Photograph courtesy of calema.ca.gov
Measuring them after the fact—well, we have that down. Charles Richter helped pioneer the science of seismology in the 1930s at Caltech, where the institution’s Seismo Lab has more recently come up with a detailed computer rendering of Southern California’s fractured crust. That hasn’t made us any better at predicting earthquakes. The idea of the Big One? Scary as hell. But the little ones—the rollers and jolters that get the adrenaline flowing—they’re an inextricable part of L.A. The ground, like our culture, is on the move. And so we keep water and canned goods at the ready, hoping we’ll be spared the inevitable randomness of it all.