NB: This has been moved to the top to provide a bit of perspective on yesterday’s Mb 8.9 earthquake in Japan.
What with earthquakes, volcanoes, and other sorts of mayhem going on, it seems a good time to provide a little perspective. Every natural disaster provides energy , as do our daily activities. But how much? Here is a chart comparing the energy of several common things and the amount of energy used by a typical home:
|Source||TNT Equivalent||Energy produced (J)||Household use|
|Running a marathon (26.2 miles)||2.6 kg||1.07E+07||1 house for 2.4 hours|
|Lightning bolt||67 kg||5.00E+09||1 house for 46 days|
|US Household annual use||1/2 kT||3.96E+10||1 house for 1 year|
|Magnitude 4 earthquake||1 kT||6.31E+10||1 house for 1.6 years|
|Little Boy||18 kT||7.50E+13||1,395 houses 1 year|
|Fat Man||21 kT||8.80E+13||2,222 houses 1 year|
|Magnitude 6 earthquake||1e3 kT||4.17E+15||66,086 houses 1 year|
|Mt St Helens eruption||24 MT||1.00E+18||US for two weeks|
|US Energy production||611 MT||2.54E+19||US for one year|
|Yellowstone eruption||6 GT||4.50E+21||US for 177 years|
|Magnitude 9.0 earthquake Chile||320 GT||1.33E+23||US for 5,236 years|
|Sun’s output for one minute||30,900 GT||2.32E+28||US for 900,000,000 years|
 One of my advisors was fond of telling people who made atomic bombs [a] that they should not be so proud of the technological terror that they had created, as it paled beside the power of the force.
[a] Geophysicists are very popular in the atomic bomb testing business, as we can tell the physicists how much energy was released and locate explosions all over the world.