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01/09/2007

Protoplanetary Disk Found Encircling Mira B

Robert Tindol

A team of astronomers is reporting today at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society that material from the dying star Mira A is being captured into a disk around Mira B, its companion.

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12/06/2006

Geologists Provide New Evidence for Reason Behind Rise of Life in Cambrian Period

Robert Tindol
Geologists have uncovered evidence in the oil fields of Oman that explains how Earth could suddenly have changed 540 million years ago to favor the evolution of the single-celled life forms to the multicellular forms we know today.
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12/04/2006

Anticipating Another Sumatran Tsunami

John Avery
Research by the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and Indonesian scientists indicates that within the next few decades another big tsunami could flood densely populated sections of western coastal Sumatra, south of those that suffered from the tsunami of December 2004.
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11/28/2006

Geobiologists Solve "Catch-22 Problem" Concerning the Rise of Atmospheric Oxygen

Robert Tindol
Two and a half billion years ago, when our evolutionary ancestors were little more than a twinkle in a bacterium's plasma membrane, the process known as photosynthesis suddenly gained the ability to release molecular oxygen into Earth's atmosphere, causing one of the largest environmental changes in the history of our planet. The organisms assumed responsible were the cyanobacteria, which are known to have evolved the ability to turn water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into oxygen and sugar, and are still around today as the blue-green algae and the chloroplasts in all green plants.
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10/16/2006

Watson Lecture: Natural Disasters

John Avery
The recent devastations caused by earthquakes in south and southwest Asia, by the Indian Ocean tsunami, and by hurricane Katrina offer dramatic proof that communities all over the world are both unaware of, and unprepared for, natural hazards. Unfortunately, while scientists understand much about these natural hazards, that knowledge commonly is not used to reduce the risks.
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09/22/2006

Caltech Researchers Reveal Three Distinct Modes of Dynamic Friction Rupture with Implications for Earthquake Behavior

Deborah Williams-Hedges
A new study by researchers at the California Institute of Technology has revealed important findings about the nature of ruptures and sliding behavior, which could impact how we respond to earthquakes and other disasters.
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09/14/2006

The Dwarf Planet Formerly Known as Xena Has Officially Been Named Eris, IAU Announces

Robert Tindol
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) today announced that the dwarf planet known as Xena since its 2005 discovery has been named Eris, after the Greek goddess of discord.
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09/08/2006

Jupiter-Sized Transiting Planet Found by Astronomers Using Novel Telescope Network

Robert Tindol
Our home solar system may be down by a planet with the recent demotion of Pluto, but the number of giant planets discovered in orbit around other stars continues to grow steadily. Now, an international team of astronomers has detected a planet slightly larger than Jupiter that orbits a star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco.
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08/24/2006

Xena Awarded "Dwarf Planet" Status, IAU Rules; Solar System Now Has Eight Planets

Robert Tindol
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) today downgraded the status of Pluto to that of a "dwarf planet," a designation that will also be applied to the spherical body discovered last year by California Institute of Technology planetary scientist Mike Brown and his colleagues. The decision means that only the rocky worlds of the inner solar system and the gas giants of the outer system will hereafter be designated as planets.
08/10/2006

Researchers Announce New Way to Assess How Buildings Would Stand Up in Big Quakes

How much damage will certain steel-frame, earthquake-resistant buildings located in Southern California sustain when a large temblor strikes? It's a complicated, multifaceted question, and researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Pau, France, have answered it with unprecedented specificity using a new modeling protocol.
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