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08/10/2006

NSF-Funded Wireless Network Leads Palomar Observatory Astronomers to Major Discoveries

For the past three years, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory in Southern California have been using the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) as the data transfer cyberinfrastructure to further our understanding of the universe. Recent applications include the study of some of the most cataclysmic explosions in the universe, the hunt for extrasolar planets, and the discovery of our solar system's tenth planet. The data for all this research is transferred via HPWREN from the remote mountain observatory to college campuses hundreds of miles away.

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06/29/2006

Study of 8.7-Magnitude Earthquake Lends New Insight into Post-Shaking Processes

Robert Tindol
Although the magnitude 8.7 Nias-Simeulue earthquake of March 28, 2005, was technically an aftershock, the temblor nevertheless killed more than 2,000 people in an area that had been devastated just three months earlier by the December 2004, magnitude 9.1 earthquake. Now, data returned from instruments in the field provide constraints on the behavior of dangerous faults in subduction zones, fueling a new understanding of basic mechanics controlling slip on faults, and in turn, improved estimates of regional seismic risk.
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06/23/2006

Media to Learn Newest Ways to Report on Earthquakes at Open House and Workshop

Jill Perry
The California Institute of Technology will unveil its newly renovated Earthquake Media Center to the news media at 9:30 a.m. June 29. This Open House event will include a free "Earthquakes 101" Workshop for the media where Caltech and U.S. Geological Survey scientists will discuss a wide range of topics to help new and veteran earthquake reporters cover the next major earthquake.
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04/11/2006

Hubble Space Telescope Obtains Best-Ever Size Measurement of Xena; Still Larger Than Pluto

Robert Tindol
To paraphrase a certain young lady from literature, the tenth planet Xena is getting curiouser and curiouser. Data released today by the Space Telescope Science Institute reveals that Xena is about 5 percent larger than Pluto, which means that it must be the most reflective planet in the solar system.
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04/04/2006

Caltech Unveils New Virtual Exhibit for Historical Earthquake Archives

Deborah Williams-Hedges
April 18 marks the centennial of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake. In commemoration of that event and the landmark developments that followed it, the California Institute of Technology Archives is presenting a new digital exhibit, Documenting Earthquakes: A Virtual Exhibit in Six Parts. This online display, for use by the public, media, and educators, can be viewed at http://archives.caltech.edu/exhibits/earthquake/index.html.
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04/03/2006

Watson Lecture: Bacterial Biofilms

Kathy Svitil
Next time you're brushing your teeth in the morning, give a thought to biofilms, the complex communities of bacteria that form the slippery scum you're scouring off your teeth, along with the slime on river rocks, the gunk in clogged drains, and filmy coatings on just about any surface, anywhere, that's exposed to water.
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03/30/2006

Fault That Produced Largest Aftershock Ever Recorded Still Poses Threat to Sumatra

Robert Tindol
A mere three months after the giant Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami of December 2004, tragedy struck again when another great earthquake shook the area just to the south, killing over 2,000 Indonesians. Although technically an aftershock of the 2004 event, the 8.7-magnitude Nias-Simeulue earthquake just over a year ago was itself one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. Only six others have had greater magnitudes.
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03/01/2006

Study of 2004 Tsunami Disaster Forces Rethinking of Theory of Giant Earthquakes

Robert Tindol
The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of December 26, 2004, was one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, mostly on account of the devastating tsunami that followed it. A group of geologists and geophysicists, including scientists at the California Institute of Technology, has delineated the full dimensions of the fault rupture that caused the earthquake.
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02/17/2006

Watson Lecture: The 10th Planet

Kathy Svitil
In 2005, after seven years scanning half the sky for planets in our solar system beyond Pluto and discovering dozens of large new objects, Michael E. Brown and his colleagues finally found 2003 UB313, aka "Xena," the first object larger than Pluto, and the first that might be called a new planet.
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01/18/2006

Dust Found in Earth Sediment Traced to Breakup of the Asteroid Veritas 8.2 Million Years Ago

Robert Tindol
In a new study that provides a novel way of looking at our solar system's past, a group of planetary scientists and geochemists announce that they have found evidence on Earth of an asteroid breakup or collision that occurred 8.2 million years ago.
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