Laptop computers are the key to a new earthquake-sensing project in California, the MIT Technology Review reports. Researchers are working to connect home and business computers in a network that could monitor activity and even provide early warning of big quakes. Motion detectors would report shaking to a central server, letting seismologists identify unusual movement concentrated in a particular area.
“We’re not trying to predict earthquakes, we're trying to measure them very rapidly and get the information out before damage is done to large populations," said a seismologist. Even seconds of warning could allow for automated measures like slowing or stopping trains, as is done in Japan. The beta Quake Catcher Network will focus first on the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas.