Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where Were You When the Earth Moved?

As many of you are probably hearing (or have even experienced it), there was an earthquake registered at 5.9 that hit the Virginia area today in mid-afternoon.

I was busy (as I have been for the past days) working on my lectures for my Transportation & Logistics course that I will be teaching this Fall at the Isenberg School. This is one of my absolutely favorite courses to teach and, given all the news in this sector, I was enjoying incorporating new material into my lectures and course handouts.

Some of the materials included facts about recent disasters since I am very interested in transportation and critical infrastructure network robustness and resiliency.

Then, I felt my chair "moving" and I thought, at first, that maybe it was just electric signals pulsing through my body since I had been typing and editing lectures since 4AM this morning (OK, with one break for lunch and another one for a long walk, since I do some of my best thinking while moving). I thought that my muscles were just suffering from typing fatigue.

I felt somewhat unsettled and actually needed to stretch, so I went out for another walk only to be told by a colleague of mine, Professor Don De Groot, who is a Professor of Civil Engineering and an expert on structures, who happened to be bicycling by, of the big news -- that the Washington DC area had been hit by an earthquake! The tremors had even reached Massachusetts.

According to The Washington Post, the White House, the Pentagon, and Union Station shook and had to be evacuated!

Amazing that it could be felt all the way in Amherst, Massachusetts! I wonder whether President Obama and his family felt the tremors on the Vineyard in eastern Massachusetts, where they are now vacationing.

I have been to Japan several times to speak at conferences and there I got used to my hotel bed moving at night from minor quakes.

With the tornado that hit Massachusetts on June 1, 2011
, the summer has certainly given us some unusual experiences.

In 2011, there have been nine $1 billion weather disasters in the US.