# Ken Ring’s predictions – what happens on March 20th doesn’t matter

By Grant Jacobs 07/03/2011 59

Some ‘scientific commonsense’ to clarify a few misunderstandings that seem to have arisen since John Campbell’s interview with astrologer Ken Ring.

(If you came here looking for my ’continuously updated’ comments on the 2011 earthquakes the aftershocks go here – older comments are appended to this post.)

I am writing this in response to commentary I have seen since John Campbell’s interview of astrologer Ken Ring and the articles by my colleagues. It’s now very late in the act I know, but I hope these clarifications might still be of help for a few readers and provide a (partial) round-up of sorts.

We’ll see what happens on March 20th

On a number of forums I’m seen people writing ‘wait for March 20th’ or the like as if this were the arbiter of if Ken Ring is right or not.

What happens on March 20th will not determine if his method works.

What matters is if the ‘predictions’ are meaningful and if he is able to reliably predict earthquakes.

You can test if Ken Ring’s ‘predictions’ are not worthy of the word prediction before March 20th by comparing them with what you’d get by ‘dumb luck’ using the typical rate earthquakes occur.

Let’s leave aside the (lack of) plausibility of his methods and that he makes multiple predictions–as vital as these are to judging a method*–and look at the prediction he made for March 20th. (David has covered this.)

You don’t need to be a geologist or use ‘real maths’ to see this prediction is not meaningful. (I’m not a geologist by the way.)

On a colleague’s blog Ken Ring softened his March 20th prediction to a magnitude 4 to 6 earthquake within 500km of Christchurch:

I do not hold that 20 March WILL bring a severe earthquake to Canterbury, but an extreme weather event is possible that day worldwide, and an earthquake within 500kms of the Alpine Fault is a risk on that date. More likely to be a 4-6mag.

Let’s also overlook the vagueness of this prediction and the weather ‘prediction’ too.**

New Zealand gets roughly 333 magnitude 4 or greater earthquakes a year. This makes ‘predicting’ a magnitude 4 to 6 earthquake on any one day somewhere in New Zealand pretty much meaningless.

In addition to that, there will be aftershocks near Christchurch following the February 22nd earthquake, including a M=4.8 late last week. GeoNet has a guideline forecast of these aftershocks, scroll down past the map to the bottom of the table.

The ‘prediction’ isn’t meaningful because the chance of it happening ‘by dumb luck’ is too high.

Similarly, if Ken Ring makes multiple ‘predictions’ in a way that covers most outcomes, then the predictions wouldn’t be meaningful either. David and Alison’s articles cover this well.

The key point I wish to add to what they have written is that whatever happens on March 20th is not really very important. What is important is how meaningful the predictions are, and their accuracy. (Once you have predictions that are meaningful you still need to test if they are accurate enough to be useful.) These are essentially the key points David and Alison were making.

This research area has been dismissed by scientists 100 years ago

Quite a few people have said that scientist in the interview by John Campbell said that how the moon might affect earthquakes was last studied 100 years ago, and not since.

What he actually said, but perhaps didn’t make clear enough for many viewers, was that the classic studies of the effect of the moon on earthquakes were done over a hundred years ago, and then went on to summarise the current understanding from more recent work. There is more recent work relevant to this. He didn’t say this explicitly; it was left implied in his description of the current understanding.

It seems an innocent enough misunderstanding and just a bit unfortunate. Unfortunately, too, the internet and gossip is good at spreading these sorts of misunderstandings.

A few days ago posted a Radio Wammo interview of an author of a research paper published in 2004 investigating possible effects of large tides on earthquakes. (Large tides are of course associated with close points in the lunar cycle.)

Ken Ring predicted the February 22nd earthquake

This has already been covered by my colleague, Alison Campbell, so I’ll keep this brief. Ken Ring claimed ’Over the next 10 days a 7+ earthquake somewhere is very likely.’ Not New Zealand or Canterbury, but anywhere on earth. No magnitude 7 or greater earthquake anywhere occurred during that time. Simply put, his prediction failed.

He picked Christchurch’s lesser magnitude 6.3 as ‘success’ after the fact.

Good prediction does work not by picking ‘second-best’ results after the fact. You design the experiment, and the ‘rules’ it works under, before you start and you stick to them.

(There was also a magnitude 6.6 south of Fiji during his prediction period. I haven’t seen him mention this despite that it occurred before the lesser magnitude 6.3 earthquake at Christchurch so he should have been aware of it at the time of calling the 6.3 ‘success’.)

