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The Professor who Predicted the Earthquake
DR. ARUNACHALAM KUMAR had predicted the powerful earthquake that led to the devastating tsunami, after hearing about the stranding of large numbers of whales and dolphins on an Australian coast. With more than 110 medical research projects to his credit, and a citation in the Limca Book of Indian records for maximum range of scientific publications – the professor’s uncanny ability to predict events, based on scientific analysis, is amazingly eerie.

In the first week of December, a brief note appeared on the natural history discussion site served by Princeton University. The writer, an India based medical college professor and biologist of some standing, said, he had learnt with alarm the huge numbers of marine mammals like whale and dolphin deaths reported stranded on an Australian coast. He claimed, his study on mass ‘suicide’ of cetaceans over the years had showed that these unnatural events, are followed up with quakes – and as this incident involved amore than 180 mammals, he was certain that within a couple of weeks a massive earthquake would ensue. 

On December 26th, just 21 days after this note appeared, the globe shook and south-east Asia stood ravaged by the tsunami that followed in the wake of a monstrously powerful earth tremor. To date close to 150,000 human deaths have resulted from the tide that battered the coastline of nations rimming the Bay of Bengal, and some even further beyond, on the African Coast off the Arabian Sea. No sooner had disaster struck, the world media has caught up with the author of the original listserv communication who had accurately, almost to the day, predicted the quake. The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Times of India, and the Midday have already run features on the professor, and Straits Times of Singapore is in press with another one. 

NRIPulse got in touch with the man who saw tomorrow at his base in Mangalore, a picturesque city on the west coast of south India. Dr. Arunachalam Kumar, a senior anatomist in the city’s Kasturba Medical College, and a prolific author on natural history and wildlife biology, is pretty well known to press and public for his multifaceted persona. In India, he is known for having scientifically analyzing the biomechanics of Sachin Tendulkar’s footwork, and presenting a research paper mentioning that the star cricketer would suffer a back injury in 3 months time. Exactly 13 weeks later, after the article was published, Sachin doubled up with pain on the pitch. The back injury kept him off the game for months. When the recent fossil find of a new human species (H. florensensis) in Indonesia was reported worldwide in October last, Dr. Kumar, was in the news again – he had authored four research papers saying a new species of human would be found in Indonesia – all published five years ago! With more than 110 medical research projects to his credit, and a citation in the Limca Book of Indian records for maximum range of scientific publications – the professor’s uncanny ability to predict events, based on scientific analysis, is amazingly eerie.

He told NRIPulse that his records of major cetacean ‘suicides’, showed that a correlation existed between them and earthquakes, which again, his records revealed, followed soon after. Could it be that some sub-marine tectonic plate shifts or realignments could be causing alterations in the geo-magnetic fields in the oceanic floor? Many species of animals and birds, especially those endowed with strong homing or migratory instincts rely on their internal cerebral magnetic compasses to orient their travel routes and distances to the natural geomagnetic fields of the earth. Any derangement or disturbance in the magnetic fields, usually due to pressure or progressive shifts or movements in the tectonic plates that form the earth’s crust, should as corollary influence the marine mammals compass – making them disoriented to course and direction. This aberration leads to whales moving into random routes, and its consequence, fatal stranding.

Dr. Kumar adds, that biologists are well aware of the animal instinct to natural calamities; dogs, geese, deer and even elephants have been known to react to oncoming events with behavioral change and seek safety. If small animals such as birds could react with premonition of events, why should the largest of all, the whale, or the smartest of all, the dolphin, be exceptions? In fact, the professor emphasizes, they are probably the first to react, by sensing changes in magnetic fields preceding quakes, and fleeing to safer seas. A few who are probably too near the epicenter, totally lose their orientation and strand. When a large pod strands, as was the case in the Australia of 180 plus mammals, it is fairly reasonable to deduce that the tremor that will follow should be one high on the Richter scale. The Sumatran one measured nearly 9, the fourth highest recorded in a hundred years. Dr. Kumar’s theory is still in its infancy. Many years of follow up biological and seismological studies have yet to be done; but the don is certain, that his hypothesis will prove right, sooner or later. The spin offs from proof? Maybe we could issue levels of alerts in specific areas about impending quakes or tsunamis, depending on the locale and number of whales stranded. 

Any scientific prediction he would like to share with readers of NRIPulse? Yes, the says the doctor. Science will discover that the Indian elephant is not a unitary species, but belongs to two separate species. Sure? Cent per cent, he says- I’ve done some morphometric work in this area, and I am positive about my postulations. 

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