Do Earthquake-Related Tweets Travel Faster Than Seismic Waves?

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Miguel Rios, an engineer at Twitter, created this visualization of earthquake-related Tweets as they rippled across the country in the first 30 seconds after the quake on August 23rd, 2011. 

According to web comic xkcd, tweets have the potential to travel faster than seismic waves, eventually overtaking them 100 km from the epicenter of the quake. Is it possible that a tweet from Washington could have traveled to New York fast enough that someone could have read it before they felt the tremors?

Rios also created beautiful visualizations of tweets after the earthquake in Japan, which you can see on Twitter's blog.

Follow Miguel Rios on Twitter: @miguelrios.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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