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Earthquakes
Shake, Rattle, Richter!



Shake, Rattle, Richter!
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.71

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    amplitude, coaxim, discontinuity, favorable, number-decimal, ratings, seismogram, seismograph, seismologists, magnitude, geologist, subjective, seismic, mechanism, analyze, measurement
     content words:    Although Dr, Charles Richter, Chang Heng, John Milne, Imperial College, Great Britain, When John Milne, John Winthrop, Andrija Mohorovicic, United States


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Shake, Rattle, Richter!
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     When people think of earthquakes, they usually think of the Richter scale. However, you may be surprised to know that measuring the effects of earthquakes has been a hot topic among seismologists for centuries. Although Dr. Charles Richter is one of the most famous seismologists, there were many that came before him.
 
2     The first known seismograph was invented in 132 A.D. by Chinese astronomer Chang Heng. Heng built his device out of bronze. It was an urn with beautiful decorations. Around the urn were eight tubes, each formed in the shape of a dragon's head. The urn was surrounded by eight bronze toads, each staring up at one of the dragon's heads with its mouth wide open. Inside the urn Heng placed delicately weighted pendulums. When the device experienced vibrations from nearby earth tremors, the pendulums would release a mechanism. This mechanism would drop the bronze ball from a dragon's mouth to a toad's mouth. Each dragon's head represented a specific direction or location, much like the direction markers on a compass. Heng could determine the area affected by the earthquake by seeing which dragon head dropped the ball into the toad's mouth. The device was very sensitive. It detected earthquakes that happened far away and could not be felt by the people nearby.
 
3     In the early 1890s, British geologist John Milne developed the first accurate seismograph with other scientists in Tokyo, Japan. While studying and working at the Imperial College of Engineering, Milne helped to monitor the frequent quakes and other seismic activity that occurred in Japan. He then returned to his home in Great Britain during the early 1900s. Milne continued to study earthquakes, and he was responsible for setting up twenty-seven seismograph devices throughout Great Britain. When John Milne died in 1913, there were about forty seismograph stations worldwide that monitored earthquakes on land.

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