    Of course the moon is putting pressure and releasing pressure every 12 hours, but when it goes as far as possible releasing more pressure then usual, and then shortly after coming and putting more pressure then usual could that not affect earth?

    Like when you have stick stuck in a glue, you put it down, and up, down and up until it gets loose and if you are using alot of force you fall backwards when the stick gets loose.

    (Do you understand the methafor?”

  152. Unaspammer

    @175 Sigthor:

    I say it is irresponsible because throughout history scientists have been proved wrong, at every single time they have considered that they had the technology to prove things 100% only to be proven wrong decades or centuries later in many cases but not all.

    This just demonstrates that you don’t really understand what science is. Scientists never claim to be 100% correct. The whole point of the scientific method is to take a theory, find ways in which that theory does not adequately explain the empirical evidence, and improve the theory so that it makes better predictions than it did before. That’s what science gives us, improvement in knowledge over time, not absolute knowledge.

    The theory of relativity was not a replacement of Newtonian mechanics; it was an improvement of it.

    Also, scientist say that earthquakes are to complex and that they do not understand all factors that trigger earthquakes, they cant predict them, they cant see the signs they dont know if they can trigger eruptions on other continents in fact they know very little about earthquakes.

    For me it is irresponsible for people that do not understand what is happening to say that some factor is not connected to the event, on top of that people have no understanding on the affect of how other planets and moon affect earth so it is again, irresponsible to rule out things that you do not understand fully. Earthquakes are in the process of being researched, but they have not been researched fully, therefor all theories should be embraced and researched to increase the understanding on this natural phenomenon.

    Yes, the current understanding of earthquakes is limited in many ways. That does not prevent scientists from ruling things out, however. We don’t really know what causes autism, but we’ve done enough experimentation to be able to say with a high degree of confidence that it’s almost certainly not vaccines. Likewise, rigorous studies that have attempted to link the moon with major natural disasters have shown no actual correlation, as Phil mentioned in his post.

    No, I do not have the link, but I saw this show on National Geographic where they were speaking to scientists and how they predicted earthquakes and other people that used different methods to predict them.
    And to my surprise the scientist did not predict earthquakes any better then Jhon Doe.

    Well, an anecdote about an interview is not really useful to me. I have no way of judging from your statement whether there might have been problems or biases with this person’s methods or with the evaluation of his results. Since earthquakes happen every day, I could easily predict them with 100% accuracy just by announcing every day that “tomorrow there will be an earthquake somewhere”. That wouldn’t actually be very useful or meaningful, however.

  153. Herbert

    A nice example of pseudo-logic:
    “Think about it: if there were some connection, and it were this obvious, geologists and seismologists would be issuing warnings every perigee and every full Moon. These are people who have devoted their lives to understanding how the Earth shakes, and would be screaming their heads off if it were something as easy and obvious as the Moon. They don’t because there’s no connection.”

    Do you know who Semmelweis was?

  154. 181. AndrewL Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    “The increase and severity of earthquakes are caused by the removal of the vast amounts of oil from beneath the Earth’s crust. The oil removal causes a weight redistribution issue of the Earth and the oil itself had a cushioning effect on plate movements as it absorbed much of the vibrations.”

    The jury is still out on this. While there may be some correlation between the process of fracking (inserting water into bore holes) and minor tremors, what happened here in Japan had absolutely nothing to do with that. Japan is in a subduction zone, where one tectonic plate “dives” beneath another. The resulting pressure of these plates crashing into each other is released in the form of an earthquake.

  155. Daniel

    Actually the Japan earth quake was not the biggest in history.Chile had a 9.5.In the 1960’s.So get your facts straight and what ever Info you got.It’s Incorrect.

  156. Daniel

    I mean they has a 9.0
    and that’s true.My dad was born in Chile and he has family from there.So Japan was not the biggest in history.

  157. sean

    There’s something called plausibility – be skeptical, be critical, but think. The moon is pulling up on both plates equally – so the net effect is negligible. It’s fine to have your own amateur theories, but please take the time to read up on how things work before trying to put forth some new theory about how the moon causes earthquakes and expecting people to take you seriously. Ya know…people with Ph.Ds have already done a lot of thinking on these subjects and understand the proven mathematical models, so you might want to give them a little more credibility than those who only have a superficial model built up in their heads based on their everyday experiences rather than study of how things work beyond their own senses.

    The moon orbits the earth every 28 days or so, right? So why don’t we have earthquakes the other 99.9% of the time due to the tidal influences of the moon?? This is the famous post hoc ergo proctor hoc except that the moon isn’t doing anything different.

  158. Daniel

    The super moon know as planet nubies.Know as planet x.It has traved to our universe and yes planet can travel.They do not always stay in one place.Oil has nothing to even do with this.Thats nonsense.Oil has nothing to do with the earth quake.The big earth quakes have been going on before the oil spill.It has nothing to do we that.

  159. Scott

    Hi Phil!

    I hope you have a fantastic weekend because, after reading the comments about this topic, it looks like you’ve had a very long day.

  160. Daniel

    You guys are all stupid.Do you even know the term of science.You guess say you know what’s going on but you guys are not scientist ether so stop saying stupid stuff

  161. “Dear Mr. Phil Plait, I am sure you are neither an astronomer nor a physicist.”

    He is. A Bad one, but he is. ;)

  162. Sigthor

    This just demonstrates that you don’t really understand what science is. Scientists never claim to be 100% correct. The whole point of the scientific method is to take a theory, find ways in which that theory does not adequately explain the empirical evidence, and improve the theory so that it makes better predictions than it did before. That’s what science gives us, improvement in knowledge over time, not absolute knowledge.

    The theory of relativity was not a replacement of Newtonian mechanics; it was an improvement of it.

    If they never say that they are 100% correct how can they rule out 100% or call it “silly” to take the moon into account? It seems more to me that they don´t believe that someone will prove them wrong in the future…

    Yes, the current understanding of earthquakes is limited in many ways. That does not prevent scientists from ruling things out, however. We don’t really know what causes autism, but we’ve done enough experimentation to be able to say with a high degree of confidence that it’s almost certainly not vaccines. Likewise, rigorous studies that have attempted to link the moon with major natural disasters have shown no actual correlation, as Phil mentioned in his post.

    You actually support my arguments in many way in this question you say “but we’ve done enough experimentation to be able to say with a high degree of confidence that it’s almost certainly not vaccines”

    Able to say with high degree of confidence that it´s almost certainle not vaccines, but you dont know it, right, but you agree to me that you do not know it 100% and you have margin of error that margin has been proved to be correct thousands of time in history and have proved older scientists wrong, am I not right?

    Second that I simply wrong, “rigorous studies that have attempted to link the moon with major natural disasters have shown no actual correlation,”

    Because scientist say that there is “weak” evidence for it.

    And once again I say, I do not belive moon caused it, but I would not rule out the possibility that it plays some role in everything that has happened and therefor I stand by my words, that it is irresponsible of scientist to rule out factors that they do not understand.

    I also wonder how much studies have been done in linking disasters and moon orbit, are there any research that are detailed enough to claim that it is no possible connection between earth, moon and disasters? then please give me the website that give me 30 years research on moon and disaster report.

    Well, an anecdote about an interview is not really useful to me. I have no way of judging from your statement whether there might have been problems or biases with this person’s methods or with the evaluation of his results. Since earthquakes happen every day, I could easily predict them with 100% accuracy just by announcing every day that “tomorrow there will be an earthquake somewhere”. That wouldn’t actually be very useful or meaningful, however.

    I am deeply sorry for not registering the time and date of this specific program, but of course I had no idea that I would ever mention this program in an debate to anyone, so all I can say to prove that this show was actually shown is that, I saw it on National Geographic, and perhaps you could seek information from there.

    But if not, I just hope you believe I am an honest person.

  163. Michael Swanson

    @160. Maneesh

    “If a massive solar flare discharge from the Sun’s surface has the capacity to interrupt satellites orbiting in space, then why not a mere earth satellite called the moon have the capacity to influence earth’s crust as well. If the moon is coming closer to the earth in a few days, that means this activity is not normal, and therefore, since the massive tsunami occurred around this time, we can correlate both factors playing a major influence in the devastation that occurred in Japan.”

    Yes, Maneesh, the Moon is moving closer to the Earth. It does this regularly, every 27.3 days in fact, and has been doing it regularly for as long as it has existed. Right now it’s between apogee and perigee, as it is the vast majority of the time, and is headed toward perigee, is it is precisely half of the time, and is therefore in a completely normal state. There is nothing different about the Moon’s proximity or gravitational effect that is any different from what it was 27.3 days ago, when it was in exactly the same state in its trip around the Earth. Or 54.6 days ago, or 81.9 days ago or 27, 300 days ago.

    If this earthquake had happened precisely as the Moon was at its closest range, and precisely as it was full, I could understand you being confused about this. But as there is absolutely nothing special about the state of the Moon right now, I don’t just get it.

    Solar flares, the phases of the Moon, and the Moon’s gravity are three completely unrelated processes. It’s like arguing that you can’t hear over the bright light!

  164. Messier Tidy Upper

    Well said BA, nice piece of debunking there.

    I wonder if modern people – generally more out of touch which what’s happening in the sky (eg. Lunar phases) and on the sea-land interface (the tides) are a lot more vulnerable to this sort of mumb0-jumbo than the superstitious and religious people of centuries past who were at least a bit more aware if not always understanding – of what was going on in the natural world?

    Sympathies and thoughts or all those effected by the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami. :-(

    Shame on those who’ve used this disaster to promote pseudo-scientific nonsense and shame on those who’ve just accepted such nonsense and passed on the meme without checking the facts. They’re really not helping. :-(

    The media asked an *astrologer* as a supposed “expert” about this rubbish? *Facepalm*

  165. The largest quakes do occur near the full moon (or to a lesser degree the new moon)

    The source data:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_earthquakes#Largest_earthquakes_by_magnitude
    http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/moonphases.html

    My results:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83092173@N00/5518198459/

    Oddly, this current Japanese quake is an outlier!

  166. sean

    Sigthor,

    There could be a link, yes. However, based on “proven” science and studies of the data and a lack of correlation between the lunar orbit, tides and earthquakes, it’s simply not plausible. Scientists don’t have the time, energy or money to study everything at once so they tend not to study that for which there is no compelling evidence. I respect NatGeo, but they may have just been throwing out something very speculative to keep things interesting…I really don’t know. And it’s so weak as to be almost undetectable – then it’s not going to be very interesting and it’s not going to play into any models of how earthquakes happen… there are probably numerous minor factors in any phenomena that are simply undetectable – and if you can’t detect them, then who cares?

    Just realize that the motion of the tectonic plates driven by the internal currents of the earths core are at least 1000X more powerful than tidal effects and that when the plates, grinding against each other, get stuck…the pressure builds. It’s a simple matter of the rocks along the plate getting to the breaking point and you don’t need the moon pulling up on the earth to explain it – its superfluous and not required.

  167. 193. Sigthor Says:

    “If they never say that they are 100% correct how can they rule out 100% or call it “silly” to take the moon into account? It seems more to me that they don´t believe that someone will prove them wrong in the future…”

    It’s based on the evidence, and the type of evidence we collect. Convergent, independent, testable and falsifiable evidence helps us accept or reject hypotheses; anecdotal and circumstantial does not.

    You have no evidence for your supposition, while science (geology, physics, seismology, volcanology) has plenty of evidence gathered over years of testing, retesting, and evaluating.

    Science, and scientists, like nothing more than to be proven wrong because it pushes us forward with new knowledge of events, nature and phenomena – while building on what went before.

    When in doubt, trust the evidence.

    And do you realise the irony of disparaging science while on the internet, using a computer, running on electricity?

  168. Sigthor

    196. sean Says:

    There could be a link, yes. However, based on “proven” science and studies of the data and a lack of correlation between the lunar orbit, tides and earthquakes, it’s simply not plausible

    You say the lack of correlation, but scientist admit that there is a correlation, all I have been suggesting that it is irresponsible to rule out things that people do not understand and it surprises me that people that should embrace abnormalities and tiny differences fight against it and refuse even to research it more.
    Like I said they admit it, but they say it is weak correlation.

    197. Tyler Durden Says:

    It’s based on the evidence, and the type of evidence we collect. Convergent, independent, testable and falsifiable evidence helps us accept or reject hypotheses; anecdotal and circumstantial does not.

    You have no evidence for your supposition, while science (geology, physics, seismology, volcanology) has plenty of evidence gathered over years of testing, retesting, and evaluating.

    Science, and scientists, like nothing more than to be proven wrong because it pushes us forward with new knowledge of events, nature and phenomena – while building on what went before.

    When in doubt, trust the evidence.

    Did I ever say that I was 100% sure of what I said? did I ever state that I had proves? I only mentioned that perhaps scientists are ignoring factors that might be relevant to major disasters, so far nobody has given me any solid evidence that the moon does not, even scientist admit that there is connection between massive disasters and moon alignment but it is wake and a bit random.

    Things that are based on evidence, this is most interesting, I asked a friend of mine that is a geologist that worked in Greenland digging down in the ice and estimate the age of the ice.

    My question was: What if they had global warming and melted 500 layers of ice and then you have lost 500 years of history, how do you know that did not happen?

    Of course she could not answer, because you cant count years that are not there, and how do you count layers that have melted?

    But she had her evidence, but in science they are always on the far end of technology in many cases the evidence scientist have are based on theories, and then later those theories are proven wrong and the entire study fails and theories and evidence of them become meaningless.

    So saying we have evidence, we have prove, we know for a fact it was this way, we know for a fact it happens this way, I would think that scientist should acknowledge that they dont have a clue what star alignment, moon, solar flares or some massive changes in the solar system or even the galaxy have on earth.

    Dismissing all those factors is like believing that the earth is flat.

    But I do not dismiss your reasoning for it, but I say, isnt´there a possibility that you are wrong?

  169. Ok, who has data? Here is mine. The biggest 24 quakes correlate with the full or new moon. Period.

    Mag Rank Date Full Moon delta Name
    8.5 24 16-Dec-1575 17-Dec-1575 -1 1575 Valdivia earthquake
    8.5 23 20-Oct-1687 20-Oct-1687 0 1687 Peru earthquake
    9.0 9 26-Jan-1700 25-Jan-1700 1 1700 Cascadia earthquake
    8.7 12 8-Jul-1730 30-Jun-1730 8 1730 Valparaiso earthquake
    8.5 22 24-May-1751 10-May-1751 14 1751 Concepción earthquake
    8.7 11 1-Nov-1755 4-Nov-1755 -3 1755 Lisbon earthquake
    8.8 8 25-Nov-1833 27-Nov-1833 -2 1833 Sumatra earthquake
    8.7 16 13-Aug-1868 3-Aug-1868 10 1868 Arica earthquake
    8.8 7 31-Jan-1906 1-Feb-1906 -1 1906 Ecuador-Colombia earthquake
    8.5 21 11-Nov-1922 4-Nov-1922 7 1922 Vallenar earthquake
    8.5 20 3-Feb-1923 2-Feb-1923 1 Kamchatka earthquakes
    8.5 19 1-Feb-1938 15-Feb-1938 14 1938 Banda Sea earthquake
    8.6 15 15-Aug-1950 13-Aug-1950 2 1950 Medog earthquake
    9.0 4 4-Nov-1952 2-Nov-1952 2 Kamchatka earthquakes
    8.6 14 9-Mar-1957 1-Mar-1957 8 1957 Andreanof Islands earthquake
    9.5 1 22-May-1960 25-May-1960 3 1960 Valdivia earthquake
    8.5 18 13-Oct-1963 3-Oct-1963 10 1963 Kuril Islands earthquake
    9.2 2 27-Mar-1964 27-Mar-1964 0 1964 Alaska earthquake
    8.7 10 4-Feb-1965 1-Feb-1965 3 1965 Rat Islands earthquake
    9.1 3 26-Dec-2004 26-Dec-2004 0 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
    8.6 13 28-Mar-2005 26-Mar-2005 2 2005 Sumatra earthquake
    8.5 17 12-Sep-2007 28-Aug-2007 14 September 2007 Sumatra earthquakes
    8.8 6 27-Feb-2010 28-Feb-2010 -1 2010 Chile earthquake
    8.9 5 11-Mar-2011 5-Mar-2011 6 2011 Sendai earthquake

    Show me your data…

  170. Sigthor

    You are missing a 7+ earthquake in Iceland on 17th of june 2000

  171. Andyo

    65.   lyrically blest Says:

    March 11th, 2011 at 11:46 am
    So let me understand this…
    1. The single greatest force that we know of, on our earthly planet is gravity.

    Actually, gravity is the weakest of the 4 known forces.

  172. For those who like a bit more data reduction, of the 24 largest quakes, here is how many days they occurred from the full or new moon (with the major correlations with the full moon)

    delta days / count
    0 6
    1 5
    2 4
    3 4
    4 1
    5 0
    6 3
    7 1

    Anyone out there with data?

  173. LOL @bob spence (comment #202). Your “data” counts anything up to (and sometimes more than) a week either side of a full or new moon as a hit. In other words, you’re automatically counting EVERY earthquake that can happen at ANY time, fullstop. Even if they were all just a couple of days out, I’d be skeptical. But what you’re trying to assert is just hilariously stupid.

    Learn to statistics.

  174. Chris, let me explain

    6 of 24 occur on the full or new moon

    5 occur within a day

    4 within 2 days

    4 within 3 days

    1 within 4 days

    0 within 5 days

    3 within 6 days

    1 within 7 days

    Full moons and new moons occur 14 days apart, so thats the entire distribution.

    Most quakes occur near the moon events (6+5+4+4=19)
    And there are (1+0+3+1=5) events in the same period away from the moon events

    19 moonies and 5 non-moonies

    QED

  175. sean

    Sigthor – if you want to stick with the .0001% probabilities you will always end up with what you want to believe instead of truly trying to understand. Saying there is a weak correlation is not “admitting it” – weak correlations means that it’s interesting, but probably due to noise in the data. Weak means there is very little reason to believe there is a plausible mechanism. Strong correlations are very interesting and people pursue more investigation, weak means there is little reason to believe that the correlation is suggestive of cause and effect.

    Bob – how close does it need to be to the full or new moon for it to be significant? You do realize that you will always be within 14 days of either the full or new moon, correct? And that statistically, most days of the month are closer than 2 weeks from the full or new moon. How can you say the correlate, period? The quakes are not clustering with respect to the moon phase and what about perigee and apogee – aren’t those more significant if you aren’t taking the sun into account? Also – I spot checked some of your dates and the calculator was not showing the same thing…e.g. Aug 13, 1950 – the moon was new according to the software I used, while your calc shows full. Others were off by a day or so.

    So based on your data – you are ready to conclude that major earthquakes only happen when the moon is new, full or somewhere in between. I agree with you.

  176. Bobby

    Scientist make mistakes! For 30 years I sailed the pacific and atlantic oceans and told the oceanographers in our company about giant waves that came out of nowhere. The scientist all said it was impossible for a giant wave to appear out of calm seas. They said this even after hundreds of stories, by others, about giant waves. Then finally when an oil rig video shows one of these waves, the scientist go back and realize that not only were we telling the truth, but these giant waves happen all the time.

    So for those of you who blindly trust in scientist, I am telling you that they get it wrong more often than you think.

  177. Sean, did you look for the full/new moon times at the location of the quake? What moon calculator did you use?

    Notice that 6+5+4+4 close to full/new moon quakes vs 1+0+3+1 away from full/new moon quakes

    There are 14 days between full and new moons, so the range of delta days is [0..7]

    The source data:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_earthquakes#Largest_earthquakes_by_magnitude
    http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/moonphases.html

    My results:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83092173@N00/5518198459/

  178. Sigthor

    209. sean Says:

    Maybe I am wrong, but it is simply stupid and arrogant to say that I am believing in Moonageddon and 000,000001 probability.

    First because all I said it might have had an affect of what happened.

    Second, saying that the probability is so little, when you have not answered following questions I mentioned earlier.

    1. How much has moon actvite been researched?
    2. How often have science been proven wrong even if they insist they are 100% right
    3. What do scientist know about effect of star alignment or what effects other planets have on earth?

    If you can answer those questions I might not think of you like the people who found Galileo wrong.

  179. Kunal

    The super moon is gonna be on march 19. So I think we should wait till then and see. I am sure this tsunami was not because of it.

  180. Sean, my calculator shows a new moon at Aug 13 1950 at 10:18 PM in New Delhi for the Aug 15, 1950 Assam, India earthquake. Thats two days from a new moon in the possible range of [0..7]

  181. Martha

    Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium was on CNN tonight debunking this nonsense along with a scientist from NOAA. I am glad at least one network had people on who know what they are talking about. Amazing that people get so worked up when their pet woo woo gets demolished. The moon is just a dead hunk of rock that is closer than the big rocks and gas giants that some people in 2011 actually believe can influence our lives or predict events. Astrology is bunk.

  182. Have we filled our quota of woo promoters using the “scientists think they know EVERYTHING” line yet? As always, I’m reminded that the dumber a line is, the more often it will be spouted. :S

  183. sean

    Signor,
    Here’s a NatGeo Article to say it’s been researched and no correlation found:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/05/0523_050523_moonquake.html

    My apologies for overstating your position.

    Science advance – when a theory is “wrong” – it’s corrected. You need to prove a hypothesis with repeatable experiments. Nobody every said it was 100% right…newton was wrong…but pretty damn close in most cases. I think you trust science – but I feel like you you want to ignore what the “professionals” have to say.

    Scientists know very well what effect the stars and planets have on Earth – Newton figured out the gravitational theory 400 years ago. Stars, besides the sun, have no effect on the earth…they are just too far away… Are you suggesting “astrology”?

    Yo Bob – that’s fine – just pointing out that it was new, not full. But look at the overall stats for earthquakes vs. moon phase and distance. I am quite confident that if there was a causal connection, the stats compiled by legitimate scientists and statisticians would have exposed it…I just happen to trust the scientific process.

  184. Dude, let me cut through your science speak and the smart people in the comments speak…

    In order to know with a mathematical or scientific certainty what can and cannot influence <–notice the word – earthquakes then you must know what can.

    Otherwise you are best guessing it based on the observable data to date.

    Since you cannot put out an earthquake warning yet, I think you might want to stop trying to say what cannot have caused the Japanese earthquake until you can know with 100% certainty what does them.

    Because then you could predict them by observing all that goes into them. Just my buffalo heads nickel advice.

  185. Steve D

    First of all, to Sigthor, answers to your three questions:
    1. Do it yourself. Download a list of earthquakes from the USGS and phases of the moon from the Naval Observatory. Find a correlation. Yes it’s been studied, no there is no correlation.
    2. About one ten-thousandth as often as some pseudoscientist asserting he’s right and turning out to be 100% wrong. I’ll give you Semmelweiss and Wegener as examples of science getting it wrong (and that’s dubious history). You, in turn, explain Velikovsky, Ignatius Donnelly, Hans Horbinger, Wilhelm Reich, Charles Berlitz, the Jupiter Effect, all the crap Joseph Campbell peddled for decades in Analog (how Asimov could associate with him without puking is beyond me), L. Ron Hubbard, the scientific creation movement, the anti-vaccinators, all the fakes exposed by James Randi, and all the other cranks and weirdos documented in, say, Martin Gardner’s books. Shall I go on?
    3. Just about everything. There’s nothing.

    Go to Google Scholar and locate references on these subjects and then go to a good university library and look them up. If you can’t understand the articles, take science courses until you can. If you can’t manage that, or can’t be bothered, you have no claim to credibility.

    This is for the benefit of people who might think you have a point. I don’t give a rat’s @$$ whether you compare me to the people who hassled Galileo (also largely a myth based on bad history) or not, because your opinion counts for nothing. You don’t know science, or history, and you can’t even write coherent letters on a blog – why should ANYONE take your science seriously? In fact, tell me one significant thing you’ve ever done to improve the world or contribute to our collective knowledge.

    Not only is the Moon not at perigee, it’s at first quarter. That means lunar and solar tides offset each other, a condition called neap tide. Tides are LESS STRONG now than at new or full Moon! Man, the supermoon people can’t catch a break at all. Oh, wait, it’s an avoidance effect, like in parapsychology.

  186. Rristar

    .How about instead of Supermoon…. we take a look at our Supersun!! The sun is currently in solar cycle 24 and nearing the end of an 11 year cycle,of which will become more active with more results by it’s end in two years. Our sun released the largest X-flare in four years the day before Japans earthquake. Another X-flare was also released at the time of New Zealand’s Christchurch earth quake. The charged particles that do make it through the magnetosphere travel the earth grid and super charge the magnetic poles deep inside the earth. Earth quakes,volcano’s ,and weather patterns are directly related to this cyclical event.The galactic alignment which we are currently in occurs every 24,500 years. Earth ,Sun, align with the center of our galaxy a black hole. you think the Sun spews out terror we have no idea what this event holds for us.

  187. eyesoars

    @205: Chris, I think that’s the point. Every day is within a week of a new or full moon (since the lunar period is about 4 weeks, and new and full are about two weeks apart). But those data are heavily skewed towards the periods of maximum tides. What I don’t know is whether these actually are cherry picked. Nor do we have any data on which, if any, of these are “supermoons”.

  188. Sean

    Jeff – forget about certainty, only the recent past is [almost] certain. It’s all about probabilities. Lets just say that based on observations, the probability that the moon triggers earthquakes (lets just say that are already primed to happen to avoid the “Causes them”) – is low, if I’m to believe the people who have made a career out of actually studying this stuff.

