# Math and Science II

Why lead the Why Files to ask why earthquakes follow earthquakes. And do some “aftershocks” take years to appear? And is there a way to gain a better understanding of earthquake sequences that can help seismologists better predict future ones?

The Why Files then explains the two types of “follow-on” quakes, triggered earthquakes – which occur in a nearby section of the original fault – and aftershocks which technically occur in the same section of the fault.

So where exactly do the math and science fit into the equation?
In a word: predictability. This question gets asked a lot in relation to all sorts of things. Probably one area where predictability along with math and science fits into an equation is its use in gambling. Just as scientist use math and science to predict earthquakes, gamblers use math and science in games like poker and blackjack to beat other players by using probability and statistics. For instance if a person goes to a website to play slots online and he/ she wants to succeed as a gambler, then learning about probability and statistics would be helpful. Since slots are completely luck (no skill needed), the probability of a win does not change due to past losses. So mathematicians are more likely to go to games where the odds are more favorable, like poker, or even roulette. Blackjack is especially good if you can combine math with card counting, which is why casinos use multiple decks to thwart the counters. There is a reason why many mathematicians make great gamblers. Every game of chance involves probability. By using probability in certain games, a person can make money in the long run.

Unlike gamblers who rely on luck, experience and the math and science fields of probability and statistics, we would like scientists to ground their predictions in solid math and science. Aftershocks are relatively predictable, and follow well-established empirical rules. The largest aftershock is typically one unit smaller than the main shock. Case in point, the January 20th aftershock, which measured at 5.9 on the Richter scale, was a little over 1 magnitude unit smaller than the January 12th main shock. Predictably, the aftershock rate will fall with time – note that aftershocks are considered finished when earthquakes fall back down to the background rate.