Chili Tornado Quake Title text: Buildings constructed from softer materials were damaged by chili pepper impacts to the storm's high Richter-Fujita-Scoville-Mohs hardness rating.

## Explanation

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Cueball, as a news anchor, is reporting on a tornado that struck a chili pepper processing plant during an earthquake, and he rates the event as 55,000 on the (fictional) Richter-Fujita-Scoville scale.

The Richter-Fujita-Scoville scale combines several unrelated scales:

• The Richter scale is a historic (but still well known) logarithmic scale for rating the intensity of earthquakes that typically range from about 3 to 9.5.
• The Fujita scale rates the intensity of damage caused by tornadoes which ranges from 0 to 5.
• The Scoville scale rates the spiciness of chili peppers from 0 (not at all spicy) all the way up into the millions.

The joke is that combining these scales is nonsensical and silly; the effects of each are not interrelated in any meaningful way.

It's likely the three base numbers are multiplied, as with similar compound-unit calculations, to give the single combined measure (although some nominal types are treated as additive).

• Richter: Since the building is still there it is not a 9 on the Richter scale, suggesting a maximum around 8. The fracturing of the earth suggests a minimum of 6.
• Fujita: Given the image, this is not a 5 on the tornado scale, suggesting a maximum around 4. The severe damage to the building suggests a minimum of 3.
• Scoville: This would then leave the rest for the Scoville scale, which would give around 1700 on that scale as a minimum. The other two numbers could easily be smaller so that the Scoville number would be reaching above 3000. The chili peppers being processed could be poblano (Scoville number between about 1000 and 2000) or jalapeño (2500 to 10,000), among others.

In the title text it is mentioned that buildings constructed from softer materials were damaged by chili pepper impacts [due] to the storm's high Richter-Fujita-Scoville-Mohs hardness rating. The Mohs scale is a scale for mineral hardness which ranges from 1 (e.g. talc) to 10 (diamond), with lower numbers being softer and higher numbers being harder. Chili peppers are strong in a spicy sense, but very soft on the Mohs scale, so if it was only the chilies that hit other buildings it would only be very soft material that would take any damage. Of course there would also be building material hitting nearby houses, thus they would do more damage than the chili, by an amount that would depend upon the relative hardness of the processing plant structure to that of other buildings. The former is frangible enough to have become dislodged from its structure, but may be just as brittle as it is ultimately abrasive, or is composed of thoroughly resilient pieces of material previously held in place by mortar or some other binding of insufficient adhesion or mechanical strength. From either point or failure (or both!), the wind-whipped cloud of debris might then indeed be able to scour more generally well-built structures nearby, even ones actually designed to withstand and absorb such winds/earth movements in their own right.

A number, where the hardness of the materials hitting nearby buildings was taken into consideration, could have been given, adding a fourth number to consider in the scale, but no such number is provided.

Similar comics:

### Discussion: Is the title text missing a word?

The title text might be missing the word "due," or it might not be a typo; both scenarios are possible, but the meaning changes.

Since it's impossible to say which scenario is correct, here are the implications of both.

#### Scenario 1: No missing word

The sentence as written means that the chili peppers impacted the magnitude of the scale. In other words, buildings made of soft materials were damaged because the Richter-Fujita-Scoville-Mohs hardness rating was higher than it otherwise would have been as a result of the chili peppers. This suggests that spicier peppers are more likely to damage soft buildings.

The text has a somewhat awkward and unusual phrasing, if this was the intended meaning. If it was intended, Randall is presumably making a pun on the word impact, using it in an unusual way. Discussion about impacts from disasters usually talk about physical impacts, not impacts to abstract measurement systems, so the joke may be about this secondary kind of impact.

#### Scenario 2: Missing word

"Buildings constructed from softer materials were damaged by chili pepper impacts due to the storm's high Richter-Fujita-Scoville-Mohs hardness rating."

The sentence with "due" means that soft buildings were damaged by chili peppers, since the storm's hardness rating was high enough. This seems more straightforward: harder peppers successfully effacing soft building materials.

## Transcript

[Close-up of Cueball, a news anchor, next to an image with a headline above it to the left of him. The image shows of black tornado descending from sky-cover above. It is striking a building that has been damaged near where the tornado hits. Two large chilies can be seen flying through the air in the foreground, with pieces of the building and more chilies flying off further away. Straight beneath the building and going up in the middle of it there is a crack, that divides into three inside the building. The ground is also higher to the right of the point where the crack enters the building. Cueball is speaking which is shown above the image and him.]
Cueball: A tornado that struck a chili pepper processing plant during an earthquake was rated 55,000 on the Richter-Fujita-Scoville scale.