    We can’t rule out that the moon/sun position may have some slight effect, but based on the statistics, any effect is so slight as to be lost in the statistical noise.

  189. Curious Roy

    Wow.. With all those comments, i can say that this world can never attain unity.. It becomes the battle of principles, not facts. Since we all have different perceptions, there will always be contradictions, and we will only agree to this opinion if it satisfies our views. Man, what a messy complicated world it is.

  190. Sean

    Bob – nice chart, thanks for posting it. It does show some clustering within a few days of the full moon, but not being a statistician, I don’t know what the standard deviation is. You still need to correct the August 1950 stats – the 13th was a new moon.

    Your contention is that some of the most powerful quakes show a correlation with the full moon, when sun and moon are opposed. It looks like there could be a link based on your compilation of stats, but according to the Geologists quoted in NatGeo, when the sample size is increased, the “effect” goes away. I have the utmost respect for people who try to work things out themselves, but I still trust that the pros know what they are doing…most of the time.

  191. Sean

    Curious Roy – not disagreeing with you, but we need to look to the scientific process to shake out our own biases…it’s not perfect, but it’s the best method we have for establishing “high probabilities”.

  192. Ema Nymton

    Wow.

    Jeff Barea’s loonieness is fighting with his idiocy. Try reading his blog without getting a headache. Go on. Try it.

    See, when he complains about “smart people in the comments speak,” what he means is people that can form a coherent sentence.

  193. drippy

    First let me state that I do not believe Supermoon caused the earthquake in Japan.

    However, I would like further elaboration on some facts and play devils advocate for a second.

    The article states that the moon was at pretty much the furthest point it could have been. Could this not also have a triggering affect as there is less of a gravitational force thus causing a sinking effect in certain, already weakened, areas?

    If the earths crust rises 1 meter, it could also be argued that it sinks 1 meter. And if the moon was further away than normal, then perhaps more.

    As I said, I for one do not support the supermoon theory. However, I do see some holes in the argument here.

  194. I’ve gone back to fix my quickly compiled statistics
    I have no opinion one way or the other
    I was just taking the best info I could quickly find and see what the data really says
    Scientists quoting scientists isn’t science

    Smaller earthquakes probably have less ‘moon/tide’ effect than big ones, so looking at the biggest, and probably most significant ones, is closer to science than repeating the buzz

    I just wanted to post something looking like facts, not people quoting people in the typical internet echo chamber. Repeat an assertion enough and it becomes an internet truth.

    My new data plot
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83092173@N00/5519182710/

    Show me better data… (or like sean, fix mine ;)

  195. Chris

    I heard that supermoon nonsense on TV today. At least they had the sense to ask deGrasse Tyson if there was any truth to it.

  196. See, but the supersun doesn’t move around, so no one suspects it…EVER.

  197. The great tipper

    Oh my Gosh tipping points, tipping points, if the earth shifts it shifts because something has broke the bonds of friction; either beteewn a solid object or two objects held by pressure. Almost broke is different than broke and sometimes the butterfly causes the storm.

  198. Gark32

    Bob Spence Said :
    Smaller earthquakes probably have less ‘moon/tide’ effect than big ones, so looking at the biggest, and probably most significant ones, is closer to science than repeating the buzz

    No, that’s called Cherry-Picking Data, and it’s not how you get a result. you’re assuming first that there is a moon/tide effect, and second that for some reason it is only measurable in larger quakes. Assuming that the presence of the effect is the hypothesis you are attempting to prove, what data suggests that it is only found in the larger events? also, “I have no opinion” is obviously bunk, you’ve been arguing in favor of your cherry-picked dataset from the getgo. and what do you mean “scientists quoting scientists isn’t science”? who should they quote, Ronald Mcdonald?

  199. Mark Hansen

    Daniel @186, 187 and in full rabidity in subsequent posts;
    The BA did NOT say that this earthquake was the biggest in history. He said that it was the biggest in Japan’s history. Perhaps you could try reading what was written instead of assuming it was what you thought he said.

    Post 189; I don’t even know how to start answering that one! However, I do like the idea of “planet nubies”. Populated by gamers that were pwned, perhaps?

    But then there’s this gem from post 191:
    You guys are all stupid.Do you even know the term of science.You guess say you know what’s going on but you guys are not scientist ether so stop saying stupid stuff.

    Yes, I am familiar with the concept of science. It works. Belief in wacky hypotheses does not. And it would be pleasing if you would stop saying stupid stuff.

  200. FreeBrain

    well .. have you ever got something stuck ….and you push & then pull , push & pull and when you pull the strongest …isnt it the moment that you free the object ???

    That could be happening… so your article just left me with more questions…

  201. Gark32, so what data do you have.

    I had no bias, I just went to wikipedia and found the best data I could find and took a peek

    Don’t quote anyone, Ronald McDonald or DeGrassy, find some facts and see what they say

    Don’t fault me for assuming that ‘scientists’ who have seen nothing aren’t really looking. I’m not cherry picking, just using the biggest, best data I can find

    So far all I have found, in my second plot, is that large earthquakes correlate with phases of the moon and the transition of media from books to TV sitcoms. Probably a critique of Charlie Sheen by God :)

    Some data:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83092173@N00/5518691627/

  202. FreeBrain

    Dont get me wrong.. I like the article, just it doesnt seem so conclusive for me…

    I dont think the forces are the cause, but maybe they could helpwith some influence… Does not seem so ilogical…

    But I Really dont think the difference in force could be so big to independently cause the quake…

  203. Andrew W

    Wow, this post’s sure brought out the loonies.

  204. madame7

    you’re a complete and utter fool.
    i study the astrological charts of earthquakes and while this one did occur with the same exact planetary alignment as the Haiti and Chile quakes, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. March 19/20 will herald massive destruction caused by not only this intense alignment of planets all on one side of the earth (no woo-woo metaphysics there!), but the full moon being closer than it’s been in many years, adding to the gravitational stress. You can all kiss my ass when this prophecy comes true.

  205. I suppose you read the About page where I’m trying to accomplish a well-know literary technique revolving around writing multiple books at one time. No wonder your head hurts.

    You sound like the people who think the moon only has an effect on when the beach sand gets covered.

    230. Ema Nymton Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Wow.

    Jeff Barea’s loonieness is fighting with his idiocy. Try reading his blog without getting a headache. Go on. Try it.

  206. I agree, but the article has the tone of a declarative. “Leave the moon out of this” as if the solar flares can’t bounce against the moon and the magnetic axis changes shouldn’t be taken into effect.

    224. Sean Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Jeff – forget about certainty, only the recent past is [almost] certain. It’s all about probabilities.

  207. 233. bob spence Says:
    March 11th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I agree that there are a certain amount of established facts based on what we have observed about current events and we extrapolate based on that.

    We will never understand whether that extrapolation is correct if we simply say FACT A IS TRUTH. Especially when we extrapolate to pre-recorded history with variables unknown.

    We have an unique situation that just occurred with a confluence of events we have never personally recorded. Will the results tabulate to confirm?

    We don’t know yet. So let’s stop “debunking” things until it’s debunked.

    This is not about worrying about whether millions of people believe the moon god is angry – they will believe it regardless of even scientific facts.

    To just rush in is not the scientific process. It’s not supposed to be a P/R machine especially when before anything is fully known people in the comments go straight to LOOONY.

    I hope they don’t call themselves scientists.

  208. Amused&Bemused

    I hate to get involved in online discussions but this one I felt I needed to comment on as there is a unique mixture of scientists, lay people (including me) and headbangers (possibly including me, your call on that). Some of the items I take issue with have been responded nto already, I wrote my responses prior to completing the entire thread.
    BTW, kudos to all involved in keeping the language clean and not resorting to insults and name calling.

    158. Sigthor Says:

    By your rationale, the lack of gravitational pull from the moon when it is at it’s furthest distance from the Earth enables a tectonic plate to rise slightly and enable another plate to slip below it.
    If that is indeed what you intended to say I would be amazed that the “reduction in gravity” as you describe it is only applied to one of the plates, that’s some clever anti-gravity going on. In addition, plates are kinda large and heavy, I’m guessing the reduction on the effect of gravity required to enable a plate to rise would have everything else spinning off the Earth long before any plate movement? Just a theory.

    16. Jason Walker

    You speak of the supermoon and it’s effect in the past-tense.
    Are you aware the supermoon is due to occur on March 19th? That’s in the future!
    Ah why am I even bothered, you won’t be back to read this and even if you do, it will not affect your belief that something in the future that is of no consequence has had a huge effect on a tragedy that has occured in the past.

    Seriously, to all the people who are convinced the supermoon has / will have any effect on the Earth, do you not get the point that we are still 1/4 of a lunar cycle away from this event and, therefore, the moon is currently just a normal chilled-out moon as opposed to the sinister ubermotherfckngmoon that’s gonna steal my lunch money and give the world a giant wedgie next week?

    178. Sigthor

    Since I purchased my new mobile phone there have been 2 earthquakes, I now have concluded that my mobile phone may have an effect on the Earth’s crust. I assume you will come to my defence when some show-off scientist tells me WITHOUT PROOF that my mobile phone can not have an effect on the Earth’s crust?
    Do you see my point?
    We can all throw out theories without proof, until we can prove, or show enough evidence to support the theory, then science can and should dismiss the theory. To say this is irresponsible indicates that you don’t understand science very well.

    181. AndrewL Says:

    I could not agree more.
    Surely everyone knows that the bst place to drill for oil is in the oil rich cracks between two or more plates.
    I suspect in time we will have to pump some liquids down there to lubricate and absorb the shocks….. something like magma perhaps?

    194. Michael Swanson Says:
    It’s like arguing that you can’t hear over the bright light!
    Oh thanks for that, I needed a good laugh.

  209. Gark32

    so you’re asking for someone to extrapolate data from a heretofore unseen event from a single occurence?

    are you MENTAL?

    i think it’s debunked just fine, if not by Phil here then by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

  210. Noid

    @211 Bobby

    Give ‘em a break; like anyone’d believe the tales of a drunken sailor.

  211. Rristar

    Organized religion is not my thing, but i do find some of the Christian scriptures particularly interesting and relevant to these times.

    “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

    Matthew 24:3 Jesus’ disciples asked for a sign of His Coming and the end of the world.
    Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24 There will be many false religious teachers: false christs and false prophets who will deceive and mislead many.
    Revelation 13:13-14 Satan and his agents will perform signs and wonders to deceive people.
    Revelation 16:14 Spirits of devils will perform signs and miracles to mislead many.
    2 Timothy 4:3-4 The time will come when people won’t endure sound doctrine but will seek out teachers who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear.
    Matthew 24:6-7 There will be wars and rumors of wars; nation will rise against nation.
    Luke 21:25 There will be distress of nations, with perplexity.
    Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts will be failing them, from fear of those things happening.
    1 Thessalonians. 5:2-3 Peace talks, based on man’s frail promises, will avail nothing.
    Revelation 11:18 When the nations are angry, Christ will ultimately destroy those who would destroy the earth.
    Matthew 24:7 There’ll be natural disasters, famines, pestilences, earthquakes all over.
    Matthew 24:12 There will be rising crime and violence, iniquity.
    2 Timothy 3:1-4 There will be perilous times with moral decadence of every kind.
    Matthew 24:37-39 There will be times of wickedness and violence, as in the days of Noah.
    Genesis 6:1-2, 5, 12-13 In Noah’s day, wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence were rampant everywhere.
    James 5:1-5, 8 There will be economic difficulties, with labor and management troubles.
    Daniel 12:4 Near “the time of the end … knowledge shall increase.”
    Luke 21:34 But many will be too weighed down with the cares of this life.
    Matthew 24:48-51 The evil servant says, “My Lord delays His Coming.”
    2 Peter 3:8-10 God chooses to save all, but He honors our freedom of choice.
    Revelation 14:6 The everlasting gospel will be preached in every nation and tongue.
    Matthew 24:14 This gospel will be preached in all the world; then the end will come.
    Matthew 24:42-44 God’s counsel is, “Be ready.”

  212. Anne

    Some interesting discussion on here. Yes it is obvious that it is vanishly unlikely that the tidal influence of the moon could have had any role to play in the occurence of the earthquake in Japan as it is currently between apogee and perigee and at first quarter, but I don’t think that the possibility that tidal effects associated with new moons & full moons could help to trigger stresses within fault zones that are already building up stresses should be completely ruled out. So to my mind there is a possibility that the forthcoming ‘supermoon’ could have some influence when it occurs as it does mean the moon is full and therefore causing Spring tides at the same time as it is at Perigee which presumably will increase the tidal effects to some extent. Also it is very close to the Spring Equinox around which time the Spring tides will larger. Any thoughts on this?

    Aside from the (relatively weak) influence of the moon on stresses on fault zones does anyone have any thoughts on the possibility of a relationship between the current movement of the magnetic North Pole – currently documented to be up to 37 miles a year see http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091224-north-pole-magnetic-russia-earth-core.html and what appears to be a cluster of larger than average earthquakes occurring over the last few years? To my mind the movement of the North pole suggests something pretty dynamic is going on inside the Earth – could this have implications for plate tectonics and if so is it likely that we will continue to have a higher frequency of big earthquakes and other tectonically related events?

  213. PayasYouStargaze

    bob spence(233) said: “Smaller earthquakes probably have less ‘moon/tide’ effect than big ones, so looking at the biggest, and probably most significant ones, is closer to science than repeating the buzz”

    Logically the opposite would be true. The “moon/tide” effect varies by a small amount on a monthly basis. This means whatever effect there is can be considered almost constant. The “moon/tide” effect is thus proportionally smaller for big ‘quakes than for small ones. That implies that the cause of the larger ‘quakes should be a more powerful force.

  214. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    The radioactive cloud is blowing out to sea in the direction of the United States. Will a Japanese Melt down become a fall out problem for the United States?

  215. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Where did I put that duct tape and plastic wrap?

  216. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    It is nice to know that the reactors in Toledo are protected against any possible problems almost as well as those in Japan.

  217. Marco Langbroek

    While I agree that a direct link between the upcoming “super” full moon and the Japan quake is unlikely (for the very reasons outlined by Phil), one should however not dismiss a link between earthquake activity and the moon too quickly as “silly”.

    There are actually (recent) scientific studies that do suggest such links, e.g.:

    Cochran et al. (2004): Earth Tides Can Trigger Shallow Thrust Fault Earthquakes. Science 306, 1164

    Rubinstein et al. (2008): Tidal Modulation of Nonvolcanic Tremor. Science 319, 186.

    Kasahara (2002): Tides, Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Science 297, 348

    Tolstoy et al. (2002): Breathing of the seafloor: Tidal correlations of seismicity at Axial volcano. Geology 30, 503.

    Considering the moon, tides and quakes, don’t underestimate the effect of the weight of the oceanic watermass on the crust below varying with the diurnal tidal cycle (see the Kasahara N&V piece, which has a nice diagram from ocean floor pressure measurements). When tensions are already build up from plate tectonics, such tidal effects could in theory provide the last jerk that is the trigger of a quake. Morover, these fluctuations are diurnal in character and hence the straw that breaks the Camel’s back need not coincide with a supertide at all.

    That said, a direct link between the Japan quake and a “super” full moon still to come is indeed nonsense.

  218. Schnee

    And if the Michigan reactors blow, we here in Southern Ontario, Canada, will be glowing in the dark within 12 hours, wonderful, but then we have known this for decades, and just like the California Earthquake and the Yellowstone Volcano, do we worry about it to death ;0 NO, we worry about Asteroids and Aliens, along with the Wrath of God LOL

    did anyone else notice how the YouTube videos of the quake were inundated with the pseudo science mob and the wrath of god idiots, until all comments were wiped and comments shut down; what a lovely world we live in; and in less than 2 years you in the US have an election for President, and the Bread and Circus Mobs will be out to decimate their opponents; not that our elections are getting any better, with our own version of the Tea Party in office now;

  219. DanMingo

    Wow; all of you super smart people are positive that their is no correlation with the moon’s phase or cycle, yet this guy
    http://www.december212012.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=10524&start=0&sid=8f5754efe246c7ae1ed77e11fa056a26

    Saw it coming on Jan 19th, and called his shot, based upon the moon’s cycle/position.

    “It is said if the Moon’s orbit is aligned with the Earth just right…
    in the past.. this has and in the future… will result in causing one or more massive earthquakes.

    And it just so happens this coming March 11, 2011 is going to be one of these times
    one of those orbits between the Moon and Earth take place.

    And, one rumor… already has it that a
    California group of geologists are asking their cohorts not to taking any chances..
    and – recommend that any
    of their cohorts that are going to be caught in what might be called – the back country…
    a few days before or after the date of March 11, 2011, be sure to have at least
    three months of needed supplies with them.

    Okay all of you super smart scientific types; debunk that!

  220. DrBB

    @247. Marco Langbroek

    That there may be *some* tidal correlation certainly seems plausible and testable, as your comment indicates, though the entire point here is that of course by all measures this couldn’t really *be* one of those times because at the moment the thing occurred the moon wasn’t in any particularly significant position relative to the earth, even though it was *gonna* be in one a week or so hence. But that “gonna be” doesn’t somehow radiate magically backward to a point in the moon’s orbit that is about average for its distance from us. All of which I’m sure you understand, though clearly a lot of other people don’t.

    What triggers my tired and overworked lunacy detector is turning on the TeeVee and hoping for some hard information and seeing a blowdried newsbimbo with a big “Supermoon?” graphic behind his/her head and then virtually nothing in the report about *why* in this case the connection makes absolutely no sense, though to be sure somewhere in there is a 1.3 second snip of good ol’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson saying “Look, it’s not really possible…” Just enough so they can tell themselves “We showed Both Sides!” and their poor besotted audience can nod and say, “See? them scientists always say stuff like that and besides look at that graphic. Supermoon, don’t you GET it?”

    I think what’s so particularly annoying about this is that 1) the news media have become so debased in our country that they feel like they need to *add* something to what is in mere fact an awful (and aweful) and horrific event–which would be justified if they were really trying to confront a silly idea that was gaining currency with actual information, but that’s very much NOT what I’m seeing on my TeeVee; and even worse 2) the people who glom onto this highly and transparently manipulative sensationalistic (and therefore ad-revenue generating) crap are somehow convinced that they’ve got the *real* dope that those pointy-headed astrogeeks are Too Smartypants to recognize is the True And Secret Inside Story that They Don’t Want You To Hear, which is very much the attitude behind the majority (not all) of the inane comments here and elsewhere.

    If I could diagnose about 80-90% of what’s going completely haywire in this country, it’s this peculiar combination of people being completely manipulated by a shiny media object (“Supermoon!” “2012!”) that is through some species of mental jiu jitsu or brainwashing ray converted into a sense that Now I Got The Real Info What They (smart people who have spent their lives studying the phenomenon with rigor and impartiality) Don’t Want Ya Ta Know, when that is precisely the opposite of what’s going on.

  221. steve

    this is all your opinion, personally i would like to know who you are and what qualifies you to make such statements….which, i may add, are disclaimed in your ‘conclusion’

    as a Geologist i KNOW that the tectonic plates ARE effected by the lunar phases….not so pronounced as the oceans….but it is there

    whether or not the earthquake was CAUSED by any lunar effects is open to conjecture….but to flat out state it was not is totally ignorant…it may have been a contributing factor…who knows

    if you can disprove it then please show printouts of the gravitation effect and seismic data and maybe…..MAYBE we’ll be halfway to taking you seriously

  222. steve

    next you’ll be quoting Mother Shipton and Nostradamus

  223. I heard about the nonsense and came rushing to this blog and see I am not disappointed -you already have posted on this for the benefit of your readers -thanks Phil!

  224. kmh5c_mtsu_s11

    Once again, you have proven quite useful in my understanding of world events. I’m ashamed to say that while I have heard the words perigee and apogee before, I thought they were just nonsensical magic words someone made up for Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I’d never heard the word “supermoon” until I read this either. Even from my lay perspective I can see how those crazy theories won’t work. I hate misinformation more than anything. I understand that these things need to be reported on, but how is it okay for someone to use bad data to justify their point of view?

    I’m glad that some of the more major media outlets are trying to debunk this whole “supermoon caused the quake” theory. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more on these whacky theories as March 19th rolls closer. I’m going to agree wholeheartedly with your closing point: panic is exactly what no one needs right now, especially over something that is unrelated. I dream of the day when pseudoscience is a thing of the past.

    And to answer Old Muley (1): I’ve already seen the 2012 reaction. It’s on Tumblr, and it’s sad. Someone actually took a still from the film, and made a much too soon joke about the disaster. Another took the date 12/21/2012 and added up the numbers (big surprise there, the number 11); then they related it to all of the other “events” that have happened on an 11. Biggest facepalm of my life. “Congratulations, you’ve found 3 weather related events that occurred on the eleventh of the month, now how about the rest of them?” It truly befuddles me how people have latched on to 2012 and will not let go.

    My thoughts are with Japan, and the other areas of the world effected by this disaster.

  225. Martha

    2012 debunking: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/11/091106-2012-end-of-world-myths.html

    The list that 2012 will be joining: failed doomsday predictions of the past:
    http://www.abhota.info/end1.htm

    What are the 2102 people going to do January 1st, 2013. What new day will you pull out of your…. I mean thin air.

    The ancient Mayans failed to predict the end of their own civilization were just a clueless about 2012.

  226. DrBB

    @264: Um, Steve? He’s a professional astronomer, pointing out that that the so-called “supermoon” phenomenon can’t have anything to do with this, since it refers to an event that hasn’t happened yet, and when the earthquake actually occurred there was nothing extraordinary about the moon’s position relative to the earth. Somehow this gets strawmanned by you and others into a blanket claim that tidal effects have no influence ever over these events. He does suggest evidence indicating that the science seems to be against a very strong or significant effect, but that’s hardly the same as banning the whole idea from consideration.

    But the point, the point, the POINT is this “Supermoon” event, which refers to a specific configuration that periodically occurs, but that in this case was still more than a week off and therefore (unless you posit magical effects radiating backwards in time from it) couldn’t have been the cause, a week being a significant amount of time given the lunar orbit is only 28 days long. I don’t see how it could be any clearer, nor how a trained “geologist” could fail to grasp the point, or not bother reading the original post well enough to find out what the man is saying and why his professional bona fides entitle him to an authoritative opinion.

    If the earthquake occurred at the gravitational maximum in question, then we’d certainly have something to talk about. But it didn’t.

  227. DrBB

    @268

    I’m with you Martha! 2012 is one variant on a phenomenon I find particularly baffling as a sometime historian, kind of a two-headed coin. On one side a sort of chronological chauvinism: “People who lived a long time ago were dumber than us.” Actually, no, they weren’t. They lacked a lot of information about how the world worked, but then so do we, ignorance, unlike knowledge, being infinite. And certain ideas attributed to them, like the idea that the earth is flat, are ones they never actually held. But more to the point here is the completely contradictory counterpart to that idea: “People who lived a long time ago were much smarter than us!” –particularly the ones who built pyramids for some reason. Therefore the Mayans knew how the world was gonna end, and when, even though modern smartypants scientists don’t! Because, um, actually I’m not sure why. They just did, m’kay?

  228. Steve @263 wrote:

    this is all your opinion, personally i would like to know who you are and what qualifies you to make such statements….which, i may add, are disclaimed in your ‘conclusion’

    as a Geologist i KNOW that the tectonic plates ARE effected by the lunar phases

    I’m assuming that you haven’t been around the internet or geology for long, but Dr. Plait’s credentials are well known among, yes even, geologists.

    Evelyn and Erik both linked to their blogs- might want to peruse the content, there. Too, they link to some good posts by Callan, Chris and others that explain the quake in detail.

    If you are a geologist and have been around the internet for any amount of time other than a few days, those names should be recognizable. If they are not, you shoul really spend some time there, and too here, of course.

    Now, on to the meat: Granted, it has been years since I had Structural, and being a soft rock kind of guy, I didn’t really retain most of it. But, when we studied tectonics, I seem to recall that density, convection, and pull is drove the plates.

    Are they teaching something different these days???

  229. Ksessoking

    Okay, I’ll fess up, it was me … I am very tired from taking so many classes at the NSTA Conference. I tried a spell to invoke the moon goddess; I must have used the wrong wording and ticked off good old Luna and she caused the quake (in Japan so as not to ruin the science teachers great time in San Francisco!).

  230. George

    The orbiting Moon obviously has been “tugging”, in a very rhythmic manner, at the Earth’s tectonic plates since its very formation as Earth’s satellite. It therefore most certainly contributes energy to the pressure building within the plates prior to “letting lose” suddenly as an earthquake; i.e., the Moon contributes to all earthquakes. The fact that there may be no correlation between the tidal forces of the Moon and earthquakes can be readily explained as being due to the highly nonlinear nature of an earthquake: the energy from various sources, including the Moon, is “stored” in the plate until a critical pressure is achieved and “the camel’s back breaks” with a rapid outflow of the stored energy. As such, it is not only plausible but certain that the Moon’s orbital position plays a significant role in—and may even provide the critical “tug”—that triggers the release of the stored energy.

