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Remote Sensing Roundup

October 24, 2008

New features built into laptops can help scientists detect earthquakes.


Using laptops to track earthquakes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

New laptop computers have built-in accelerometers: devices that can tell if a laptop has been bumped or dropped. University of Southern California geologists want to put that ability to a new use: earthquake detection. People who sign up for the Quake Catcher Network allow their laptops to send vibration data to the university. If one laptop reports a rumble, the network ignores it. But if many laptops report a disturbance at the same time, it could indicate an earthquake. Geologists then study the quake by mapping the location and intensity of the shaking laptops. To sign up, check the Science Update website for details.

In other threat-detection news, an Icelandic research team has invented a quick new way to test for bacteria that make fish stink. The device can help fisherman find rotten fish before they end up in a fish stick. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.