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may 2011

D-Day's Legacy: Remnants of invasion linger in beach sands

Before dawn on June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops began storming the shores of Normandy, France, in what would be the turning point of World War II. Troops poured out of planes and off ships along an 80-kilometer stretch of coastline. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 airplanes supported the ground troops. The battles were bloody and brutal, but by day’s end, the Allies had established a beachhead. Gen. Dwight D.

27 May 2011

Hazardous Living: Italian seismologists on trial for manslaughter

Last June, EARTH reported that seven Italian scientists were under investigation and might be charged with manslaughter for not predicting (and warning the public about) the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck L’Aquila, Italy, in April 2009. By last fall, it looked like the charges might be dropped – with the support of many of the world’s seismologists.

26 May 2011

Mysterious disease sounds the death knell for bats

These are dark days for bats. Hundreds of thousands of tiny white-nosed bats have died over the past few winters, falling to cave floors across the eastern United States. The killer is White Nose Syndrome, a mysterious disease inflicted by an unusual cold-loving fungus that attacks bats while they are hibernating. Come spring, as few as 5 percent of the bats in heavily infected roosts are still alive.

18 May 2011

Japan's megaquake and killer tsunami: How did this happen?

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake ruptured a 500-kilometer-long fault zone off the northeast coast of Japan. Its epicenter was 130 kilometers off Sendai, Honshu; it occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 32 kilometers. The temblor violently shook northeast Honshu for six minutes, and collapsed its coastline by one meter.

17 May 2011

Don't forget about the Christchurch earthquake: Lessons learned from disaster

In the aftermath of the devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11, attention quickly turned away from a much smaller, but also highly destructive earthquake that struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, just a few weeks earlier, on Feb. 22.

17 May 2011

Benchmarks: May 31, 1889: Johnstown flood kills thousands

“It seemed to me as if all the destructive elements of the Creator had been turned loose at once in that awful current of water.” That’s how Col. Elias Unger, president of the corporation that maintained a dam and resort property called the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, described the water unleashed on the afternoon of May 31, 1889, when a dam at the club broke 23 kilometers above Johnstown, Pa. A little more than an hour later, a wall of water reached the town. In all, more than 2,200 people died in what is known as the Johnstown Flood.

02 May 2011

Down to Earth With: Evan Thomas

At age 16, Evan Thomas made a list of 100 life goals — his bucket list. At only 27 years old, he’s done pretty well so far: Graduate college with a degree in aerospace engineering — check. Get a doctorate by age 25 — almost (missed by 11 days). Work for NASA — check. Start a business, help people, travel the world — check, check, check. Get a private pilot license — check. Climb the world’s tallest mountains — in process.
 
02 May 2011

Where on Earth? - May 2011

Clues for May 2011:
1. This desert is actually a playa, the dry remnant of an ancient lake that evaporated due to a warming climate at the end of the Pleistocene. It also contains remnants of the region’s volcanic past, including hot springs and Permian-aged volcanic rocks.
2. The desert is located within a closed drainage basin that spans multiple states. The basin formed due to crustal extension that created a series of parallel mountain ranges separated by broad valleys.

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