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March 11, 2011 an earthquake of magnitude 9 occurred off the east coast of Honshu, 160 km east of the city of Sendai and 400 km north-east of Tokyo. Although Japan is a highly seismic region, the event has surprised the experts by its size and location. This is an earthquake the most violent of the globe, of the same magnitude as that which occurred in Sumatra in December 2004 resulting in the death of 280,000 people. In Japan, the official death toll is nearly 16,000 dead and over 3,000 missing-but it could be underestimated.
The region was not particularly under surveillance since the fault was expected that the impending rupture was located along the Nankai Trough, several hundred miles away, off to Osaka. The historical seismicity of the region did not indicate any event of this magnitude. (Read Great earthquakes always surprising )

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In three minutes, estimated duration of the earthquake, the crust broke about 500 km long and 150 km wide. The many GPS stations have constituted a map of ground motions: the east coast of the island slipped four meters while the West has moved only a few tens of centimeters …

The earthquake was followed by strong aftershocks, including one of magnitude 7 occurring just forty minutes after the main event and 16 above magnitude 6.

The tsunami caused by the earthquake first hit the Japanese coast before spreading across the Pacific. The wave reached a height of 30 meters in some places and penetrated up to ten miles inland, crippling the Fukushima nuclear facilities.

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The archipelago is located at the junction of three tectonic plates , the Eurasian, Philippine and Pacific, with an additional small plates, like that of Okhotsk. The Pacific plate is sinking beneath the Eurasian plate along the Japan Trench at a rate of 8.5 cm / year. A small region of Eurasia provides a buffer and deforms intensely: the Okhotsk microplate.

Map plates around Japan (Institute of Earth Physics of Paris)

A little further south, the Pacific Plate also slides under the Philippine plate along the Izu Bonin pit, but its movement is only 5.5 cm / year. While a little further west, closer to shore, it is the Philippines plate that sinks under the Eurasian along the Nankai Trough at a speed of 4 cm / year.

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These disparate movements cause stresses that build up during non-earthquake and relax when suddenly the earthquake occurs. An outburst of energy that causes a rupture of the crust.

March 11, 2011, the Japan Meteorological Agency provided an estimate of the earthquake magnitude of 7.9 within 3 minutes after the earthquake. The agency at the same time issued a tsunami warning for waves with a height of 6 meters along the coast of Miyagi Prefecture and 3 meters for Iwate and Fukushima. The warning system worked well, says Hiroo Kanamori, a seismologist at Caltech (California Institute of Technnology, United Kingdom), but the calculations have underestimated the wave height.

In Iwate Prefecture, where protective walls 10 meters were built, residents have thought beyond the reach of the tsunami.

To improve the estimates and alerts, you must base calculations on a larger volume of data, Hiroo Kanamori believes. In this case, the Japanese agency had information from seismometers “short period” which should have been added seismometers “long period”, the two recording seismic waves of different nature. The technology exists, it is better to use it, concludes the researcher.

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To improve knowledge, we must also densify the installation of instruments (seismometers, GPS) to the surface of the globe to monitor seismic activity and have much information to understand the phenomena, says Thorne Lay, and consider that strong earthquakes occur in areas where we do not provide.

UNDERSTANDING: Plate tectonics

Plate tectonics is a theoretical framework for understanding the face of the earth and its changes over geological time. Formulated in the early twentieth century it was fully recognized in the 1960s. It states that the Earth’s crust is composed of a dozen tectonic plates moving against each other. The essential activity of telluric (earthquakes and volcanism) is concentrated along plate boundaries. These boundaries can be of three kinds: they can move away from each other and along the ocean ridges, they are so divergent.

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along the ocean ridges, they are so divergent.

Convergence zones are another type of boundary: this is the subduction zone where tectonic plate topped with an oceanic crust sinks beneath a continent. The Pacific Rim is surrounded by subduction zone at the origin of volcanoes that form the famous Pacific Ring of Fire. Finally, in some places, two tectonic plates slide abutting one another along and create a zone of fault like the San Andreas Fault, California.

