By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Earthquakes can cause some major damage, whether they shake buildings into rubble or create huge tidal waves that crash into cities. In California, sometimes called “earthquake country”, let’s just say that scientists are extra motivated to predict earthquakes. Being able to predict an earthquake before it happens was always just a pleasant dream… a way to avoid a nightmare…
California, it just so happens, is filled with a huge web of sensors that pick up just about any little shake in the earth. Over time, it’s gotten
a lot smarter, but not nearly as smart a man named Richard Allen from the UC Berkeley Seismology Laboratory. Whoa hold on, what does “seismology” mean? Basically it’s the study of earthquakes.
This Richard Allen guy has an app, you know like the ones on your phone, that can actually predict an earthquake up to 1 minute before it happens. That might not sound like a big deal, but with a 1 minute warning, a train can slow down to make sure it doesn’t get tossed off the tracks, power stations can shut off machinery to avoid explosions, and doctors in the middle of surgery can make sure their patient is closed up before the earth starts getting crazy.
The app, called ShakeAlert, is not perfect of course. But hey, it’s a great start! Richard Allen hopes to improve it a bunch, both in how much time it can predict an earthquake in advance and getting a better idea of where exactly the earthquake is going to hit. It’s also important to figure out the best way to warn people about a disaster (like texting everyone or getting a message out on the radio). So, let’s all hope Richard Allen succeeds, because it’d sure be nice to know when things are going to get shaky.