    All classical astronomers were astrologers. Until relatively modern times, there was no distinction at all. Astrology is not a science (thank The Gods!) but is in fact a synchronistic phenomenon that has an amazing history of success in its explanatory power regarding human nature and behavior. Its data are subjective to individuals and therfore depreciated by a rational prejudice that only what is “out there” is “real”. Science rightly limits itself to sense data that is always in need of an interpretive theory or model, therefore is also subjective, often misinterpreted and even fraudulently maintained for political purposes. Science has also brought our species to the brink of self-destruction far beyond the threat of earthquakes. Much scientific hubris runs through these posts; and the need for the guidance of the Stars is clearly evidenced thereby.

  231. DrBB

    @273 “As such, it is not only plausible but certain that the Moon’s orbital position plays a significant role in—and may even provide the critical “tug”—that triggers the release of the stored energy.”

    And one more time before I give up: in this case the orbital position was nothing out of the ordinary. “Supermoon” position still more than a week off (significant!). Position at time of event, slightly farther from earth than average, but nothing special that way either. Therefore no reason to think moon gravity was critical or causative in anything other than the most general way that, as you point out, it’s been tidally affecting the earth for millenia. So no point in singling it out this time; just part of the background noise. The immediate tectonic processes are overwhelmingly more critical. No reason to think that it acted as “trigger” this time any more than at any other time, cuz it wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. IF this had occurred during the so-called “Supermoon” perigee, we’d have something to talk about–it might just maybe make sense to be particularly alert to earthquakes during these pretty frequent lunar events. BUT IT DIDN’T. So all we could say, practically speaking, is “Beware of earthquakes when the moon… is up there! Doing what it always does! AAAiiiiiEEEE!” Which would be stooooopid.

  232. So I’m guessing you cured cancer then. AAAiiiiiEEEEEE! is not an argument.

    275. DrBB Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  233. Just as plausible as the article.

    272. Ksessoking Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Okay, I’ll fess up, it was me … I am very tired from taking so many classes at the NSTA Conference. I tried a spell to invoke the moon goddess; I must have used the wrong wording and ticked off good old Luna and she caused the quake (in Japan so as not to ruin the science teachers great time in San Francisco!).

  234. Egooooo. Not science. Give me a week and the Internet and any college you choose will tell you that I am Dr. Plait. I bet this argument impressed Copernicus. You need Plato next? How about Xerxes. Science is science and should stand on its own two feet, not pieces of paper and lots of fake academic conferences.

    271. solius Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I’m assuming that you haven’t been around the internet or geology for long, but Dr. Plait’s credentials are well known among, yes even, geologists.

  235. Tunkashila

    The author of this diatribe against astrology (he must REALLY hate it) contradicts himself very glaringly.

    First he says “It would make some sort of sense to think that maybe there is a connection, since the Moon pulls on the Earth, and the majority of earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates slipping past or under each other. However, you can look at the timing of earthquakes versus the distance (and phase) of the Moon, and at best there is a weak correlation between shallow, low intensity quakes and the Moon… and certainly none with major quakes….if there were some connection, and it were this obvious, geologists and seismologists would be issuing warnings every perigee and every full Moon. These are people who have devoted their lives to understanding how the Earth shakes, and would be screaming their heads off if it were something as easy and obvious as the Moon. They don’t because there’s no connection.”

    Then he says, in the very next section, “The tides from the Moon and Sun affect our oceans and large bodies of water, and they also affect the solid Earth — the land under you rises and falls by about a meter every single day as the Earth spins under the Moon!”

    So which is it, Mr. Plait — does the Moon have an effect on the shifting of Earth’s tectonic plates or not? You can’t have it both ways.

  236. DrBB

    @277 “So I’m guessing you cured cancer then. AAAiiiiiEEEEEE! is not an argument.”

    Huh??? Neither is non sequitur. Serious reading comprehension problems, much? Maybe if I skip all those extra words. It goes like so:

    >Moon’s orbital position at time of earthquake: not out of the ordinary

    >”Supermoon” perigee: out of the ordinary, but didn’t obtain at time of earthquake–more than a week off still.

    >”Supermoon” caused Earthquake? No.

    I’ve yet to see any “argument” here that refutes this really quite simple and I should think not terribly controversial point.

  237. 280. Tunkashila Says:

    So which is it, Mr. Plait — does the Moon have an effect on the shifting of Earth’s tectonic plates or not? You can’t have it both ways.

    Dr. Plait is not looking to have it “both ways” – the Moon does not have a significant effect on Earth’s shifting tectonic plates, otherwise we’d have massive amounts of data showing this hypothesis. Tectonic plates shift due to mounting pressure over time. The release of pressure leads to the “quake” and resulting tsunami.

    The land under your feet can still rise and fall due to gravitational shift (“bulging”), but not enough to shift entire tectonic plates.

  238. 261. DanMingo Says:

    And it just so happens this coming March 11, 2011 is going to be one of these times one of those orbits between the Moon and Earth take place. Okay all of you super smart scientific types; debunk that!

    So why only one earthquake?

    If this prophet of doom was correct, why not more than one? Alaska, California, Indonesia, Chile, or again in New Zealand.

    Or does the “supermoon” have it in for Japan?

  239. Did I get your “dander” up? Why does science say smoking causes cancer then.

    This goes to the heart of my original comment. Taking one slice and simply applying that is about as useful as…well getting your “dander” up.

    So to get back to my point, without the need for a Ph.D. behind my name. The article’s tenor is a declarative. A declarative based not on science but on the impulsive need to “dander” focus on public relations rather than science. Deliberative process versus knee-jerk defense against some mythical voodoo enemy.

    Can’t understand the words I use? No wonder your “dander” is up. It’s always a bit disconcerting when you confront someone who can’t be failed in a classroom.

  240. DrBB wrote:

    Huh???

    Don’t bother with him. He is a troll, and a not very good one, at that.

  241. Martha

    @280, Tunkashila People who debunk astrology are not coming at the subject out of hatred. We just don’t think it is real. It is similar to arguing with someone who still thinks the Sun and planets revolve around the Earth. Just as all evidence shows that our planet revolves around the sun all evidence also shows that astrology does not work. Your mere belief in astrology does not make it real. Every study ever done including one that astrologers helped design have found astrology to be bogus.

  242. Don’t you mean “why only one massive earthquake?” Or have you already conducted a survey of all outposts to see if any other tremors occurred. Of course there is always the obvious “A chain is only as strongest as its weakest link” but that’s really just worship of the Norse God, right?

    283. Tyler Durden Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    (Last comment was to Dr.BB)

  243. DrBB

    @283, @261: “Debunk that!”

    Just seems like an arbitrary shot in the dark. Again: what the heck orbital position is he talking about? “It is said if the Moon’s orbit is aligned with the Earth just right… in the past.. this has and in the future… will result in causing one or more massive earthquakes.”

    But the “supermoon” perigee isn’t until the 19th. So as it stands there’s nothing to work with. I mean, the moon was bound to be in *SOME* alignment on the 11th, barring its sudden disappearance (in which case one 8.9 earthquake would be the least of our worries), but I’ve yet to see anyone with an explanation of what was so special about where it was on the 11th.

    If he knows/knew better, it would be nice if he’d say so, then you could evaluate whether there was anything to it or just a lucky guess. Without any science behind it, what use is it? What practical actions could have been taken? Move tens of millions of people around the world out of earthquake zones “Cuz this guy on teh intertubes sez there’s gonna be a big one somewhere on the 11th”? If he’s got reliable psychic powers on this kind of thing it would be useful if he could prove it so it could be of some benefit to mankind. Maybe we could sharpen ‘em up through practice and research to an actual prediction of WHERE the event’s gonna happen.

  244. DrBB

    No dander here Jeff ol’ pal. I mock because I care.

    Still waiting for you to say something coherent addressing the specific and really quite simple argument showing why it doesn’t make sense to believe that the “supermoon” perigee caused the earthquake. Can you do that? I just don’t see what’s so controversial about it, even from the point of view of people like yourself who clearly and for some unknown reason have a lot of hostility toward scientists and other people with advanced degrees.

  245. Becky Court

    I’m more inclined to believe that a build up of fresh water going into ocean water from the global melt of ice at the poles might cause pressures downunder, more than we know. And as for the moon. I may hold my breath March 19. With a shifted axis and unstable waters…we are like a sloshing drink about to hit the floor. Dang. My opin only, my science bkgd is biology not geology.

  246. Becky Court

    It’s kind of a cart and the horse thing. We always have earthquakes. If you spend a few days at the main earthquake recording center site, you would become paranoid. There are so many variables that are relevant to the position of themoon as it relates to earth and sun, that I feel that the ‘supermoon’ folks aren’t delving in far enough and doing the real science. It will take some serious calculations by March 19 to determine if we may indeed be headed into something very dangerous. I don’t mean to be an alarmist…but I have these nightmares. And they are coming fast and furious again soI really want to express this. I’m not afraid. I’m not even certain that Japan’s earthquake just is it. That’s all we are going to have, but this other side feels weird.
    I’d really like some extremely “Sheldon Cooper” types out there to step up here real fast and figure out the torque on this puppy.

  247. Becky Court

    Remember too, we are all hurtling through space at a million miles an hour while doing all this. Through in that, a little gravity, and hello worm hole…

  248. rach-rach

    Phil just wanted to point out that your whole argument about the supermoon is flawed as – if you had taken the time to read the article it refers to- supermoon being in line with saturn and jupiter during this time frame… not arguing for or againest the idea just thought I’d bring it to your attention.

  249. Anchor

    rach-rach (#294): YOUR “argument” that an alignment (however rough) between the Moon and Jupiter and Saturn is utterly without any basis. the gravitational tides exerted by either Jupiter or Saturn on the Earth are vanishingly, irrelevantly tiny.

    Perhaps you have another mechanism in mind, such as Goofy-Rays that become amplified by rough alignments and selectively focus on Japan, instead of ANY of the tens of thousands of kilometers of OTHER ACTIVE subduction zones seaming our planet?

    Oh? Hadn’t thought of that, had you?

    What about the solar tides, which are roughly about a third as strong as those exerted by the Moon? D’oh! Forgot about that one, huh? Too bad the Sun wasn’t “aligned” with the Moon OR Jupiter OR Saturn, or you might have had something there, aye?

    Isn’t it amazing how certain these astrology jokers are in attributing the position of the Moon or planets to quake events. Big earthquake happens somewhere in the world: QUICK! What were the positions of the Moon and the Planets at the time! Wherever they were, it MUST PROVE they CAUSED it…um, you know, because they were there!

    But, then, they’re ALWAYS there, somewhere, aren’t they? Hmmm…back to the drawing-board. Maybe it’s a combination of Goofy-Rays AND human gullibility that is responsible.

  250. Sum Dum Guy

    Nice sarcasm Anchor.. thats always useful in a debate. Get all personal. Are you a republican?

  251. Sum Dum Guy

    where are my other posts? why does this one end up getting posted so quick but my long thot out one is absent..?

  252. 284. Jeff Barea Says:

    “Why does science say smoking causes cancer then.”

    Science doesn’t say smoking causes cancer.

    Science publishes research and findings that show smoking nicotine increases your risk of contracting cancer (lung, mouth, esophageal) due to the fact that cancer causes are epigenetic. Not to mention the fact that some people who smoke never actually get cancer – which is why scienctists would never say smoking causes cancer.

  253. DrBB

    @294 rach-rach

    Excellent! Most diffinitive, all-but-explicit example so far of someone who has absorbed the idea that “supermoon” is some quality the moon can have, or some attribute it can take on, irrespective of its position relative to the earth. But alas, rach-rach, it refers to specific times when the moon is its closest perigee to the earth. Jupiter and other planets don’t enter into it, mate. It can’t somehow *be* a “supermoon” when it’s not in that position. Which it wasn’t on the 11th and won’t be until the 19th. It’s true that it was in *some* orbital relation to lots of things on the 11th, but the burden of proof is on those who claim it was responsible for the earthquake to say just exactly what it was about that orbital relation that could have this effect, and as Anchor points out, this Jupiter thing just doesn’t seem like it gets over the bar in terms of the physics involved.

    And the thing is, if it were going to get over the bar, the guy who would know about gravitational forces lining up is an astronomer, not an astrologer.

    I don’t understand why this is even controversial to the astrology believers who are weighing in here, that’s the truly odd thing. I mean, last time I looked astrology didn’t CLAIM to be making pronouncements about inanimate physical phenomena like gravity, tectonic plates etc. So what’s the big deal? I mean, you astrology guys would be equally nonplussed, wouldn’t you, if in an Astrology Today article about the cusp of Mercury’s effect on the predilection toward wealth or whatever (feel free to substitute valid astrological problem) they decided to ask an ASTRONOMER, right? You’d be rightly miffed and send letters to the editor saying WTF in no uncertain terms. Same thing here. To be sure, a lot of people on this thread don’t hold with astrology, and you guys are all going at it hammer and tongs for your own amusement, which is fine. But it has absolutely ZIP to do with the actual question at issue. It only comes in at all because the newspaper that seems to have gotten this whole thing going interviewed someone with the wrong expertise to have a useful opinion.

  254. Jeff P.

    I have a brilliant new “system” that’s based on hedging against earthquake and volcano activity from Supermoon for all you morons that believe in the Supermoon stuff.

    All I need is for you to hand over your life savings and sign this document stating I am not liable because you believe in the sanctity of Supermoon effects. I promise, based on YOUR data you can’t help but lose… errr I mean win! Ready to put your money where your mouth is?

  255. Sum Dum Guy

    whatever admin.. ill take it somewhere else.. mark this as spam will ya?

  256. Sum Dum Guy

    calling it ‘super moon’ is what’s making people sound like morons.. I picture the moon with a cape. The moon has everything to do with tectonics.. probably why we have tectonics.. not to mention tides and life.. you guys with all your scarcasm really arent making any points

  257. Sum Dum Guy

    Ive absorbed the idea of “supermoon” now i like to call it Perigee so i dont sound like a wacko (cuz people like to do that to others for something as pointless as semantics) but i dont think that makes me a moron.. i think people who want to dismiss it are similar to those people who mocked believers of the earth being round.. or not the center of the universe.

  258. Anchor

    SumDumGuy(#296) says,

    “Nice sarcasm Anchor.”

    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.

    “. thats always useful in a debate.”

    Yes, it can be quite effective in highlighting the points if done well and with reasonable restraint.

    “Get all personal.”

    Have I offended anyone? I do not believe my remarks being directed at YOU “personally”.

    “Are you a republican?”

    LOL! No, if it’s any of your business. So, getting “all personal” isn’t exactly beneath you, aye? Guess its just one of those things that only some of us are entitled to: The ones you disagree with may be specifically targeted, but they are forbidden to object, yes?

    So, all that out of the way, what DO YOU THINK about my objections to the “arguments” proposed by astrology buffs and other superstitious people who seem to have trouble WANTING to understand anything so elementary as how tides work? Wouldn’t it be much easier just to learn something new and admit being wrong, as honesty demands from all of us, rather than desperately clinging to an idea supported by nothing but popular heresay? Do you really have such disrespect for science and human integrity that you would rather believe a mob than legitimate scientific experts in a given field?

    DrBB: Thanks for the vote of confidence! ;)

  259. Sum Dum Guy

    lol.. why is asking if your republican personal? I just watch them debate on CSPAN and they always get sarcastic rather than make coherent points that disprove the opposition. I did enjoy it i guess.. I just felt bad for the poor woman you bashed.

    I like the truth.. I just think you guys are being pretty dismissive. Its physicts and geology. Alot of math.. the moon pulls at what 3 meters or somn on the crust and as it moves toward a fault line.. that force builds up just like a tsunami wave condenses in shallow water. Is trhat not possible? Im not going to school for 4 yrs to come back here with my suspisions backed with facts. Was the moon over the pacific plate when the earthquake occured? can u tell me that? I suspect it was cuz 12 hrs later it was on the otherside of the planet.

    Im not believing a mob.. Im just against scientists so conclusively suggesting it had nothing to do with it

  260. B. Pressley

    Can someone cite a technical resource that backs up that claim that the Earth’s surface moves about a meter due to tidal effects? I’ve been teaching physics for about 20 years and I’ve never seen a resource that says anything other than 15-30 centimeters.

  261. Thomas Siefert

    The release of the iPad 2 caused the earthquake. As the original iPad slipped under the new iPad 2, the pressure of people rushing into the shops caused the tremor.

    Also the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was a contributing factor.

    Nevermind that these events took place after the earthquake, just listen to my opinion… eh… nonsense… nonsense… and made up conjecture…

    I know, I know. I’m not really doing the discussion any favours here.

  262. DrBB

    @Sum Dum Guy: please read this summary, copied from my post above…

    >Moon’s orbital position at time of earthquake: not out of the ordinary
    >”Supermoon” perigee: out of the ordinary, but didn’t obtain at time of earthquake–more than a week off still.
    >”Supermoon” caused Earthquake? No.

    Nobody’s saying “the moon never has any affect on earth,” that wouild be silly, though it seems to be what objectors like yourself keep charging in to counter, evidently not taking the time to read the original post. The original post acknowledges that lunar/tidal influences seem plausible but cites articles indicating the effect is small. But that’s not the central point. The central point is about a single claim about a single phenomenon, the extreme perigee mentioned above. Which couldn’t have the effect being claimed because it simply wasn’t ocurring at the time of the quake. What’s the big deal about that? Again, I totally fail to get what you guys are so PO’d about.

  263. Sum Dum Guy

    LOL.. im not PO’d.. a little concerned for sciences sake that it isn’t explored more.. where was the moon.. peregee or no peregee.. over the pacific plate? yes or no? the crust floats basically right? so it should essentially follow the same governing rules as ocean tides to a different degree cuz the materials weight, mass, volume, whatever are different. A subduction point could be to the tidal forces of the land much like shallow waters are to the forces exerted on the oceans.. the forces or wave created condenses.. exponentially increasing the forces at play.. then WhamO! The moon pulling on the plate would move from east to west pushing the plate into the other the whole time it approaches tho mb at some negligible force.. I don’t even know if the moon goes around the equator or if it orbits at some angle that might have it pass direclty over Japan, but I have these questions, that i want to know the answers to. I never said you guys said it never has an effect, that would be retarded to suggest. Whatever.. I just hope some scientist somewhere isn’t shrugging it off as conjecture. Its kenetic energy, gravity, tidal forces all wrapped up in one and scientists are sayin meh! whatever hogwash! Im just not convinced. I read the article and only had more doubt.

  264. Sum Dum Guy

    The article was very informative though no doubt.. Im just in a permanent state of ‘terrible twos’ tell me sumn I ask why..why..why. There’s just more to it then astronomy and geology.. Kinetics, gravity physics and the results of multiple forces at once.. I guess I disqualify myself from the perigee argument cuz I’m more concerned about tidal forces on land, kinetics and where the moon actually passed over in sequence with seismic events

  265. Sum Dum Guy

    I mailed a package to Redondo Beach last week.. then just as it arrived in redondo beach (cuz i had tracking on it) millions of sardines committed suicide.. coincidence? Yea 100%..

  266. DrBB

    @308: I believe the basic problem is that if it was over that area when the quake occured, how could we determine if that triggered the quake? It’s continually over some plate or other, sometimes quakes, sometimes not, right? So you do a study comparing lunar proximity to earthquake events to see if there’s any correlation. Phil cites a study suggesting a slight correlation but given that the moon wasn’t particularly close this time even that slight correlation would seem not to apply, i.e. If you were betting on it the odds would be heavily stacked on the other side. Which is just a probability answer, not absolute, but hey, that’s often the way with this kind of thing.

  267. Sum Dum Guy

    I guess I would like to believe it isn’t conclusive due to so many factors at play but worthy of study.. I’d like to hear a scientist say that. Being conclusive when we are talking about such large objects just seems like conjecture itself to me. But a great title to attract debate.. I just had to point out what went unanswered in my mind.. why I’m not convinced.

    I have a hard time getting a good source that shows the moons position over the planet any given time or the path the moon takes around the earth. I know eclipses for example occur all over north and south of the equator, meaning the moon passes over most of the earth at some point.

    http://www.harmony.demon.co.uk/spangledskies/eclipse1999.html

    http://www.michaelmandeville.com/earthchanges/gallery/Quakes/southcal_quakes.htm#southcal_quakes2+_annual_wobble_declination_1932-2007

    I don’t know how much these links help.. Id like to see a map of the moons track along with seizmic activity directly under its path. The first link shows how the moon does pass over japan.. the second shows daily quake frequency

  268. Sum Dum Guy

    thats all i can get on the spot.. but ill look better later

  269. 289. DrBB Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve spent a lot of time with lots of people with advanced degrees, many before they had those advanced degrees…all while they were learning we’d share information. Probably a fair share of your colleagues and possibly even yourself. Not one bit of animosity towards them. They didn’t get smarter magically after graduation, however so the egotistical types that like to throw around letters and point to the amount of their research grants simply don’t impress me. About as much feeling as I can put into that.

    Now, I know that most readers will see a headline, click on it and then read an article based on the first impression from that headline.

    My objection is to everyone running around “poo-poo’ing” (pontificating, if you will) with quick assertions when it is a very nuanced situation, don’t you think? If you noticed, amidst trying to pop-psych me, I am on neither side but am rather curious as to the need to “debunk” what is not just a simple situation with the moon vis a vis the earth because neither operates in a vacuum. Did I express that in better ways now? And one of your sentences is awkwardly phrased. Not your editor, so don’t even ask.

  270. Andyo

    308.   Sum Dum Guy Says:

    March 12th, 2011 at 6:18 pm
    LOL.. im not PO’d.. a little concerned for sciences sake that it isn’t explored more.. where was the moon.. peregee or no peregee.. over the pacific plate? yes or no? the crust floats basically right?

    Moving the goalposts. Next you’ll be saying we should investigate if the moon causes autism? This whole thing started with one idiot astrologer making an idiot (but specific) claim about the March 19 event.

  271. DrBB

    @313: Jeff–since you didn’t read it I’ll repeat post from above.

    >Moon’s orbital position at time of earthquake: not out of the ordinary
    >”Supermoon” perigee: out of the ordinary, but didn’t obtain at time of earthquake–more than a week off still.
    >”Supermoon” caused Earthquake? No.
    Nobody’s saying “the moon never has any affect on earth,” that wouild be silly, though it seems to be what objectors like yourself keep charging in to counter, evidently not taking the time to read the original post. The original post acknowledges that lunar/tidal influences seem plausible but cites articles indicating the effect is small. But that’s not the central point. The central point is about a single claim about a single phenomenon, the extreme perigee mentioned above. Which couldn’t have the effect being claimed because it simply wasn’t ocurring at the time of the quake. What’s the big deal about that? Again, I totally fail to get what you guys are so PO’d about.

  272. Simon Green

    You all may like this: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10712024

    One of our government ministers – a trained scientist, no less – is hosting a sceptic lunch inside one of the more vulnerable buildings in Christchurch on the day this astrologer is predicting another huge shake for the city.

  273. Andyo

    hmm I guess if there’s any link the comment gets moderated?

  274. Mark Hansen

    madame7 @244
    …March 19/20 will herald massive destruction caused by not only this intense alignment of planets all on one side of the earth (no woo-woo metaphysics there!), but the full moon being closer than it’s been in many years, adding to the gravitational stress. You can all kiss my ass when this prophecy comes true.

    And what is the counter offer when this prophecy doesn’t come true?

  275. Nonny Mouse

    Here we have a great chance to do a scientific experiment.

    The massive Japanese earthquake happened well away from the March 19th window. If the so-called “supermoon” caused that earthquake, then it should by this hypothesis cause a great deal worse damage around the 19th.

    If earthquakes that are _only_ equally destructive, or less destructive, happen in that timeframe (earthquakes happen constantly — most of the small), then we can throw the whole idea out the window.

    Similarly, once the Nibaru “hypothesis” fails to happen in 2012, we can throw that idea out the window, too.

    Science is so much fun. :)

  276. Just for fun:

    Has anyone consider “Super Earth” causing moonquakes during perigee and “Full Earth”./”New Earth” ?

    If I understand correctly, Moon effects Earth’s tidal waves: how would “Super Earth” affect the Moon’s crust (without such a large amount of water as on Earth) ?

    If “Super Earth” can cause moonquakes, what would the surface, shape & structure of the Moon become after so many billion years of moonquakes (without the mitigation of the effect by water) ?

    Please kindly shine some light. :-)

  277. Rey

    I’m just curious, but felt oblige to add my two cents with my inquisitive nature.

    “The tides from the Moon and Sun affect our oceans and large bodies of water, and they “ALSO AFFECT the solid EARTH” — the land under you rises and falls by about a meter every single day as the Earth spins under the Moon! ”

    Have you actually followed the USGS site? By the norm it maybe true, but can you be sure that it will remain under the circumstances that we are experiencing recently with Volcanoes and earthquakes activity? Maybe we should look in deeper into the rabbit hole.

    “I’ll note that the person who is making this claim, and who first called this effect a “supermoon”, is an astrologer. Yeah. Let me be clear here as well: astrology doesn’t work. At all.”

    This not important to the collective minds. I don’t know why you mention this, I don’t why I’m quoting this…….

    “You can read my detailed essay on tides on my old website. The bullet points are that the Sun has an effect on our tides here on Earth, as does the Moon. When the Sun, Earth, and Moon are near a straight line in space — that is, at new or full Moon — these effects are maximized. We get what are called spring tides, with extra-high high tides, and extra-low low tides.”

    Then you follow with this in the following paragraph.

