DailyDirt: Ubiquitous Sensors Are Getting Kinda Useful

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Sensors are everywhere, recording all sorts of activities and creating an enormous amount of data. The ability to store and analyze immense amounts of information is making these sensors even more useful. Before this computational capacity was so readily available, researchers were forced to hone their hypotheses before conducting experiments. But now, it’s possible to just collect a lot of data and then try to see if any hypotheses are supported by already-gathered evidence. Here are some quick links on sensors and sensor data.

By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Ubiquitous Sensors Are Getting Kinda Useful”

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wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Earthquake sensor

Did you know you could make an earthquake sensor out of a 10 cent disposable plastic drinking cup? Just fill it with water and set it on a level surface where light can reflect off of the water. Something that reflects a straight line in the water works best. Vibrations, even too small to feel, cause ripples on the water which show up as distortions in the reflected image. This works best with a dark colored cup, light reflected by the interior of a lighter colored cup tends to obscure the reflected image.

Another way to do this is to put a sheet of white paper a few inches behind the cup, darken the room and shine a LED or other point source of light on the water at about a 45 degree angle so it reflects onto the paper. This projected image shows the ripples quite plainly.

Unless you’re on a concrete slab away from civilization this doesn’t really prove anything. There are all sorts of things that can cause vibrations, out of balance fans, roaring water heaters or furnaces, wind, nearby passing trains, trucks, buses or other heavy vehicles, blasting, and of course, actual earthquakes. There are no calibrations, but you can get an idea of the relative intensity of the vibrations by the nature and distinctness of the ripples in the reflected image. And it does make an interesting experiment.

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