Via a post on slashdot, someone has invented a computer program to help detect tsunamis in real time. Like a weather forecaster for earthquakes that might lead to big waves. Except the forecaster is probably a bit more accurate than the weatherman.
The technical approach is interesting. It uses peer-to-peer technology similar to the seti project. The application itself measures shakes of your hard drive similar to what an earthquake would generate. If enough hard drives in a geographic area all jump at the same time, well, it is likely that entire area jumped. Brilliant stuff. A real world use. From the article:
Governments seeking inexpensive technology to warn of tsunamis could be
interested in a free software application that monitors vibrations in
the hard disks of computers in an attempt to detect the undersea
earthquakes that cause tsunamis.
The Tsunami Harddisk Detector is the brainchild of Michael Stadler, who demonstrated the prototype system earlier this week at the Ars Electronica exhibition in Linz, Austria.
As part of their operation, hard disks measure vibrations in order to
keep the read-write head of the disk on track. These measurements can
be read from some hard disks. The Tsunami Harddisk Detector captures
this vibration data and shares it with computers in other locations
connected via a peer-to-peer network to determine whether an earth
tremor is occurring.