    “If this happens at perigee, the effects are even stronger. The tidal force from the Moon can be as much as 50% greater! While that sounds dangerous, it’s not like we’ll see huge earthquakes and roaring tidal waves from this, because even at their strongest, the tidal forces are fairly weak. It does mean people in low-lying regions and who usually experience monthly spring tide floods should take extra precautions, but it won’t be the epic disaster some people are breathlessly claiming.”

    Now lets examine what you just address.
    *The gravity of the situation
    *Time and tide
    *The pseudoscience
    *A storm isn’t rising
    Gravity+ Mass=solid+water, + Motion (friction) are you sure you are not contradicting yourself? The universe is like a big COG on a clock, although I somewhat agree in your assessment on the timing of the earthquake on Japan, but cannot be sure. However, I’m force to wonder of how can you be sure……..

  278. Rey

    In addition, have a look at Japan on this map on USGS. Japan has been getting rattled since the 9th of March and has continued to be rattled like an energizer Bunny. Can you see the count of how many earthquake since the 9th? :) Something is very wrong on the plate and we don’t know what’s causing the problem. Heard of fishes and animals dying lately? Hmmmm….I leave this up to the inquisitive minds to ponder. I know there are people who are a bit in the paranoia side, but not all of us.
    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Maps/10/145_40.php

    Here’s a world view under USGS.
    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/

  279. Rey

    One more. There has been documented time and date of the sun spot relating to the last 3 major earthquake in China, Chile and Japan . I think it’s worth investigating as well.

  280. 318. DrBB Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Read what I write, not what you think I meant.

    And don’t even try to tell me you are in my ocular nerves because that is just annoying. And what you just said merely puts an exclamation point on my main objection. Mostly because I keep saying I <–this means me don't think it's advantageous to slice out <–don't like pizza references? How about cherry pick? Not good? How about isolate? What word will make you understand that I keep talking about a confluence (shall I google that word for you?) of events that have never been seen with the level <–10 years ago you would argue they had more tools than we do now, um, now? So I merely wanted to stop this mad rush among the egotisticals who like to be on tv or considered experts by dint of the number of articles they write to override scientific process when clearly there is reasonable disagreement about the – not singular – combined influence of factors related to this event.

    And that awkwardly phrased sentence of yours is the only that keeps P'ing me O every time I have to come here. Fix it.

  281. 317. Andyo Says:
    March 12th, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Changing “idiot” to “idiotic” will make you seem more credible.

  282. Gark32

    ok, Jeff, let’s see an expert, that isn’t a bloody astrologer, that says ‘ok, this might have been caused by a supermoon’.

    or that it was affected somehow by the moon on the day of the quake, but not on the day before, or the days preceding. you keep referring to a clear and obvious disagreement, let’s see a paper, a blog, any writing by anyone with a decent number of papers published, some type of proof that they’re not just a nutjob, that says what you keep repeating without citation?
    you can claim to be an geologist, and i can claim to be the king of antarctica, but neither will be true here until one or the other brings proof. i call this effect “Schrödinger’s Blog”.

    Furthermore, i’d like you to prove that the ‘confluence of circumstances’ has not heretofore been seen. as previously stated, the moon does its thing, pretty much unchangingly for thousands of millenia. if you look back over the record of large earthquakes, the location/phase of the moon has been largely random. add to that the fact that there are as many as fifty — or more — earthquakes of some strength every single day of the year, and as many as twenty large (7.0 or higher) earthquakes every year. now, my math isn’t amazing, but that’s more large quakes than there are apogees every year.

    Now. Read what has so far been written, and give adequate responses with citation, or you will be ignored as a troll by the commenting community here.

    (btw, earthquake figures come from http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/year/eqstats.php).

  283. Andyo

    Sure, feel free to not acknowledge the actual argument, and instead pick on a minor grammatical mistake if that makes you feel less idiotic.

    By the way, learn to use the blockquote tag, it will make you at least seem a bit coherent.

  284. IsobelA

    The DailyMail is always shameful, and is definitely a ‘newspaper’ rather than a newspaper.

  285. Sorry, I am a newbie.

    How long will it take for my comments to get moderated ?

    My questions at 323. are sincere ones.

    Many Thanks.

  286. Rristar

    Want answers about this subject?
    NASA.gov UPDATE:
    Auroras Invade the US03.11.11
    Earth’s magnetic field is still reverberating from a CME strike on March 10, 2011 which resulted in a G1-class geomagnetic storm. Northern Lights have rippling over the US-Canadian border into states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Solar wind conditions favor more geomagnetic storming in the hours ahead. Sky watchers, including those in the continental United States, should remain alert for auroras.
    Meteorologist, astrophysicist, consultant, and owner of the business Weather Action, Piers Corbyn says “The massive Japan Earthquake and Tsunami were triggered by massive events on the Sun and there are more to come in the next two years”.“The Earthquake was preceded by an X class solar flare and a significant hit of the Earth by a Coronal Mass Ejection – reported by nasa –http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News031011-xclass.html We warned after the New Zealand Earthquake on 21 Feb that the solar-lunar scene is set for more Earthquakes for the next two years: http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=314&c=5

  287. 325. Andyo Says:
    March 13th, 2011 at 6:11 am

    no, U!

    About sums up your argument there dude.

  288. alfaniner

    ….. aaaannd there it is.

    I won’t even post a link to the Fox News main page (which is where I knew it would appear), but the link headline is “Can Supermoon cause quakes?”

    Sigh.

  289. Rristar @337 wrote:

    …The massive Japan Earthquake and Tsunami were triggered by massive events on the Sun and there are more to come in the next two years”.“The Earthquake was preceded by an X class solar flare and a significant hit of the Earth by a Coronal Mass Ejection

    If there is only one thing that should be learned from this post, it has to be:

    CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION!

  290. Andyo

    Obviously Jeff Barea doesn’t know what “moving the goalposts” or “correlation doesn’t imply causation” mean. Or, weirdly, he thinks it means “no, U!”

    And someone is “discredited” cause he/she used “idiot” instead of “idiotic”. Maybe I don’t know what irony means either.

  291. PayasYouStargaze

    @Andyo 341, Just a quick look at Jeff Barea’s blog (if you click on his name) suggests that he’s not worth having a discussion with. I wouldn’t waste my time on him. Not one entry on that blog makes any sense.

  292. Andyo

    Thanks. Yeah, should have seen it from the other posters who replied to him. Not clicking on his name though. I was first replying to someone else anyway.

  293. Rrisstar

    340. solius……….. ………….You left out a part of my post written in “quotations”

    340. solius Says:
    March 13th, 2011 at 10:18 am
    Rristar @337 wrote:

    …The massive Japan Earthquake and Tsunami were triggered by massive events on the Sun and there are more to come in the next two years”.“The Earthquake was preceded by an X class solar flare and a significant hit of the Earth by a Coronal Mass Ejection XXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”
    Here is the rest….
    – reported by nasa –http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News031011-xclass.htm”

  294. DrBB

    @330: “Read what I write, not what you think I meant.”

    Well, I’ll give it a try, but it’s not easy when you say things like, “And don’t even try to tell me you are in my ocular nerves because that is just annoying.” I have no idea what that means, but I promise not to even try to say it to you.

    Leaving solipsistic utterances aside, this part is intelligible to me:

    “I keep talking about a confluence… of events that have never been seen with the level <–10 years ago"

    The only thing is, I don't see where you've actually laid out here specifically what confluence you're referring to. The one confluence I'm aware of is the one due to occur on the 19th, when there will be an unusually close lunar perigee. Phil’s original article sets out the quite simple reason why that perigee couldn't have caused the Japan earthquake: it hasn’t occurred yet. But I take it you have no argument with that since you seem to be talking about a different confluence that actually did occur on the 11th. It's a long thread so maybe I missed it, but if you would be kind enough to lay out explicitly what that confluence was, that would maybe make it easier for us to talk with each other in terms we might both have in common.

    Nevertheless, maybe there are some things we can agree on without getting into the specifics of the confluence you are talking about. To start, it’s obvious that the moon and earth and other objects in space are always in some kind of alignment or other, correct? Some maybe relevant, some obviously not (Earth—Moon—Alpha Centauri, for example). So if you're trying to test the hypothesis that a given confluence is having the effect of causing earthquakes down here, well, it has to not only be plausible, but also something you can test and it has to have some predictive value or it's not science. We both agree on that, I think? For instance a confluence that only happens once and will never recur, well, how you gonna test that and what good is it going to do you anyway? Or let’s say Sun–Moon—Earth—Jupiter, as I think may have been suggested. Seems more plausible anyway than Moon—Earth—Alpha Centauri, but if we can kick in some hard science regarding the gravitational intensities involved at the distances obtaining, we might start to think… nahhhhh.

    Even so, in the case of whatever confluence you're saying did occur on the 11th, if you were going to test it you'd want to do a study looking at all the other instances of that confluence in recorded history and see if they correlate with earthquakes. That's basically all you've got to work with here, right? And if you find such a correlation then you’re starting to get some predictive mojo going, though you're still kinda stuck when it comes to saying something specific enough that people in their tens of millions are going to be willing to evacuate large cities on your say-so. Still, you’re at least starting to be in a position then to scoff at all those nay-sayers who Just Didn’t Get It. Good on ya.

    So you and I being, I hope, rational beings (that whole optic nerve thing still giving me a bit of pause) I think we could agree that you're basically arguing for such a study to be done. Fine. But of course time is a limited resource, and scientists are going to want to put their efforts into projects where the odds of a positive result is high. You've got to have some reason to go there, right? And in this case, some studies *have* been done that suggest only a very weak correlation between lunar proximity and earthquakes, as Phil points out. Not zero correlation, but not enough to be useful if you’re trying to predict the next 8.9. If other studies suggest otherwise, feel free to post 'em here. I believe there's a discussion upthread that moves in that direction, which is all well and good. That’s science: huzzay! You've still got the problem that even if there *is* a correlation it's not clear what practical measures could be taken on that basis. But nobody's close minded, we just want some empirical evidence, not just plausible scenarios.

    And that’s really the ultimate point here:

    Lots of things that are plausible turn out not to be true at all; that's practically the essence of science and it seems to be the thing that ticks off non-scientists the most when scientists try to tell 'em "Yep, sounds good but the data don't support it." They’re not being snooty; it’s just the way of the universe. They themselves, after all, have to start off with hypotheses that seem plausible, and lots of theirs don't pan out either.

    Fair enough?

  295. ABC Dário

    Wait, does the report at the Washington Post really mentions “astronomist” ?!
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2011/03/the_supermoon_and_the_japan_ea.html
    Were astronomers renamed sometime soon — and I didn’t notice it ?!

  296. Rrisstar

    I will try again :)
    ……… According to NASA website March 9th ended with a powerful solar flare. Earth-orbiting satellites detected an X1.5-class explosion from behemoth sunspot 1166 around 2323 UT. A movie from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (above) shows a bright flash of UV radiation plus some material being hurled away from the blast site.

    In addition, on March 10, 2011 around 0630 UT, a CME did strike a glaceing blow to Earth’s magnetic field. This was a result of an M3 flare that occurred late on March 7, 2011.

    CME/Solar flares cause Spacequake & Spacequake cases Earthquake : NASA admitted on their website “spacequake can cause Northern lights and magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake”.

    Spacequake :

    According to NASA, researchers by using NASA’s fleet of five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a form of space weather that packs the punch of an earthquake and plays a key role in sparking bright Northern Lights. They call it “the spacequake.”

    A spacequake is a temblor in Earth’s magnetic field. It is felt most strongly in Earth orbit, but is not exclusive to space. The effects can reach all the way down to the surface of Earth itself.

    “Magnetic reverberations have been detected at ground stations all around the globe, much like seismic detectors measure a large earthquake,” says THEMIS principal investigator Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA.

    It’s an apt analogy because “the total energy in a spacequake can rival that of a magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake,” according to Evgeny Panov of the Space Research Institute in Austria. Panov is first author of a paper reporting the results in the April 2010 issue of Geophysical Research Letters (GRL).

    In general, Earth’s magnetic field lines can be thought of as rubber bands stretched taut by the solar wind, which is actually charged particles flowing in all directions from the sun, said study co-author Vassilis Angelopoulos, a space physicist at the University of California, Los Angeles

    Article from current.com 2009
    NASA got a latest report on Sun solar Storm.Which is carried out for NASA by the US National Academy of Sciences.And it said what Hopi,Mayan and Web Bot talked about Predicted for 2012, a big solar storm catastrophe

    According to Hopi prediction” Sun will get Hotter”.Mayans said catastrophic “Solar Event” in 2012 and Web Bot also supported the same.

    NASA report concluded that”The sun operates on an 11-year cycle, with the next “active” phase due in 2012 likely to present the nearest danger.”

  297. Jsco

    Time for an analogy. I’m sitting on a tree branch, 10 feet above the ground, slowly inching my way outwards. There will come a point when the stress I put on the branch is enough to cause it to crack and I fall. Now, what actually started the fracture? Was it my bouncing as I moved outwards, was it the vibrations from the lorry that passed the street, or was it even a butterfly, not in the Amazon this time, just landing on the branch!
    The exact mechanism doesn’t really matter. The fact is the cause of my fall was me moving slowly outward, I would have fallen anyway, and probably at round about the same point.
    Of course all good analogies are flawed but hopefully illustrates that however the actual event started, the cause of the quake was stress building at a plate boundary, and it was ready to go at any time.

  298. reidh

    No one thing is the direct cause of this or any other earthquake, but all conditions added together can influence the occurrence of any one at any time, the creeping of the tectonic plates coupled with the lopsided and creaky turning of the earth on its preceding axis stimulated by forces from beneath in the earth’s roiling heated core and in the rest of the solar system from above can conceivably be contributing to these events without anyone being able to prove or disprove it. The earth is likenable to a net bag full of marbles or rocks that shift about independently wether we like it or not.

  299. Becky Court

    I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that has been astrologically proposed. Can’t find any reference. Though it did occur to me that the use of the nodes and ecliptics is used in astrology but that’s all the relevance to any physicality of astrology that might be relevant to this debate. To predict an earthquake is like shooting fish in a barrel. There are several every day. So the astrology reference must have been to the math part of it relevant to the moon’s relationship to earth and the path. I don’t know the declination of the moon nodes to the full moon but it does create a grand square, and the sun conjuncts Uranus in the last degree of Pisces on the day of the full moon March 19. That’s not real good news but I suspect as with all things astrological, there are two sides to every story.
    If someone wants to come and play devil’s advocate against life’s unfortunate realities, well, have at it. I think people should start thinking about their personal survival on many many different levels. Like Adam who lived to 953…he died.

  300. Becky Court

    I know why we don’t like the word ‘super moon’, reminds us of octomom…hahahahaha Like I said before, an astrophysicist should be able to determine IF the water movement and axis shift will be affected anytime soon by the motion of the moon.
    How ironic. We nuke Japan in the 40’s, they nuke us back in the 21st century. Paybacks are a bitch.

  301. George

    While the distance may not be relevant, the angle of the moon to the equator might be.
    There are several variables that I don’t think have been studied.
    I for one noticed the moon’s unusual position in the sky Thursday or Friday night at about 2 AM, and it’s unusually low position.
    I have taken several astronomy classes. And, although that was many years ago, I have been “looking up” ever since.
    The crescent was in the shape of a bowl, in relation to the horizon and southerly direction.
    Normally the curved side of the crescent faces easterly or westerly, not southerly.
    In other words, one could pour imaginary water into the shape and have the water stay, rather than flow out.
    Maybe someone else can explain this.
    geo

  302. PayasYouStargaze

    @350 Becky: Who’s Adam? And he lived to 953 what? Days? Weeks? Months?

    “I don’t know the declination of the moon nodes to the full moon but it does create a grand square, and the sun conjuncts Uranus in the last degree of Pisces on the day of the full moon March 19. That’s not real good news but I suspect as with all things astrological, there are two sides to every story.”

    Why is that bad news? It’s all nonsense.

  303. PayasYouStargaze

    @347 Rrisstar: What you’ve quoted shows no mechanism for a spacequake turning into an earthquake, only that the energy levels can be similar. There’s no real suggestion that all the magnetic forces are turned into seismic ones. Given that we know the main contributions to earthquakes, and that the Sun’s activity isn’t really that unusual right now, there’s not much to go on.

    Of course you then go into 2012 bullpies. So it’s hard to take you seriously. The Mayans did not predict a solar event in 2012. They didn’t predict anything. It was just when their calender ran out. You should know better.

  304. PayasYouStargaze

    @352 George: Maybe you were tilting your head a bit more than normal. If the Moon appeared in a position not as it should be, all astronomers including Phil would have noticed something so drastic. You must have been mistaken.

    That’s aside from the vast amount of energy it would take to move the Moon into an orbit so different it was visible to the naked eye (and back again afterwards?). Where would it come from?

  305. Thomas Siefert

    @352. George: You are away from home? somewhere closer to the equator than where you normally live?
    That’s how the Moon looks from seen from the equator.

  306. DrBB

    @354.   PayasYouStargaze

    But dooooood! 2012!!!!!!! The Mayans lived a long time ago! So they knew more than us about the future! It all fits! Don’t you GET it?

    Neither do I, actually.

  307. Dean

    HAAAaaaa! your all wrong! To bad NO ONE knows exacts of Yes/No..(did someone raise their hand to be God)…But the quake did happen for sure..sure a closer moon is coming (what else is there that happens in a day..no 1 knows)…the sun still shines..you still woke up..went to sleep..and it all has an effect on our bodies, air, pollutants, sun, moon, weather, beaches sand, cliffs/everything/anything, and its all connected somehow someway….ALL of it.. even your words/battles you pick plant a seed or water a seed to grow and influence the next thought, word, person, forever. Put a patent on that money makers!!

    All the while the moments pass you by reading all of these ArGUmENts discovermagazine cash’s in on traffic/and ad’s and facebook targeting. Readon, Battle on, and pick your side or realize whats the next thing you do after reading all this and trying to make sense of it….is it connecting you, thoughts, emotions, heart, and some actions. Or is it all just not connected in any way? haaaa…maze’s of trails of effect from all these people, story, ads, marketing, business, to families or food on the table, or the next exec travel expenses paid for by you.

    Balance, Peace, Harmony, schmere, schmooo, llaaa, laaa,, and footprints of choice affect/effect & influence!

  308. DrBB

    “It was just when their calender ran out”

    They probably figured that having figued it out to 2012 they had plenty of time to extend it further. But then their empire got nixed. To bad their calendar didn’t predict that.

  309. Andyo

    Somebody is obviously sockpuppeting here.
    sorry, maybe?

  310. PayasYouStargaze

    @357DrBB: I think you’re on to something here. Maybe that’s how time works. We are in the future so we know about the past. The Mayans were in the past so they knew about the future (and had no history either). And the people about halfway between us and the Mayans knew an equal amount about their own futures and pasts. It’s all so simple.

    Obviously when 2012 comes along, time will change direction and suddenly we’ll know everything about our new future. The Mayans will then see our writings predicting their demise (origins?), but will be unable to see it coming themselves.

    LOL This could be a good sci-fi ;)

  311. Martha

    I predict that just about any major event between now and December 21, 2012 will be used by the woo woo crowd to say the Mayans were right, hell they are already trying to shoehorn quake in Japan into 2012 scenarios. Face it the 2012 Mayan calender thing is nothing but a marketing tool for new age scam artists. As we get closer to 12/21/21 they will start to lower prices on 2012 items and introduce a new line of products for the next sell by date doomsday. Here is one Mayan elder who along with others scoffs at new age predictions about 2012.
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/oct/11/lt-mexico-apocalypse-2012-101109/?world/mexico&zIndex=180924

  312. Rrsistar @344 wrote:

    340. solius……….. ………….You left out a part of my post written in “quotations”

    Yes, yes I know. I included the relevant part of your post… the part that was taken from the NASA website. What you did was intellectually dishonest– you cherry picked a quote from NASA; stitched it together with a quote from some loon conspiracy site, and then attempted to imply that NASA declared a correlation with solar flares. That sir, IS DISHONEST!

    Most of the regulars, here, take a very dim view of intellectual dishonesty. And quite frankly, I was being very generous. Dr. Plait likes to keep his place civil, otherwise, I would have unloaded with both barrels.

    To be honest, I’m amazed that you would call attention to your dishonesty.

  313. Rey

    Lets hijack this blog a little bit and deviate from this to another nonsense?
    http://www.realnewsreporter.com/?p=843

    Btw…The Mayans were renown for their advance astronomical knowledge on celestial objects, mathematics calculation and time keeping which even our own finest have acknowledge. Repute it if you must, there are evidence supporting those achievement and perhaps a living proof that we maybe in transition…..Be objective not subjective. ;) Who cares about ‘quote’ tags!

  314. Tom

    Phil, your entire argument rests on the location of the moon at the PRECISE MOMENT of the quake. That’s poor grade school science, at best.

    You do not take into consideration the fact that the moon is constantly deforming the Earth’s crust as the Earth rotates under the moon and that a cumulative deformation of the crust in certain areas will happen until a quake occurs.

    The moon does not have to be at exact perigee or at its closest when the quake actually occurs.

    So, put up or shut up.

    Debate Jim Berkland on the tidal effects of the moon on the Earth’s crust and the subsequent relation to earthquakes.

    I’m sure that George Noory will be happy to facilitate.

  315. Rey

    This will give you guys an idea of where I am on this….but I will not bulldoze my belief into others. I’m just observing and being respectful to others opinion. I’m not the typical, but I been following this lately and it’s happening. Just wanted to share this info to a bunch a brilliant young minds. Go on……you can laugh. :)

    “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Timothy 3:2

  316. DrBB

    @363: I followed his links too. What a weasel. Rrsistar: if you have to resort to fakery, you tacitly acknowledge your disbelief in the strength of your own argument. Epic fail, dude.

  317. Gentleman, you know have some of the best and brightest minds on this thread. Use it wisely.

  318. 332. Gark32 Says:
    March 13th, 2011 at 5:43 am

    [BLOCKQUOTE]Now. Read what has so far been written, and give adequate responses with citation, or you will be ignored as a troll by the commenting community here. [BLOCKQUOTE]

    I’ll clear up two mysteries (Dr. BB listen up) at one time. When you live in my ocular nerves then you get to tell me what I have read and what I have not read.

    A postscript for Gark: I was voted Prom King once and won. It is no longer on my bucket list. My words stand on my shoulders. I don’t need a gaggle of yes men to hold me up.

  319. Gark32

    which is to say, i can’t get anyone with a whole brain to ratify or stand behind any of my words.

  320. 371. Gark32 Says:
    March 13th, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Find the IQ number that defines mental retardation. Then find the number that defines “normal.” Subtract one from the other and find the difference in numerical form.

    Now. Add that number to your IQ number (you’re the type that totally lurrves iconic labels like that).

    The people I speak to and speak for? Double that number. You enjoy your trinkets and useless baubles. I said what I wanted to say. Not my problem if you are incapable of understanding it. *Patronizing smile* There, there…don’t get too upset or you can’t have your pudding.

    Troll? No. Your intellectual superior? Yes. Now. Explain to me why I should justify my argument that I have plainly stated with words multiple times to you. You can’t understand it apparently. How can I expect you to understand any other words I use?

    I’m trying very hard to be polite. I’ve commented here before and on this particular blogs contents elsewhere. So I guess that makes me part of the commenting community you so blithely claim to represent. Feel free to address my actual points that I expressed in the English language so very clearly and stop making yourself look like an attention…what’s the word I’ve mislaid? Answer my point. Until then, YOU are the troll.

  321. Gark32

    Jeff, you’re a troll. Your ‘blog’, for lack of a better short description, is a rambling incoherent mass of babble from a person that believes themself the superior if all men, and is in truth a frightened child with no understanding of what he speaks. You chatter and prattle about this and that, never actually touching on the theme of the post, never answering simple questions asked, and attacking those that would question your ‘wisdom’. I would disbelieve any claim of yours stating intellectual superiority to anything that walks upright and has a solid grip on Reason. You have been passingly polite, at times, in a passive-aggressive manner. You have been confrontational and unclear, you have never (as in, not a single time) clearly or even vaguely answered a question simply put to you. Get thee hence, and return to the hole from whence you came. I asked simply for Proof, for some Documentation, Words in Print, that would suggest that you might possibly have a grain of reason in your suggestion. Obviously, you cannot, and you will run to another non sequitr, or attempt to deflect the question, stating that even though nobody else of any educational background with anything to do with the subject at hand agrees with you, you’re still right. Your words stand on your shoulders, which hold precisely no weight in the world of Reason and Sense, therefore you might seek someone else that would bolster them. Vague mentions of superintelligent people that you may or may not discuss such things with have equal strength until you can first prove that they exist, and second prove that they actually agree with you. Until then, stop attempting to deduce my ‘type’ and start trying to figure out how things actually work.

    and before you again mention sunspots, CME’s, electromagnetic waves, spacequakes, solar activity, the reflectivity of the moon to such things, et cetera ad nauseum, in a vain attempt to deflect and confuse the issue, you might think about reading how such things affect the events discussed.

    Good day Sir. You Lose.

  322. Joseph

    As you said in this article:

    “The tides from the Moon and Sun affect our oceans and large bodies of water, and they also affect the solid Earth — the land under you rises and falls by about a meter every single day as the Earth spins under the Moon!”