Interview tidbit

One of the things I wrote in my notes while listening to the interview ‘live’ was:

Ring: “Quakes that scare people the most”

I thought it very telling that Ken Ring let slip that his target was the scared, rather than the vulnerable. It is a shame that John Campbell hadn’t picked up on Ring’s Freudian slip.

Convincing people that his predictions work

In a Science Media Centre Alert, scientists Matt Gertenberger and David Rhoades offered this website as a service that Ken Ring might use to have his method tested. (A copy of this report can be found at WeatherWatch with comments from others, including Ken Ring.)

If Ken Ring is genuinely sincere about his predictions, he ought to publish his methodology and have them tested by the scientific community. The correct ‘media’ for resolving scientific matters is ultimately the scientific literature, not TV or radio.

Follow-ons

17th March, 7:50pm: I’ve written an update in the comments; see the second comment, below. You may also wish to read the press conference about the science behind the earthquake.

20th March: Gareth Renowden, who knows of Ring well from his weather ‘predictions’, has added his thoughts. (For comments you’ll need to read his original site.) It’s interesting to learn from Gareth’s article that the revised ‘prediction’ I present in the second comment of the comments below is in fact itself a weakened revision of an earlier ‘prediction’ that specifically gives a location for the epicentre (‘some geographical point between Hanmer and Amberley’) that he subsequently removed. (Compare the prediction for March19-21 I quote and the one Gareth quotes.)

Footnotes

One way to get an anecdotal (that is, non-scientific) feel for how often magnitude 4 or greater earthquakes occurs in New Zealand is follow GeoNet’s @geonet_above4 twitter stream.

* You can’t ignore these really, but even putting these aside his ‘prediction’ is meaningless.

** I strongly suspect that if you were to look up the frequency of severe weather events worldwide, this ‘prediction’ suffers exactly the same problem as his earthquake prediction. Those with more time and with an interest in weather can fill that one in. Note how he doesn’t give the likelihood that these things will occur only a vague ‘probable’ (how probable?) or ‘at risk’ (to what extent?).

*** Here I’m trying to deal with that Ken Ring’s ‘predictions’ are vague and prone to ‘re-interpreting’ after the fact, just as he did for the February 22nd earthquake.

More on Code for Life:

Mapping connections in the brain

Printing a human kidney

Finding platypus venom

Autism — looking for parent-of-origin effects

Coiling bacterial DNA

More on Code for Life about the February 22nd 2011 Lyytelton earthquake (updated 17-April-2011 to include a few written since this article):

Christchurch/Lyttelton Feb 22nd 2011 earthquake – questions and answers

Ken Ring & March 20th – let’s get back to science

Christchurch (Lyttelton) earthquake ground movement captured by satellite imagery

High tides and earthquakes — an interview (This also contains a list of the articles on sciblogs.co.nz on ‘the Ken Ring fiasco’, if we can call it that.)

Liquefaction in a barrow

Lyttelton earthquake peak ground acceleration

6.3 earthquake in Christchurch

### 59 Responses to “Ken Ring’s predictions – what happens on March 20th doesn’t matter”

• I suspect that in statistical terms, sales of Justin Beiber songs/albums would be just as accurate a prediction tool for quakes as Ring’s moon method.

Except of course, the scientific link between Justin Beiber’s popularity and earthquake frequency is based on more robust science innocent whistle

• Ken Ring has widened his “prediction” for March 20th even further, as if it werenâ€™t soft enough to dumb luck out on already:

http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=339

First he contradicts his “prediction” from last year that earthquakes in Christchurch would peter out after November:-

“We think this recent earthquake sequence has a timeline. It started last September and should finish after April. By June, the earthquake frequency in the region should be moving back to its normal non-threatening pattern.”

then, after some “stuff” (presumably trying to make it look credible), he widens his “prediction” from one day (the 20th) to three and drops any mention of a particular magnitude and even says “at any depth”:-

“19-21 March
The Alpine Fault itself seems to be fairly inactive at the moment. However, as we have said, it could be anywhere in NZ, or it may not even happen at all. Whilst the timing can be calculated, there are many wild cards. One is always the depth, even if one was to arrive on time.”

It could happen, but then it could not; no predicting happening here!

This, surely, is going beyond a “prediction” that would likely occur anyway based on typical odds to nothing at all.

And, honestly, how can this not be trying to play on people’s fears whilst at the same time making a disingenuous excuse for his not mentioning it earlier? :-

“The interval has roughly the same potency as the February full moon period of 18th-25th. It does not mean a similar sized 6.3-mag will necessarily occur, but it does mean the killer is still loose on the streets, the one that strikes on full moons. We have not mentioned this date thus far in consideration of those traumatised even considering 19-21 March.”

