August 25, 2011 | Article | Social Media
DC Earthquake Takes Over Twitter
This week has certainly been a crazy one here at the DC office. On Tuesday, central Virginia was hit by a 5.9 earthquake and several aftershocks. After evacuating (from our building's top floor, no less) the REQ team gathered outside and turned to our phones for more information. Despite the crush of people trying to make phone calls, text and access the Internet in the District, several of us were able to visit Twitter from our phones, which gave us the most up-to-date, if not comprehensive, news on the quake.
Thanks to Twitter, we quickly discovered that people as far south as North Carolina had felt the tremors and found out that one New Yorker learned of the quake before he felt it. User @JesseCFriedman tweeted Tuesday: 'I saw the tweets from DC about earthquake, then 15 seconds later felt it in NYC. Social media is faster than seismic waves!'
That really blew our minds! More investigation revealed that seismic waves can travel between 5 to 8 kilometers per second. Information traveling via fiber signals travels at 200,000 kilometers per second. If you consider the 482 kilometers from the quake's epicenter to New York City, it would have taken the quake up to a minute and a half to reach the Big Apple, definitely giving some speedy tweeps in Virginia or DC time to tweet about the quake before it reached NYC!
On Tuesday afternoon, the official Twitter account shared that within one minute of the quake, there were more than 40,000 earthquake-related tweets and the tweets-per-second spiked to 5,500.
All is back to normal in the REQ office, after some minor picture-frame readjusting, just in time to prepare for this weekend's hurricane. See you in the Twittersphere!