    If the moon affects the bodies of water and it in turns affect the land under us, wouldn’t it be safe to say that the moon – super or otherwise – indirectly affects the land on Earth? Couldn’t the moon then facilitate tectonic movements?

    I’m just a curious reader, not a doomsday fanatic.

  323. Robert

    @Joseph: The magnitude of the forces isn’t big enough, and changes too rapidly. What it pulls east one hour, it is pulling west 12 hours later.

    I’d also suggest that a closer moon would lead to less severe earthquakes. Constant small movements of plates would allow them to move slowly and smoothly, causing constant tiny quakes, but no big ones. Might break the plates into smaller pieces, which would reduce the forces.

  324. Jessiessica

    I checked the “Supermoon” Wiki page and found it to be completely underwhelming and uninformative, failing to address the argued links between supermoons and natural disasters, a topic that is currently all the rage in the media.

    Seeing as Wiki is often the first point of call to net users when looking for info on a topic I felt it was my duty to expand the article with a skeptical view of the effect of supermoons on natural disasters, talking much of my inspiration from Phil (and referencing accordingly).

    Thanks for the excellent info Phil!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermoon#Dates_of_Past_and_Predicted_Supermoons_Between_1950_and_2050

  325. 373. Gark32 Says:
    March 13th, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Since you obviously refuse to read my comments I’ll ask you on your own terms. Why are you arguing with someone you consider an incoherent mass of babble?

    What does that make you? My words, my voice, stands on its own in this thread. What is your excuse for ignoring them? Oh Captain my Captain of the commentariat in your mind?

  326. benj

    To me, the biggest effect on having the full moon on march 19th is that Easter occurs very late this year !

  327. Nigel Depledge

    Sheesh! 370- odd posts already! You guys sure have been partying over the weekend!

    Reidh (349) said:

    No one thing is the direct cause of this or any other earthquake, but all conditions added together can influence the occurrence of any one at any time, the creeping of the tectonic plates coupled with the lopsided and creaky turning of the earth on its preceding axis stimulated by forces from beneath in the earth’s roiling heated core and in the rest of the solar system from above can conceivably be contributing to these events without anyone being able to prove or disprove it.

    Er . . . nope.

    We have some pretty sophisticated mathematical tools to tease out genuine correlations from multi-factorial datasets. If the moon or sun positions really did correlate with the occurrence of earthquakes, seismologists would have spotted this.

  328. Rristar

    368. DrBB Says:@363:
    Obviously you PayasYouStargaze and Solius are a linear thinkers. Become enlightened think more in a quantum state.

    Terenace McKenna:

    I think people have a very narrow conception of what is possible with reality, that we’re surrounded by the howling abyss of the unknowable and nobody knows what’s out there.

    The world which we perceive is a tiny fraction of the world which we can perceive, which is a tiny fraction of the perceivable world, you see.

    If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed

  329. PayasYouStargaze

    @380 Rristar (or is it Rrisstar? you’ve changed it):

    Ah, someone who doesn’t understand quantum physics and uses it to justify any and all madness and impossibility. Terenace (sic) McKenna probably isn’t the best person to be quoting on anything.@380 Rristar (or is it Rrisstar? you’ve changed it):

    Being enlightened means knowing more about reality, which includes knowing what is impossible. Allowing any and and possibilities is not enlightenment, but fantasy. Magical thinking which does not further human knowledge. “Linear” thinking is what moves science forward.

  330. Rristar

    Since you asked? Rrisstar3 actually.

    381. PayasYouStargaze You just solidified linear thinking again.You couldn’t possibly know who is typing this post to you…….nor the credentials,background or origin of Rrisstar. You could be conversing with Artificial Intelligence and the A.I is responding to a straight line thinking human……Try again please.

  331. Nigel Depledge

    Rristar (382) said:

    Since you asked? Rrisstar3 actually.

    So how come you posted that comment under the name “Rristar”?

    Anyhow …

    381. PayasYouStargaze You just solidified linear thinking again.You couldn’t possibly know who is typing this post to you…….nor the credentials,background or origin of Rrisstar. You could be conversing with Artificial Intelligence and the A.I is responding to a straight line thinking human……Try again please.

    Actually, experience of various discussion on internet fora makes it pretty easy to pick out someone who understands QM from one who does not. I have not read all your comments, so I do not presume to judge your argument at this time.

    However, you are wrong to say that PayAsYouStargaze knows nothing about you. What and how one comments telegraphs a great deal about that commenter.

  332. PayasYouStargaze

    @382 Ristar (Risstar, Risstar3):

    You’ll have to define linear thinking, but from what it sounds like, it’s a good thing. In the world we live in, actions have consequences. One step leads to another. Cause and effect. Science is about finding out those processes. It helps to have an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.

    As for who or what you are, that doesn’t matter if the arguments are nonsense, does it? You don’t know who is typing this post to you either…nor my credentials, background or origin of my username. Again, it doesn’t matter. (At least I spell my chosen username the same in every post to lessen the confusion.)

    Your posts suggest that thinking in a “quantum state” is beneficial. What is thinking in a quantum state anyway? It sounds like you’re one of the many who choose to use quantum physics as a get out clause to allow any and all magic and nonsense to exist. You should try again please.

  333. wesgrant

    MY THEROY WHY MOON AND EARTHQUAKES HAPPEND
    ok the moon being the closest on march 12 – 19 2011 curtain mountian ranges on the moon and earth at one time were both on earth when the earth was in its molding stage or a impact broke off a big chunk of earth and made our moon so the geologic molten forms and maby
    theres more than earths magnatic pull keeping the moon in perfict harmony with us hell it doesnt even spin think about it
    and electromagnetically could forms quartz crystal and can be exciteted mabe some kind of piezoelectric mother cristal on earth and
    a A T cut quartz crystal with a y axis being the moon tilt lineing up to charge the mother crystal can and will make strong frequencies thus
    makeing earth quakes thats my theroy frequencies do( vibrate) Wesley Grants think tank
    somfme@yahoo.com

  334. Nigel Depledge

    Tom (365) said:

    Phil, your entire argument rests on the location of the moon at the PRECISE MOMENT of the quake. That’s poor grade school science, at best.

    You do not take into consideration the fact that the moon is constantly deforming the Earth’s crust as the Earth rotates under the moon and that a cumulative deformation of the crust in certain areas will happen until a quake occurs.

    The moon does not have to be at exact perigee or at its closest when the quake actually occurs.

    So, let me get this straight . . .

    You’re saying that the moon causes (or contributes to) earthquakes even when it is not at perigee, right?

    And – based on the BA’s point against which you argue – that the fact that some earthquakes occur when the moon is at apogee does not bear on the subject, right?

    So, it follows that you would predict that there would be no detectable correlation between the times of perigee and earthquakes, right?

    And this is exactly what we observe! ZOMG, you must be right!!!

    Or, maybe there really isn’t any correlation because there’s no causal relationship after all . . .?

  335. Rristar

    Giving you a metaphor and the last post from Rrisstar.

    Your science is very proud of the Big Bang Theory. They have it all figured out and they have a timeline for it. This is really funny! How can you have a timeline for a quantum event? There is no time in a quantum state, yet they have it all figured out. They’ve even figured out that there’s a residue they can measure that proves they’re right. How clever of them!
    Let me ask you something, if you smell that wonderful residue aroma of bread cooking in the kitchen, what does that tell you? Does it say, “bread was cooked here four billion years ago” or does it say, “it’s being cooked now”?
    It’s the bias of straight line thinking in a singular time dimension that smells the bread and calculates how long ago it was cooked! There is no understanding that the quantum event of the “Big Bang” is still happening. It explains the energy of Universal expansion. It even begins to explain the “energy of what you can’t see.” The “residue” they measure is the proof of the reality of an event still in progress as you see it in 3D, but an event that is the reality of creation, within a quantum state.

  336. Nigel Depledge

    @ Rristar (347) –
    OK, now I’ve read that post, it is time to judge your argument.

    You really haven’t got a clue about how to (a) put together an honest argument, and (b) tease out real causal relationships from coincidences.

  337. Nigel Depledge

    OK, this is kinda like a train wreck but I can’t look away…

    Rristar (386) said:

    Your science is very proud of the Big Bang Theory. They have it all figured out and they have a timeline for it.

    Yes. What of it?

    This is really funny!

    How so?

    How can you have a timeline for a quantum event?

    Erm … because quantum events still obey the 2nd law of thermodynamics, in aggregate.

    There is no time in a quantum state,

    That’s a big claim. Do you have any evidence to back it up?

    yet they have it all figured out.

    Well, yeah. Apart from the first Planck time (about 10^-36 sec), the BB is all pretty well explained by GR.

    The fact that the universe began in a hot and dense state is a direct consequence of the observation that the universe is expanding now.

    They’ve even figured out that there’s a residue they can measure that proves they’re right. How clever of them!

    Well, not only is the cosmic micowave background (CMB) a direct prediction of BBT, but its spectrum and temperature are also predicted and explained by BBT. No competing theory has done this.

    Let me ask you something, if you smell that wonderful residue aroma of bread cooking in the kitchen, what does that tell you? Does it say, “bread was cooked here four billion years ago” or does it say, “it’s being cooked now”?

    Actually, it could be “bread is being cooked now” or that “bread was cooked here some time in the last hour or so”.

    Now let me ask you something: how long do you expect it to take for a universe to cool through expansion from 10-to-the-whatever degrees (can’t be bothered to look up the actual figure just now) to about 2.7 Kelvin? Temperature, expansion rate and time are inextricably linked. In this universe, at least.

    It’s the bias of straight line thinking in a singular time dimension that smells the bread and calculates how long ago it was cooked!

    Well, yes. AFAWCT, there is one dimension of time. Did you have a point?

    There is no understanding that the quantum event of the “Big Bang” is still happening.

    Actually, a lot of cosmologists do reckon it is still happening, but this is an irrelevant semantic argument. After all, it comes down to drawing a line and saying “before this, the BB is happening, and after it, the BB has finished”, and such an exercise is – of its very nature – purely arbitrary.

    What is of more relevance is what actually occurs at what different epoch.

    Oh, yeah, and at what point did you show that the BB is a “quantum event”? And what is a “quantum event” in your lexicon anyway?

    It explains the energy of Universal expansion.

    Erm, well, no. It doesn’t. If you think you can explain Dark Energy with a mere wave of the hand, perhaps you should submit that to a physics journal. Let us know how you get on.

    It even begins to explain the “energy of what you can’t see.” The “residue” they measure is the proof of the reality of an event still in progress as you see it in 3D, but an event that is the reality of creation, within a quantum state.

    Wow. I know what these words mean, but you have tossed them together in such a way as to render them meaningless.

  338. DrBB

    @372: And here I thought addressing you as an ordinary mortal like myself who might be interested in an exchange of ideas would work. Silly me. Still, I’ll have one more go at it, since I can’t see how anyone can be expected to evaluate or engage your ideas without actually knowing specifically what they are. So I re-ask:

    Which conjunction are you referring to that obtained on 3/11, as opposed to the one due on 3/19? Could you just lay that out for me in astronomical terms? What was aligned with what?

  339. PayasYouStargaze

    @386 Rristar (Rrisstar, Rrisstar3):

    As far as I know, the Big Bag Theory does not claim to know the exact timeline of the universe from t=0. I think that is actually a great area of research at the moment. Sure our science (that’s “our” including you, it belongs to everone) hasn’t got it all figured out, but we know that science doesn’t know everything. If it did, it’d stop (to paraphrase Dara O’Briain).

    Your bread question. Well if I smell bread, I can give a reasonable estimate of when the bread was baked. I can do this because I know other information about the process of baking bread. That is not “bias of straight line thinking” but the process of deduction. But something tells me that the Big Bang is a bit different to baking bread. For one thing, a bakery works on a timescale that time can be considered linear. The origins of the universe do not.

    I can’t really tell answer the rest as it is beyond my knowledge, but I guess that doesn’t matter since you won’t be posting here and referring to yourself in the 3rd person any more.

    Read Nigel’s response. He knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.

  340. Nigel Depledge

    Root 999 (325) said:

    Has anyone consider “Super Earth” causing moonquakes during perigee and “Full Earth”./”New Earth” ?

    If I understand correctly, Moon effects Earth’s tidal waves: how would “Super Earth” affect the Moon’s crust (without such a large amount of water as on Earth) ?

    If “Super Earth” can cause moonquakes, what would the surface, shape & structure of the Moon become after so many billion years of moonquakes (without the mitigation of the effect by water) ?

    Please kindly shine some light.

    The moon is geologically (selenologically?) dead. It has no tectonic activity. Moonquakes are only caused by impacts on the surface of the moon.

    Also, because the moon is tidally locked to the Earth (it always shows the same face towards the Earth), earthly tides on the moon are fixed in place and so the moon’s surface does not flex (except perhaps by the tiniest bit due to the moon’s libration (if that’s the right term?)) in response to Earth’s tidal influence.

  341. Nigel Depledge

    PayAsYouStargaze (390) said:

    Read Nigel’s response. He knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.

    [blush]

    Aw, shucks. Thank-you.

    Then again, as a nominated candidate for President of the Euro-weenies’ chapter of the Cult of Phil, I ought to.

  342. 389. DrBB Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 7:04 am

    You still don’t get it. You now understand what Aspergers is and are focused on the kids/teens and are forgetting (like that other douche) that there are thousands of us who had to find each other and communicate in ways you and your mentally retarded normals can never understand.

    First understand my point (Why do I have to restate this again? Please just end my existence already): My objection was that the headline (which influences the way people read the article – AGAIN I have decades experience in this field) and resulting rush on tv news programs to use scientific credentials to “debunk” any thought of the moon (read the headline and resulting news articles that don’t really go into the substance let alone care about your petty whiny comments) having any influence because of an overwrought desire to stop the moon freaks from taking hold (didn’t stop them anyway).

    I brought to you (they don’t all speak you silly little gits) the best and the brightest minds (no, not skitzoprenia you complete jackalopes) some of the best minds (they tend to follow things I am passionate about instead of just one or two posts) and they don’t talk like you and they don’t act like you.

    What is so M F hard to understand about that? G D you F A H D H C S that you can’t realize that you are not the best and the brightest and the ones who are will even go so far as to refuse a million dollars (where have I heard that number b4) or a nobel prize?

    You are wasting an opportunity I gave you by being petty little academic, number of published artricles, amount of research grants, number of letter son your resume idiotic idiots.

    Pardon my English. What I, me, Jeff Barea, me, I said, in English that I, me, me MEEEEE said should stand firm. The rest of your petty little squabbles will turn off those you want to seek advice from. I have no idea why but they like me and when I comment multiple times on a post like this they watch. And, they do (not skitzoskittles you assclowns) they get annoyed when you try to “be the boss” in the comments section instead of actually talking about things that matter.
    t
    So Dr. BB find a new hobby already, if you are indeed a DR. your reputation among the quiet elite is ruined.

  343. PayasYouStargaze

    Well Nige, you knew enough to spot that the last paragraph was nonsense.

    Of course, he has me questioning the reality of all the posters here now. Maybe you’re an AI, and an advanced one too. You seem so eloquent and knowledgable in your responses. Nigel’s a good name for an AI too. ;)

  344. I should remark that after any LULZ my friends may be having at my own account, the more I get upset the more dangerous and dicey things get because they want to calm me down by removing that which has me upset.

    It’s a double edged sword, two sided coin.Not to be tried by amateurs.

  345. lyz

    dear author:
    It is not a question of “fear”, rather, it is about the possibility of “prediction”, regarding earthquakes co-relating to the moon phases and gravity. Your article seems trying to negative the possibility of going toward the predicting of earthquakes.

  346. DrBB

    @396: Thought you might have an actual counter-argument to present: @247: “We have an unique situation that just occurred with a confluence of events we have never personally recorded.” I was wondering what that unique confluence consisted of, in your view. Seems like a fair question to me.

    I’ve tried to correspond with you from the position that you were interested in communicating with others, not just looking for opportunities to whack people over the head. But presented with a choice between engaging in factual discussion and headwhacking, you’ve chosen the latter. We’ll let it stand at that.

  347. Nigel Depledge

    PayAsYouStargaze (397) said:

    Of course, he has me questioning the reality of all the posters here now. Maybe you’re an AI, and an advanced one too. You seem so eloquent and knowledgable in your responses. Nigel’s a good name for an AI too.

    Aw, busted!

    ;-)

  348. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff Barea (396) said:

    My objection was that the headline [. . .] and resulting rush on tv news programs to use scientific credentials to “debunk” any thought of the moon [. . .] having any influence because of an overwrought desire to stop the moon freaks from taking hold [. . .]

    All I’ve done is cut out the parenthetical commentary, and the sentence still makes no sense. Obviously, I’m late to the party and have not read all the comments (it is, after all, rather a deluge), but this commenter’s position is entirely obscure.

    BTW, the rest of your comment, Jeff, seems to be you just being a dick.

    If other people are missing your point, there are two possibilities other than everyone else being a retard:

    Either (1) your explanation really is not clear enough; or (2) your “explanation” really does not make any sense.

  349. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff Barea (398) said:

    I should remark that after any LULZ my friends may be having at my own account, the more I get upset the more dangerous and dicey things get because they want to calm me down by removing that which has me upset.

    It’s a double edged sword, two sided coin.Not to be tried by amateurs.

    Wow, this seems to be an actual threat of violence.

    Get a grip, Jeff. If your argument does not stand up to scrutiny, criticism or even (as seems here to be the case) polite questioning, then it ain’t good enough. Getting abusive or violent (and how you expect to follow that through, I have no idea) does not change the fact that your argument fails.

  350. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff Barea (396) said:

    What is so [. . .] hard to understand about that?

    Erm . . . the fact that it was not expressed in grammatical or even partially-coherent English?

  351. DrBB

    @402: “Wow, this seems to be an actual threat of violence.”

    Yeah, Jeff finally gets to the point of exposing himself quite explicitly as a headwhacker. Sometimes the best way to deal with such is to give them the opportunity to declare it themselves. I guess when all you’ve got is a hammer….

    Anyway, I think maybe we can declare this thread officially concluded; just thought I’d see out that particular loop. Nice moon pix going on back upstairs!

  352. 399. DrBB Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    And I kind of thought the confluence of events was obvious.

    Guess we both know better now.

  353. 403. Nigel Depledge Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Dude, don’t even make me rickroll you.. Bad enough I have to fight bad scientists without you jumping in with inane commentary.

  354. I will say that there is a warm glow in my heart when people who actually know how the Internet talks show up.

  355. toasterhead

    394. Nigel Depledge Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 7:14 am
    The moon is geologically (selenologically?) dead. It has no tectonic activity. Moonquakes are only caused by impacts on the surface of the moon.
    —–
    This may not be true. Recent analysis of the data from the seismometers left by the Apollo astronauts is demonstrating that the moon may not be as dead as we thought. The seismometers registered 28 powerful moonquakes between 1972 and 1977, including some the equivalent of 5.5 on the Richter scale – as well as other smaller quakes caused by tidal forces, thermal expansion, and impact events.

    http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/scitech/display.cfm?ST_ID=1149

  356. Denis Allen

    You fools you all have it wrong, the earth is a living organism and as such it at times tries to get rid of the parasites that live on it. Parasites which are destroying its natural beauty, simply for greed of land and power. Using its resources it has available, ranging from flooding of rivers to its greatest weapon of all, the oceans and seas which can destroy anything these parasites can make or design.

  357. flip

    #413 Denis

    Damn those cockroaches! Who do they think they are, those little bugs, being greedy and making Mother Nature (TM) get mad. … Or was it the cheetahs who are the parasites? … Maybe the rhinos? … Ooh, I know! It was the crocs!

    Yep, Mother Nature (TM) is so mad at one species, she’s trying to kill them all! Death to all animals!!

    :roll:

  358. Somaditya ganguly

    We are living in 2011 and still now we are discussing about supermoon and all that thing. i think if this discussion would have been based on seismography and geology it would be a right thing that we can do for the betterment of forcasting earthquakes.

  359. of course it the moon//.

  360. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff Barea (408) said:

    Dude, don’t even make me rickroll you.. Bad enough I have to fight bad scientists without you jumping in with inane commentary.

    First, the word “rickroll” isn’t in my dictionary. I have no idea what you mean, but it sounds vaguely unpleasant.

    So, my answer to you is: come and have a go if you think you’re smart enough. Answer my comments point by point. Prove that I am wrong.

    Or you could just blather and threaten and in the process prove me right.

    Second, which point that I raise exactly is “inane”? Maybe – instead of some vague and overtly-defensive attempt at a riposte – you could actually engage in a debate here?

    Just to reiterate the comment to which you objected, Jeff: If your argument fails, then getting abusive or threatening violence does not change that it fails. Which part of this fact is “inane”?

  361. Nigel Depledge

    @ Toasterhead (410) –

    Well, I stand corrected.

  362. Rita

    can you tell me, has anyone else noticed there isnt any actual footage or article of this prior supermoon from 1993 or any other dates? i havent had any success finding any. in fact, all i found were 3 different dates of this supposed event March 5th, 12th, and then the 18th of 93′. which one was it? sounds like this whole supermoon thing is bs or it’s something completely out of man’s element of understanding or explaining.
    i witnessed what i would call a supermoon about 5 yrs ago. the moon was big as hell and it was orange. never heard anything about it mentioned on the news even though it was the most breathtaking sight iv ever seen. this moon, however, was not noted as a “supermoon” so does this mean the supposed approaching supermoon is so huge and phenomenal it cant be ignored?

  363. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff Barea (316) said:

    My objection is to everyone running around “poo-poo’ing” (pontificating, if you will) with quick assertions when it is a very nuanced situation, don’t you think?

    No, it is not a nuanced situation.

    A specific claim was made about the “supermoon” causing the Japanese earthquake. The full moon at perigee does not occur until the 19th, yet the earthquake was on the 11th. So the moon was actually closer to apogee than it was to perigee.

    Very clearly, the claim is wrong. It is also trivially easy to show that it is wrong – so easy, in fact, that the claim should never have been made in the first place. Such a claim could only come from someone who does not care about whether or not they are correct.

    Why are you so passionately defending the claim?

  364. Can any kind soul help to answer my questions in 325 ?

    Many Thanks.

  365. Nigel Depledge

    @ Root999 (422) –
    Yeah, see comments # 394 and 410.

  366. Nigel Depledge

    Rita (420) said:

    sounds like this whole supermoon thing is bs

    Yes, I think it almost certainly is.

    The moon is full once each lunar month. The moon goes through perigee once each lunar month too. The only distinction about the “supermoon” is that the two happen to occur at the same time.

    Spring tides occur every new moon and full moon. If the moon happens to be at perigee also (whether it is new or full), the spring tides will be a bit higher than if the moon is closer to its average distance from Earth or its apogee distance from Earth.

    As Phil’s article illustrates, the moon is bigger in the sky at perigee than at apogee, but that is not likely to be noticeable by eye. The “moon illusion” (that illusion that makes sun or the moon look larger when near the horizon than when high in the sky) makes a bigger difference to our perception of the size of the moon than does whether it is at apogee or perigee.

  367. Nigel Depledge

    Rita (420) said:

    i witnessed what i would call a supermoon about 5 yrs ago. the moon was big as hell and it was orange.

    If it was quite low in the sky at the time, then this will be due to the “moon illusion”. The orange colour when the moon is close to the horizon is due to atmospheric scattering of shorter wavelengths, making the moon appear more reddish or orange than it really is. The same thing happens to make a setting or rising sun look orange / red and large, whereas the sun is actually white. We often depict the sun as yellow, but that’s because we mostly never notice it when it is high in the sky.

  368. wesgrant

    387 good should be considerd

  369. Gark32

    387 is bunk as much as anything that Jeff Barea has said and merits no more consideration than the effect of Aldebaran on the level of a swimming pool.

  370. earthquake tracker

    okay, i have been interested in understanding and tracking earthquake for a little while, i think people should be open minded, but not just open minded to what science has known and proven so far… as the academic community is sometimes not the most welcoming place to fringe theories untill they really become main stream… didnt we believe the earth was flat hundreds of years ago?

    my intuitive feeling is that moon plays a role in earthquakes, it might not cause the fault lines but it probably is a catalyst of some sort… and before we find more evidence and try to prove or disprove the theory, it is better to test things out before outright claiming that it is false… to me that that sounds like making reality to fit theory rather than theory that fits reality ( in which case we do see some coincidences here).

    I found a niche blog of a guy making simulator to predict earthquakes, i have been following it for a while and i think he might have a point… http://www.garagegames.com/community/blogs/view/15946

    i hope this can generate more general awareness on how to find solutions rather than sicentists just slamming anything nonproven unscientific.. to me that is a very unscientific attitude to not look at alternative theories in depth before terming it superstition…

  371. ben
  372. alex

    So you say the moon was actually further away than it normally is, surly if it is further away than normal then less gravitational forces are on the earth, meaning the earth will move back into its natural (if their is such a thing) form/shape, resulting in movement none the less possibly causing earth quakes as a result.

  373. rexy.it

    “Keep a level head, think rationally, and do what you can to be prepared and to help if and when the time comes.”

    An extremely good quotation… but when will human beings learn how to use their brain and knowledge instead of trying to use the nonsensical, irrational delirium of a few who try to expound the unknown through unproven and unaccountable explanations of natural phenomena that happen, have happened and will always happen in our universe and on our planet every single bit of time just in front of our own eyes?