“the killer is still loose on the streets” and not trying to play on fears?

I could go onâ€”there even holes in this for an essay-length deconstructionâ€”but you get the drift.

• Errp. ‘there are enough’ for ‘there are even’ in the final sentence!

• Falafulu Fisi says:

Ring said…
We think this recent earthquake sequence has a timeline.

Grant, I said on the other thread, that Ken has got a hunch about the time-line and his proponents think that Ken has a theory, which he doesn’t. A hunch about some future events is not a theory. It is madness.

• FF,

Furthermore, it’s an odd sort of hunch to say nothing will happen then later propose a string of things will happen. The cynical part of me sees him (in part – large part?) just echoing what he reads from his fansâ€™ “concerns” (read: fears).

I haven’t been reading the other threads much as I’m a bit short on time.

• […] try an interactive involvement and encourage those uncertain aboutÂ Ken Ringâ€™s earthquake â€œpredictionsâ€ to look more closely at his claims on his Facebook page. (Be warned, though, that this Facebook […]

• Ralph Williams says:

Say what you like about Ken Ring and his idiotic predictions . As far as I am concerned he’s just too close for comfort. We have just seen the complete devastation which has occurred in Japan . The biggest quake event in recent history . I suppose we’re to assume that this is one of those one off incidents..
Keep up the good work Mr Ring! I and a hell of a lot of others are listening
Ralph Williams .

• Ralph,

Ken didnâ€™t make any prediction “forecasting” the Japanese earthquake from what I understand.

• carol says:

Ralph, I don’t think Mr Ring claims to have forecast yesterday’s earthquake off the coast of Japan.
If you look on this page from Mr Ring’s website, it shows a chart of astronomical events (phase of the moon, perigee etc) for the months of Sept 10 through to April11, together with various quakes that he claims to be related to lunar phenomena. You will immediately notice that he only shows selected earthquakes – you might wonder why. Ah, but he has an explanation – “The table does not include the hundreds of smaller quakes that occur between king tides. Smaller events that come within a day or so may be considered aftershocks, as waves may be after a large tide. But larger shakes that happen a month later may be considered as new events.” Well, how’s that for circular logic? Just show the quakes that happen during king tides, explain away the others in between as ‘aftershocks’, and then claim that quakes are correlated with king tides. Amazing.

http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=340&type=home

Anyway, my point is that his predictive chart spectacularly fails to predict the magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan – it falls in a window between king tides.

It’ll be fascinating to see what new celestial phenomena he can invoke to explain this one.

• paulla says:

I think we should believe in God, not a leaf falls from the tree without the permission of our lord god, but if Ken has studied over the moon she must know something that involves the earthquake, and I live in the region of Blenheim and mourlborogh say it here would be one of the cities that would strike an earthquake in March of dastar 19/20/21 and we are concerned because many already live here in New Zealand for 8 years I am Brazilian my family is worried that those events to happen, the more I I believe in God as dexar in the hands of our lord our life … And what I have to say Ken and thanks for letting us know this.

• For those trying to access the links to the predictweather website articles offered in the comments, you may find the you are directed to the top page.

If this happens, try again. (His website has some odd issues with link redirection occurring at his end.)

• Carol,

I donâ€™t think he made a â€œpredictionâ€ for the Japanese magnitude 9.0 earthquake either. I did see him offer a reply on his Facebook page to a couple of his followers asking about it. He did not claim to have predicted it, so I think it’s fair to say that he would acknowledge that he didn’t himself – in contrast to what Ralph implies. (He pointed to a â€œlunar pulseâ€ as if this implied it was consistent with his forecasts. Itâ€™s that fitting-it-after-the-fact thing again.)

I think one complication here is that followers have said things that Ken Ring hasn’t. A sort-of internet version of â€˜Chinese whispersâ€™ seems to be playing out. (Nothing racists in my using this; itâ€™s just the name of childhood game of passing whispers around in a circle. it might be known by other names elsewhere.)

It seems to me that a good number of people saying that Ring has â€œpredictedâ€ something for March 20th are unaware of what he has actually claimed, as I outlined in my first comment above, five says ago. (The second comment in the thread.) The same seems true of other â€œclaimsâ€.

While I’m writing, Ken Ring has since deleted all comments from his Facebook page, as far as I can tell. (I’m not overly familiar with Facebook and I have to admit itâ€™s user interface feels quirky and poorly thought-out to me.)

His new Predict Weather Facebook page has now gone behind closed doors – only those who register can access it. It now features a prominent â€˜Request to joinâ€™ at the top of the page.

• Ralph Williams says:

QED!!

