What would happen to your aquarium during an earthquake? Engineers at the Powell Structural Laboratories here at the Jacobs School of Engineering recently helped the TV show "Totally Unprepared" to answer this question.
They placed two 60-gallon aquariums and two dummies on one of the laboratories' small shake tables. One tank was secured to the wall with $12 worth of furniture straps. The other was not. Engineers then put the whole set up through the lateral ground motion that took place during the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan, which registered at 7.2 on the Richter scale. The unsecured aquarium shook and shattered, ultimately falling down on one of the dummies.
Morale of the story: secure your aquarium.
The episode marks the second collaboration between Powell Labs and "Totally Unprepared." Engineers helped put wine racks to the test in a previous episode, which you can watch here.
"Totally Unprepared" is funded by the California Emergency Management Agency, the California Earthquake Authority and the California Seismic Safety Commission.