# Discussion

for some reason I always feel nervous providing an initial transcript like I'm gonna do the format wrong but nah this transcript is pretty simple, would be hard to get it very wrong - Vaedez (talk) 04:02, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

No need to worry cause it can always be changed. I have tweaked the transcript a bit. --Kynde (talk) 09:06, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

wait--is the titletext missing a "due"? - Vaedez (talk) 04:04, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

I think so, yeah. First time I've seen Randall make a mistake in the alt text. 162.158.137.212 04:33, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
I have seen this several times, and sometimes he fixed it later. I have added this to a trivia section. If it is changed, it should still be mentioned there, but of course updated with the original mistake instead. --Kynde (talk) 09:06, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
No, there isn't. The title text means that the chilli peppers impacted the magnitude of the scale (check wiktionary, it's a real use of the word.). --162.158.222.142 08:58, 31 July 2024 (UTC)
I think it's impossible to say whether it's missing or intentionally phrased that way, so I've added a discussion section explaining both potential scenarios. Laser813 (talk) 15:11, 31 July 2024 (UTC)

Funnily enough, an earthquake large enough to shake the house occurred near me today! No chili peppers and definitely no tornadoes nearby, (un)fortunately. 162.158.91.92 04:02, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

Wonder how the scales combine. Given that Richter and Fujita are both single digit numbers (well, Richter can go above 10, but normally only when Roland Emmerich is directing), they would be pretty meaningless in an additive scale, so I would assume multiplicative. If so, the amount of damage to the building suggests relatively mild peppers.RegularSizedGuy (talk) 04:11, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

what if it's like a geometric mean or smth? that feels like it makes more sense than additive and it would also allow the average pepper involved in the incident to be higher than the 55k listed - Vaedez (talk) 04:19, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
I believe the only method that makes sense is multiplying. Since spicy can go to 0, then 2000-3000 is probably still pretty strong for most people? Anyway, it may have been a smaller earthquake and not that big a tornado, maybe 3 and 6 then it alt least get above 3000. I have added these considerations to the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 09:06, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
No method makes 'sense' - the whole comic aspect is that it makes no sense to combine these scales in the first place. Given that, I think the question is unanswerable, since it would require knowledge of a non-existent purpose that the scale is trying to achieve.172.69.43.175 14:17, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
I disagree, it makes most sense to multiply ;-) --Kynde (talk) 18:16, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
3000 is a low-end jalapeno, even a serrano is about 10k. Habanero is a couple of 100k. Would it be complete scientific abomination to take Fujita/Richter as additive and then multiply the result by scoville? 172.69.43.167 13:00, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
You can do that. It will still not get you to serrano... --Kynde (talk) 18:16, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
Though I agree that a multiplicative compound unit is most likely (unlike the additive Erdős–Bacon one, and further variations), it's worth noting that you can have F0 tornados, zero (as well as negative) in the Richter scale and/or 0 Scoville peppers (though the latter less likely, here). If either of the first two are counted as zero, they stil exist, but means that any (finite) values attributed to the remaining measure would never produce a combined unit that is non-zero. So you probably have to lower-limit the Tornado measurement and ensure the Earthquake one is >0 to back-calculate any sensible Pepper value. If done as per the EB method, though, it just means that the source Scoville number is pretty much the whole contributor to the resulting sum (even if itçs an F5 with a 10 on the Ricbter scale, it's just 15 less than the merged value). Geptetic meandrians, aside, there are few other 'logical' functions between these three source values and the combo-evaluation, but many that might stretch plausibility. 172.68.186.90 13:11, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
Since we have the picture where a tornado wrecks havoc to a factory and the Earthquake shifts the Earth and breaks a building we can rule out anything below 3 on the tornado and 6 on the Richter scale... So it is a void discussion here. --Kynde (talk) 18:16, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
I'm happy that, while disappointed they are not in the comic, Erdős/Bacon numbers appear at least in the comments. 172.68.110.32 10:52, 31 July 2024 (UTC)
I recently learned that there's a github repository that tracks people with Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath numbers. As in people who have a publishing link with Paul Erdős, an acting link with Kevin Bacon, and a musical performance link with Black Sabbath. 172.71.254.246 13:58, 31 July 2024 (UTC)
Do we know for sure that Erdős didn't fake his own death, kill Ozzy Osborne, and steal his identity? RegularSizedGuy (talk) 14:29, 31 July 2024 (UTC)

I could have sworn Randall already made this joke... Maybe I'm thinking of 1531. 172.69.60.147 05:43, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

on the current state of the trivia section, i'm pretty sure we're not supposed to have opaque links that say "here" and have some comic they go to and that the structure of the sentence should be more like "in [comic x] randal also...", but i'm too tired to phrase it out rn and not entirely sure of this either - Vaedez (talk) 08:19, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

I agree and also we usually do not make a trivia section to link to relevant comics so I moved it into the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 09:06, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

Is it relevant that Twisters just came out a couple weeks ago? Barmar (talk) 12:37, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

Hmmm. Randall doesn't strike me as a person who'd use something outdated like the Richter scale.Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 17:19, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

He often displays nostalgia, and he enjoyed to double ended open Richter scale in his what if book where he took it to -15 rather than +15. So that he has a soft spot for Richter is quite certain actually --Kynde (talk) 18:16, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

Fresh peppers are pretty soft. But when they're dried, they can get tough, even hard, especially if they're dried in such a way as to minimize the air and make them solid. I don't know where they'd land on the Mohs scale, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were harder than talc. BunsenH (talk) 18:20, 30 July 2024 (UTC)

Well, now I know one little pig (not one of the three main ones, but also not one of the 118 other first cousins!) who is going to be in even more trouble than usual. Possibly also the Gypsum and Calcite pigs (though not sure the Fluorite one should worry, and probably the Topaz-using pig might be no worse off). 172.70.86.37 19:24, 30 July 2024 (UTC)
As a first approximation, one might use a single dried seed, held in fine grippers such as needle-nose pliers. Anyone have the pliers, some crushed chilies, and a mineral test kit? BunsenH (talk) 20:19, 30 July 2024 (UTC)