Can your laptop help with earthquake research?

October 7, 2008 at 12:35 pm 1 comment

I came across a very interesting concept the other night while listening to a netcast called “This Week in Technology” or TWIT( ) for those of you in the know on such things.  Interspersed with the other tech news was a discussion about how some folks at Stanford University are going to employ peoples laptops to further earthquake research.

It is called the Quake Catcher Network and the site for the program is to be found here:

Here is the site for a good general explainer on the program and the subject:



“As evidenced by the SETI@home program and others, individuals are especially willing to donate their unused computing power to projects that they deem relevant, worthwhile, and educational. The client- and server-side software rapidly monitors incoming seismic signals, detects the magnitudes and locations of significant earthquakes, and may even provide early warnings to other computers and users before they can feel the earthquake.

The open-source software will provide the client-user with a screen-saver displaying seismic data recorded on their laptop, recently detected earthquakes, and general information about earthquakes and the geosciences. Furthermore, this project will install USB sensors in K-12 classrooms as an educational tool for teaching science. Through a variety of interactive experiments students will learn about earthquakes and the hazards earthquakes pose. For example, students can learn how the vibrations of an earthquake decrease with distance by jumping up and down at increasing distances from the sensor and plotting the decreased amplitude of the seismic signal measured on their computer. We hope to include an audio component so that students can hear and better understand the difference between low and high frequency seismic signals. The QCN will provide a natural way to engage students and the public in earthquake detection and research.”
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Entry filed under: Disaster Preparedness, Technology. Tags: , , .

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