The dangerous game of chicken now being played out in the South China Sea, with American warships sailing provocatively close to a clutch of new-made Chinese islands, is only the beginning of what looks to be a lengthy and epic tussle.
That’s because a detailed plan, hatched in Beijing decades ago, is currently being unrolled, with the aim of demonstrating that the Pacific Ocean is no longer an immense American-dominated lake, but an ocean belonging to the world, with no navy or nation wielding a monopoly of power across its waters. How the United States deals with China’s latest moves will determine to no small degree the future serenity of the planet.… Seguir leyendo »
In planetary terms, it was just a tiny pinprick that opened up last month underneath the Eyjafjalla Glacier in southern Iceland, when a long-forgotten volcano started to erupt again after a quiescence of nearly 200 years. But insignificant though the rent in the planet’s fabric may have been, uncounted millions have been suddenly affected by it.
The North Atlantic winds shifted by just a few degrees, and all of a sudden commercial catastrophe has been visited on northern Europe: air traffic peremptorily shut down, the skies cleared of planes wary of flying through the high-altitude streams of the volcano’s brutally corrosive airborne silica dust.… Seguir leyendo »
Though it can offer scant comfort to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, seismology is making some slight progress in its search for the holy grail of being able to predict dreadful events like that on Tuesday. New studies into ultra-slow-motion events deep underground called nonvolcanic tremors are showing vague but promising signs that the same kind of subterranean danger signals that allow us today to forecast when a volcano is about to erupt may one day offer some warning of the hitherto unpredictable nucleation — the explosive beginning — of an earthquake.
The most interesting studies are those that are proceeding, slowly and expensively, in Parkfield, Calif.… Seguir leyendo »