I hope, and Mr Ring also hopes he’s wrong..

Roll on the 20th and perhaps we can all go back to sleep.

• Paulla – Iâ€™ve deleted the multiples of your attempts to post the same comment.

• carol says:

Do you think Paulla is randomly generated?She may as well be.

• Carol, I gave it the benefit of the doubt; the way I see it, itâ€™s not going to do a lot of harm either way.

• Iâ€™ve just updated the article referred to my previous comment to include a link to a transcript of Peter Gluckmanâ€™s introductory speech, which features a discussion of understanding probability, risk and hazards – relevant to this topic.

• hey Grant: after watching the video twice, i’m pretty sure the implied classic work on earthquakes didn’t exactly come through clearly at all. glad you said something. it is really hard to clarify absolutely everything for everybody in these interviews – even as good as this one was in the circumstances. (i didn’t get the idea that there wasn’t anything studied for 100 years, though)

yeah, unfortunately, i think it will matter to more people than we’d like whether Ken’s predictions were right – even if they were so vague as to pick 2hundred some days out of the year for a big one. you know as well as i do that if there is one, he’ll be a hero to many people – that it will have been dumb luck will not matter a whit to them, even as his methodology has been entirely suspect. I’m hoping that even if there is one, there’ll be more sane people than not saying he still didn’t predict it. *sigh* what an uphill battle.

• eviltwit,

It strikes me as one of those things where if you know the general pattern science works on, youâ€™d get it, but if you didnâ€™t it wouldnâ€™t be clear.

*sigh* what an uphill battle

Personally, I tend to try not to worry too much about those that have bought into the particular pseudo-science in question completelyâ€”be it anti-vaccine nonsense, creationist anti-evolution preachings, or whateverâ€”and try think of those who arenâ€™t sure either way. As you say, it can be very hard to get those who have a mindset about something to look at the different possibilities.

(Updated to correct errors.)

• “try think of those who arenâ€™t sure either way”

definitely a more cheery thought:)

• Darren Picton says:

I do believe that Ken Ring’s theory is on the right track but i think that predicting where these earthquakes are gonna happen. WRONG. I think people have the right to believe in his theories because if he didnt say anything at all and kept it to himself and there is a quake near that date and your prepared and safe then you’ll be thanking him. If his theories are wrong then oh well he is wrong . Who else is out there giving their theories ? So we will see what happens but we should all be prepared wherever we may be . Take care all and God bless.

• Ralph Williams says:

[Ralph, Could you direct comments at the website, not reply to the RSS stream – these blogs don’t take email comments. I’ve copied you comment below]

“Hey Guys ! ( and Girls )

Just what the hell is wrong with coming out with a warning based on some observations?

I am certainly not a scientist and donâ€™t profess to be an expert . I am an ex flight engineer and certainly like to weigh my chances. I am also a Coastguard Search and Rescue Controller and I am of the firm opinion if every one was to perhaps take a little notice of every warning which was issued after due consideration by the people who notice the little vagaries which are thrown up by Nature from time to time then our job would be made considerably easier .

It seems to me that this world is full of tall poppy knockers who also have a mindset which is to my mind awfully miniscule. Try looking at BOTH sides! My favorite word is empirical. Experiment not theory.

The chances are that if Ken Ring nails it on the 20th these knockers will say grandly that it was a fluke. If he’s wrong then of course they will loudly proclaim to all and sundry that he’s a charlatan.

We all have to have an opinion and I for one will look forward to the out come what ever the result. It goes a little way further than Chicken Little racing around chanting ” That the sky is falling’ Someday it will I guess. In the meantime all strength to your arm Mr. Ring

• Michael Edmonds says:

Ralph Williams,
“Just what the hell is wrong with coming out with a warning based on some observations?”
There is nothing wrong with a warning based on observations so long as there is at least an adequate correlation between the observation and the warnings, and if the warnings are specific enough to be useful.

If someone told you they predicted earthquakes based on how the tea leaves looked in their cup of tea every morning would you accept a warning based on that type of observation?

“My favorite word is empirical. Experiment not theory.”

So is mine. Unfortunately Ken Rings predictions are not supported by the empirical evidence. He basically guesses that there will be earthquakes on over 200 days each year. Not bad odds, are they. And it would seem he missed the Japan earthquake, didn’t he?

Also, relying on empirical evidence, without theory, leaves us open to not being able to tell the difference between correlation and causation. Empirical evidence provides the data for science, but it is the theory that brings it all together and also which helps point us in the direction of where might be the best place is to look for more empirical evidence.

