PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Quakes shake up, spin time

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Have you heard?
Thanks to the massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile, I may live longer than I would have. You, too.
Well, in days, so the story goes.
Here’s the deal: The earthquake may have changed the entire Earth’s rotation and shortened the length of days on our planet, a NASA scientist says.
Richard Gross, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., says the seventh strongest earthquake in recorded history should have shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.25 milliseconds.
More impressive, he said, was that the quake shifted the Earth’s “figure” axis by about 3 inches.
This “figure” axis is the axis around which the Earth’s mass is balanced. It’s not the same as the north-south axis, which it spins around once every day at about 1,000 mph. This kind of thing apparently happens with big earthquakes.
My figure axis has been shifting for years, but that’s another story.
Even though the Chile earthquake was much smaller than, say, the 2004 9.1 Sumatran quake, which shortened Earth’s days by 6.8 microseconds, the Chile shocker’s effect is larger because its epicenter was in the Earth’s mid-latitudes rather than near the equator like the Sumatran one.
Huh?
That means the Chilean quake becomes more effective at moving the Earth’s mass vertically, thus more effective in shifting the Earth’s axis.
Actually, earthquakes can speed up the Earth’s rotation or they can slow them down, depending on how they redistribute mass around the axis, researcher Gross says.
And so, this Chile one may have put more “days” on my own clock, but another may come along and rebalance things.
Guess that’s just not something I’ll spend much time worrying about.
Which reminds me of another non-worry: whether I’ll watch the new season of “Dancing With the Stars.”
It looks like reality mom Kate Gosselin will be one of the celebrity dancers, even though she has said she’s somewhat challenged in that regard.
How the manipulator of eight children is going to find time to perfect her dance moves is a question that will answer itself, I guess, but you can figure she won’t be inviting ex-hubby Jon to pick up the slack. Not that he’d come over anyway.
Reports say she’s going to prepare her dance routines in Pennsylvania, near her home, instead of the usual West Coast rehearsal studios – a concession by the show’s producers because they think she’ll be a ratings bonanza.
Guess they will get along without me.
As for a bonanza, bring on Hoss, Adam and Little Joe. I’ll take their re-runs any day over shades of “Kate Plus 8.”

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com. Read Patsy’s blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com or her posts on Twitter and Facebook.