Sunday, April 26, 2015

A mathematician's analysis of the Kathmandu earthquake - Painting by numbers

Good Morning, Kathmandu! It is noon on April 27th, 2 days post the 7.8 scale quake that has since set off almost 50 aftershocks, or one every 50 minutes, on average. 

I hope tonight will be much better for you than the last two. The numbers below strongly suggest they will. To start, as of right now (10:45 AM), you have gone for four hours without an aftershock, two times longer than at any time in the last 2 days. I hope this continues for many more hours. 

[(Update at 7pm) - Good evening Kathmandu - you have had NO aftershocks in the last 12 hours! There was a 5 scale on the Nepal/India border. We are praying that these are the final ones, and there are very few ahead. Sleep tight - you must be so tired. Sweetdreams!] 

In the last 12 hours, you were hit by 8 shocks averaging 4.5 on the intensity scale. You received an aftershock twice every three hours, which is similar to the 12 hours before that. 

Compare this with the first 18 hours, when you were hit by 34 shocks, at the rate of one every thirty minutes! They averaged 5.0. Remember that 5.0 is 5 times stronger than 4.5 on the logarithmic earthquake scale. The intensity of the shocks is declining...  

The picture below (click to enlarge) has every shock you received in the last 42 hours, 49 in total. In the last 10 hours, its fallen to 4. Things continue to normalize, and I hope your lives will too.

Thinking of you as we go to bed across the globe. God bless you all and look after you this day.

Last 48 hours in Kathmandu - attempt at some words of calm through a Mathematician's analysis of the earthquakes

My Dearest Kathmandu.

This will all come to pass. Soon. Very soon. Be brave, you may only have one more night of this ahead of you. The entire Nepali diaspora is constantly thinking of you and your well being. We will overcome this tragedy.

Below is some analysis that attempts to put your tired minds at ease as your rest this rainy night.  I am writing this in response to speaking to my family, my wife's family, and extended family members and friends that are panicky because "NASA / BBC / America is forecasting a 8 to 10 Richter Scale quake will go off soon."

First, nobody can forecast an earthquake. That is why its so devastating. Second, a 10 scale quake has never happened. Third, an Asian quake has never been larger than approximately 9. Fourth, a Himalayan belt quake has never been greater than the one you just experienced. Lastly, a larger quake following a smaller, first event is extremely rare.These are geologic precedents. You've borne the worst, in my opinion.See below's chart (courtesey of Pravin Tripathi) as to how extremely rare a 8-scale event is. You have been through one of the worst earthquakes in modern history.

Since the major earthquake on 04.25.2015, a staggering 41 earthquakes have gone off in and around the Kathmandu Valley. However, only three have been greater than 6, and the lone 7.8 that precipitated this chaos. The intensity of the earthquakes are falling rapidly.

Total Earthquakes 41 100%
Earthquakes Greater than 5 14 34%
Earthquakes Greater than 6  3 7%

In this bleak moment, it is extremely important to understand that earthquake intensities are measured on a logarithmic scale. The Richter scale is misleading. A scale 8 quake is one thousand times more intense than a scale 5.  The majority of the aftershocks at 4-5 scales are actually a fraction of the intensity of the original one. To be precise, one thousand to ten thousand times less intense. The strongest aftershock of 6.7 was 30-50 times less intense than the original one. Things will improve, the law of math promises it. 

Earthquake Intensities - Relative Measure 

Versus 4  Versus 6 Versus 8
Scale 4 1 0.01 0.0001
Scale 5 10 0.1 0.001
Scale 6 100 1 0.01
Scale 7 1,000 10 0.10
Scale 8 10,000 100 1.0

Lastly, a total of 22 earthquakes went off in the first 6 hours of the first one. However, that intensity is falling rapidly. In the next 12 hours, only 10 went off, and in the last 12, only 7. At this rate, mathematically, the aftershocks will likely fall to unnoticeable levels by tomorrow (Monday) night. Hang in there. This will come to pass. Soon. Very soon.

12 PM Sat to 6 PM Sat (6 hours)  22
6 PM Sat to 6 AM Sun (12 hours)  10
6 AM Sun to 6 PM Sun (12 hours) 7
Total 41

Below's chart, courtesy of the facebook disapora shows how the tremors are getting less frequent daily, a pictoral description of the above.

Lastly, I can imagine your exhaustion with the aftershocks. The seismic event picture below complied from USGS, the only authoritative data repository, shows that every single earthquake in the last 2 days except the first 2 major events has gone off in the Bagmati Zone around Kathmandu valley. It must truly be exhausting.

Be bold, Stay strong, squash rumours, and be Nepali. We've lost our Durbar Squares, but Pashupati and Swayambhu are still standing, tall and proud, like each and every one of you. God bless you all, and to quote my childhood school - "Karod diyo ko gham banera desh ujyalo paarne chhau" 

[Update on 7 pm 4.27.15 - There were zero aftershocks in the last 12 hours in the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas. The lone one in the region was far on the eastern border with India. I hope this trend continues. Goodnight my tired and weary countrymen. I hope this restful sleep tonight rejuvenates your spirit and your soul. Do not forget your perseverance and courage and above all, your charity and kindness to others, when you wake up.]

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lest we forget...

