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‘Shazam’ inspired algorithm to locate earthquake risk zones

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Washington: Scientists have formulated a new algorithm to identify minor earthquakes which previously remained unknown the large ground motion measurement databases.

Even though microquakes are not life-threatening and don’t affect buildings or property much, their observation could help scientists better identify where bigger earthquakes could strike.

The algorithm, which is inspired by a popular song matching app called ‘Shazam’, is called Fingerprint and Similarity Thresholding, or FAST. Smaller quakes, which are not detected using conventional methods, and don’t even register as earthquakes, can be detected through this technology.

Waveform similarity was used extensively in seismology in the past decade through a process called template matching. This technique matches the seismic wave pattern of an earthquake to past recorded wave signatures in the database, explained Greg Beroza from Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

However, to utilize this process, scientists need to know what signal they are looking for beforehand. The technique is also a time-consuming one.

Places such as Oklahoma and Arkansas could greatly benefit from this technology, as they have seen a rise in the number of minor quakes, which have been linked to hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. FAST could help properly identify risk areas.

The FAST technology needs to be tested over long time periods with a number of seismic stations to effectively predict when and where bigger quakes would strike.

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Robots May Be Able to Perform C-Sections Soon

These big, set-piece operations will become less common as we are able to intervene earlier and use more moderate interventions

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C-section, Robots
A newborn, one of 12 babies born by C-section, cries inside an incubator at the Bunda Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 12, 2012. VOA

Robotics are expected to become so sophisticated, hospitals may not need surgeons. Controlled by healthcare assistants, the machines will soon be delivering babies by carrying out C-sections as well as other surgeries, say experts.

The predictions are based on the report by the “Commission on the Future of Surgery” set up by the Royal College of Surgeons in 2017, the Daily Mail reported.

According to the report, the robots controlled by healthcare assistants such as technicians are expected to conduct vaginal surgeries and operations on the bowel, heart and lungs.

This will help advance diagnoses of illnesses like cancer before they destroy organs and, as a result, operations will be smaller in scale and less traumatic.

Robot, Reading Companion
FILE – A visitor shakes hands with a humanoid robot at 2018 China International Robot Show in Shanghai (VOA)

Even healthcare assistants — who do not need any formal qualifications to get a job — could one day be trained to perform C-sections with the robots, The Telegraph reported.

Specialists and surgeons will remain in charge of operations but may not always need to be in the room.

“This is always going to be under the watchful eye and careful supervision of a surgeon,” Richard Kerr, neurosurgeon at the Oxford University and Chair of the commission, was quoted as saying.

“These are highly qualified healthcare professionals and they will be trained in a specific aspect of that procedure.

“The changes are expected to affect every type of operation. This will be a watershed moment in surgery,” Kerr said.

While some applications of robots and DNA-based medicines are expected to happen sooner than others, those with healthcare assistant-led C-sections is possible within five years, the report said.

C-section, Robots
These are highly qualified healthcare professionals and they will be trained in a specific aspect of that procedure. Flickr

However, the experts warn that the use of robots in surgery could be controversial. This is in light of an investigation which revealed that a 69-year-old man in Newcastle died when a robot was used to carry out his heart surgery in 2015.

The commission’s report also claims that major cancer operations could become a thing of past because screening DNA will pick up diseases earlier, before they ravage the body.

Also Read: AI  to Help the Students of Japan in Enhancing English Speaking Skills

Similarly, people with severe forms of arthritis could be identified early on and faster treatment might reduce the need for major hip and knee replacement ops.

“These big, set-piece operations will become less common as we are able to intervene earlier and use more moderate interventions,” said Professor Dion Mortonm, a member of the commission. (IANS)