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Scientific potato chips

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

New Zealanders will be the first to know, Camping said. At 6 p.m. their time – 11 p.m. Friday in the Bay Area – a great earthquake will shake the island asunder, triggering an apocalypse that rolls relentlessly our way.

“It will continue across the Earth at such a rate,” Camping said, “every Richter scale in the world and every news organization in the world will have no doubt – Judgment Day is here.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/18/MN1N1JFUB4.DTL#ixzz1Mv94YmH9

Apparently my scientific education has been deficient. What exactly does a Richter scale look like? And who knew there were lots of them?

I know, making fun of Camping’s science is like… well, too easy to even have a good analogy. But I can’t stop doing it! Like eating potato chips!


  1. Janiece says:

    You used “Camping” and “science” in the same sentence, and now my head has exploded all over my monitor.

    Now I’m going to miss the ‘pocalypse, darnit.

  2. Sarah says:


    So it’s okay.

    Here, have a potato chip.

  3. Nathan says:

    Camping is to science what Pringles are to potato chips. Won’t somebody please think of the poor potato chips?

  4. Sarah says:

    Nathan, I don’t think you take your comparison nearly far enough.

    Let me fix it for you: Camping is to science what the vaguely potato-shaped rock three fields over is to potato chips.

  5. Eric says:

    I’m a little surprised that you’re a science-doing person and you’re unfamiliar with what a Richter scale looks like, but I’ll do my best. Okay, first of all, imagine an enormous piece of pillaged aluminum, roughly eighty feet in length and shaped like an inverted pyramid that’s point-first in the ground. Wasn’t that fun? That isn’t a Richter scale, though. A Richter scale actually consists of a set of polished marbles, about half of them made of glass and slightly more made of dirty bits of mateo, like flaky rusted iron. These are gathered in an enormous metal crane resembling a there-fingered hand, which in turn is connected to a two-inch-long flagariaoptomicopon with a seven-inch focal length and a bent flange which is sometimes capped in leather. Beneath this are suspended two asynchronous Tesla coils and a piece of non-ferrous rock that is shaped sort of like a lemon but not really–you’d know what I meant soon as you saw one. This is controlled by two rods, a gearshift like one in a Ferrari roadster, and a large winch or wheel that requires at least two people to turn. The entire device is usually drawn by giraffes if they’ re available, since giraffes’ natural balance usually manages the Richter scale’s single large ball bearing that it’s moved around on much better than horses or camels. On top of the entire device is a kind of ceremonial hut with a fringed roof for the Chief Scientist, with a large veranda or sometimes a gazebo for his many wives. When it’s time to measure a Richter, the Chief Scientist bangs his sceptre against a large brass going and screams, “HOI! HOI! HOI!” and all of the scientists the Chief Scientist has captured in battle begin lighting the boilers, spinning the windle-bobs, churning the levers, running the treadmill, flogging the wild foxelbeast who’s terrible curses will summon the vile Richter, and generally operating the machine. I hear it’s a spectacular sight, but I’ve only read about it in National Geographic. I’m surprised, however, that you’re unfamiliar with it. I imagine I’m leaving something out, but I’m sure that description is close enough to convey the general idea.

  6. Eric says:

    The autospell on my tablet is awesome: it corrected some words I didn’t even know were wrong, and corrected them correctly.

  7. Eric says:

    (Except for “who’s” for “whose”, of course.)