Science: Quakes and Quasars

Except to fuel arguments among astronomers, quasars (for quasi-stellar objects) have proved of no practical value since their discovery in 1960. Now the faint, far-off points of light that are possibly the most distant objects in the universe—up to 12 billion light-years away —promise to take on more earthly importance. Scientists at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are hoping to use the bursts of high-frequency radio energy that come from quasars to help them predict earthquakes.

In theory, such forecasting should be easy. All tremors are preceded by small movements in the earth's crust....

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