Tuesday, August 23, 2011

shake rattle and roll

A 5.8-magnitude quake struck the East Coast today. It was the largest quake on the eastern seaboard in over 100 years and was felt in 22 states. The quake hit sometime between 1:30 and 2:00pm while I was on my way to the doctor's office, so I didn't feel a thing. But within a minute all of New York was in a tizzy. The waiting room in the doctor's office was abuzz with the news.

As soon as I got out of there I headed over to PCV to make sure no little babies had been thrown from their nests by the trembler. Everything was calm and still by the time I arrived-- all present and accounted for. Just another beautiful August afternoon.

The National Zoo in Washington issued a press release about the unusual behavior of the birds and animals shortly before the earthquake.


Many animals reacted: apes climbed to tops of trees, lions stood still, lemurs sounded an alarm.  A giant elephant shrew hid in his habitat and refused to come out for his regular feeding. All the Eld's deer ran out of their barns and remained huddled in the pasture nearest the keeper.  Wild beavers and ducks immediately took to the water. Flamingos huddled together. Snakes normally still during daylight hours were writhing around. I wish I could have been at the National Zoo!

Barring that, at least I wish I could have been at PCV to observe what the squirrels were doing.  I was almost there -- I was walking through just minutes before what must have been a scene even more dramatic than what goes on when Riley the Cat passes through.

I spoke with a lady named Helen who was sitting on a bench by the east flagpole when the earthquake hit. She said that she never felt a thing, as she was outside, but she noticed that all the squirrels were suddenly acting crazy, running around and around in circles. She thought something was up, and shortly afterwards people came streaming out of her building and told her about the quake.

Nobody knows why the animals should be sensitive to impending earthquakes. One explanation is that these creatures are so highly tuned into their environment because they live in a multi-dimensional world, whereas we humans are one-dimensional. They say a great ape lives in a multidimensional world as it climbs through trees and branches, and so experiences events differently.  The same could be said of squirrels!

Later that evening I learned that nuclear experts had previously expressed concern about the effect of a quake with a magnitude of 6.0 on old nuclear power plants. It fell short of that, but 5.8 was too close for comfort. We need to close Indian Point now!

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