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Earthquake Scare

Science brain teasers require understanding of the physical or biological world and the laws that govern it.


Puzzle ID:#27826
Fun:*** (2.64)
Difficulty:** (1.22)
Submitted By:metallicman*us***
Corrected By:AwwwSweet




Recently Fred hasn't been getting much attention because Liz, his sister, just received a medal for the spelling bee. To get attention one day, he came into the living room and said, "There was an earthquake at school today during recess and everybody felt it! It was amazing!" His mom, who didn't know too much about science asked if he knew how strong it was. He told her they went to a seismology research center as a last minute field trip (because of the earthquake) and found out it was a 2.0 on the Richter Scale. Without turning his head, his dad said it was a lie and kept on doing what he was doing. How did he know it was a lie?


An earthquake that weak wouldn't be felt outside or inside a building. It is too weak to even damage things. If Fred would have known there was an earthquake, he would have had to have learned it after the fact because the quake was too weak.

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Jan 02, 2006

Great teaser tinman! I enjoyed this one.
Jan 02, 2006

Do you have to laugh at me?
Jan 02, 2006

That was good but I found it pretty easy i liked it though
Jan 02, 2006

I thought maybe his dad ran the research center and knew that they hadn't visited.
Jan 02, 2006

Good one!! Pretty EZ but I liked it! Nice job!
May 21, 2006

Crafty Nice job!
Jul 16, 2007

I liked this teaser, keep up the good work metallicman. I would like to add a bit more science background to the answer. The Richter scale is a (base 10) logarithmic scale which means every time you go up 1 in value on the scale the amount of earth movement is increased 10 times (which corresponds to about 32 times more energy being released). For example a earthquake measuring 2.0 is 10 times worse then one measuring 1.0 and an earthquake measuring 3.0 is 100 times worse than one measuring 1.0. In general an earthquake measuring less than 2.0 is not felt and Wikipedia states that there are about 8,000 of these per day! An earthquake measuring from 3.0 to 3.9 is often felt but rarely causes damage. On the other end of the scale massive earthquakes in the range of 9.0 to 9.9 happen only about once every 20 years and cause devastation to areas several thousand miles across. Remember an earthquake measuring 9.0 moves the earth a million times more than an earthquake measuring 3.0 and so presumably releases just over a billion times more energy (32 to the power of 6). An earthquake measuring more than 10 has never been known but it would have about the same effect as a meteorite that was 20km (12.4miles) across hitting the earth at a speed of 25km per second (56000mph) or the same amount of energy as released by 1,000,000,000,000 tons (a teraton) of TNT Incidentally a earthquake can measure 0.0 (or less) and still be measured. This is because a logarithmic scale is a ratio of one thing to another and not an absolute measurement. Anything to the power of 0 is 1. A measurement of 0.0 was originally defined to be a horizontal displacement of 1 micrometre on a seismogram recorded using a Wood-Anderson torsion seismometer.
Aug 21, 2009

Knowing nothing about the Richter Scale I thought 2.0 would have been so strong that the parents must have felt it too...
Feb 01, 2012

I also know nothing about the richter scale and thought maybe 2.0 was strong and the parents would've also felt it.

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