Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Earthquakes" Season 1 Episode 7

The episode "Earthquakes" first aired on May 7, 1977 . It was written and produced by Barbara J. Wegner.

Nimoy opens with grainy footage of an earthquake from Alaska in 1964. Nimoy explains how Earthquakes have been reported on earth as long as humans have reported anything. We have better science today and yet they can still strike without warning. There is a bit of an emphasis on the without warning part as he is talking, as if he wants us to understand this is the focus of this episode. It makes me nervous because it's starting to feel a bit like the last episode and maybe this will be another nature episode?

Nimoy discusses the famous San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The amount of damage and destruction was tremendous. Cue the shots of lava and related earthquake destruction.

Nimoy next talks about the Geology of the earth. He is basically describing "Plate Tectonics" and he implies it has only recently been discovered in 1977. Ho hum! Once again, I am reliving Junior High Science class.

Am I being harsh? Maybe! This is 1977 and my Junior High Science classes were 1986-1989. So maybe these topics were not well known when Nimoy discussed them? Either way, its a little boring here in 2015.

Now for a discussion of the San Andreas fault, Nimoy talks about how the fault is prone to activity. He even implies the fault is due for action. Predicting the Bay area quake of 1989 perhaps?

Nimoy tells us about an earthquake in the Los Angeles area in 1933. He then transitions to the science being used to detect earthquakes. He introduces us to Dr. Peter Ward who believes there are techniques that can predict a coming quake.

Finally something strange and new! Nimoy talks about the Bulge, or the sudden and moving rise of land that seems to precede some earthquakes. He references a recent bulge in the Mojave Desert. I found an online article discussing this bulge printed in 1978, but it didn't seem to lead to a significant earthquake.

Back to the Alaskan tanker in 1964 and the footage shot by sailors. It is pretty bizarre to see the water appearing to drain away. This earthquake remains the most powerful one recorded on the continent of North America. A scary scene unfolds as part of Alaska weas destroyed by the quake and the ensuing tidal wave. 114 people were killed and Valdez Harbor was destroyed.

All of a sudden Nimoy is talking about Quasars in deep space. I had to rewind this video a few times to make sure I didn't miss something.

Apparently instruments near the San Andreas fault can use signals from the quasar to measure movements in the fault area. The science behind why a signal from a quasar is the only way to do this is not discussed. Even less scientifc, Nimoy quickly moves to the strange beahvior of animals ntoiced just before quakes.

Apparently cockroaches are being studied to see how their changing behavior might predict earthquakes.

"In 1982 a rare, and perhaps, ominous event will take place in our solar system. For the first time in nearly 200 years all nine planets will form a straight line on one side of the sun." Sounds interesting, but so what? Apparently a couple of British scientists think that event will set off a bunch of serious earthquakes. Sure glad that turned out to be a pile of crap!

A lot of attention is then paid to San Francisco and we learn how vulnerable they are to an earthquake. This is another example of Nimoy's prophetic ways as he seems to be predicting the 1989 earthquake. He describes a future scenario earthquake explaining a worst case disaster scenario that is possible for the future of San Francisco. I have been to San Francisco, and I have to admit I thought a lot about the earthquake possibility while I was there. Nimoy believes this super quake is quite possible at some point. He is implying this is why we need to continue to find ways to try and predict earthquakes.

"For over four billion years earthquakes have shaken and reshaped the Earth's surface. They are a violent expression of our planet's continuing evolution."

Important stuff, no doubt! Earthquakes are dangerous and the more we know, the more likely we are to avoid death and destruction. But I'm disappointed again. What is the mystery of the world we are in search of here? Better technology? In that case, they can make a show about anything- obesity, education, gaming, etc. I want to see more of the show I remember that focused on the strange and weird stuff. Hopefully the next episode on the Mummy gets back to that.

You can watch this episode "Earthquakes" below.

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