  374. mark

    Hi,

    it is possible that the moon or other gravitational influence would have an effect on the earths mantle, (say pulling it with greater force in a particular direction, albeit less than the effects on the tides) which could then in turn put pressure on the techtonic plates from underneath?

    i’m prepared to be shot down by the way, but some science info on why not would be good! thanks.

  375. alex

    So you say the moon was actually further away than it normally is on average, surly if it is further away than normal then less gravitational forces are on the earth, meaning the earth will move back into its natural (if their is such a thing) form/shape, resulting in movement none the less possibly causing earth quakes as a result.

    A book called The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calender states that on the 9th march there is an increased chance of an earth quake and on the 13th volcanic activity so it is only a day out on each prediction.

    The quake seems to have come at the half way point between AG and PG if that is of any significance?

  376. James

    @428 “…i think people should be open minded…”

    There has been a lot of commentary by people here who claim we should have an open mind and dismiss nothing, using the excuse “what if a claim happens to be true”. Some of these people then go and discount anything anyone states against what they have put forward, to the point of using personal insults and making threats.

    The problem of an open mind is best stated by Terry Pratchett:

    “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it” – Terry Pratchett

    The biggest problem I find with people that have open minds is it often appears to coincide with an inability to asses ideas objectively and tend to commonly use subjective assessments, often based on hearsay. Good examples are fuel additives to improve economy, holograms on elastic bands that claim to improve everything from balance to preventing cancer. The best example is armchair experts convinced that they know better because they watched a couple of discovery shows about the topic that they have no personal education of (say a total time of 4 hours tops), which they then consider far more relevant than a consensus of experts who spend their entire working life (35+ hours a week for decades) on the subject or in an associated area.

    One of the biggest curses I think we have in Western society is the fact that truth is not required in documentaries, they’re not held up to any kind of standard, anyone can make a documentary and even in some cases can win an award for it. Our culture teaches people not to trust anyone in authority which is exasperated by popular culture often ridiculing experts (e.g. terms such as nerd, geek, boffin, etc) . To generalise, it appears to me that the very people who try and have an open mind are the ones who are predisposed to discount any ‘expert’ commentary. They are drawn instead to people who are charismatic and talk about how the ‘experts’ are wrong but we know the truth, especially popular if they claim that the ‘experts’, ‘big business’ or the government is trying to hide the truth for various reasons.

    I read something somewhere where it discussed how it is human nature to read and watch what reenforces what is believed. For example, Christians (based on my experience) normally don’t seek out books or shows that set forward reasons why belief in specific religions is flawed. People who are into UFO’s are drawn to books that reinforce their views and immediately discount contrary views. People who believe in conspiracy theories do the same. This of course makes it even more difficult to have objective discussions about a subject because people are predisposed to reject anything that doesn’t agree with their view.

    Another good quote is “No deeply rooted tendency was ever extirpated by adverse judgment. Not having originally been founded on argument, it cannot be destroyed by logic.” – G H Lewes

    While I suspect that the view around the ‘super moon’ is in of itself not a ‘deep rooted view’ I do believe there is in some a deep rooted distrust and dislike of ‘experts’. Such people will be impossible to argue with because their view of the super moon is influenced by their rejection of experts being able to asses it.

    Either that or they get a kick out of trolling. I mean seriously, threats of hacking or rickrolling? Maybe they’re on 4chan a lot and as such think they have ‘power’, either way it still has no bearing on the logic around a ‘super moon’.

  377. Well, reading through these comments was hilarious. And sad. But mostly hilarious. Thanks everyone.

    Here’s a thought that might keep some people up at night: the moon is always somewhere.

  378. earthquake tracker

    @435: when I said being open minded, I meant one needs to investigate in depth before making a conclusion what it is and what it isn’t, for me that is a scientific attitude rather than just believing in expert opinions, if we all just believe in expert opinions, there wont be creative thinking, innovation and signfication breakthroughs, we will all be locked up in the past…

    I wonder if you have actually looked into the theory before making your comment, as i attached a link in the comment, a guy is using the lunar saros cycles to simulate earthquakes and he has made some pretty accurate predictions, it is not based on the perigee or syzygy, but based on the lunar cycles that of course will incoporate certain critical points… regardless if he is onto something or not, he is trying to look at different ways to predict earthquakes ahead of time, which will save millions of lives.. i dont care if a random guy does that, a scientist does that, or even astrologer does it, as long as they can get it right in this case… and for that, i give my time and attention to all alternative theories…

    you know some animals can sense earthquakes ahead of time, and in very rare cases, some humans can too. I think with the scientific development, we are also losing touch with the nature and some ancient wisdom when people don’t have well framed theories and measures… what did they do that? maybe they look up in the sky and see eclipse being a bad omen, or maybe they watch tides to get a gauge of the earth, without knowing why… you cant just discount things because of what we dont know…

    and truth in many cases are multifaceted, even in quantum physics, there is the wave particle duality… and will you not present both theories if making a documentary?

    a scientific mind is a mind of doubt and understanding but not one that blindly trusts expert opinions…

  379. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (428) said:

    okay, i have been interested in understanding and tracking earthquake for a little while, i think people should be open minded, but not just open minded to what science has known and proven so far…

    Well, no. Of course not. There are plenty of scientists who are open to new ideas, new theories and new data. However, any new theory must also explain (and not contradict) what is already known (by which I mean facts and observations, not necessarily theories), and it must have a logical basis.

    as the academic community is sometimes not the most welcoming place to fringe theories untill they really become main stream…

    True. If you are going to contradict what has hitherto been near-universally accepted, then you had better have some damn’ good data. Wegener did this (plate tectonics), and no-one accepted his theory because his data were not good enough. About 40 or 50 years later, new evidence came to light that confirmed Wegener’s hypothesis. It is now accepted.

    OTOH, when Darwin published On the Origin of Species, his data and argument were perfectly acceptable, and most scientists accepted his theory immediately. Some did not (notably Richard Owen). But most of the objections to it came not from other scientists but from the clergy and other religious groups. The objections to evolution were not based on fact or on reasoning, but on intuition and wishful thinking.

    didnt we believe the earth was flat hundreds of years ago?

    This is a tired old chestnut. No, we didn’t. Some time around 400 BCE (IIRC), Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, and his figure was within 10% of the actual value. It has long been known that the Earth is round. Perhaps 4000 years ago, our ancestors assumed it to be flat, but that is different from believing it to be flat.

    my intuitive feeling is that moon plays a role in earthquakes,

    And we should listen to your intuition why, exactly?

    it might not cause the fault lines but it probably is a catalyst of some sort…

    Go on, then. Make a prediction. Not necessarily of the time and place of an earthquake, but how about you predict something about the position of the moon in relation to where earthquakes occur?

    If the moon is any kind of catalyst for earthquakes, then there will be a correlation between its position and the timing and location of earthquakes.

    Furthermore, if you’d care to expand your feeling into an actual hypothesis, I’d be more than happy to read the reasoning that associates the moon with earthquakes. Bear in mind, of course, that people have already looked for a correlation between the moon’s position and the location and magnitude of earthquakes. Mostly, they have found no correlation. A very few studies have found a weak correlation, but these are not widely accepted. If they were in any way convincing, they would be accepted by seismologists, so my take on these is that the correlation is either some intrinsic bias in the sampling or it is a coincidence.

    and before we find more evidence and try to prove or disprove the theory, it is better to test things out before outright claiming that it is false…

    No. A specific claim was made that the supermoon caused the earthquake. This claim does not stand up to scrutiny. The end.

    to me that that sounds like making reality to fit theory rather than theory that fits reality ( in which case we do see some coincidences here).

    Current theories among seismologists do fit reality. The claim that the supermoon caused the earthquake does not fit reality. What’s your problem with this?

    I found a niche blog of a guy making simulator to predict earthquakes, i have been following it for a while and i think he might have a point… [url omitted]

    Right, and if an amateur had found a way to do something that professional seismologists have been unable to do with any surety for the last 50-odd years, do you not think that they would be flocking to this guy’s door to get some of that?

    i hope this can generate more general awareness on how to find solutions rather than sicentists just slamming anything nonproven unscientific.. to me that is a very unscientific attitude to not look at alternative theories in depth before terming it superstition…

    When those ideas are directly contradicted by the facts, they should quite rightly be binned.

  380. Nigel Depledge

    Alex (430) said:

    So you say the moon was actually further away than it normally is, surly if it is further away than normal then less gravitational forces are on the earth, meaning the earth will move back into its natural (if their is such a thing) form/shape, resulting in movement none the less possibly causing earth quakes as a result.

    Presumably, you have done the calcs to work out how much of a difference it makes.

    What were your findings?

  381. Nigel Depledge

    Alex (433) said:

    A book called The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calender states that on the 9th march there is an increased chance of an earth quake and on the 13th volcanic activity so it is only a day out on each prediction.

    I thought the earthquake happened on the 11th, at (very roughly) 05:30 UT.

    So that’s 2 days out. What time does the calendar expect the earthquake to strike?

    The quake seems to have come at the half way point between AG and PG if that is of any significance?

    Slightly closer to apogee than perigee, but no.

  382. Nigel Depledge

    @ James (435) –
    Well said!

  383. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (438) said:

    when I said being open minded, I meant one needs to investigate in depth before making a conclusion what it is and what it isn’t,

    No. Some claims are so blatantly contradicted by known facts that they do not require any additional investigation.

    Furthermore, the way science works is this: you have an idea, and form it into an hypothesis (along the way, investigating the literature to see if anyone has tried anything like this before, and to find out what pertinent information may already be available). Then you investigate it and see if it stands up against reality. Then you publish it and let the other experts have at it.

    It is the responsibility of the person making the claim to come up with sufficient data to support their claim, and to address any data that contradict their claim. What you suggest is the opposite of this.

    for me that is a scientific attitude rather than just believing in expert opinions, if we all just believe in expert opinions, there wont be creative thinking, innovation and signfication breakthroughs, we will all be locked up in the past…

    But the opinion of an expert (in their field of expertise) is worth about a million times as much as the opinion of an uninformed layperson. And by “uninformed” I mean people who are not familiar with the relevant literature.

    I wonder if you have actually looked into the theory before making your comment,

    I wonder if you have understood the general applicability of the point that was made in #435?

    as i attached a link in the comment, a guy is using the lunar saros cycles to simulate earthquakes and he has made some pretty accurate predictions,

    And how many inaccurate ones?

    How accurate are his accurate ones? Accurate to the day? To the hour? To the minute?

    Are his predictions accurate enough that you would support the evacuation of several major towns and all of the countryside around them on the basis of this guy’s predictions?

    Have you suggested to him that he should publish his method in the siesmoligical literature? After all, if it’s any good, he could be the next Stephen Hawking.

    it is not based on the perigee or syzygy, but based on the lunar cycles that of course will incoporate certain critical points… regardless if he is onto something or not, he is trying to look at different ways to predict earthquakes ahead of time, which will save millions of lives..

    And what makes you think that professional seismologists are not?

    i dont care if a random guy does that, a scientist does that, or even astrologer does it, as long as they can get it right in this case… and for that, i give my time and attention to all alternative theories…

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day. If you make enough predictions, especially if you avoid being specific, at least some of them will be right by sheer chance.

    you know some animals can sense earthquakes ahead of time, and in very rare cases, some humans can too. I think with the scientific development, we are also losing touch with the nature and some ancient wisdom when people don’t have well framed theories and measures…

    Where do you think science started?

    Are you aware, for example, that Isaac Newton was – as well as a physicist – an alchemist? Oddly, most of what alchemists believed is now known to be a load of tosh. But alchemy gave birth to the science of chemistry.

    what did they do that? maybe they look up in the sky and see eclipse being a bad omen, or maybe they watch tides to get a gauge of the earth, without knowing why… you cant just discount things because of what we dont know…

    True, we cannot discount things because of what we don’t know. Fortunately for us, the nonsense about the supermoon is being discounted because of things that we know.

    and truth in many cases are multifaceted, even in quantum physics, there is the wave particle duality… and will you not present both theories if making a documentary?

    Ah, the quantum mechanics getout. Sadly for you, this does not wash. Seismology is not a field in which quantum theory is relevant. We find that, except at the smallest scales, quantum behaviour aggregates into classical behaviour. At the scale of planets, classical theories work fine. (And by “classical” I mean theories such as those of Einstein, Newton and Lavoisier, theories that do not concern themselves with the trickinesses of quantum reality but have nonetheless proven themselves to be valid.)

    a scientific mind is a mind of doubt and understanding but not one that blindly trusts expert opinions…

    It is true that most experts will not trust the opinion of other experts. Except when that opinion is backed up by data.

    However, for an uninformed layperson not to trust an expert on his or her field of expertise is irrational.

  384. earthquake tracker

    I guess the best way is to wait it out and see what happens in the coming months to see which side reality is on…

    i believe an uninformed layperson is someone who hasn’t done his/her study/ research, and an expert is someone who has…, and of course for that one needs a high level of intelligence and skills.. but it doesnt necessarily link to one’s education background, which i am sure you are highly educated to make a strong argument, but in this case, so am I, but our opinions can still differ. I personally think probably 90 percent of academic publications are probably nothing really valuable as afterall academia is also a career, if you dont publish, you cant move up your career ladder( you dont have to agree with me), but it is also the same opinion of a department dean in a highly prestigious university.. most publications recycle old theories with new data, or modified what has been done..the truth is it is not that easy to come up with something really groundbreaking or new in any field… and sometimes that actually doesnt happen in school but outside of it from people who have genuine interest and a bit of luck… as we know Einstein came up with the relativity theory while working as an office clerk, rather than working for NASA… and Newton himself was very interested in the practice of alchemy.. didnt einstein say imagination is more important than knowledge?? I think we need a bit of that to constant leave the room to be able to think out of the box… I have been in school for a long time, and I work as a journalist as well, hence i actually dont have a high regard of so-called experts as I perfectly understand how media works and how a story is written and told…

    i am in no way to support the supermoon theory before it is proven by data and really strong correlations, all i have said is look into it further before discounting it, sometimes it takes decades if not hundreds of years before we really understand something.. and I dont agree with you on known FACTS, I think we only have known theories.. and we are perfecting theories to fit the messy reality… being in science is probably not suitable if someone thinks that we have known a lot already rather than there is still so much that we don’t yet know… and that is just a general remark and nothing personal against anyone… we are all entitled to an opinion after all, expert or layperson, smart or stupid…

  385. Benji@

    All thouse ho think the moon dint cause this, think aggain, because as its known, the moon’s gravitational pull at the farthest it greater, as we know that same effect gives us the low tie’s and the high tie’s. At its farthest its when it pulls the most on land masses and gives low tie, at its closest it pushes giveing low tie. and thats Physiscs, Astronomy, and Geology. Remmember the moon each year farthens away from earth as well by nasa meshurements my friends. If by the time that happened the moon was orbiting above japan, to me is posible due on my knolege. Its expancion and contracion on gravity pull causing stress and friccion.

  386. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (444) said:

    I guess the best way is to wait it out and see what happens in the coming months to see which side reality is on…

    Well, yes.

    In the meantime, you could try answering some of the questions I posed . . ?

    i believe an uninformed layperson is someone who hasn’t done his/her study/ research, and an expert is someone who has…,

    Not really. A layperson is someone who doesn’t do this stuff for a living. An expert is someone who has spent decades (or, at the beginning of their career, at least about 7 or 8 years) learning about one particular area of phenomena (in this case, seismology).

    and of course for that one needs a high level of intelligence and skills.. but it doesnt necessarily link to one’s education background, which i am sure you are highly educated to make a strong argument, but in this case, so am I, but our opinions can still differ.

    True.

    I do not claim to be any kind of expert in seismology. However, I do consider the collective judgement of the world’s seismologists to be the best indicator of the validity of any ideas regarding seismology.

    I personally think probably 90 percent of academic publications are probably nothing really valuable

    Based on what, exactly?

    as afterall academia is also a career, if you dont publish, you cant move up your career ladder( you dont have to agree with me),

    I agree with this bit, but I’m not sure about your estimate of the proportion of publications that don’t add value to our collective knowledge.

    but it is also the same opinion of a department dean in a highly prestigious university.. most publications recycle old theories with new data,

    And why is new data of no value, even if it merely confirms what we already think we know?

    or modified what has been done..the truth is it is not that easy to come up with something really groundbreaking or new in any field… and sometimes that actually doesnt happen in school but outside of it from people who have genuine interest and a bit of luck… as we know Einstein came up with the relativity theory while working as an office clerk,

    This is true, but not relevant.

    With the rapidity of scientific advances since the 1950s, I think it is no longer possible for a layperson to be aware of all the necessary relevant information to make a major contribution to modern science. There are, of course, exceptions to this (most notably in astronomy), but consider this: how many new theories of chemical reaction mechanisms do you think can arise outside of chemistry laboratories?

    rather than working for NASA… and Newton himself was very interested in the practice of alchemy.. didnt einstein say imagination is more important than knowledge??

    Perhaps. In what way is this relevant?

    I think we need a bit of that to constant leave the room to be able to think out of the box…

    And what makes you think that working at a university (for example) prevents someone from thinking outside the box? New theories are judged on their intrinsic merits, and on their degree of accordance with known data. Yes, the reputation of the author matters, but that reputation is also staked on each new idea they publish.

    I have been in school for a long time, and I work as a journalist as well, hence i actually dont have a high regard of so-called experts as I perfectly understand how media works and how a story is written and told…

    You say this as if you expect me instantly to understand why. Can you explain why your work in journalism has reduced your regard of expert opinion, and why you use the term “so-called”?

  387. Nigel Depledge

    @ Benji (445) –

    So, if I have understood your comment correctly (and I think I deserve a medal if I did because it is almost completely incoherent), the universe’s most distant galaxies should exert more influence on the Earth than does the sun (your claim seems to be that gravity gets stronger with larger distance). In what universe does that make sense?

    Oh, and friction arises at the macroscopic level as the aggregate of microscopic Van der Waal’s forces.

  388. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (444) said:

    i am in no way to support the supermoon theory before it is proven by data and really strong correlations, all i have said is look into it further before discounting it,

    well, you do that. Let us know how you get on once you’ve collected plenty of data.

    Personally, I would not bother.

    The “supermoon” claim contradicts facts that are known now. That’s enough for me to:
    1. be confident that the author of the claim does not really know if it is correct or not; and
    2. dismiss the claim unless new data comes to light to support it.

    Additionally, because people have looked for correlations between the moon’s position and earthquakes and failed to find correlations, or found only very weak correlations, we can be confident that, if the moon has any influence on earthquakes, it is as one of the least significant factors.

  389. DrBB

    @439:
    —————————————-
    didnt we believe the earth was flat hundreds of years ago?

    This is a tired old chestnut. No, we didn’t. Some time around 400 BCE (IIRC), Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, and his figure was within 10% of the actual value. It has long been known that the Earth is round. Perhaps 4000 years ago, our ancestors assumed it to be flat, but that is different from believing it to be flat.
    —————————————-

    Ah, thank you thank you thank you. Left a window open on this thread, find myself back here, and Nigel you are once again my beamish boy! I really hate that old canard, quintessential claim of the historically lazy who think people were dumber “back then.” (Counterpart to the equally inexplicable assumption that they were incomprehensibly smarter–e.g., the Mayans, 2012, etc.). The flat-earth misconception has a lot of sources but a primary culprit for popularizing it was Washington Irving’s “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus.” Certainly the meanest illiterate rope hauler in Columbus’s crew would have known it: sailors *see* the land disappearing over the curve of the earth. The whole thing is so much bunk and my estimation of anyone who utters it drops by about 25% whenever it crops up.

    I know this is tangential to the primary topic here, but it’s symptomatic. How many people who proclaim their open-mindedness are really just covering for being intellectually lazy? Most real knowledge takes HARD WORK, and is hard won. It’s EASIER to have uninformed opinions, and just sweep up everything that comes your way without having to master the knowledge to make critical judgments. That’s why it PO’s me no end when some Van Daniken comes along and says “Geez that Mayan glyph sure looks like a guy in a space suit,” and the next thing you know the “theory” of ancient astronauts is all over the so-called History Channel, with not even a nod toward the decades of agonizing work by epigraphers like Peter Matthews who Actually Figured Out How To Read This Stuff.

    A GENUINELY open mind, as opposed to a merely LAZY one, requires judgment, hard work, and an appreciate of how difficult it is to come at a true understanding of anything.

    So thanks for fighting the good fight, Nigel. Oh, and you are hereby awarded the Order of the Trollfighter Silver Star for @447 as well.

  390. Andyo

    omg, still at this? Should we “look into” further every claim made by every kook? Maybe we should also “teach the controversy” and take thimerosal out of our telescopes.

  391. flip

    #449 DrBB

    I did some research on flat earth ‘theory’ several years ago, and found the most common reasons why people believed it where due to some Columbus references and the Bible. It’s only now occured to me that flat earth believers is more of a ‘modern’ belief, rather than an ancient one.

  392. Jessiessica

    There are on average 5 supermoons a year. According to Richard Nolle, we can expect natural disasters to occur within +/- 3 days of a supermoon, giving a 7 day window, meaning that there should be approximately 35 days in the year that the Earth is particularly susceptible to the forces of supermoons. This equates to 10% of the year. It follows that if earthquakes occur at random intervals, they would have a probability of occurring by chance within the supermoon effect window 10% of the time.

    Between 1900 and today there have been 87 earthquakes with magnitudes of 8.0 or greater. If supermoons have a real, measurable effect, we should expect more than 10% of these earthquakes to have fallen within +/- 3 days of a supermoon. In total, 6 earthquakes of 8.0 magnitude or greater have fallen within this window, which is just under 7% of all such earthquakes, and less than would be expected by pure chance.

    And for those who insist on moving the goalposts to within 1 or 2 weeks of a supermoon:

    Within +/- 1 week of a supermoon:

    Approximately 75 days of the year lie within 7 days of a supermoon. This is 21% of the year. If supermoons have a real, measurable effect on earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or greater we would expect more than 21% of them to have occurred within 7 days of a supermoon. Since 1900, 13 out of 87 earthquakes of this magnitude, or 15% have fallen within 7 days of a supermoon, which is less than we would expect by pure chance.

    Within +/- 2 weeks of a supermoon:

    Approximately 145 days of the year lie within 14 days of a supermoon. This is 40% of the year. If supermoons have a real, measurable effect on earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or greater we would expect more than 40% of them to have occurred within 14 days of a supermoon. Since 1900, 31 out of 87 earthquakes of this magnitude, or 36% have fallen within 14 days of a supermoon, which is less than we would expect by pure chance.

    So using simple calculations of data on earthquakes and supermoons from the last 110 years, we can see that earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or greater do not occur with a greater frequency within 3 days (as prescribed by Nolle), 1 week, or 2 weeks of a supermoon.

    What about the elusive EXTREME supermoon?

    No earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or greater have ever occurred within 3 or 7 days of an extreme supermoon. 1 earthquake of this magnitude (the disaster in Japan) has ever occurred within 14 days or less. Using this 1 incidence of a large-scale earthquake occurring within 8 days (not the +/-3 days that Nolle prescribed), and ignoring every single other extreme supermoon since 1900 that did not cause a large-scale earthquake is nothing but anomaly hunting or “the exception that proves the rule”.

  393. Mark Hansen

    Nigel @ 447,
    “…the universe’s most distant galaxies should exert more influence on the Earth than does the sun (your claim seems to be that gravity gets stronger with larger distance). In what universe does that make sense?…

    It makes perfect sense… on Bizzaro world!
    Htrae people wonders how so many bizzaros got to Earth. Htrae needs it’s bizzaros back! Send bizzaros back now, kthnxbai!

  394. earthquake tracker

    @nigel.. not interested in arguing, actually couldn’t be bothered to go through your comments word by word as it adds no value really, i am sorry i replied in the first instance, it was a a waste of my time.. am interested here to find out how to predict and simulate earthquakes, to see how other people think, I like jessica’s comment, that is good evidence that it could be just coincidence, though the lunar saros cycle is still worth looking into… anyway, if you have a point, please make it, if not, let’s keep our opinions to ourselves.. thanks.

  395. PayasYouStargaze

    @454 earthquake tracker: I wonder why you ignore Nigel’s points on purpose, and then ask him to make a point? Then you add to the enigma by “liking” Jessiessica’s comment, which shows that the supermoon-earthquake thing is bunk, yet you still think it is worth looking at.

    Wait it isn’t an enigma. You are a “true believer”, and won’t let go of something in the face of either reason (Nigel) or evidence (Jessiessica).

  396. Di

    Has anyone studied when the moon is at the furthest point from earth and disasters? You mention this twice in your article. Once for Indonesia and secondly Japan. Coincidence ?

  397. DrBB

    @452 Jessica:

    Data! Analysis! No fair!

  398. earthquake tracker

    @455: ??? are you nigel’s alter ego :-)
    am getting very amused at this thread….

  399. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (454) said:

    @nigel.. not interested in arguing, actually couldn’t be bothered to go through your comments word by word [… snip …] anyway, if you have a point, please make it, if not, let’s keep our opinions to ourselves.. thanks.

    Well, since you pretty much ignored what I said (and this does not surprise me – I am, after all, writing not for your benefit but for the benefit of lurkers or bystanders who might think there is merit in your comments if the flaws are not highlighted), I will prepare a digest of some of the main points (and not only those directed towards you):

    I said (380):

    We have some pretty sophisticated mathematical tools to tease out genuine correlations from multi-factorial datasets. If the moon or sun positions really did correlate with the occurrence of earthquakes, seismologists would have spotted this.

