California continues to shake following yesterday’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Napa. Associate Professor Andrew Newman travels around the world, trying to better understand earthquakes and volcanoes.
Despite being the largest earthquake in the region in the past 25 years, the Napa earthquake represents the overall expected behavior of the earth's crust near the active plate boundary that separates most of North America from the Pacific plate. Along the San Andreas and adjacent faults, the plates try to slide past one another at a little more than an inch a year. When the surface between the plates sticks, it builds energy that is released in these earthquakes.
After the economic and airline disruption caused by the now infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, it's not surprising that the stirring of another Iceland volcano has gained great attention. This time it’s Bardarbunga, a volcano in central Iceland. Numerous earthquakes at 5 to 10 kilometers near the volcano have caused wide speculation about the potential of eruption. Associate Professor Josef Dufek is a volcanologist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
The humanitarian tragedies unfolding around the world have left many wondering what they can do to help. The Georgia Tech Health & Humanitarian Logistics Center uses science to improve areas of humanitarian need. Julie Swann, co-director of the center and associate professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering, offers advice to those who want to help struggling areas.
It is heartbreaking to watch those battling Ebola in Africa, and people struggling in conflict areas including Iraq and Ukraine. For those of you driven to help, there is one important issue to keep in mind: SWEDOW. It stands for Stuff We Don't Want.
Associate Professor David Ballantyne is on the science team for NuSTAR, a telescope that NASA launched in June 2012. Ballantyne helped plan the mission, which looks at black holes in ways never seen before. NASA has now released some of the instrument's newest findings. NuSTAR has watched a black hole's gravity pull X-ray light, stretching and blurring that light. Black hole experts like Ballantyne have observed this phenomenon before, but never in so much detail.
Three years ago, Assistant Professor David Hu took a close look at how fire ants work together to build waterproof rafts to stay alive. By looking at the edges and tops of rafts, the team discovered that ants grip each other with their mandibles and legs at a force of 400 times their body weight.
Now, he's taking an even closer peek. Hu froze ants and scanned them with a miniature CT scan machine to look at the strongest part of the structure – the inside – to discover how opaque ants connect, arrange and orient themselves with each other. It turns out they're very strong, very smart and very clueless.
Searchers listening for the pinger aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are entering their final days of hope. The pinger's batteries are expected to die very soon, even though there are better indications that searchers are getting closer. This is day 31 and batteries are supposed to last 30-45 days. Associate Professor Annalisa Braccois is an oceanographer and is keeping tabs on the search.
Don't stress over filling out that NCCA Tournament bracket! Joel Sokol, an associate professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering, explains how the Logistic Regression Markov Chain (LRMC) method knows who's going to win it all. Hint: Pick Louisville.
March Madness isn't just about basketball. It's also partly the madness around the plethora of data used to predict the winner of the annual NCAA Tournament.
With such a wide variety of potential data –road/neutral records, per-possession statistics and injury updates are just a few – it’s no wonder that there are so many different team rankings, meta-rankings and NCAA Tournament predictions.
The latest mission to Mars successfully launched today from Cape Canaveral, Fla, and several Georgia Tech students and professors were in attendance for the launch. Dubbed MAVEN, for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, the probe will spend one year in space studying the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Below, James Wray, an assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech who studies the geology of Mars, talks about what MAVEN means for Mars researchers.
A major earthquake (7.2-magnitude) hit the central Philippines this morning. The death toll is approaching 100, as churches and other buildings, including a hospital, collapsed. Associate Professor Andrew Newman studies earthquakes, volcanoes and their impacts on society.
Tropical Cyclone (TC) Phailin (Cat. 5) is taking aim at India’s densely populated Bay of Bengal coastline. TC Phailin is schedule to make landfall on Saturday with potentially catastrophic storm surges threatening to flood tens of kilometers inland along the Odisha coastline. Cyclone awareness, education and evacuation plans are critical for saving lives. India must evacuate!
Wildfires have become more severe and frequent in the western United States and other regions of the world in recent years. As part of a recently funded National Science Foundation project, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professors Yuhang Wang and Yi Deng will develop apply a state-of-the-science community earth system model (CESM1) to understand the interactions between climate change and wildfires.
As if you needed an excuse to look up at the night sky, this Sunday (June 23) the full moon will seem especially big and bright. It will be most striking when it’s near the horizon.