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
We borrow it from our children."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My lady

There needs to be no compassion among strangers. In return for money, a shopkeeper sells you goods, a maid cleans your home, a consultant solves your problem, a driver drives you to your destination... This is business, a means of livelihood for us social creatures, to sustain our appetites, to sleep comfortably, to live our lives... A conversation with a stranger that you are interacting with for "strictly business" is honest and candid.

As we were stuck in traffic, I constantly kept on thinking to myself if I should have told you the things I did last night. It is not that I did not feel them, mean them, wish for them, but if it was appropriate at this time. Although, through the shared dishes and the comfortable dreams, it appears to me that I have known you a long time, I smile in amazement when I realize our destinies only intersected a few, short months ago. Can such hopes be planted so early? Am I unintentionally planting hurt? You sat glistening radiant next to me, your porcelain skin glowing in the crimson dusk, your hands tender, your lips pursed in a lonesome thought of leaving... I would never want to see hurt in your eyes.

Did I say it too early?

As the traffic eased and I relaxed, I looked at you again. I saw your eyes, and thought of how, through the times we'll separate, you'll hide me tender in your velvet heart...

We arrived. Early. I smiled.

Then, the driver, the stranger, the businessman, out of the blue, told me who you were. Nobody asked him, and he had no reason to lie.

The stranger told me you were my lady. He told me to be patient with you. No. He was not the first. And he is far, far from the last.

It is thus I found the answer to my question. The answer was no, I did not say it too early.

All this transpired without a word from me to you. When you turned to say goodbye, I did not hold you embarrassingly tight. I kissed your hand. Because you are my lady, and I should not need a stranger to remind me what is most beautiful in my life.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mama's Leaving...


Take my love with you,

Hide me in your heart,

Speak about me in your coming rendezvous


Write me a letter,

I hope you were happy,

I hope I made some dreams come true,

As you did mine,

I have my moments with you,

So many


Your silhouette is disappearing,

My throat bulges,

I cry,

Our destines are separate,

But they will intersect,

We are not parallel rays

But stars in the same whirlpooling spiral,

With time,

We will separate no more

Bring that moment forward,

Let it be today,

Let it be now...

Please don't go...

I can’t say Goodbye,

Hide me in your heart,

Stuff me in your suitcase,

Please take me with you…

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ode to Stereo

Music is the air I breathe, the feelings that run in my veins, the hum of my commute, the vibration of my soul... Ah music, once, in one of my phases, I eluded you for months; and it is only now, today, this moment, when you surround my solitary dinner, in my living room, by the candles, you bond to the morsels i eat, you flow in my arteries, you nourish me, and tell me, you belong in my every moment; through joy, sorrow, elation or tears, you keep my hopes and dreams alive.

One twentieth of my tangible existence; yet you take away a quarter of my nourishment, ah you, my idle mind, this harmony is my existence's gift to you...

Please sing Bhuwan, sing to Tripti, tell her how deep your love is, deeper than the oceans, and Tripti will imagine it, nevermind the sight of the ocean has eluded her this life; she will know from your melody. Your tunes decorate all my moments Lennon, I imagine, when I'm running through strawberry fields forever, or helter skelter... eight days a week, even as I'm turned away from doors with no reply, or sauntering through long and winding roads, in my life, your melody remains with me...

How do I pay homage to a universal language, one that accompanies my most precious and vulnerable moments, how do i say thank you, to all you instrument bearers, to you voices, you melodious souls; you paint all depictions of my dreams, of hope, of affection, even dejection, and pain.

You belong to the universe, and my mind, my heart, my existence, is but a small proof to your omnipresence - is that what God's gifts are like?


I am at peace.

Life is beautiful; and my life’s eyes, at this moment, in this place, during this time, are looking at autumn, through a blissful, sunlit window, gazing in peace, into the beautiful image of truth.

Truth is what is, not what I hope it was, becomes, has been, should be, would be, or could be…Truth is a waterdrop – simple, undisguised, clear, pristine; Truth is a teardrop - salty with emotion, perhaps sorrow, or happiness.

Truth is not you – a kaleidoscope, a mirage, a mystery.

That window of my past - that open window on the wintry north; that window with broken hinges, its shattered, jagged panes; that window I have failed to fix a hundred times, and yet have kept trying, bleeding to its cuts; ah that window, that harbinger of chilling, nightmare-laden gusts, that robber of my dreams – when betrayed by the clock, by time, by reason, by heart, I’ve shivered tears; and then, in light, that liar window, with its kaleidoscope sun, its charlatan warmth; became bearer of dark, of cold lies, and false hope – that window, today, I slammed shut, I boarded close, I cemented dry. Ah you winter – I will not bathe in your mirage; lie awake in your storm; shiver in your deceiving warmth – enough. no more…

This dawn, deep in the forests of my soul, with the waterdrop, by the stream, to the waterfall, I shed you my last teardrop.

As your gales began, I did not shiver. In your winter, slept, dreaming of autumn.

I woke in peace; with my Gods; my dreams; my songs; my visions; my ambitions; and without you.

I am finally at peace.

Life is beautiful; and my life’s eyes, at this moment, in this place, during this time, are looking at autumn, through a blissful, sunlit window, gazing in peace, into the beautiful image of truth.