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november 2011

Highlights of 2011: New Zealand: After 8,000 aftershocks, when will it stop?

During the past year, many of the 386,000 inhabitants of New Zealand’s second-largest city, Christchurch, have thought and said one phrase over and over again: “When will it stop?” Starting in September 2010, several major earthquakes and more than 8,000 aftershocks have rocked the city and region. Rebuilding has started, been interrupted, started again and been halted again. People have been living without water, sewer, roads, offices and homes for so long that it may be hard to remember what “normal” is.

23 Nov 2011

Cantabrians keep humor in the hardship

Even though the inhabitants of Christchurch (Cantabrians) have had a nonstop year of hardships, they have kept their humor. A local named Bruce Raines started a “You know you are from Christchurch when…” Facebook page and solicited comments, from which he then published a book.

“You know you are from Christchurch when…”

  1. Half the kids are from broken homes.

  2. You tell the kids that Santa will land on the lawn where the chimney is now.

23 Nov 2011

Voices: Harassment of scientists reaches a fever pitch

In recent years, climate scientists, particularly those involved in communicating the risks of anthropogenic climate change to the public, have faced increasing levels of vitriol from politicians, pundits and the public alike. The news earlier this year that leading Australian climate scientists were receiving death threats, in the midst of a fierce debate on the implementation of a carbon tax, is just the latest escalation.

23 Nov 2011

Energy Notes: July 2010-2011

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 
20 Nov 2011

Down to Earth With: Matt Kuchta

Matt Kuchta is the geology program at the University of Wisconsin at Stout (UW-Stout), located in Menomonie, Wis. It’s a young program: Kuchta is in just his second year as a tenure-track assistant professor, after working as an adjunct instructor at the undergraduate instruction-focused school for two years while pursuing a doctorate in geology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which he received in 2009.

15 Nov 2011

Geotextiles: From sludge to shoreline protection to surfing - what's next?

Since their introduction in the early 1980s, geotextile structures have gained popularity in the engineering community and are now being used for a variety of geotechnical engineering applications. Geotextiles were originally developed as permeable reinforcement for soils in landscape applications. Woven and nonwoven geotextiles, known for their strength and permeability, are typically made from the synthetic polymers polypropylene and polyester, but natural fibers like coir and jute are becoming more popular.

13 Nov 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Tin

Tin was one of the earliest-known metals. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3500 B.C. Bronze, a copper-tin alloy that can be sharpened and is hard enough to retain a cutting edge, was used during the Bronze Age in construction tools as well as weapons for hunting and war. The geographical separation between tin-producing and tin-consuming nations greatly influenced the patterns of early trade routes. Historians think that as early as 1500 B.C., Phoenicians traveled by sea to the Cornwall district of England to obtain tin. The pure metal was not used unalloyed until about 600 B.C.

 
13 Nov 2011

Where the rubber meets the road

Lessons Learned From a Cross-country Road Trip in a Natural Gas Vehicle

In what seems like a replay of a bad 1970s movie — with high oil prices, prominent energy security risks, and fluctuating emissions regulations — Americans are looking for alternatives to gasoline. But this time around, many industrial proponents, investors, experts and energy enthusiasts claim they have a solution: natural gas
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08 Nov 2011

Benchmarks: November 7, 1940, and November 25, 1990: Washington suffers a pair of debilitating bridge failures

Washington’s Puget Sound comprises an intricate network of rivers, lakes, inlets and islands, many of which are traversed by bridges that safely carry more than 100,000 cars each day. With November upon us, however, civil engineers and Department of Transportation officials in Washington must be holding their collective breath. Historically, the 11th month has not been kind to area bridges.
 
07 Nov 2011

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