What causes a Supermoon?
The Moon is an elliptical orbit around the Earth, meaning that its distance from the Earth can vary from a minimum of 357,000 km to a maximum of 407,000 km. The average perigee and apogee are 363,300 km and 405,500 km, respectively, and the variation over the course of the year is due to the Sun's gravitational influence as the Earth and Moon move along their orbit throughout the year. The coincidence of a full moon and the perigee (closest distance) is what dictates a Supermoon, which is what will occur on Sunday.
Strong winds and heavy rain are effecting today's clean-up efforts in Moore, Oklahoma, three days after the devastating tornado. More rain is in the forecast for this weekend. Associate Professor Ozlem Ergun is co-director of Georgia Tech's Center for Health and Humanitarian Logistics and explains what happens next in the clean-up process.
The tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday resulted in loss of life and heart-wrenching devastation. Many people across the U.S. are asking how to help. Julie Swann, co-director of the Humanitarian Logistics Center at Georgia Tech, explains what is the best way to reach those in need.
Yesterday, during a conference in Washington D.C., NASA Administrator Charles Bolden once again made it clear: a human mission to Mars is currently the ultimate destination in the solar system and a priority for NASA. Assistant Professor James Wray, a member of the Curiosity science team, thinks it's possible to land humans on the Red Planet in 20 years...if we get started now and increase the budget.
There’s a lot of discussion about the potential impact of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, otherwise known as sequestration. Federal funding plays a very significant role in Georgia Tech’s overall budget, particularly the research program. Steve Cross is executive vice president for research, and along with Robert Knotts, Georgia Tech’s director of federal relations, he’s been monitoring the situation in Washington very closely. While Georgia Tech doesn’t expect a dramatic immediate impact and there are no plans for layoffs or furloughs, reducing investments in research would produce long-term consequences for Georgia Tech, the state and nation.
The end of year provides an opportunity to reflect on significant events of the past year. My choice for the most important climate story of the year? Climate fast attack plan from February. Visit the post by clicking here.
On Monday, scientists controlling Curiosity provided an update on Mars. The first soil sample checked out by the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM) contains hints of "organic" chemicals essential for life, but the rover team isn't yet sure if they're native to Martian soil, a meteorite or if it's contamination from Curiosity's Earth-made instruments. Future analysis will figure it out.
College of Sciences Assistant Professor James Wray is on Curiosity's science team and has been pouring over the new data for weeks. He was at the press event on Monday.
Sandy is a terrific example of how the U.S. is adapting to the elevated hurricane activity. Hurricane Katrina was a huge wake up call. A key element of this adaptation is good weather forecasts. Another key element is good partnership between the forecasters and decision makers. It is reassuring to see this success, particularly in view of the issues surrounding the Italian seismologists. Continue reading →
Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L’Aquila.
I have been fielding a few queries from the press on this. One reporter asked for parallels from the weather hazard forecasting world, in terms of whether this outcome would have a chilling effect in the weather hazards community. I said that since weather forecasters make forecasts to the public every day, the public and the decision makers have a pretty good understanding of how reliable these forecasts are, and on what time horizons. And most of these forecasts are accompanied by some indication of uncertainty (notably the ‘cone of uncertainty’ for hurricane tracks).
An Italian court yesterday sentenced six scientists and a government bureaucrat to six years in jail on manslaughter charges for their failure to predict an earthquake in 2009, which left more than 300 people dead. Reggie DesRoches, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, weighs in on this controversial decision and impact on future scientific research.
The recent conviction of the six scientists from Italy for “failing” to give adequate warning of an earthquake that struck L’aquila, Italy, in 2009 sets a dangerous precedent and will likely discourage scientists and engineers from offering advice that can help communities around the world. One of the convicted scientists, Dr. Gian Michele Calvi is a colleague and friend, and is considered an international leader in earthquake-resistant design. My heart goes out to him and his family.
Monday’s landing of the Curiosity rover is so ambitious and nerve-wracking that NASA has dubbed the fall from space as “seven minutes of terror.” Georgia Tech Professor Robert Braun, who is on the mission review board, will have a front-row seat for the dramatic landing in the control room of the Jet Propulsion Lab. The former NASA chief technologist explains what to expect as this SUV-sized robotic rover attemps to land on the Red Planet.