From my understanding of Mr Rings latest version of his prediction is that their is an increased chance of a major quake somewhere in New Zealand around March 20. So very few details and not very precise or useful.
My bet is that if a decent afterquake does occur in Christchurch, the details of Mr Rings prediction will become more specific after the the fact to match the quake retrospectively.
If nothing happens then Mr Ring will go quiet for a few months until the next big quake somewhere in the world at which point he will point out it falls into one of 200+ days a year when he has pointed out that earthquakes are more likely.

These sorts of earthquake “predictions” are a bit like someone inviting you for a meal, and telling you it will be somewhere between the 18th and the 22 of March!

i.e. as useful as a chocolate teapot.

• ” as useful as a chocolate teapot.”

I am so going to use that one!

• Fiona,

Ring is widely described as an astrologer; I took my lead from others. My recollection is in fact of Ken Ring describing himself as such, but offering it as an “older form of astronomy”. The wikipedia entry does the same (see the discussion on this there, too).

If the term bothers you, removing it won’t change that his “predictions” arenâ€™t meaningful.

• For whatever it’s worth: Ken Ring tweeted this on March 15th –

kenringweather (Ken Ring)
Potential for serious earthquake activity today in Japan, Indonesia, Hawaii and S America. http://www.predictweather.com

Leaving aside aftershocks from the Honshu 9.0 earthquake,* according USGS, no very large earthquakes happened during that time., e.g. (from USGS) –

Significant earthquakes:
M 6.3 Vanuatu
March 17, 2011 02:48:02 UTC
M 9.0 Near The East Coast Of Honshu, Japan
March 11, 2011 05:46:23 UTC
M 5.4 Myanmar-china Border Region
March 10, 2011 04:58:17 UTC
M 7.2 Near The East Coast Of Honshu, Japan
March 9, 2011 02:45:18 UTC

–> none are reported for March 12th through to March 16th.

Conclusion: his warning didn’t pan out.

For the picky, looking more closely the largest magnitude earthquake, leaving aside Honshu on
March 15th (the day of his “warning”: None greater than or equal to 5.0 in the regions listed**
March 16th (the following day, for good measure): M=5.4, near Dominican Republic; M=5.3 Chile***

* Because they’d happen anyway due to aftershocks so “predicting” this would be meaningless.
** There was a M=5.0 near Lake Albert, Uganda.
*** Both are near the site of significant earthquakes last year.

• Ganeshan says:

Ken Ring’s predictions are no better than any predictions made by psychics, mediums and astrologers.

Sadly significant numbers of people around the world take psychics, mediums, astrologers and other such seriously. On the other hand, people, especially authorities do not listen to engineers like the one who predicted on TV, back in 1996, serious damage in Christchurch in the event of a major earthquake. The engineer’s predictions were based on real science.

Do we know how many buildings in Auckland can withstand an earthquake of the same magnitude that hit Christchurch? Are we ready?

Why do we continue to cross-lease and rezone reserves etc. and build multi-storey buildings in Auckland when we can spread out a bit? Why not develop another city, or even build a new city in the countryside? If Auckland is hit on the same scale like Christchurch or Japan, another big city elsewhere can be a ‘buffer’. and v.v.

Do not put all eggs in one basket and do not be taken in by witch doctors.

• […] Ken Ringâ€™s predictions â€“ what happens on March 20th doesnâ€™t matter […]

• […] A good 60-80%+ of the traffic each day over the past ten days or so has been to a short article on why it never mattered what happened today. Itâ€™s depressing to see the bulk of my readership go to a topic like that for […]

• […] thrashed out in the past month — notably by David Winter, Alison Campbell [edit to add: and Grant Jacobs]. The punchline is that it would have been a shock if his “prediction”, such as it was, […]

• […] Grant Jacobs points out in his post on this at sciblogs.co.nz, Ken rings claim that: An extreme weather event is possible that day worldwide, and an earthquake […]

• Falafulu Fisi says:

I have pointed out here at SciBlog that the motion of plate tectonic is governed by (angular) momentum conservation laws. That’s why Starts With A Bang mentioned the term rotational inertia (RI) because angular momentum must involve the inertia of the rotation object (in this case the earth).

The spinning ice skater is a daily familiar example. Another familiar one we often see on TV is when a satellite has reached a specific height (which it is intended to be at operationally) there are 2 robotic arms which start to extend outward slowly from the trunk of the satellite and the purpose is to slow down the frequency of the spinning (even to make it stop spinning altogether). The momentum before and after are still the same (ie, when it was spinning faster initially and then when it was spinning slower after the outward extension of the robotic arms), however this change was accompanied by change in the inertia of the spinning object (satellite) itself (in exactly the same manner as the ice skater has done – extension of her arms outward speeds her up then pulling them back inwards towards her slows her down). The spinning frequency decreases while the inertia increases simultaneously (skater’s arms are both extending outwards). Likewise the spinning frequency increases while the inertia decreases simultaneously (skater’s arms are both pulled back towards her).

