New Zealand, a tsunami breakwater for Australia, teenage brains and other tales

By Grant Jacobs 05/03/2010

Time for a lazy Friday post. A round-up of titbits read, ’heard on the wires,’ over the past few days.

NZ a tsunami breakwater for Australia?

This excellent graphic of a preliminary calculation of the tsunami potential from NOAA’s West Coast and Alaska Warning Center been circulating the internet:


(For the full-size original, try the original source.)

I don’t want to be accused of mixing making fun of tragedy, but when I first saw this graphic at Pharnygula what caught my attention–beyond how well this graphic conveyed it’s message–was the remark of one commenter, presumably an Australian:

I knew there was a reason we left NZ were it is. A breakwater against Chilean Tsunamis. Thanks NZ.

Looking at the graphic, it does give the impression that NZ acts as a breakwater for most of eastern Australia for tsunamis coming from the southern Chilean coast. The Pacific Islands, running in a line north of NZ (Kermadec Islands, Tonga, etc.), also appear to play their role in this effect. (This is the point that some bloggers would end the entry with ’Discuss.’ You’re welcome to.)

Then again, if there is a big earthquake off the west coast of New Zealand, the Australians won’t have anything between it and the source…

Well, there's the glory...

Those disconnected teenage brains…

I read this on twitter, via @BoraZ, Rebecca Skloot–author of The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks–pointing to an article by Richard Knox on NPR (National Public Radio):

Scientist xasperated w/son studies teen brain growth, finds region responsible 4 decision making not fully connected

We all know where this is heading…!

There is a podcast if you prefer to listen it. (For myself, as someone who is hard-of-hearing / deaf, I’m glad it’s offered in print.)

In New Zealand, the government has recently announced it’s intentions to raise the driving age. One of the examples of disconnected thinking in this article is… teenaged driving. (Nothing again teenagers, I swear, it’s a just coincidence I couldn’t miss pointing out.)

On a more serious note, this article is another reminder that rather than control the length of a neuron (for example Kukbe’s recent article on synchronising the timing sound input from either ear within the brain), the transduction properties of the neuron can be varied too.

The science and technology of airport traffic control

If you’ve ever wondered what is behind air traffic control at large airports, Arun Reddy has a four-page article up at ArsTechnica. This one was nicely timed to appear just before the recent JFK airport fuss over a controller’s kid reading out the calls.


For: NZ a tsunami breakwater for Australia?

NOAA = National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The commenter in question offers a blog linked to his name, but on following it, it proves not to exist.

Other articles on Code for Life that might interest you:

The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?)

Enabling deaf people to text emergency calls to 111

Undiluted humour: If Homeopathy Beats Science

Preconceptual science, the dismissal-ness of it all