In the early morning hours of August 6 EST, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will reach Mars and autonomously complete a series of choreographed steps to slow and configure its Curiosity rover for landing. The MSL entry, descent and landing process is one of the most complex operations NASA has ever attempted.
At the London 2012 Summer Games, Olympic timekeepers Omega will unveil the latest technology that can measure an athlete’s performance to one thousandth of a second. Linda Milor, professor of electrical engineering at Georgia Tech, explains how this innovative timekeeping technology (video) will offer an unprecedented level of precision and accuracy.
Right now we are working with clocks that do calculations faster than we ever did before. The accuracy of today’s timing circuitry is one thousandth of a second, so it is 100 times more accurate than a stopwatch.
The week, Yahoo announced its new CEO will be Marissa Mayer, Google’s first female engineer (who also happens to be seven months pregnant). At the helm of the Fortune 500 company, Mayer will be one of the most influential women in technology. She’s also likely to be a role model for young girls, showing them that a woman can break into the male-dominated field of engineering and computer science and be a leader. Christine Valle, director of Georgia Tech’s Women in Engineering program, is cautiously optimistic that Mayer’s appointment could change the tide and increase the number of women in STEM fields.
Roughly 1.4 million people from Indiana to Washington D.C. do not have power to keep them cool during the record-setting heat wave. While the number of people without service has decreased since a peak of 4 million on Friday, it is still going to take some time to get the remaining customers back online. Sakis Meliopoulos, Georgia Power Distinguished Professor at Georgia Tech, explains why.
This particular set of events and the outages are purely weather related. There were no power grid issues, but this does not exclude the possibility that as the hot weather persists we may see some power grid issues, such as deficiencies in generation if several plants experience failures due to the weather and the rise of demand due to high temperatures.
NASA's new high-energy space telescope is safely in orbit after this afternoon's launch above the South Pacific. NuSTAR's X-ray technology will allow scientists to see image areas of the universe, including black holes, in never-before-seen ways. Astrophysicist David Ballantyne studies black holes in the College of Sciences and watched the live webcast with serveral of his students. Ballantyne is on NuSTAR's science team.
It's very exciting to be involved in a mission like this because we don't have these types of launches very often. We don't get new space telescopes very frequently, and that frequency is about to greatly diminish. There are no other American missions in the pipeline. Even if something were to be planned, it wouldn't be launched until the 2020's at the earliest. That's why today was important and interesting.
The next big step is next week, as Ballantyne explains in this video.
When NASA launches a new telescope this Wednesday that will look at black holes in ways never seen before, Georgia Tech astrophysicist David Ballantyne will be more than a curious bystander. He helped plan the mission.
Ballantyne, one of the Institute’s black hole experts, is on the science team of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), which is scheduled for launch Wednesday morning. He’s one of a handful of people who decided where the high-energy X-ray telescope will point while in orbit. NuSTAR’s technology will allow it to image areas of the universe in never-before-seen ways. Ballantyne will be among the first scientists to see the images and examine the data when it becomes available this later this summer.
A second earthquake has hit northern Italy, this time killing at least 15 people. The 5.8 magnitude quake comes just nine days after last Sunday's 6.0 tremblor, which killed seven people. Scientists believe the two events are connected.
Andrew Newman and Zhigang Peng are researchers in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. They discuss Italy's earthquake history, why the quakes aren't uncommon and why they're so deadly.
So, what can we expect for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season? All of the seasonal forecasts are coming in for a near or below normal year. But already, we have seen two named storms, before the official of the hurricane season on June 1.
This year has been a pretty good one so far for Earth based observations, with the Super Moon and great views of the outer planets. But it's about to get even better! Depending on where you are, you'll be able to see this year's Venus transit on either June 5th or 6th. Here's some info about it.
What is a transit? A transit occurs when a planet moves across the face of a star. In our solar system, there are only 2 planets that we can observe transiting from Earth: Mercury and Venus. But transits do occur in all planetary systems. The Kepler telescope uses the dip in light caused by a transit to find extrasolar planets.
