SeisMac waves

8 11 2007

OK, it’s time to admit : i have a Mac problem. I can’t live without it.

Today, at the auspicious favor of a small explosion in my building at Georgia Tech, i had a discussion with a seismologist while waiting for the 7 fire trucks to figure out what the hell they could be doing there for so long. (It’s the South, everything takes time, here). It turns out the guy, Kevin, is also into macs, and told me about this insanely cool software called Seismac.

What i did not know, probably like a large majority of us foolish mortals, is that MacBooks have an internal sudden motion sensor, to protect the hard disk if you drop your laptop. It seems to pick up perturbations of about 0.1 kg/m/s^2, or about 1/100 of the local constant of the Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

That’s cool enough in its own right. But there’s more !
Now, as the Mac Gods would have it, the acceleration data is retrievable from Open Source software, which means that you can turn your laptop into a real-time seismometer. This for not a jack, of course, thanks to Daniel Griscom, with a little help from the National Science Foundation.

After a 2min install and a short calibration, this is what happens when i drum up the overture of Beethoven’s Fifth on my desk, 1 foot away from by beloved MacBook :

After i picked up my jaw from the floor, i had to admit, as Jerome Bonaldi used to say : “Absolutely useless, therefore rigorously indispensable”.

Call to all Californians : you can now monitor your impending seismic destruction in real time, without leaving your desk. Tsunami warnings via popup windows are a-coming. The software, however, offers no predictive capability for coffee spills.

I bow to Mac. They can have my first newborn.

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12 11 2007
El Niño

More mac-banging coolness :

Jesse Gray, and MIT graduate student, has developed a Gremlin that tracks where you nudge your laptop.

Too cute :

http://web.media.mit.edu/~jg/leo_laptop_sensing_small.mov

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