Thin layers that curl themselves into tiny micro-and nanotubes whiz, with its own drive and magnet controlled by fluids. With this result, scientists are at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW), a world record, which has now been confirmed by the “Guinness World Records ltd”: the smallest man-made jet engines in the world.

The vision of the researchers is to design and produce complex nanomachines that are as capable of transporting small amounts of drugs and targeted to deliver a suitable place. Following the example of biological organisms to artificial micromachines using the chemical energy of their environment and use it for their own transportation. For these micro-and nano-missile under its own power, the research team led by Prof. Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt already have specific ideas for self-powered micro-containers usually are titanium, iron and platinum layers of tubes of about 5 micrometers in diameter and about . rolled up 50 micrometers in length.

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The innermost layer of these micro-tubes consists of platinum and simultaneously serves as a catalyst in the reaction of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. This forms oxygen bubbles that are ejected from the micro-or nanotubes, and thus lead to a rapid and directed movement of the tube. By an external magnetic field can movement, acceleration and direction changes of the tubes in a very simple manner be controlled remotely. More, even the loading and unloading of the transported cargo through the micro-tubes is possible through a magnetic field and precisely controlled. In initial experiments were already up to 60 styrofoam balls and some metal nanoplates are transported through the liquid.

Another promising strategy is the development of the self-powered micro-missiles with enzymes as catalysts. These consist of rolled titanium-gold layer and the enzyme catalase, which is common in animal cells and hydrogen peroxide decomposes into oxygen and water very effectively. Thus the driving force is increased significantly so that will be ten times higher speeds than previously achieved. In addition, micro-drives of this type are better suited for use in biological systems.

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The micro-and nanotubes are produced by the technology of the bracing-driven rolling up of thin layers of titanium, iron and platinum. Thin layers are deposited on surfaces that the layers are under extremely high mechanical tension. During detachment of the layers a portion of the strain energy is released, so that the layer rolls up or deformed. In this way, nano-and micro-tubes with great precision in certain diameters and different materials are made from very reproducible.

Part of the X chromosome comes from Homo sapiens and Neanderthal man and is found only among people outside of Africa, says an international team of researchers.

A sequence found in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa

The comparison between human DNA and that of Neanderthal man, recently deciphered (1) , showed that there had been a cross between these two species and that Homo Sapiens have fond memories in their genome since it would consist of 1 to 4% of Neanderthal DNA (see A bit of Neanderthal in us ). But new analyzes begin to indicate how, when and where were able to achieve these inclusions, confirming the work of the team Svante Pablo (Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany).

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In an article published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, Damian Labuda, Department of Pediatrics, University of Montreal (Quebec), indicates that it has identified on chromosome X a section of DNA different from the others who made comparison , seems to be a Neanderthal heritage. This sequence is found among peoples of all continents, including Australia, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa.

“There is little doubt that the presence of this sequence is due to the coupling of our ancestors with the Neanderthals. This is a very interesting result and further analysis could be used to learn more. ” says Dr. Nick Patterson of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, renowned researcher in the study of human origins that has not participated in this study.

Neanderthal man, whose ancestors left Africa there are between 400 and 800 000 years 000 years, has evolved over a territory which is today mainly to France, Spain, Germany and Russia. He lived until about 30,000 years. Meanwhile, the first modern humans left Africa there are some 80 000 to 50 000 years. Image Reuters.

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Characteristics of the remains of the techniques used by Neanderthal Man were found near the Arctic Circle. Their dating, estimated at 8000 years after the disappearance of theoretical Neanderthal Man, raises many questions.

A culture ever discovered around the Arctic Circle

The Mousterian culture, which developed during the Middle Paleolithic (-300 000 to -33 000 years), is distinguished by the use of a very diverse range of tools on flakes. In Europe the use of these tools has been exclusively associated with Neanderthal Man but the excavations indicate that the Middle East of the Homo Sapiens also have employees.

The remains were discovered on the site Byzovaya located in northern Russia in the immediate vicinity of the Arctic Circle on the current location of the Komi Republic. They consist of bones of mammoths and reindeer as well as flint. The bones bear the marks of modifications due to butchery activities of the Mousterian hunters. Through the use of carbon-14 and a technology of optical stimulation, the researchers were able to date them accurately.

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