Scientists have tested a potential new weapon against tsunamis: underwater Internet. Aboard a yacht, researchers from the University at Buffalo dropped several 40-lb modems into Lake Erie. Instead of using radio waves, which have trouble in water, the BBC notes, these modems send out signals using sound waves—via chirping noises that can travel about a mile, Wired reports. The scientists successfully communicated with the devices using a laptop.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration already uses underwater tsunami sensors, but the system's data isn't immediately compatible with other official information. The Buffalo team is hoping to create a single standard for underwater communications. "A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time," notes the head researcher. "Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs, could help save lives."