Ok, I would like to share the following with the non-physics readers here so hopefully the following fomulas which are easy to follow can make the point clear.

Inertia : I
————
I = m*r^2

(m is the mass of the spinning object and r is its radius)

Angular momentum : L
—————————–
L = I*w

(I is the inertia defined above and w is the angular or spinning speed)

Angular Momentum Conservation:
——————————————
Momentum before = Momentum after
L1 = L2

(subcripts after L is to denote state before , 1 and state after, 2)

One can see that after some substitutions by using the relations above, one arrives at the following.

w2 = (r1/r2)^2*w1

(again, the subscripts in w1, w2, r1, r2 denote the states before, 1 and the state after, 2)

Lets substitute some arbitrary numbers. Lets say that:
w1 = 5 (revolution per second)
r1 = 2 (meters)
r2 = 1 (meter)

=> important to note that the radius changed from 2 (=r1) to 1 (=r2) meter in other words the intertia has decreased, because intertia (I) is proportional to the square of the radius r (see above formula).

Lets find w2 by substibuting the values for r1, r2 and w1 into formula w2 = (r1/r2)^2*w1 ;

w2 = (2/1)^2*5
w2 = 4*5
w2 = 20 (revolution per second)

We can therefore see that when the radius shrinks from 2 m before to 1 m after, the spinning speed simultaneously increases from 5 rev per second before to 20 rev per second after.

Lets say that our ice skater (with her long arms of 2 m full length) has a mass (m) of 50 kg. Our ice skater is light (weightwise) but have very long arms.

Skaters momentum before, L1:
—————————————
L1 = m*r1^2*w1

Substitute all the values we found above (further up).
L1 = 50*(2)^2*5
L1 = 50*4*5
L1 = 1000 (in angular momentum units)

Skaters momentum after, L2:
—————————————
L2 = m*r2^2*w2

Substitute all the values we found above (further up).
L2 = 50*(1)^2*20
L2 = 50*1*20
L2 = 1000 (in angular momentum units)

Now we see that the momentum before L1 = 1000 and the momentum after L2 = 1000 are the same, ie, it is being conserved. The state of motion of the object have changed, but the momentum haven’t because it is conserved.

These concepts are very important in atomic physics as they used to derive physical results that scientists/engineers use to built spectroscopy machines with, which is vital in modern technology.

I hope that my simple derivation & explanation here will inspire some high school students who are frequent readers here at SciBlog to pursue some physics courses at higher education.

• Falafulu Fisi says:

While we’re at angular momentum, here is something that may be exciting for kids as a test at home. Ask them how to tell the difference between a raw egg and one that’s been hard boiled. They’re not to lift them up or drop them except to use a finger to touch them and see if they tell. I’ve cut & pasted the following from the link shown:

Spun Eggs
===============

Ever wonder how you can tell the difference between a raw egg and one that’s been hard boiled? Try this simple egg science project: you will need two eggs (one raw and one hard-boiled) and a large flat surface area (like a large kitchen table.) Take the raw egg, set it on it’s side and then try to spin it with your fingers.

Notice how you cannot seem to get it to spin more then a few rotations a second. Now take the hard-boiled egg and try the same spinning maneuver – now with this one, you can really get it to spin fast – in fact, if you spin it faster than about ten revolutions a second, it will actually stand on end as it spins!

Why does the raw egg spin slowly? The fluid inside the raw egg will slide inside the egg as you try to spin it – so most of the mass of the egg does not attain the rotational velocity you are trying to put into it. Since most of the mass of the egg is in the fluid, the egg tends to stabilize at a rotational velocity equal to that of the fluid – much slower the you tried to spin it at.

A hard-boiled egg, on the other hand, has most of it’s mass as a solid and so will attain the same rotational velocity as the spin you give the egg and will spin faster than the raw egg will.

Why does the hard-boiled egg stand on end if you spin it fast enough? That gets a little technical for this egg science project, but the upshot is that it becomes ‘easier’ for the egg to spin on end than on it’s side, so it trades kinetic energy (it’s spin on it’s side) for potential energy (standing on end – there is now energy to be regained when it falls back down.)

http://www.cool-science-projects.com/egg-science-project.html

The physics explanation of this all comes down to momentum conservation & rotational intertia.

• Falafulu Fisi says:

Oops, a correction here.