    I said (421):

    Jeff Barea (316) said:

    My objection is to everyone running around “poo-poo’ing” (pontificating, if you will) with quick assertions when it is a very nuanced situation, don’t you think?

    No, it is not a nuanced situation.

    A specific claim was made about the “supermoon” causing the Japanese earthquake. The full moon at perigee does not occur until the 19th, yet the earthquake was on the 11th. So the moon was actually closer to apogee than it was to perigee.

    Very clearly, the claim is wrong. It is also trivially easy to show that it is wrong – so easy, in fact, that the claim should never have been made in the first place. Such a claim could only come from someone who does not care about whether or not they are correct.

    I said (439):

    Earthquake tracker (428):

    i hope this can generate more general awareness on how to find solutions rather than sicentists just slamming anything nonproven unscientific.. to me that is a very unscientific attitude to not look at alternative theories in depth before terming it superstition…

    When those ideas are directly contradicted by the facts, they should quite rightly be binned.

    I said (443):

    Earthquake tracker (438) said:

    when I said being open minded, I meant one needs to investigate in depth before making a conclusion what it is and what it isn’t,

    No. Some claims are so blatantly contradicted by known facts that they do not require any additional investigation.

    Furthermore, the way science works is this: you have an idea, and form it into an hypothesis (along the way, investigating the literature to see if anyone has tried anything like this before, and to find out what pertinent information may already be available). Then you investigate it and see if it stands up against reality. Then you publish it and let the other experts have at it.

    It is the responsibility of the person making the claim to come up with sufficient data to support their claim, and to address any data that contradict their claim. What you suggest is the opposite of this.

    And so on.

    I daresay this comment is now too long for most people to bother with, but I hope anyone who does take that trouble will get the drift of things.

  400. Nigel Depledge

    @ DrBB (449) –
    :-)

  401. Nigel Depledge

    @ PayAsYourStargaze (455)-

    Yes, that appears to be the case!

    I’m glad it wasn’t just me who thought that Earthquake tracker’s comment (454) was oxymoronic.

  402. earthquake tracker

    @nigel: on this specific point, I said saros cycle but not the supermoon theory.. they are not the same though they both relate to the moon.. there are many saros cycles going back to long time ago and could correlate to different earthquakes, that has nothing to do with a specific supermoon..a specific cycle can be a trigger, and there are researchers studying this..computer power has just come about in the last two decades so it will take a while for science to catch up given more data available…

    on a general note, there is no point to criticize others and hijack a thread.. if any comment can enlighten anyone else on better understanding earthquakes, that is the point.. arrogance is not welcome even anonymously…

  403. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (461) said:

    @nigel: on this specific point, I said saros cycle but not the supermoon theory..

    You have said many things.

    Saros cycles is one of them. Most of the rest of it has been shown to be either fallacious or naively optimistic. Why should that point be any different.

    As it happens, my knowledge of saros cycles is very limited. However, my knowledge of scientists in general is less limited. If saros cycles presented a plausible possibility for predicting earthquakes, seismologists would be all over them like a swarm.

    Since I have never heard of any seismologist talking about saros cycles, I think the rest of us can safely dismiss them. This is the value of having experts.

    they are not the same though they both relate to the moon.. there are many saros cycles going back to long time ago and could correlate to different earthquakes, that has nothing to do with a specific supermoon..a specific cycle can be a trigger, and there are researchers studying this..computer power has just come about in the last two decades so it will take a while for science to catch up given more data available…

    Why should a plausible mechnism require more computing power?

    on a general note, there is no point to criticize others and hijack a thread.. if any comment can enlighten anyone else on better understanding earthquakes, that is the point.. arrogance is not welcome even anonymously…

    Actually, there is every point in criticising others’ comments. Science depends on criticism. Ideas and theories that withstand criticism are retained. Those that do not are discarded or modified. Without criticism, how can we ever know what is a good theory or a poor theory?

    I am not being arrogant. I really do know more about the process of how science happens than is shown in your comments.

    And, hey, you’re the one posting anonymously here, not me.

    However, anonymity is irrelevant. An argument stands or falls by its merits, not by who made it.

    In your case, your main argument seems to be that we should be open to ideas about how the moon might affect earthquakes, rather than dismiss these ideas rapidly. I and others have shown your argument to be fallacious. You responded with a lot of stuff that was not really relevant or whose relevance you failed to show (most of your comment 444).

    There really are some ideas that we can dismiss very rapidly, because they contradict facts that are known already. Without a huge swathe of supporting data, such ideas deserve to be dismissed. It is not the responsibility of the scientific community to investigate every wild idea that some random person posts online. For an idea to be considered seriously, it must be supported by both evidence and reasoning, and it is the responsibility of the idea’s author to provide these.

  404. DrBB

    @462

    …or to put it another way, Occam’s razor applies, particularly as in his actual writings (IIRC, it’s been a while) the closest thing of an actual statement of the principle translates as something like “Species [or entities] should not be needlessly multiplied.”

    It’s not clear that invoking these other “entities” is necessary to explain what happened on 3/11. It’s not so much that they’re implausible, but LOTS of plausible ideas never pan out. That’s science. And a weak correlation, which is the best anyone has so far been able to demonstrate, doesn’t offer significant explanatory or predictive value beyond that provided by the standard account (tectonics, subduction etc). “Hey, there’s some kinda tenuous extra correlation over here” just doesn’t get you anywhere compared to what we already know about these things.

  405. There is no wrong in correlating natural disaster to celestial events .Because only speculation leads to new theories and discoveries . Probably it isnt just gravity ?. What if the speed of approach matters or lets say the event that the moon is approaching the earth much closer on may 19 has something to do with it . Usually its 2+- weeks near a supermoon right? . What all people say here is classical gravity .But we have to consider relativity and consider the fact that Gravity is not what newton found out but only a property of the space time continum ..so how can such a property cause tides?.

    I dont find any harm in correlating data..lets do it..who knows if we may not be wrong altogether!

  406. earthquake tracker

    @nigel:
    “There really are some ideas that we can dismiss very rapidly, because they contradict facts that are known already. Without a huge swathe of supporting data, such ideas deserve to be dismissed. It is not the responsibility of the scientific community to investigate every wild idea that some random person posts online. For an idea to be considered seriously, it must be supported by both evidence and reasoning, and it is the responsibility of the idea’s author to provide these.”

    I just want to give you a bit of background that I dont follow random guy’s blog post out of the blue, just like i am here for a reason as well, and that is not to argue but to find out more.

    I have been tracking the blog I posted since the haiti earthquake, the guy didnt come out with the theory from out of the blue either, he actually followed a scientist’s theory on possibly correlation between eclipse and earthquakes, the geologist’s name is Jim Berkland, he also believes that animal behaviors can predict earthquakes. He successfully predicted the 1989 world series earthquake and the prediction was published prior to the event on a newspaper, which got him fired from the academic community. Yeah the academic community takes a while to accept fringe theories and is not happy about scientist making random predictions, I see nothing wrong with that, but I still admire the brave souls who are willing to walk the less travel paths, it might lead to a dead end, something stupid, but at least they tried.

    on another point on the correlation of celetial events and earth events, another academic has spent 2 decades testing if celetial alignment is synchronized with any earthly events. The result is a big book called ” Cosmos and Psyche”, the second published by the author, the first of which, the passion of the western mind was a textbook, though not in science. you can look them up if you are really interested in truth rather than who is right. I am not convinced about the book but at least I read it, and all i want to say is that there are people researching on the topic, and maybe they will be the ones that break new grounds, rather than people who just stick to what they already know.

    I am very happy to admit I am wrong, or I could be very wrong, but i dont understand why you cant possibly admit that there could be a small chance you are wrong, for me that is plain arrogance.

  407. TLWalter

    Perhaps it is the LACK of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth that is the factor. It has been said by MANY that the moon was nearly as far away as possible, and not just this recent event in Japan, but many past events as well.
    Let’s face it; there isn’t technology available to accurately measure the forces at hand – as with nearly ALL “science” there is a great deal of speculation and little actual hard physical evidence. The Sheldon Cooper Syndrome kicks in – “What I say is right because I said it is.” Those that THINK they are smarter than everyone else usually aren’t (in my experience).
    I work with “forces” and the release of a force can be just as great as the application of force. Take a water balloon for an example. You can manipulate the water inside the balloon any number of ways, but pop the balloon and the affect on the water is MUCH greater than anything you can do to it INSIDE the balloon.
    I’m not trying to counter your statement, nor am I interested in ANYTHING any astrologer has to say – but claiming there is absolutely no way “this” could cause “that” is foolish.

  408. Random

    It sounds like everyone is divided on their THEORIES as to whether or not the moon has an effect on natural disasters here on earth. Its probably a good thing that we are divided. If we all leaned in one direction and simply agreed that the supermoon is what caused the earthquake in Japan and that the worst is yet to come because the moon hasn’t reached perigee, there might be wide spread panic around the world.. people using the supermoon as an excuse to steal and commit crimes because the end of the world is coming. On the other hand, if the supermoon wasn’t such a hot theory, it wouldn’t lead to further exploration into the relationship between earth, moon, and sun. As for all those who are absolutely sure that the moon did or did not cause the earthquake, or at least consider the possibility that the moon may have played a role.. you’re just closed minded and ignorant. So far, there has been no absolute evidence to prove either theory to be true. And even a week from now after the supermoon will have come and gone, whether or not it results in more natural disasters, we still can’t be sure unless there’s undeniable proof. And if you’re arguing against the earthquake’s relationship to the supermoon in order to prevent anarchy, keep up the good work.

  409. DrBB

    Love all the contributions by people who haven’t bothered to read the original post or understand any of the really quite simple concepts involved, in an absolute orgy of My Opinion’s Just As Good As Some Poindexter’s Golldangit!

    But whereas that’s nothing unusual, I do think the post may be eligible for some kind of Guinness award for longest comment thread on a question of celestial alignment in which the word “szygy” does not appear.

    Oh, whoops…

  410. Jessiessica

    @ Anoop P Alias

    “What if the speed of approach matters or lets say the event that the moon is approaching the earth much closer on may 19 has something to do with it . Usually its 2+- weeks near a supermoon right?”

    Actually Richard Nolle, the inventor of the term, the hype, and the only person perpetrating this theory until the earthquake in Japan argued that supermoons could influence natural disasters within +/-3 days of occurring. What do people do when a large scale-earthquake occurs in 8 days rather than the established window?

    They move the goalposts:
    “Usually its 2+- weeks near a supermoon right?”
    Funny how that extended window was only introduced post hoc after the event so that the earthquake would be forced to fit into the theory.
    “Maybe it has something to do with the Moon being at its furthest from the Earth/the speed of the Moon approaching the Earth!”
    These arguments have been made to support the recent +/-2 window argument, but it is not backed up by the evidence. If you see my above post #452, I have already done simple calculations using all large-scale earthquakes and supermoons since 1900 that show that earthquakes do not occur at a greater frequency within +/-2 weeks of supermoons than we would expect by pure chance.

    They make special pleading arguments:
    “This is different because it’s an EXTREME supermoon!”
    …even though this is the only large-scale earthquake to occur within +/- 2 weeks of any of the 14 extreme supermoons since 1900.

    If you’re going to make changes to the supermoon “theory” at least make an attempt to skim the available data to see if your claims are backed by evidence rather than basing your argument on 1 event.

  411. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (467) said:

    I am very happy to admit I am wrong, or I could be very wrong, but i dont understand why you cant possibly admit that there could be a small chance you are wrong, for me that is plain arrogance.

    Very obviously, you are not able to admit you might be wrong, because you keep reiterating exactly the same point.

    I do not accept that I might be wrong in this instance because you have given no reason to think so, apart from “hey, you don’t know everything, you might be wrong”.

    As I have pointed out before, getting a single (or a very few) prediction(s) right (and how accurate have those predictions been? You never answered my previous questions about that) is perfectly possible by sheer luck.

    Being right by sheer luck is not science.

    Predictions have to be reliable, repeatable, and based on sound reasoning to have credibility in science. I am not a seismologist or geologist, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that if the people whose work you follow had a truly scientific method for predicting earthquakes, then the seismologists would be all over them wanting to know how it is done. You seem to be of the opinion that modern seismologists do not care about being able to predict earthquakes, but you could not be more wrong.

    However, they want a method that is both credible and reliable. Giving false alarms is not acceptable when you are talking about evacuating hundreds of thousands of people.

  412. Nigel Depledge

    @ Anoop P Alias (466) –

    You should put that in your grant application. Good luck.

  413. Nigel Depledge

    Random (469) said:

    It sounds like everyone is divided on their THEORIES as to whether or not the moon has an effect on natural disasters here on earth.

    I have not yet seen any theory about thow a supermoon can cause earthquakes, merely some wild-assed guesses and speculation that it might be responsible through some unexplored mechanism.

    OTOH, the rational side of the argument is not supporting any one theory, simply pointing out that the supermoon idea is a load of old tosh.

    If there is a link between the moon’s position and earthquakes, it is trivial beside a pile of far more significant factors.

    So far, there has been no absolute evidence to prove either theory to be true.

    This betrays a shocking ignorance of how science progresses. Absolute proof is not available. Ever. For instance, I defy you to prove that the sun will rise tomorrow.

    What is available is the existing evidence and reason. The evidence tells us that, if there is a link between the moon’s position and earthquakes, it is at most a very slight and subtle one. Reason tells us, therefore, that it is not worth investigating at least until all the other factors that trigger earthquakes are understood.

    The original post – which you appear not to have read – addressed a specific claim. The claim is unsupported by evidence. If that claim about the supermoon had – by chance – happened to be correct, it would have been by luck, not by judgement.

  414. Nigel Depledge

    @ Jessiessica (471) –
    You win the thread!

  415. DrBB

    @476. Nigel Depledge Says:
    March 18th, 2011 at 7:22 am
    >@ Jessiessica (471) –
    >You win the thread!

    Well, I have to agree. Insofar as any of the pro-supermoon commenters are capable of actually reading what is posted, which by the evidence and in some cases open admission (@454) equates to “not very,” Jessiessica’s Totally Unfair and Nasty and Rotten use of actual data and statistical analysis is an unanswerable smackdown.

    On the other hand I’m unlikely to remember many of those details a week hence, whereas I suspect the phrase “load of old tosh” is now stored in long term memory.

  416. Larry

    You say: “Think about it: if there were some connection, and it were this obvious, geologists and seismologists would be issuing warnings every perigee and every full Moon. These are people who have devoted their lives to understanding how the Earth shakes, and would be screaming their heads off if it were something as easy and obvious as the Moon. They don’t because there’s no connection.”
    Lot of faith in scientists’ integrity there. When you look at controversial topics, scientists are often worse than average at falling prey to whetting their fingers. The long history of antagonism between astronomy and astrology (I am somewhat agnostic on this, BTW, because of the huge amount of work to study it) forces many of these topics into the public sphere and that’s where we have to be very careful. Please tell me that you don’t just buy the stupid trope that scientists are for truth only. Money and political implications have huge effects on individual scientists. One thing true about scientists and 100 level courses in science is that they continuously blow their own horns about their great integrity — this alone should make us VERY skeptical.

  417. Kevin T

    I’m not disagreeing on your facts, but if “other scientists” you mentioned are so great then what happened over in Japan? Why was it not “predicted” by scientists to prevent the deaths of so many lives?

  418. jamie5

    What an arrogant writer you are! You and others of your ilk can never say anything is true with regard to your “theories” based on only the knowledge mankind has gained thus far. You don’t know all there is to know about this vast and mysterious universe. You’re playing God with these overconfident statements. Humans don’t know everything there is to know about how our earth interacts with the moon and the entire universe. It is too vast and too mysterious. Go get some humility.

  419. Jessiessica

    @jamie5

    If scientists are able to successfully sent rovers to land on and traverse the planes of Mars, and space probes to Venus that send signals back to Earth about the planet’s chemical compositions, and the Voyager space crafts that are soon to be the first man-made objects to enter interstellar space, and to not only send men to the Moon, but return them safely back to Earth, clearly humans know A LITTLE SOMETHING about the solar system, and the movements of the planetary bodies and the forces they exert.

    Astrologers and other scientists are the first to admit that they don’t know everything about the universe and our solar system, which is PRECISELY why they work towards sending these technologies into space – to expand our knowledge of the universe. What a shame it would be if mankind never utilised our intelligence to discover as much as we can about the universe and remained satisfied with not knowing because it is just “too vast and too mysterious”.

    Have some faith in your own species and the amazing things we have accomplished!

  420. icd

    do you think the apogee might also have some kind of effect? or even the balance of the lunar system? just becuase the moon is close means nothing, at all stages of the orbit the moon balances on the earth at one point or another.

  421. icd

    i would also like to add that just because the moon is far away, doesnt mean the gravity is the “least”. go back to physics 101, even the core of our galaxy is balanced with the earth. i read 480 posts and only saw 2 intelligent replies.

  422. Nigel Depledge

    Larry (478) said:

    Lot of faith in scientists’ integrity there.

    Erm … yes. I’ve never actually encountered a genuine reason to doubt scientists’ integrity, except in a very few cases where actual fraud has been perpetrated.

    Guess what happens in cases of scientific fraud? Other scientists point out inconsistencies, flaws and other indicators in the fraudulent scientist’s work. On investigation, these are found to be indicators of the fact that the scientist just made stuff up. You can fool the scientific community for a short time, but it never lasts.

    When you look at controversial topics, scientists are often worse than average at falling prey to whetting their fingers.

    That’s a dramatic claim. Do you have any evidence for it, or did you just make it up to support the fact that you don’t trust people whose work you don’t understand (or cannot be bothered to go to the effort of understanding)?

    The long history of antagonism between astronomy and astrology (I am somewhat agnostic on this, BTW, because of the huge amount of work to study it)

    Eh?

    Astrology has always been a load of tosh. It was discovered to be so perhaps 200 years ago (maybe a bit less than that).

    Astrologers keep making money off the gullible. Occasionally, astrologers get antagonistic when astronomers tell the truth about astrology, but that’s about it. Where’s this “long history” of antagonism to which you allude?

    Moreover, the fact that you profess to be “on the fence” about astrology is deeply telling. You haven’t bothered to understand the situation, and you haven’t bothered to find out what the evidence actually is (here’s a hint – every time astrology is actually tested, it is found to be hopel;ess at making predictions).

    forces many of these topics into the public sphere and that’s where we have to be very careful. Please tell me that you don’t just buy the stupid trope that scientists are for truth only. Money and political implications have huge effects on individual scientists. One thing true about scientists and 100 level courses in science is that they continuously blow their own horns about their great integrity — this alone should make us VERY skeptical.

    Actually, you’re wrong, for 3 very good reasons.

    1. A scientist must be their own most severe critic if they are to get anywhere in science.
    2. A scientist’s second-most-severe critic will be his / her closest rival (except where vested commercial interests such as Big Tobacco or Big Oil are throwing money around).
    3. Over the longer term, science in general always moves closer to the truth as dictated by reality. Any scientist who lets his or her personal agenda interfere with his / her objectivity loses any chance of lasting recognition. (For example, have you heard of Charles Darwin? Have you heard of Richard Owen? Take a guess as to which one founded the Natural History Museum).

  423. Nigel Depledge

    Kevin T (480) said:

    I’m not disagreeing on your facts, but if “other scientists” you mentioned are so great then what happened over in Japan? Why was it not “predicted” by scientists to prevent the deaths of so many lives?

    Sheesh! Talk about clueless.

    Kevin, earthquake prediction is not possible with current knowledge and technology. Anyone who claims to be able to predict earthquakes is either:
    1. Deluded;
    2. Making it up; or
    3. About to go down in history for one of the greatest discoveries in seismology.

  424. Nigel Depledge

    Jamie5 (482) said:

    What an arrogant writer you are! You and others of your ilk can never say anything is true with regard to your “theories” based on only the knowledge mankind has gained thus far. You don’t know all there is to know about this vast and mysterious universe. You’re playing God with these overconfident statements. Humans don’t know everything there is to know about how our earth interacts with the moon and the entire universe. It is too vast and too mysterious. Go get some humility.

    Just because we don’t know everything, this does not mean we know nothing.

    We know quite a lot of stuff, actually. As it happens, we know enough to dismiss the claim about the supermoon having any significance to the earthquake in Japan. We know enough to know that Nolle’s claim is empty (i.e. even if he’s right to some small extent, it is by luck, not judgement). We know enough to confidently state that, if the moon does have any infuence on earthquakes, it is trivial compared with a whole pile of other factors.

  425. Nigel Depledge

    ICD (486) said:

    i would also like to add that just because the moon is far away, doesnt mean the gravity is the “least”.

    Yes, it does.

    Every gravitational interaction decreases with distance.

  426. Larry

    Nigel,
    Interesting response.

    You say:

    1. A scientist must be their own most severe critic if they are to get anywhere in science.

    I say: Dream on, drink the Kool-Aid.

    2. A scientist’s second-most-severe critic will be his / her closest rival (except where vested commercial interests such as Big Tobacco or Big Oil are throwing money around).

    I say: or Big Government or Big Global Warning or Big Aids in the Heterosexual Community or Big Second Hand Smoke Kills or Big Global Cooling (1970s) or Big Commie Lovers or Big Organic Salmonella E-coli spreaders or … are throwing money around.

    3. Over the longer term, science in general always moves closer to the truth as dictated by reality. Any scientist who lets his or her personal agenda interfere with his / her objectivity loses any chance of lasting recognition. (For example, have you heard of Charles Darwin? Have you heard of Richard Owen? Take a guess as to which one founded the Natural History Museum).

    I say: Agreed, given enough time, GOOD science does iterate onto the correct path. Charles Darwin is not a good scientist to last over time because his work has not been supported by the evidence. Look at the fossil record yourself and see how his prediction worked there. There is almost no evidence for his theory just more theories stacked on top of his ash heap. Heard about punctuated evolution?

  427. Balazs Ulloa

    It’s a bit discontenting that I live on the California coast, and all these massive earthquakes are happening. I would hope that we’re next, and that this supermoon would not be the one that triggers te big one here. Earthquakes are happening more frequently, and supermoons ARE somewhat coincidental to them says this site: http://www.whatwillhappenin2012now.com/

  428. JimmyC

    I’ ve been scanning the sky now for some 2 hours, and no sign of ANY moon, let alone a so-called perigree moon. This is just another scam perpetrated upon us by a bunch of second-rate amature astronomers…

  429. Keanna

    I don’t think that the supermoon was the only thing that caused this major disaster. Like comeon. Japan is right in the Ring of Fire. This is an area with many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Japan is very seismically active with over 1,500 earthquakes per year.
    There is proven fact that the supermoons can be linked to natural disasters.
    All i am saying is that the supermoon could have helped with making this earthquake so deadly.

  430. Jessiessica

    @Balazs Ulloa

    That site is just reporting the “hits” and ignoring the misses. The stats show that large-scale earthquakes are no more likely to occur near supermoons than chance.

    @ JimmyC

    “This is just another scam perpetrated upon us by a bunch of second-rate amature astronomers”

    Correction, ASTROLOGERS, as in the people who perpetrate all that crap about star-signs, not astronomers who are the real scientists.

    @Keanna

    “There is proven fact that the supermoons can be linked to natural disasters.”

    That is 100% untrue. It is not proven, it is not a fact, and the evidence actually contradicts the “supermoon effect” claim. You just made that up didn’t you?

  431. Keanna

    @Jessiessica
    oh ya. because you know thats the cool thing to do. jesus. what is wrong with some people. have you done any reaserch about supermoons other than what this one person has said? Past super moons have been connected to the Indonesian earthquake in 2005, and a massive flood in Australia in 1954.
    I am not saying that this supermoon will cause a natural disaster. i am just thinking that it might have the power to make the natural disasters that we are already getting worse.

  432. Jessiessica

    @ Keanna

    Nobody is saying that supermoons are the only cause of disasters, but if they had a real, measurable effect on earthquakes we would expect that they would occur at least with a greater frequency around the time of supermoons than we would expect by chance.

    See comment #452 and you will see that I have indeed done my own research. I’m one of the few people who has actually looked at the data. Looking at all the supermoons and large-scale earthquakes since 1900 and performing simple calculations of probability, I found that such quakes did not occur with a greater frequency than we would expect by pure chance within 3 days, 1 week, or 2 weeks of supermoons. I also wrote the majority of the wikipedia page on supermoons and have had email correspondence with Richard Nolle, the inventer of the supermoon theory.

    As I said, reporting the hits and ignoring the (many) misses is merely anomaly hunting, which is misleading and certainly does not establish any causal effect or “proven facts”. You need to look at the whole spectrum of data in order to truly discover whether or not there is an effect.

    This has nothing to do with being “cool”, but objectively looking at the evidence, which always speaks for itself.

  433. Keanna

    @Jessiessica
    Well sorry there princess. I was just saying my opinion and what i had read.

