Children cause earthquake in giant jump

[Story based upon news article from: LONDON (Reuters) - by Michael Holden.] 

Around one million school children have succeeded in causing an earthquake, jumping up and down simultaneously in the world's largest scientific experiment.

Thousands of schools around Britain were asked to send children out into the playgrounds at 11 a.m. (Friday 7th September 2001) to jump up and down for a minute in the hope of creating a measurable quake.

Organizers of the Giant Jump event, held to mark the launch of the government's Science Year, said it had been a success.

Nigel Pain, director of Science Year, told Reuters...

"We're almost sure we had a million people out there jumping for us. We got some kind of result at every single seismometer around the country...We generated something like a hundredth of a serious earthquake -- that's not an enormous amount of energy but it's significant."

The exact number of people taking part has to be verified, but it is believed to have been an unofficial world record. Early estimates suggested 75,000 tonnes of energy had been released during the minute of jumping.

Nigel Pain, went on to say...

"Because it's dissipated across the whole country it didn't do very much damage. But drop that in one spot and it would have caused quite a big hole in the ground."

Over the next two weeks the results from around the country will be analyzed to see if the event registered on the Richter scale. Scientists said a million children with an average weight of 50 kg (110 lb) jumping 20 times in a minute would release two billion joules of energy and trigger the equivalent of an earthquake measuring three on the Richter scale. The event has also attracted serious attention from scientists including the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), which maintains Britain's nuclear warheads.

Fortunately the world didn't split in two as one of the children surveyed before the event believed would happen, nor did the Earth leave the Sun's orbit as feared by another.

A third came up with a more likely, if less exciting scenario...

"There will be lots of hospital visits from people with sprained ankles."


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Last Updated: 7th September 2001