Like my plucky heroine, Emma J for Joy Pearce, I moved to San Francisco from the Midwest after completing my education at the University of Michigan, and I well remember my first earthquake. A five-pointer-plus. Like Emma, I’d just moved to the penthouse of a cool old apartment building in Noe Valley, on what turned out to be landfill, and, wow, the place shook around.
Everything that’s the first time of just about anything in life tends to be intense, even terrifying, so was I terrified? You better believe it!
Like Emma, I moved to solid bedrock—the famous Telegraph Hill—specifically as personal protection in case of a big earthquake. I felt safe living there, but I worked downtown in the Financial District in a skyscraper on landfill.
During my very first days at work, the big front-page news was of a study the brainiacs at Stanford University had worked up. They’d concocted a computer model of what would happen to downtown San Francisco if (and when) the Big One struck. Whole entire skyscrapers—the model said—would sink into the landfill beneath them up to the twentieth floor.
The office wits joked, “Well, we’re on the twenty-first floor, so we’ll be fine. We’ll punch out some plate glass and walk out onto the beach.”
Ha ha. Very funny.
It was then that I began my research about earthquakes and what people could expect when disaster struck. I discovered that modern science doesn’t completely understand how earthquakes occur or why or predicting when they will occur.
To this day, several conflicting theories about earthquakes exist and, if someone wanted to invent a device to prevent or mitigate a big earthquake, that invention would have to produce an effect depending on what the inventor believes.
Not what the truth may be.
But what he or she believes.
Which harkens back to the famous (or infamous) Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics. A photon—the basic unit of light—appears as a wave or a particle depending on how the experimenter sets up the recording apparatus. The observer affects the observed.
Which leads to the further speculation—what is reality, anyway?
I knew, then, that I had my story.
From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;
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