I said…

(in exactly the same manner as the ice skater has done â€“ extension of her arms outward speeds her up then pulling them back inwards towards her slows her down)

where it should be:

(in exactly the same manner as the ice skater has done â€“ extension of her arms outward slows her down then pulling them back inwards towards her speeds her up )

• I’ve noticed lately that after aftershocks people come to this post rather than my older rolling comment stream on the February 22nd earthquake, where Iâ€™ve been posting updates. (Youâ€™ll want to drop to last comment.) It makes me wonder if I ought to move the updates here â€” ?

Theyâ€™d be more on-topic in the older post, however.

• These articles in the media have Ring claiming that he is in hiding over death threats and pointing fingers at Prof. Peter Gluckman (Science Advisor to the PM) and Dr. Nick Smith (ACC minister):

I can’t but help think there is an element of attention-seeking / advertising in this (and media playing off it), worked off a grain of truth, and an element of a â€œmartyrdomâ€ pitch or defence for his followersâ€™ ears.

It seems to me that most people would like to see the twit piss off with regard to his earthquake predictions but I for one havenâ€™t seen any serious threats and Iâ€™ve looked around the commentary fairly widely while researching my article above.

Part of the reason I have a little scepticism over this news is that it doesnâ€™t gel properly with what he has written elsewhere. Certainly some of the statements are over-the-top and are clearly stretching the truth. For example, his claims that he his being persecuted by Smith and Gluckman in the way and extent he has claimed are a bit rich Iâ€™d thinkâ€¦

The longer article plays off ending with Ringâ€¦ making earthquake predictions:

“For us though, it’ll die down. The (earthquake) timeline has always been until the end of April.

“Scientists are now saying it’ll be February 2013 before it stops but they’re just making it up.

“After this month the moon moves away, the Jupiter Saturn effect moves away that’s been causing solar activity, and it’ll be the end of the main part of the earthquake sequence. Things will die down then.”

What was that about not making more earthquake predictions, again?

More practically, he says heâ€™s going to stop â€œpredictingâ€ earthquakes and stick to weather. In a following post I closed with this:

As a parting thought, I would also suggest to Ken Ring that a change in line of his â€˜forecastingâ€™ business is in orderâ€”to one that does not impact on people or exploit their fears. A return to Pawmistry, perhaps? (Palm-readings of cats and kittens, for the few who havenâ€™t heard of it yet.)

Iâ€™d personally like to see him stop all â€œpredictionsâ€ that can affect peopleâ€™s lives in a serious way. Weather predictions potentially can too, esp. if your livelihood depends on it. (Iâ€™d welcome any reports of people whose livelihoods have been seriously affected by his weather predictions.)

• To give credit where itâ€™s due, the original article appears to be by Nathan Crombie and from The Wairarapa Times-Age.

(What is it with newspapers that amalgamate a Times with an Age and come up with a Times-Age?? [Or at least thatâ€™s what I presume has happened here.])

• Regards Ringâ€˜s comments of no further activity after April:

May 5 2011 at 8:54 am: magnitude 4.0 centred in Bromley (one of the eastern suburbs), depth 7km.

(Never mind the many lesser magnitude aftershocks that have occurred.)

• eviltwit says:

Death threats? Is he even worth threatening death to?

• eviltwit,

I get the joke, but seriously I don’t think the â€˜death threatsâ€™ help – they just give him something to â€œcry martyrâ€ with. I havenâ€™t seen any threats of that nature myself. I did see plenty of bullish requests for him to STFU. (Fair enough too, in my opinion – after all I politely (but firmly) asked him several times to stop immediately after the event myself, directly to him.)

I imagine these â€˜death threatsâ€™ would just be the usual internet stupidity, rather than anything sincere.

Heâ€™s since called the recent tornado in Auckland a â€˜moon eventâ€™ on radio (transcript on his website) and twitter. Sigh

(e.g. â€œSo you could say the tornado was a classic moon event.â€ In the same transcript he also mentions in passing â€œthere was also a 5.0mag shake that day too, because new moon brings extra turbulance to land, sea and airâ€.)

• Michael Edmonds says:

“Heâ€™s since called the recent tornado in Auckland a â€˜moon eventâ€™ ”

You’ve got to be kidding. I was just joking with my partnet this morning that even Ken Ring wouldn’t dare try “predicting” a tornado – sigh

• Carol says:

Best strategy is to completely ignore KR, IMHO. That is probably his greatest fear.

• I was just joking with my partne[r] this morning that even Ken Ring wouldnâ€™t dare try â€œpredictingâ€ a tornado

He hasnâ€™t â€œpredictedâ€ any AFAIK (which isnâ€™t saying much), but was trying to â€œfitâ€ it into his moon â€˜modelsâ€™ after the fact.

