Stanford University has started a revolutionary new program to link up notebook computers across the world to monitor for earthquakes. Here is how it works.
Stanford University has launched a revolutionary earthquake monitoring program that utilizes a tiny component called an accelerometer found in many laptop computers. It also offers a USB based sensor for a very low fee to use in desktop computers and older laptops without an accelerometer.
Many Macintosh, IBM, ACER and other laptops manufactured after 2006 contain the tiny devices which are used to protect the laptop’s hard drive in the event of a fall. Once the accelerometer senses that the computer is being dropped it will freeze the hard drive so that damage is reduces.
These same accelerometers can also sense earthquakes. For years hobbyists have been tinkering with using them as seismometers and now thanks to the new program called Quake-Catcher, laptops can be linked together to form an earthquake sensing network on a large scale.
Such real time information may be able to predict activity that precedes an earthquake. If enough laptops are linked together a very widespread, sensitive network will eventually be formed.
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The software is for both PC’s and Macs and is free to download from Stanford University at the following site:
Once you have joined the network all you need to do is make sure the computer is placed on a hard, level surface such as a desk and is connected to the web. If you are using the USB sensor it needs to be powered on.
Stanford University is also asking for donors to provide USB sensors to schools across the country so that they can participate. They offer educational materials for teachers to make the earthquake monitoring project part of the curriculum.
On the Stanford website you can also find a real time map showing the location of earthquake sensors and earthquake activity.