If you live in the western US (or Japan or China) you are in for a treat this Sunday (May 20th): there is going to be a solar eclipse! This eclipse is actually what is known as an annular eclipse due to the fact that the outer edge of the Sun will remain visible throughout the eclipse. Due to the geometry of the eclipse, some locations will observe a partial eclipse, while others will be lucky enough to see the complete annular eclipse. Sadly, those of us on the east coast will not be able to see the eclipse at all as sunset occurs before the eclipse starts. The following clip explains a lot more details about this Sunday's event:
The European Space Agency (ESA) has chosen its next major mission: it's headed to Jupiter to check out three of the planet's largest moons. The JUICE mission, which stands for JUpiter ICy moon Explorer, is expected to launch in 2022 and arrive at the Jupiter system in 2030. Carol Paty is an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
The secret to finding a new job? Keep your spirits up, even when faced with rejection or little feedback. Psychology Professor Ruth Kanfer just wrapped up a study that focused on motivation and discusses the findings.
The research shows that having a more positive, motivational outlook had a beneficial effect on job pursuit, especially at the outset of the search. However, the more important influence on maintaining one's job search activities and increasing the likelihood of landing employment was a person's ability to stay energized and keep negative emotions under control over time.
This afternoon, a group of billionaire entrepreneurs will announce their plan to mine asteroids for resources like fuel, platinum and gold. Stephen Fleming, who heads up Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute and is active in the "alternative space" industry, weighs in on this plan to turn the stuff of science fiction into reality.
Some of us grew up reading stories about asteroid mining. For a child born in the 1960s, as I was, it seemed obvious that we'd have routine access to space -- and profitable businesses mining resources from space -- by the year 2012.
Like most cities in the U.S., Atlanta is plagued with horrendous traffic. Undoubtedly the congestion could be eased if more people used public transporation. But public transit is often slow and frustrating. Take riding the bus for example. It’s typical to wait a while, only to have several buses show up one after another. Fortunately, Georgia Tech's Industrial & Systems Engineering Professor John Bartholdi has an answer to the bus bunching dilemma. Abandon the fixed schedule, tell drivers to go with the flow of traffic and use a "self-equalizing" formula developed by Georgia Tech.
When a massive earthquake hit off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra earlier today, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch for the entire Indian Ocean. But a few hours later, when no major waves occurred, the watch was lifted.
Hermann Fritz, Georgia Tech associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, explains why this earthquake did not cause a devastating tsunami like in 2004, when a 9.1-magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean resulted in a devastating tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 14 countries.
James Wray, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is an expert on Mars. He comments on NASA's latest image of the Red Planet, which shows a giant dust devil that stretches nearly 12 miles above the surface.
Geologically, much of the action on Mars ended a few billion years ago. The largest volcanic eruptions, meteoroid impacts and liquid water flows all fizzled out long ago. But the winds on Mars continue to blow and, even though the Martian atmosphere is over 100 times thinner than Earth's, these winds can still lift dust particles high into the air.
Thanks to the automotive industry’s recovery and America’s demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, automakers are recruiting engineers en masse to develop the next generation of electric and hybrid cars. Ford, for example, recently doubled its engineering staff to increase its production capacity of fuel-saving vehicles.
Michael Leamy, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, says automakers are looking for engineers with multidisciplinary skills.
There is demand for electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers. In particular, automakers want students who have cut their teeth, so to speak, on vehicle competition teams, such as Formula SAE and EocCAR.
M-dwarfs, or small stars about half the size of our sun, are the most popular stars in the Milky Way: our galaxy has nearly 150 billion of them. A team of European astronomers recently looked at 102 M-dwarfs and found two planets orbiting inside what is called the "Goldilocks" region – the region where temperatures are not too hot or cold for liquid water. In theory, that means there are tens of billions of Goldilocks planets in the Milky Way. If there's water, there could be life, says School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Associate Professor James Wray.
The latest blog post from Judith Curry's Climate, Etc.
It’s a national embarrassment. It has resulted in large unnecessary costs for the U.S. economy and needless endangerment of our citizens. And it shouldn’t be occurring.
What am I talking about? The third rate status of numerical weather prediction in the U.S. It is a huge story, an important story, but one the media has not touched, probably from lack of familiarity with a highly technical subject. And the truth has been buried or unavailable to those not intimately involved in the U.S. weather prediction enterprise. Continue reading →
Gary May, dean of Georgia Tech's College of Engineering, the largest in the nation, weighs in on why engineers are in such high demand.
U.S News and World Report recently reported that the unemployment rate in the field of engineering is at two percent. Industry watchers see demand for all types of engineers particularly in electrical, computer, mechanical and petroleum engineering, to name a few. But the percentage of U.S. undergraduates enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs is now down to its lowest level in recent memory. According to the National Science Foundation, only 4.5 percent of all undergraduates graduate from college with engineering degrees.
