Do Earthquake-Related Tweets Travel Faster Than Seismic Waves?

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.

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

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

Our Incredible, Microscopic World

Highlights from Nikon's Small World in Motion competition, featuring zebrafish embryos, killer T cells attacking cancer, and much more

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Video

Just In