Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This just in: Auckland is now a suburb of Sydney...

Not really. But it could happen. Read this.

For those of you who never follow instructions, here’s an excerpt:

Massive quake moves NZealand closer to Australia

WELLINGTON (AFP) – A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake last week has moved the south of New Zealand closer to Australia, scientists said Wednesday.

With the countries separated by the 2,250-kilometre-wide (1,400-mile-wide) Tasman Sea, the 30 centimetre (12 inch) closing of the gap in New Zealand won’t make much difference.

But earthquake scientist Ken Gledhill of GNS Science said the shift illustrated the huge force of the tremor, the biggest in the world so far this year.

“Basically, New Zealand just got a little bit bigger is another way to think about it,” he told AFP.

While the southwest of the South Island moved about 30 centimetres closer to Australia, the east coast of the island moved only one centimetre westwards, he said.

The biggest quake in New Zealand in 78 years caused only slight damage to buildings and property when it struck the remote southwest Fiordland region of the South Island last Thursday.

A small tsunami was generated by the earthquake, with a tide gauge on the West Coast of New Zealand recording a wave of one metre.

(end of excerpt)

So if the article is correct and the distance across the Tasman Sea is 1,400 miles and the gap was just diminished by 12 inches, I calculate that if a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurs once a year moving forward (no pun intended), the title of my post will become fact in a mere 7,392,000 years (that’s 5,280 years to move one mile -- because there are, you know, 5,280 feet in a mile -- multiplied by the 1,400 miles across the aforementioned Tasman Sea). Actually, that is wrong. Including the foot already gained by last week’s earthquake, I should have said 7,391,999 years.

I have my own theory about last week’s earthquake. I think it was caused by Kiri Te Kanawa attempting to hit an extraordinarily high note whilst rehearsing an aria.

The spelling of “metre” and “centimetre” and “kilometre” can be explained by the article’s having been originally published in a country that is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The use of the term “NZealand” in the headline is somewhat curious. My use of the word “whilst” cannot be explained at all.


  1. And, just what's wrong with "whilst?" I use the word quite often, generally whilst composing blog entries.

    Although I am aware that Australia and NZ are some distance apart, I'm always a bit surprised when I read somewhere (like here, today) how really far apart they are. About the distance between me and Bangor, ME.

  2. I overshot the distance. Should be the distance between myself and Boston MA. Should have looked it up on MapQuest first.

  3. Pat - There's nothing at all wrong with "whilst" if you're from the U.K. or Canada or Australia or New Zealand or South Africa, where British words and spelling pronunciation hold sway, but here in the good old U. S. of A. it seems a little strange, somehow, even if one is a good Episcopalian, and I happen to know that one of us is a good Episcopalian.

    Your trivia fact for the day is that until 1820, Bangor, Maine, was Bangor, Massachusetts.

  4. Thanks for the explanation re: whilst. Guess I've read too many British mystery stories. I shall probably continue to use the word, at least whilst I'm still on this side of The Great Divide.:)

    Bangor, MA?? My history is really dusty!

  5. Pat - From the Wikipedia article on Maine comes this: "Maine was an exclave of Massachusetts until 1820, when as a result of the growing population, it became the 23rd state on March 15 under the Missouri Compromise."

    Oh, and happy reading!

  6. again with the wit. :-)

    thank you once more for filling us with envy. :-)


  7. bARE-eYED-sUN - The check is in the mail.