lunes, enero 03, 2005

Darwin lo contó así (el tsunami)

Situémonos, en primer lugar. Charles Darwin realizó un viaje trascendental para la historia de la ciencia (y de la Humanidad, ya de paso) en un barquito llamado Beagle que partió de Devonport el 17 de diciembre de 1931. El diario, que puedes leer en inglés, se titula El viaje de un naturalista alrededor del mundo, al menos en la edición que está enlazada. El día 4 de marzo de 1934, atracó en el puerto de Concepción, donde fue testigo de la destrucción que un terremoto, y el consecuente maremoto, había causado en la costa. Allí le contaron la terrible experiencia que es sufrir un tsunami y él, empecinado en su tarea de transcribir lo que veía y vivía, tuvo a bien relatarlo para la posterirdad.
Shortly after the shock, a great wave was seen from the distance of three or four miles, approaching in the middle of the bay with a smooth outline; but along the shore it tore up cottages and trees, as it swept onwards with irresistible force. At the head of the bay it broke in a fearful line of white breakers, which rushed up to a height of 23 vertical feet above the highest spring-tides. Their force must have been prodigious; for at the Fort a cannon with its carriage, estimated at four tons in weight, was moved 15 feet inwards.

A schooner was left in the midst of the ruins, 200 yards from the beach. The first wave was followed by two others, which in their retreat carried away a vast wreck of floating objects. In one part of the bay, a ship was pitched high and dry on shore, was carried off, again driven on shore, and again carried off. In another part two large vessels anchored near together were whirled about, and their cables were thrice wound round each other: though anchored at a depth of 36 feet, they were for some minutes aground.

The great wave must have travelled slowly, for the inhabitants of Talcahuano had time to run up the hills behind the town; and some sailors pulled out seaward, trusting successfully to their boat riding securely over the swell, if they could reach it before it broke. One old woman with a little boy, four or five years old, ran into a boat, but there was nobody to row it out: the boat was consequently dashed against an anchor and cut in twain; the old woman was drowned, but the child was picked up some hours afterwards clinging to the wreck. Pools of salt-water were still standing amidst the ruins of the houses, and children, making boats with old tables and chairs, appeared as happy as their parents were miserable.

Lo han encontrado en boingboing, ese maravilloso lugar donde gente inteligente habla de cosas maravillosas.

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