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Comment Re:9.0 magnitude earthquake Unpossible? (Score 1) 258

The magnitude of earthquakes is a function of cross sectional area, average slip, and shear modulus of crust. Strike slip fault earthquakes rupture very near the surface. We can have a few hundred kilometers worth of rupture, but for some reason ruptures never happen along the entire length of the San Andreas but small portions of it (we've seen ~300 miles with the 1906 EQ). So there are limits to how large an earthquake can be on the San Andreas mostly because of limits to rupture lengths and the shallow depths of earthquake epicenters. If you were to rupture the entire southern San Andreas fault, you could get up to ~8.5. But that is may be unlikely. Crust in California is not homogeneous. Some parts of the crust can take way more stress than others. Some parts are constantly moving, preventing massive build ups of stress (e.g., around Parkfield), which may prevent a serious rupture in the area.

Comment predictions vs probability (Score 1) 258

If you look at earthquakes over many years, it's random. Humans love to see clusters. Actors die in threes. Airplanes crash in threes. It's what we do. Will a major earthquake happen on the San Andreas? Yes. Can we say when? No. Be prepared, but don't fear monger based on tenuous "global patterns" that have not been vetted by any peer reviewed science. Notice the probabilities in this new item. That is not prediction. It works like the 100-year flood. We know it'll happen based on "reoccurrence" intervals (which for earthquakes are more tenuous than for floods) and can assign a probability. We can know that there are a lot of stress on faults and know that a fault has not slipped in a very long time... but we can't know when the rocks will break.

Comment Re:The Teaching Company (Score 1) 467

I used The Teaching Company's Algebra series to get my math skills back -- with great results. I was in the military for 6 years, my brain was very idle, but I wanted to separate and go to college. I had terrible grades in High School. I used their algebra series to relearn everything and, when I finally left the military and started college, I had terrific results. While I did take algebra courses in college, I managed A's in all of them and also 1 A in Calc 1, and Calc 2 & 3 ended up with Bs. Frankly, that's pretty damn good in my opinion. The trick, of course, is actually completing the provided workbooks. I'm almost sure that I did not have to retake those algebra courses but I had prereqs to fulfill. I completely endorse Teaching Company's algebra products (well, the 2005-2006 versions, anyway, looks like they have changed their instructors :-(...)

Comment Note taking in Geology classes (Score 1) 569

It is nearly impossible to take notes using an electronic device in geology courses. As the OP mentioned, diagrams are rather difficult to draw quickly and effectively on electronic devices. Thus I use a pad of engineering paper to write all notes and draw all diagrams. The exception occurs for those times when the lecturer posts slides online beforehand and *never* draws on the blackboard. If necessary I convert to PDF and then use PDFXChange Viewer to annotate, highlight, and draw *very* simple diagrams or point out important parts with arrows. It's nice to have notes directly on the slides and it saves me time since I don't have to correlate notes with each slide during study sessions.

The tablet industry needs to prove that tablets can be fast and accurate when taking notes and diagramming.


Physicists Discover How To Teleport Energy 365

MikeChino writes "A physicist at Tohoku University in Japan has figured out how to teleport energy from one point in the universe to another. The technique is based upon prior research that shows it's possible to teleport information from one location to another, and involves making a measurement on each [of] an entangled pair of particles. The measurement on the first particle injects quantum energy into the system, and then by carefully choosing the measurement to do so on the second particle, it is possible to extract the original energy. Heady stuff, but essentially it means that you can inject energy at one point in the universe and extract it from somewhere else without changing the energy of the system as a whole."

Comment Journal Article (Score 3, Informative) 250

For those that are interested in considering scientific paper without the media filter:

Ferroir, Tristan, Leonid Dubrovinsky, Ahmed El Goresy, Alexandre Simionovici, Tomoki Nakamura, and Philippe Gillet. 2010. Carbon polymorphism in shocked meteorites: Evidence for new natural ultrahard phases. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 290, no. 1-2: 150-154. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2009.12.015.

I sure wish that secondary sources properly cited primary sources, even if they are only interviewing the main scientist involved. Giving the journal name and date as Discovery News did is a good step, though.

Comment Intrusive Igneous (Score 3, Interesting) 70

So if this is a coarse grained rock with a basalt composition, then I guess that means it is a Martian gabbro (on earth they tend to be used ornately as black "granite" countertops). Which is highly interesting because that may indicate crustal deformation. Here on earth, such rocks form deep in the ground in what we call plutons. These are pockets of magma that differentially crystallize into grabbros and granites. Plate tectonics nudges them to the surface and weathering + erosion helps to uncover them. The Sierra Nevadas is a continuous grouping of them called a Batholith. Yes, all that granodiorite use to be underfoot!

Anyhow, this could be important in perhaps proving that, yes, at one point, Mars had active plate tectonics. Planet formation kind of requires it but good to know Mars may have had some crazy earthquakes in the past uplifting such rocks to the surface.

Comment Contamination Concerns (Score 1) 141

Well, even U.S. scientists are very careful about the potential for organic contamination. Hopefully the satellite isn't simply detecting something deposited onto the detectors or nearby areas on the spacecraft. Carbon and oxygen are all over the universe, so even if contamination isn't a problem, detection of organics on the moon is not a surprise. To give an idea about the abundance of carbon, very large stars may end up in a carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) burning phase once they're used up all their heavier elements. What is really of interest is what organic molecules have been found. Amines would be exciting; particularly if they are amino acids.

Comment It beware the Geologist's hammer... (Score 1) 321

I'm no geologist (yet) and I have only looked superficially at this but the feature reminds me of what can be seen with columnar jointing. Nature can be amazingly precise and geometric sometimes. Normally it's basalt, and the ocean is pretty much basalt at the top-most levels of the ophiolite. If the basalt cools from the exterior, this can happen. I don't know if this can occur in the ocean as we tend to get pillow lavas as the basalt cools INCREDIBLY FAST and kinda oozes out. Also, with the extent of this feature, this would have to have been some sort of flood of basalt.

It's a pretty neat feature, real or unreal. Although I have to wonder what these people think about the very long linear feature called the Ninetyeast Ridge in the Indian ocean. Anyhow, got to love the masters of pattern: humans. Never fail to see things where there's really nothing.

Example and description:

Feed Statistical Analysis Of Complex Data Sets With Robust Statistical Methods (

Robust statistical analysis methods capable of dealing with large complex data sets are required more than ever before in almost all branches of science. The European Science Foundation's three-year SACD network developed new methods for extracting key structural features within the data. Such features can include outlying values that may be particularly significant within the increasingly large and complex data sets generated in financial markets, medical diagnostics, environmental surveys, and other sources.

Feed NASA Predicts Nongreen Plants On Other Planets (

NASA scientists believe they have found a way to predict the color of plants on planets in other solar systems. Green, yellow or even red-dominant plants may live on extra-solar planets, according to scientists whose two scientific papers appear in the March issue of the journal, Astrobiology.

Submission + - Story on Slashdot Story on BSD Demon

eldavojohn writes: " is reporting[right hand column] that Slashdot is reporting on Pat Robertson leading a Berkeley rally against 'demonic' BSD mascot. Also in's headlines is the story of the brave Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who was recently diagnosed with cataracts and "invited the first 100 people who show up at his home to perform surgery. "There may be some trial and error, but I'm confident the community will make the right decisions," Wales said." also has some very insightful stories on the possibility of MySpace being the internet's 'next big thing' and also the possibility of phishing being a problem for eBay."

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