July 28, 2003
Berkeley Lab Science Beat
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 Shake, Rattle, n' Flow

Water in Florida wells oscillated six meters after the 1964 Alaska earthquake; after California's 1989 Loma Prieta quake, area streams swelled to 15 times normal flow. Stream surges and well fluctuations, long dismissed as oddities, now open a window into earthquakes and hydrological systems, from small watersheds to vast aquifers.

Mudpots and Microbes

Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula is intensely volcanic, sparsely populated, and as big as California. To U.S. bioprospectors, partnered with former Soviet bioweaponeers now turned to peaceful pursuits, this vast realm of geysers and acid lakes is a treasure trove of extremophile microbes, promising benefits for agriculture, medicine, and industry.

A Twist of Flame

Homes, businesses, and power plants run on natural gas, but clean as it is, gas burners generate smog-causing nitrogen oxides. New ultraclean, low-swirl combustion emits ten to a hundred times less nitrogen oxides than conventional burners -- a result so surprising that advances in theory are needed to explain it.
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When gold nuclei collide, two jets of elementary particles squirt out; if one is "quenched," however, it's a clue that the long-sought quark-gluon plasma is within reach.

Good timing helps NERSC supercomputers explain mysterious gamma-ray bursts.

A portable CT scanner for examining core samples at remote drilling sites helps researchers find natural gas under oceans and permafrost.

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