Best strategy is to completely ignore KR, IMHO.

FWIW, itâ€™s why I limit further comments to the comments rather than create a new post. (I figure the few people who are coming here will anyway.) Iâ€™ve long stopped following him as such.

That is probably his greatest fear.

Hmm, maybe. Personally I think itâ€™s there more to it, not that it matters.

• A recent media report taking citing as itâ€™s source Councillor Sue Wellâ€™s blog indicates that GNS advised CERA (the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) of estimated likelihoods of future large earthquakes in the Christchurch/Canterbury region (itâ€™s not clear from these reports just what region is covered):

A 23 per cent chance of a magnitude-6.0 to 7.0 quake in the next year, dropping to a 10 per cent risk the following year.

More than 90 per cent chance of a magnitude-5.0 to 6.0 shake in the next 12 months, falling to more than a 70 per cent chance in the following year.

• In my previous comment I was concerned about what areas these guideline probabilities might apply to. Apparently, these figures apply to Canterbury region as a whole, not just the Christchurch area. As a consequence they â€˜read too highâ€™ if reduced to just the Christchurch area without adjusting the likelihoods down.

• David Winter tweeted to me that Ring edited his own wikipedia page. (Not allowed, for good reasons.) Apparently editors have since pulled his changes.

• It seems KR has been on Close Up tonight* – I didnâ€™t realise so Iâ€™ve caught it on video in the evening. Without breaking it down itâ€™s a soft-ball personal interview where he is given time to waffle on (including a few â€˜bob each wayâ€™ statements, as he does) and in which tries (badly in my eyes) to make himself out to be credible. The important point is that his â€œtrends and patternsâ€ have no use if they have no predictive value. David and others looked at that and found them lacking predictive value. His claim that he only offers trends and patterns isn’t really true; he has offered specific predictions (those I know have not come to pass). His call to want to â€œtalk with geologistsâ€ rings (um, no pun intended) false given he could have tried to formally publish something. On a more personal note, his explanation (read word that as you wish) that he was not scare-monging omits that he persisted after being asked not to.

Media critic time. In the end you have to ask – who does Close Up serve by running that? Ken Ring? Perhaps. Close Up? Perhaps. The public? I doubt it – the public would be served by a critical analysis of his claims, not soft-ball questions.

Who news media serve has been bugging me for a while. News and current affairs ideally should serve the public, not the protagonists or the programme itself (the obvious commercial need for ratings, etc., notwithstanding).

* For those from overseas, this is a current affairs programme that screens on TV One, a competing channel to that which presented him previously on the current affairs programme Campbell Live (on TV 3).

• Michael Edmonds says:

Grant,

KR’s interview was one of the most waffly and tedious interviews I have seen.
As you say what he provided had “no predictive value”

• Carol says:

+1, Grant. it is deeply depressing how the media pander to this self-serving clown. With the honourable exception being Radio NZ National. I would love to see Mr Ring shredded by Kim Hill ..

• Carol,

It really does need a firmer interviewer, one with a good grasp of the issues and who able to ask questions that are probing enough to bring out the substance of the matter. I can well imagine Kim Hill would leave him looking sheepish.

• A number of people have visited the article above today, perhaps partly as a follow-on to reading an article on the NZ Herald website reporting Mr Ring’s latest â€œearthquake predictionsâ€.

A quick thought about the Herald article:

If you present someoneâ€™s claim, you ought to check itâ€™s correct. The journalist quotes Mr Ring as saying â€œI’ve never tried to get people to leave Christchurch … just to stay out of buildings that look a bit suspect.â€ It is my distinct recollection that Mr Ring quite directly encouraged people to avoid being in Christchurch.

The journalist should have checked if this claim Mr Ring made was true and if not followed it with a quotation illustrating it’s lack of truth.

One example might be:

“If I lived in Christchurch, Iâ€™d get out for a few days over that time, go camping, visit friends, just get out and keep safe.”

“And if you donâ€™t live there, stay away.”

(Original source; additional source; H/T Alison Campbell.)

That’s pretty directly suggesting people leave.

Another might be:

â€œIf you’re planning on coming to NZ around the 20th of March I would just suggest you avoided the Canterbury area,â€

While this doesnâ€™t explicitly tell people in Christchurch to leave, the implication of it saying that it would be â€˜a bad place to be at that timeâ€™ is certainly there.

• […] Ken Ring has considerable notoriety in New Zealand for claiming to have successfully predicted earthquakes in the Christchurch region. […]