A single experiment on two steel beams, one at the University of Illinois and another at the University of Colorado, was directed by computers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Urbana.
Five times each second, information collected in the two laboratories was fed to a computer, which then sent a new set of instructions back to the labs.
The experiment was the first real-time test of the National Earthquake Engineering Simulation computer grid. It allows researchers outside the labs to watch an experiment unfold, visually and through the data that's collected.
Dan Abrams of the Mid-America Earthquake Center at the U of I says the grid should speed up the pace of earthquake research around the country.