Earthquakes at the Nanoscale

goldsby news

In 2008, Sichuan province in China experienced a massive magnitude-7.9 earthquake caused by the collision of the Indian-Australian and Eurasian plates along the Longmenshan Fault. The earthquake, which has been ranked as the 21st deadliest quake of all time, flattened four-fifths of the structures in the affected area, destroying whole towns and villages and leaving millions of people homeless. Almost 90,000 people were killed.

Kaiwen Tian, who was born and raised in Sichuan, distinctly remembers hearing news of the quake. Although he didn’t personally know anyone who was killed, many people he knew had family or friends who died in the quake. This, Tian says, is a huge part of the reason he decided to study earthquakes.

In collaboration with Robert Carpick and David Goldsby, Tian, who graduated from Penn in 2017 with a doctorate in physics, recently published a paper in Physical Review Letters which attempts to tackle these devastating natural phenomena by investigating the laws of friction at the smallest possible scale, the nanoscale.

“A grand challenge goal for the geophysics community,” says Goldsby, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, “is to come up with fundamental laws where not only do we know the form of the equations but we know all the coefficients as well: the numerical constants that go into the equation that governs friction.”

Full Story

Arts & Sciences News

Ralph Rosen to Serve as Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Studies

Rosen previously held the position of Associate Dean for Graduate Studies from 2008 to 2013.

View Article >
Navigating Urban Waters, With an Interdisciplinary Approach

In a research-based fellowship program this summer, a group of Penn graduate and undergraduate students are creating new narratives of their own, tied to water.

View Article >
Cancer Cells Send Out ‘Drones’ to Battle the Immune System From Afar

Researchers show that, to assist in the fight, cancer cells release biological “drones,” small vesicles called exosomes circulating in the blood and armed with the protein PD-L1, which causes T cells to tire before they have a chance to reach the tumor and do battle.

View Article >
Mary Frances Berry Discusses Her New Book “History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times”

In it, she shares her memories of being a protestor, provides an analysis of protest strategies, and highlights lessons from a lengthy history of fighting against injustice.

View Article >
Greening Vacant Lots Reduces Depression in City Dwellers

Revitalizing dilapidated environments may be an important, inexpensive tool to address mental health in urban communities.

View Article >
Martha Farah Elected to Prestigious British Academy Fellowship

Martha Farah has been made a Fellow of the prestigious British Academy for the humanities and social sciences.

View Article >