Mexico continues to clean up from Tuesday's 7.4 earthquake that shook the entire country. The strong quake was centered in the southern part of the nation near Acapulco. Although the disaster damaged almost 1,000 homes and collapsed 60 more, there were no deaths.
Zhigang Pang, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, studies earthquakes and says scientists are not able to currently predict quakes before they happen. However, Pang says, experts weren't caught off guard.
Georgia Tech Associate Professor Andrew Newman has been monitoring more than 20 GPS stations on the famous Greek island of Santorini since 2006. He didn't see much action until January of last year. Since then, however, the beautiful island has been moving at unprecedented levels thanks to earthquakes created by the expansion of the volcano undeneath the well-known ciliff side villas and hotels. Some of Newman's stations have moved as much as nine centimeters.
That doesn't mean an erupt is imminent. In fact, other calderas like Santorini's have expanded at similar levels without erupting. But should it blow its top, Newman said it could prove to be dangerous for the tourist spot.
With the average gas price at $3.83 per gallon, Americans are feeling pressure at the pump so far this year.
But public cries for the U.S. government to bring down oil prices in the next few months are unrealistic and show a lack of knowledge of the world’s oil market, said Sam Shelton, research program director at Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute.
Oil is an international commodity. The world’s oil supply and demand sets the worldwide price. No matter where in the world the oil is produced, the cost is the same. Bringing down oil and gasoline prices in the U.S. requires bringing them down worldwide.
The Tohoku tsunami was Japan’s deadliest in more than 100 years. Despite an extraordinary level of preparedness by the Japanese, the tsunami caused more than 90 percent of the almost 20,000 fatalities last March.
Hermann Fritz, Georgia Tech associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his research team are studying the impact of the tsunami on the Sanriku coast. Using eyewitness video and terrestrial laser scanners from atop the highest buildings that survived the tsunami, Fritz has mapped the tsunami’s height, velocity and flood zone to learn more about the flow of the devastating currents.
Recorded between Tokyo and SendaiThe first wave is the mainshock. The other sounds are aftershocks.
What does a 9.0-magnitude earthquake sound like as it moves through the earth? Intense.
Zhigang Peng, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has taken the recorded seismic measurements from last year's historic Japan earthquake and made them audible. He's sped up the data in order to increase the frequency to audible levels.
“We’re able to bring earthquake data to life by combining seismic auditory and visual information,” said Peng, whose research is described in more detail here. “People are able to hear pitch and amplitude changes while watching seismic frequency changes. Audiences can relate the earthquake signals to familiar sounds such as thunder, popcorn popping and fireworks.”
Mars is too cold for liquid water these days, but scientists are constantly debating if oceans covered the Red Planet billions of years ago. A new study from France suggests that Mars was once a "watery world."
James Wray, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, studies Mars as part of Georgia Tech's Planetary Surface Geology Group. He and his peers are searching for life in the universe or conditions that could support life.
Want to win your March Madness pool this year? Then check out the predictions by Georgia Tech's LRMC (Logistic Regression Markov Chain). The system has predicted the outcomes of NCAA tournament games more accurately than other competing ranking systems. Joel Sokol, associate professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering, explains how it works in this video.
A new study, discussed in National Geographic, indicates that a volcano in Death Valley National Park is younger – much younger – than previously thought. Until now, scientists thought the eruptions that caused California's Ubehebe Crater occured thousands of years ago. New research hints that they occurred 800 years ago. Death Valley is pretty much the same today as it was eight centuries ago, which means conditions might be ripe for another potential eruption.
Andrew Newman, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, says it takes a very long time for a volcano to be deemed "extinct."
The moon is more than 240,000 miles from Earth. On Friday, an asteroid the size of a city bus (35 feet/11 meters) will fly within 36,500 miles of us. Scientists around the world aren't worried. You shouldn't be either, according to Carol Paty, Assistant Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
"While 11 meters sounds big, even if as asteroid of this size did collide with the Earth it would break up into smaller pieces and burn up in the atmosphere," said Paty, who studies planets within the College of Sciences. "Even if an asteroid of this size did collide with the Earth, it would break up into smaller pieces and burn up in the atmosphere."
Experts say an asteroid would have to be rougly 460 feet (140 m) across to cause widespread damage near their impact side.