Feature

The future of earthquake prediction

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a new tool to predict earthquakes.

A Boeing subsidiary called Liquid Robotics has developed "automated surfboard-like devices" to help scientists forecast earthquakes, said James Hookway at The Wall Street Journal. These Wave Gliders capture data transmitted from "aviation-style black-box beacons" buried in the ocean floor, enabling scientists to build better computer models to identify "where the Earth's tectonic plates are moving smoothly," and where they might trigger an earthquake.

The devices can't precisely predict the next earthquake, but they can provide "clues to where really big ones are most likely to occur." The Gliders use solar power and "an underwater element that captures and transforms wave motion" to stay active for months at a time. They were originally designed to eavesdrop on the singing of humpback whales.

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