How to predict an earthquake

Randall Munroe (of XKCD fame) relates the following story about Gerson Goldhaber “predicting” an earthquake. Check it out:

I once heard a story (originally told by Kevin Young) about Gerson Goldhaber, who was a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He was talking on the phone with another physicist at SLAC near Stanford University near the end of the day on Tuesday, October 17, 1989. The SLAC physicist suddenly interrupted with, “Gerson, I have to go! There’s a very big earthquake happening!” and then hung up. So Gerson stepped out into a group of people in the hall, made a big show of yawning and checking his watch, then said, “Aren’t we about due for an earthquake?” Before anyone could respond, the Loma Prieta earthquake reached Berkeley, and he became a legend. [link]

I’m honored to work among several world leaders in earthquake engineering and can only imagine how much they would have loved to play the Goldhaber character in this story.

And while we’re on the topic, you should go read this excellent XKCD strip about seismic waves and Twitter.

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