Thursday, December 26, 2013

Decimals REALLY Are Important

On Christmas morning my email contained the following alarming earthquake alert:

I did a double take, shook my head, checked to see if it was April 1st but sure enough the email alert coming from the USGS centre was reporting a massive earthquake in Montana. Remembering the devastation of the 9.2 quake in Alaska in the 60's I could only hope this event occurred inland and far from populated centres.

I clicked the link in the email for current updates and further information and this was the report on the USGS official website

I have to presume the author of the email wasn't paying attention to decimal placement, or was perhaps in a hurry to get home for Christmas.

Clearly had anyone taken a second look they would not have let the email advisory stand as a 22.0 magnitude quake would likely mean the continent of North America would disappear. On the other hand an event rating 2.2 might be the equivalent of a small prairie dog colony having some gastrointestinal distress.


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