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Science Technology

How Telescopes Deal With Earthquakes In Chile 82

Reader edgeofphysics provides a technical sidelight on the earthquake in Chile this morning — some details on how the European Southern Observatory protects the mirrors of the Very Large Telescope when an earthquake strikes. "Given that Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, how do astronomers protect their giant telescopes that have been built or are being built in the Chilean Andes? This blog post discusses how Chile's most advanced facility protects its priceless 8.2-meter primary mirrors in the event of an earthquake."
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How Telescopes Deal With Earthquakes In Chile

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  • Better than (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @06:08PM (#31300018)

    they protect the people who lives there, one assumes.

  • Re:Better than (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @07:06PM (#31300342) Journal
    No, this was a monster 8.8 earthquake, approaching a hundred times bigger than the Loma Prieta earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1989, collapsing a bridge and causing massive damage. This is not an easy thing to protect against: the observatory is lucky to be far away from the epicenter, and would be insane to not prepare for earthquakes in such an earthquake-prone area.

    The amazing thing is that so many buildings remained standing with an earthquake that size. Structural engineers are still not entirely sure how to deal with that kind of quake, because they happen so rarely. They did better preparing for quakes than SF did, or probably any county in the US.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @07:11PM (#31300368) Journal

    moderate quakes, of less than 7.75 Richter

    Only in Chile would a 7.75 earthquake be considered 'moderate.' Smaller earthquakes have devastated Haiti, Turkey, Taiwan, El Salvador, and parts of the US, India and Pakistan (and pretty much anywhere else such an earthquake has happened).

  • by Neoprofin ( 871029 ) <> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @05:08AM (#31304074)
    Not to split hairs, but I think it's a bit off base to compare anything earthquake related that has happened in the US to Pakistan or Turkey. The 1999 Izmit earthquake near Istanbul killed 18-40,000 people, the Kush earthquake in Pakistan nearly 80,000.

    By comparison the USGS records 37 earthquakes in the last 100 years, most of them in densely populated southern California, the combined death toll isn't over 500. I don't think the term "devastated" applied.

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