Thursday, December 13, 2018

Quantum Computers Could Predict Earthquakes

Out of all the natural disasters of this world, earthquakes have been easily the hardest ones to predict. According to this study by a famous Geophysicist Yan Y. Kagan earthquakes are indeed impossible to predict…
… or are they?
By combining quantum computing, artificial intelligence(AI), and semiconductor physics scientists at GeoCosmo could create an earthquake forecast system that would tell us the location and magnitude of an earthquake days or weeks in advance.

Okay, but HOW?

With the help of positive holes.
As you may know, earthquakes release huge amounts of energy at a time. Weeks before an earthquake strikes, rocks located near the epicenter of the quake are put under immense stress. It turns out, that this huge pressure causes the rocks to release charge. This is because they contain dormant electronic charge carriers, AKA positive holes, which can be activated by stress.

After an electrical current is generated in the ground, a wide range of phenomena occur, which can be monitored and studied. Some of them include ultra-low frequency electromagnetic waves, air ionization, infrared anomalies, ozone formation, carbon monoxide release…

Where Quantum Computers Come In

Using the data collected by satellites, ground-based sensors, and mobile devices, a huge database is created. With deep learning, an AI could study the data and discover certain patterns to predict earthquakes! However, this process of crunching information is usually very time-consuming for traditional computers, which creates a delay between the exhibition of precursory symptoms of an earthquake and their analysis.
Quantum computers come to aid us with this problem. It is common knowledge that they excel at crunching numbers, simulating artificial intelligence, and computing algorithms quickly and in parallel. Therefore, such a job would be a breeze for them.

Still A Thing Of The Future

The development of the technology I’ve written about so far is great news for all of humanity; however it is still in development. A fully working quantum computer is still yet to be made. Most of today’s models underperform, so there would be no difference between using a traditional and a quantum computer for this job.

A comic by DrBlurg describing the reality of current quantum computers

Looking at the many problems with current quantum computers along with the difficulty of obtaining one, I doubt we’ll be seeing GeoCosmo utilize them for their earthquake forecast system. So, we’ll have to wait a few more years to be able to perfectly and quickly predict earthquakes, but in the meantime, I think traditional computers will have to suffice.
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