  434. Rita

    newsflash people***

    there is no supermoon tonight. we got libya strike on the news instead ha. but did anyone notice the sunset was huge this evening??? i believe that in an effort to explain the phenomenally large moons we’ve witnessed (the last i saw was last month feb 19th and it only lasted for a couple hours; overly huge orange moon), someone came up w/ this supermoon bologna. i had previously googled “huge moon” and “biggest moon” and there was NOTHING. only questions and discussions from people wanting to know why the moon they witnessed was huge. now “supermoon” pops up. wonderful. the truth is nobody freakin knows. “it’s just an optical illusion…” they say. “it’s the moons perigee…” okay. sure. man wont admit they dont have all the answers but those who are wise already know that

    my prior comment is #420. nobody answered my question as to the definite date this supposed supermoon took place in 93′. if it never happened, just admit it didnt happen and that this entire thread was pointless

  435. Jessiessica

    @Keanna

    Unfortunately for you, evidence trumps opinion and childish name-calling.

  436. Keanna

    @Rita.
    that is very interesting. i guess it could just be maybe different parts of the world. But yes. in the evening, the sunset was beautiful. and when the moon first came up, it was large and orange. It may have been nothing, or however, it could have been anything, supermoon or anything else. But the good thing that came of all this supermoon talk, is that maybe a few people got together just to see the moon. i know that when i went down to the water in my town, there were many families out to see the moon and the beautiful sunset. and as bad as it sounds, for a few minuets, i dont think any of those people, including myself were thinking of how the world is changing.
    I hope i wasnt the only one to notice, but this world is changing. could be from the bloody supermoon, could be from global warming, could have been life. I dont belive that the supermoon caused the earthquake in japan. what caused this earthquake was the plates moving. I was told that now Japan is closer to america now. And anyone who has been to school or paid attention, would know that the plates are always moving. (Pangea)
    Many things in this world are still not discovered or proven. Sometimes you just have to have faith and belive that everything happends for a reason.

    And i do belive that there was a supermoon march 8 1993. but i could be wrong. i just got that off of wikipedia, and as you know, anyone can put any information on there, fact or fiction.

  437. Jessiessica

    Here’s my blog post that sums up the evidence that shows that large-scale earthquakes do not occur with a greater frequency around the times of supermoons than we would expect by pure chance:

    http://skephome.blogspot.com/2011/03/can-supermoons-effect-earthquakes.html

  438. earthquake tracker

    @495 Balazs Ulloa:
    i have been following this link for quite a link for earthquakes, it is trying to link the lunar saros cycle with change of magnetic fields and how it leads to earthquakes, usually you will also see strange animal behavior prior to a major earthquake, such as beaching of fish of disappearance of animals. They are predicting there is likely to be an earthquake in the coming week or month in California, though maybe the scale is not big, if you are interested, you can track it as well. Just follow the comments. Apparently there was beaching of dead fish at the beginning of this month, so maybe it is good to watch out in california, just for precaution, it never hurts.
    http://www.garagegames.com/community/blog/view/15946/21#comments

    On a general note, I do think with the advancement of science, we sometimes have the illusion that we are above nature, but the truth is indeed we know very little, we have made some amzing achievements, but ancient people have too, such as building the pyramids, without modern technology, they just follow a different system. We look at history and think people were primitive and maybe in the future people will look at us today and think exactly the same.

    On the note of astrology, I think people have too strong of an opinion either way without actually studying it. It is like because I already think it is superstitition because i was told or educated this way( and trust me, some ignorance can only be achieved through education), it is wrong by default. It is actually a very complex system if you do study it. I personally dont believe in the predictive power of it, but the system is also contructed following very well set-up rules and it is very complex that is bordernline both art and science. ( of course, scientists don’t like intuitives) but I am just stating as what it is.

    and it is not NEW, astrology was not discovered 200 years ago as Nigel said. Before modern science that just happened few hundred years ago, people can only look up at the skys to get some clues on seasons and what likely will happen, over the years they accumulate experience and knowledge. Astrology has existed in China and India for thousands of years. both china and india have very developed systems of astrology based on stars, elements and their relationships with each other. And even western astrology goes back to roman times at least, the bible recorded three magis discovering jesus ( magis are basically astrologers who follow the sky), of course for people who are not religious, you dont need to beleive the bible but they just don’t just make up a magi out of thin air, it means this role existed at that time of society. Astronomer and astrologer were also interchangeable roles in the old days, Kelper himself has come up with the harmonic theory, based on position of planets and it is used in astrology too. .

    I don’t want to give more merits to astrology, but I think maybe because science has changed our framework of thought so fundamentally that everything else is superstitious without further examining what they are based on. It is like saying something that is wrong, without asking the very basic question why it is wrong, what make people think a certain way??

  439. Lets say supermoon has a butterfly effect on the things . what we are all considering is one! very weak force of gravity…

    Its that what is wrong…A scientist must open himself upon to all possibilities even if conventional wisdom or current scientific knowledge tells him to believe X . thinking there could be a Y is what makes him a scientist and others ordinary :)

  440. Mark Hansen

    earthquake tracker, is English not your first language? I ask because Nigel clearly states “…Astrology has always been a load of tosh. It was discovered to be so perhaps 200 years ago (maybe a bit less than that)…“. Not astrology was discovered 200 years ago but that it was shown to be a load of tosh (garbage) 200 years ago. If English is your first language then perhaps it would be helpful if you could read what others write and not reply to what you thought they wrote.

  441. Mark Hansen

    Anoop, I agree but I think you’re not casting your net wide enough. Why couldn’t it have been caused by excessive eucalyptus leaf consumption by koalas? Every time they rip a leaf off the tree a small vibration could set up the conditions needed to trigger a catastrophic earthquake. To prevent further earthquakes we must instruct koalas to gently remove leaves. It’s a possibility…

    Okay, now we return to reality. What non-gravitational effect from the moon are you proposing?

  442. earthquake tracker

    @ mark: indeed English is my third language….

  443. earthquake tracker

    but i agree with you that i didnt read his comment carefully this time and thanks for checking…

  444. Larry

    earthquake tracker: Very interesting and nicely stated about astrology.
    The magnetic stuff and its possible relationship to birds and animals is a huge clue in all this. The earth’s core spins at a different rate than the outer crust. The moon’s and sun’s gravitational influences (earth tides, the ocean tides are really a subset of this) affect the outer layers more than the inner. Your mentioning the connection to magnetism is important because it points to a possible explanation that will link the two disparate things. The change in magnetism might very well be influenced by earth tides. Then you just throw in the tectonic fissures, Coriolis effect, pressure build up and release and the many other second and third order effects and it all makes sense. The moon’s apogee-perigee cycle is just an 18.5 year, 29.5 day sinusoidal hammer beating on this unstable amorphous kettle drum of the earth.

  445. Hannah

    Can’t read this whole thread – sorry – but I had to come in with this one.

    @65:
    “1. The single greatest force that we know of, on our earthly planet is gravity.
    2. The moon, however near or far it is (which only changes 2-4% whether it’s at its nearest or farthest), has enough gravitational affect to manipulate the single most abundant element on our planet (the ocean).”

    1. The “single greatest force” that we know of is not gravity. Jump off a building and you’ll find that rather than succumbing to gravity and continuing to fall until you reach the centre of “our earthly planet”, you’ll come to a rather abrupt halt as soon as you come into contact with the pavement below you. That’s electromagnetic force, and it kicks gravity’s ass.
    2. The ocean is not an element, and it is not the most abundant substance on our planet.

  446. Jessiessica

    Sorry, change of address to my blog…

    Here’s my blog post that sums up the evidence that shows that large-scale earthquakes do not occur with a greater frequency around the times of supermoons than we would expect by pure chance:

    http://skepticahome.blogspot.com/2011/03/can-supermoons-effect-earthquakes.html

  447. Nigel Depledge

    Larry (494) said:

    Nigel,
    Interesting response.

    You say:

    1. A scientist must be their own most severe critic if they are to get anywhere in science.

    I say: Dream on, drink the Kool-Aid.

    This is a very interesting angle. You have come up with an argument I didn’t think of, and I bow to your greater wisdom.

    Oh, wait. No, actually, you didn’t even address the point I raised. Instead of attempting to brush my argument under the rug, how about you actually answer it?

    For example, why do you consider my comment to be unrealistic? Do you have any actual real-world evidence to back up your dismissal of scientists’ collective integrity?

    2. A scientist’s second-most-severe critic will be his / her closest rival (except where vested commercial interests such as Big Tobacco or Big Oil are throwing money around).

    I say: or Big Government or Big Global Warning or Big Aids in the Heterosexual Community or Big Second Hand Smoke Kills or Big Global Cooling (1970s) or Big Commie Lovers or Big Organic Salmonella E-coli spreaders or … are throwing money around.

    Ah, I can see from this response that you are a reality-denier.

    Were you aware that this was a science blog on which you commented?

    And are you aware that the preponderance of evidence supports the reality of those issues you dismiss?

    Finally, do you have any actual evidenmce to back up your idea that the supporters of those ideas are actually throwing around large amounts of money, or that there is any real counter-evidence to suggest that the mainstream scientific consensus is erroneous?

    3. Over the longer term, science in general always moves closer to the truth as dictated by reality. Any scientist who lets his or her personal agenda interfere with his / her objectivity loses any chance of lasting recognition. (For example, have you heard of Charles Darwin? Have you heard of Richard Owen? Take a guess as to which one founded the Natural History Museum).

    I say: Agreed, given enough time, GOOD science does iterate onto the correct path. Charles Darwin is not a good scientist to last over time because his work has not been supported by the evidence.

    This is a lie.

    Look at the fossil record yourself

    I have. Have you?

    and see how his prediction worked there.

    Perfectly. This contradicts your point, so why do you bring it up?

    There is almost no evidence for his theory just more theories stacked on top of his ash heap. Heard about punctuated evolution?

    Every piece of evidence in biology (every fossil; every molecule; every anatomical feature; every behaviour) either supports evolution directly or is entirely compatable with it. Common Descent (a key component of biological evolution) is proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    I have not heard of “punctuated evolution” because there is no such thing. Perhaps you refer to the “punctuated equilibrium” idea first expounded by Niles Eldredge and Steven Jay Gould?

    You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. Equally clearly, you have never read On the Origin of Species.

    Whereof you know knot, speak not.

    IOW: Go away, troll.

  448. Nigel Depledge

    Keanna (502) said:

    @Jessiessica
    Well sorry there princess. I was just saying my opinion and what i had read.

    And your opinion was quite obviously formed from what you had read without the intervention of any thought on your part.

    Jessiessica clearly and calmly pointed out that you are wrong.

    Why are you so touchy about having been wrong about something?

  449. Nigel Depledge

    Rita (503) said:

    only questions and discussions from people wanting to know why the moon they witnessed was huge. now “supermoon” pops up. wonderful. the truth is nobody freakin knows. “it’s just an optical illusion…” they say. “it’s the moons perigee…” okay. sure. man wont admit they dont have all the answers but those who are wise already know that

    Rita, you are wrong. The “moon illusion” is a well-known and thoroughly-investigated phenomenon. The sun and moon always look big when they are near the horizon, and they always look much smaller when they are high in the sky.

    This effect far outweighs the real difference in the angular size of the moon as it moves from apogee to perigee.

    Did you read my response to your previous post? ‘cos it sure looks as if you did not.

  450. Nigel Depledge

    Keanna (505) said:

    and when the moon first came up, it was large and orange. It may have been nothing, or however, it could have been anything, supermoon or anything else.

    The full moon always looks like that just as it rises if you have a suitably low horizon.

    How many times have you watched it rise?

  451. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (507) said:

    On a general note, I do think with the advancement of science, we sometimes have the illusion that we are above nature, but the truth is indeed we know very little,

    Speak for yourself.

    Some of us actually know a hell of a lot, including enough to rapidly dismiss Nolle’s crazy claim about the supermoon.

    we have made some amzing achievements, but ancient people have too, such as building the pyramids, without modern technology, they just follow a different system.

    Yeah, they used slave labour to build the pyramids. It’s amazing what you can achieve without modern technology when you don’t care how many people die in the process.

    We look at history and think people were primitive and maybe in the future people will look at us today and think exactly the same.

    People have been clever for thousands of years. What we have available to us now is the accumulated knowledge from most of the past 2000 years (very roughly, taking the Roman Empire as the beginning of the modern historical record) as well as the same amount of cleverness.

  452. Nigel Depledge

    Earthquake tracker (512) said:

    but i agree with you that i didnt read his comment carefully this time and thanks for checking…

    And did you have any intention of apologising for misrepresenting my words?

  453. Nigel Depledge

    Larry (513) said:

    The magnetic stuff and its possible relationship to birds and animals is a huge clue in all this.

    And what makes you think that no-one has looked into this before?

  454. flip

    #507 earthquake tracker

    You don’t need any solar data to predict an earthquake in California. All you need to do is find out where the fault lines are for the tectonic plates in that region. And what do you know? California is home to a fault line.

    Dead fish also do not necessarily corellate with earthquakes, and as said upthread, animals sensing earthquakes is myth.

    The Ponzi scheme is also well-constructed. Doesn’t mean it works. Just like astrology!

    Blah blah blah the rest is argument from credulity, argument from authority, and argument from ignorance. (And repetition of points too)

  455. Nigel Depledge

    Hannah (514) said:

    1. The “single greatest force” that we know of is not gravity. Jump off a building and you’ll find that rather than succumbing to gravity and continuing to fall until you reach the centre of “our earthly planet”, you’ll come to a rather abrupt halt as soon as you come into contact with the pavement below you. That’s electromagnetic force, and it kicks gravity’s ass.

    LOL!

    And, in turn, the Strong Nuclear Force is way, way stronger than electromagnetism.

    2. The ocean is not an element, and it is not the most abundant substance on our planet.

    True. And it set me to wondering. The most abundant substance on Earth is perovskite (it’s what much of the mantle is made of). The most abundant element in the Earth’s crust is oxygen. I’m not sure what the most abundant element in the earth as a whole is.

  456. Random

    #475 Nigel

    A theory is essentially a “wild-assed guess” or speculation. You miss the point of what I mean by ‘absolute.’ I do not mean that a supermoon, or perhaps the coming of a supermoon, will ABSOLUTELY cause an earthquake. I’m referring to the effect that the moon has on the earth and on earthquakes. That’s the argument here, which you ignorantly decided to overlook. The question is, “Does the supermoon play a role on earthquakes”? Not, “Will a supermoon absolutely cause an earthquake”? And I’m not merely referring to this one instance but the history of earthquakes occurring closely to the coming of a supermoon. Nor am I saying that there IS a link between the two- simply that there is no proof of either.

    I do not need to prove that the sun will or will not rise tomorrow because it has been rising for as long as the human race has existed. That’s the truth proven by history and science. Is it absolute that the sun will rise tomorrow? No. Like you said yourself, it is chance. And there is a chance that the sun may not rise tomorrow. But is there an absolute link between the earth’s rotation and the sun rising? Yes.

  457. aron

    I guess you might be interested on this about supermoon and the prediction of a 7.0 monster that really did happened yesterday that hit Myanmar

    …we are having on the 19th of this month not only the full moon, but within an hour the closest approach of the moon to the earth until the year 2016. The next day is the equinoctial tides. So you’re bringing together three of the maximum tide raising forces. We know about the ocean tides. But there is also an Earth tide. And there is a tide in the ground water. All of these help to release sudden, built up strain, and cause earthquakes… what I call a seismic window, this top seismic window in years is developing between the 19th and 26th of this month. And this was 7.0 monster and it says geologist had warned about it. And a week earlier, the they were talking about the tides, not to worry about the really tides coming up. I think there is worry here too…

    here’s the link

    http://www.getxnews.com/2011/03/supermoon-bad-moon-rising-predictions-astrology-scientific-evidence-and-memes-of-an-imminent-monumental-global-disaster/

  458. Mark Hansen

    Random, you obviously haven’t looked up the definition of a scientific theory. No scientific theory is a “wild-assed guess”. Try en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory for a better definition than yours and what theories can and can’t do.

    The supermoon hypothesis, and that’s giving it more credit than it deserves, does not do what a theory should. It has not got a model to describe what happened other than supermoondidit, and it makes no predictions for what could happen other than supermoonwilldoit. In other words it isn’t a theory; it is wild-assed guessing.

  459. Nigel Depledge

    Random (528) said:

    #475 Nigel

    A theory is essentially a “wild-assed guess” or speculation.

    Utter rubbish.

    A theory is a logically-consistent and detailed explanation that relates multiple facts or observations to one another. A theory makes precise predictions.

    The wild-assed guesses about how the moon might influence the Earth’s tectonic activity are just that – wildly speculative guesses.

    You miss the point of what I mean by ‘absolute.’ I do not mean that a supermoon, or perhaps the coming of a supermoon, will ABSOLUTELY cause an earthquake.

    Irrelevant.

    Nolle claimed that the Japanese earthquake was caused by the supermoon. (That’s what the thread is about, remember). Your comment about many “theories” on how the moon influences the earth was not specific enough to read outside that context.

    My response to your comment is entirely appropriate.

    First, there are no real theories about how the moon might affect earthquakes – all there are are wild guesses.

    Second, if the moon does influence earthquake occurrence, it is by an amount that is trivial compared to all the other factors that influence earthquake occurrence. Otherwise there’d be a strong correlation.

    I’m referring to the effect that the moon has on the earth and on earthquakes.

    What effect?

    As far as we can tell, it is either zero, or as near to zero as makes no odds.

    That’s the argument here, which you ignorantly decided to overlook.

    Nope, I addressed that issue directly. I said: “If there is a link between the moon’s position and earthquakes, it is trivial beside a pile of far more significant factors.” (475)

    The question is, “Does the supermoon play a role on earthquakes”?

    And we already know the answer – Jessiessica has (in several comments) provided definitive data to answer that. The answer is no.

    Not, “Will a supermoon absolutely cause an earthquake”?

    But Nolle claimed that the supermoon did cause the earthquake.

    He didn’t say “it was a contributing factor”, he claimed it caused the earthquake.

    And I’m not merely referring to this one instance but the history of earthquakes occurring closely to the coming of a supermoon.

    Except the actual data show that they do not occur with any more frequency near a supermoon than otherwise.

    Nor am I saying that there IS a link between the two- simply that there is no proof of either.

    Utter nonsense. There is plenty of evidence that there is no link.

    If there were a link, one would expect earthquake frequency to increase near the time of a supermoon. It does not. The end. No correlation, no link. Move along, there’s no phenomenon to investigate.

    I do not need to prove that the sun will or will not rise tomorrow because it has been rising for as long as the human race has existed. That’s the truth proven by history and science. Is it absolute that the sun will rise tomorrow? No. Like you said yourself, it is chance.

    I said no such thing. It is the laws of physics.

    My point there was about the nature of proof. You seemed to be asking for absolute proof, but my point was that such a demand is unreasonable because it is impossible to prove absolutely an empirical proposition.

    And there is a chance that the sun may not rise tomorrow.

    No, there isn’t. At least, there isn’t unless something were to happen to the Earth that would be so dramatic we would not be here to argue about whether or not the sun is rising.

    But is there an absolute link between the earth’s rotation and the sun rising? Yes.

    And is there an absolute link between the supermoon and earthquakes? Probably not. Certainly, the evidence we have indicates that all other possible causes of earthquakes are worth prioritising for investigation ahead of the occurrence of supermoons.

  460. DrBB

    @532

    And that, if reason has anything to say about it, is that. Or would be, were it not for the awesome power of Not Reading. Not Reading can easily demolish any argument simply by refusing to take on board what has in fact been said.

    What I find intriguing in this whole thread is the fact that the anti-supermoon argument is really so simple and you wouldn’t think it was even all that controversial. “Oh, woops, wrong dates, sorry.” And even the ancillary argument–“Ok, yeah, but if the dates were right, it coulda been a contributing cause couldn’t it?”–is easily, and again you’d think, not particularly controversially answered. “Well, sure, plausible, let’s check…. hm, nope, the data just don’t show any correlation.” Why is it so hard to say “Oh, fine, that’s that, let’s go talk about something interesting”?

    To me the persistence and vehemence of the pro-S.M. advocates becomes an interesting phenomenon in itself. Basically it boils down to “You smarty pants scientists think you know so much.” I’m not a scientist, smartypants or otherwise; my training is in literature and history, and from stuff I’ve been working on I sort of get where they’re coming from. Matter of fact, this thread provides some interesting grist for that particular mill. But it is incredible to me how rigid the resistance is even among some of the posters who are clearly neither stupid nor exactly ignorant. You’d think there’d be some capacity to say, “Oh, I see what you’re getting at, guess that hypothesis didn’t work out” and leave it at that. But nope, I see virtually no such reaction. You’d think there’d be more, I dunno, persuadability about something like this. It’s just a factual question about a geo-astronomical interaction and it just is really really clear that the empirical facts don’t support the hypothesis. So what’s the big deal if it comes down on one side rather than the other? You’d think their favorite political candidate or rockstar was being attacked. What is their stake in the hypothesis? It really comes down to a remarkably pure case of “We just don’t like You People to think you know so much about stuff.”

    To quote the redoubtable First Science Officer of the Enterprise, “Fascinating.”

  461. loracie

    Actually, there was a large solar flare activity from the sun going on that week, starting about Wednesday before the Earthquake hit. It was reported that the aureola boralis could be seen as far south as Washington D.C. then. I don’t know if that had anything to do with what happened to Japan (two days later) but there was somewhat of a warning about some communications having interference, etc. However, this past weekend the moon was gorgeous and huge!

  462. Nigel Depledge

    Loracie (534) said:

    Actually, there was a large solar flare activity from the sun going on that week, starting about Wednesday before the Earthquake hit.

    Citation please?

    It was reported that the aureola boralis could be seen as far south as Washington D.C. then. I don’t know if that had anything to do with what happened to Japan (two days later) but there was somewhat of a warning about some communications having interference, etc.

    So, if you don’t know if it had anything to do with the earthquake, why mention it at all?

    However, this past weekend the moon was gorgeous and huge!

    And how often do you ever look at the moon?

    The moon always looks large near the horizon.

    Briefly, the moon illusion arises because:
    1. We do not percieve the world as it really is. What we think we see is a model created by our brains from sensory input. Many experiments of various kinds have shown this to be so.
    2. Our brain models the sky as a shallow upturned bowl, so objects in the sky near the horizon are modeled as being very distant, while objects directly overhead are assumed to be much closer. This makes a kind of sense if you consider the clouds on an overcast day – clouds overhead may be less than a kilometre away, while clouds close to the horizon may be several tens of kilometres distant.
    3. In order to accommodate the “known” distance, our brain adjusts the size at which we perceive various objects (thus, a distant object that is known to be large will be perceived as large, even if it occupies the same proportion of our field of view as a much smaller object that is much nearer).
    4. Because the moon retains essentially the same angular size in the sky all the time (OK, it varies by a few percent between apogee and perigee, but that is too small a difference for us to perceive without a direct side-by-side comparison), our brain models it differently depending on where in the sky it is. When it is high in the sky, it is assumed to be near, and therefore it is modelled as a small object, so it seems to be small. When it is near the horizon, it is assumed to be distant and so is modelled as a much larger object.
    5. You can verify this by viewing the moon through a cardboard tube. When it is near the horizon (and therfore seems to be large), it has the same angular size as when it is overhead (and therefore seems much smaller). When you look at it through a cardboard tube, you can tell that its angular size is the same no matter where in the sky it is.

  463. Nigel Depledge

    @ Dr BB (533) –
    Heh. I hope I merit a chapter! :-)

  464. Nigel Depledge

    @ Dr BB (533) –
    One further thought…

    It was an astrologer who claimed that the supermoon caused the earthquake.

    So, I guess that those people who cherish their belief in astrology need this claim to be correct, no matter what mental gymnastics one has to undertake to make it appear so.

    Perhaps the chain of belief goes something like this:
    1. Astrologer announces that supermoon caused earthquake.
    2. Smartypants scientists point out absence of correlation.
    3. Smartypants scientists don’t know everything.
    4. Therefore, there must be something the smartypants scientists have overlooked that explains the connection between the supermoon and the earthquake.

    Or something . . .

  465. Informative article, yes it is true that supermoon is noway related to japan earthquake(magaquake).

  466. I am sorry to say the Moon ALWAYS helps towards natural disasters on our planet, and this has been proven. It is also quite simple TO PROVE, just plot the course of the moon as it moves around out planet and look at all the earthquakes and eruptions in its path. It has been doing this for years. It has also recently been proved, that the gravitational pull, does indeed effect ALL planets. Just look at the sate of some of Jupiter’s moons. Anyone that says the moon does not effect us on this planet and may even cause us earthquakes needs to open their eyes. It does, it always has done and always will do. I myself even said when the even was happening we are going to have one hell of a quake and funny enough we did. We see a major difference between science and common sense, normally common sense wins, in this case looks like it has not…

  467. My brother recommended I might like this blog. He used to be entirely right. This publish actually made my day. You can not consider simply how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  468. bob

    Why do you have to bother yourself about conspiracy theory about a moon connection to the

    earthquake in japan that is not conspiracy theory here is the real thing, it is happening around

    asia, first the 1991 philippines had a Vulcano eruption and in 1992 earthquake of 7.9, and

    somewhere in 2000-2010 almost the whole Asia had a tsunami, it hit taiwan, singapore and other

    more. the latest was Japan, I tell you there will be next be Indonesia, and Singapore and

    Malaysia and Taiwan because someone is playing their toy under ground, crippling those Island or

    nation that are easy target.

  469. I got so bored in the present day afternoon, however while I watched this YouTube comical clip at this web site I turn into fresh and happy too.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More