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Scientists find better way to detect nuclear explosions

Scientists find newer, cheaper way to detect nuclear explosions

Scientists have found a newer, cheaper, and more effective way to detect nuclear explosions (and other kinds of blasts, detonations, and eruptions). 

The new method involves training computers by using simulated explosions. As Witsil of the Geophysical Institute’s Wilson Alaska Technical Center explains it, these ‘infrasound signals’ are just as real as the real thing to a computer.

Computers that detect explosions are vital because they can serve as early warnings. The human ear cannot pick up infrasound because of its low frequency, so we need the help of machines. Also, some are so subtle that we may miss them without the help of the detection algorithm.

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Typically, detection computers depend on multiple microphones close to each other. Explosions or infrasound signals in one part of the world could be different from infrasound signals in another part of the world due to differing terrestrial features, the atmosphere, and so on. Therefore, hauling equipment all over the world to train algorithms on what infrasound signals are like in those locations is expensive and, not to forget, tedious.

So, it is easier to train them on simulated signals which are as close to the real thing as possible.

“We used modeling software to generate 28,000 synthetic infrasound signals, which, though generated in a computer, could hypothetically be recorded by infrasound microphones deployed hundreds of kilometers from a large explosion,” Witsil said.

The study appears in the Geophysical Research Letters, and its applications and usefulness cannot be overstated. 

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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.