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Early Warning For Earthquakes

Teasing out the physics behind radio anomalies

3 min read

Spooky lights in the night sky, a low burbling of radio noise, odd bright patches in infrared satellite images.... Harbingers of an alien invasion? Actually, no. Some geologists think they are indications of an impending earthquake and perhaps the only hope of ever predicting a quake in the hours or days before it strikes.

Although evidence that electro­magnetic events precede quakes is mounting quickly, the main theory to explain that evidence has had a gash in it the size of the San Andreas Fault. Now, NASA scientist Friedemann Freund, a faculty member at San Jose State University, in California, may have filled the gap by demonstrating in the laboratory how the earth’s crust can act as a gigantic battery to drive a geological radio circuit that extends more than 30 kilometers below the ground.

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This Dutch City Is Road-Testing Vehicle-to-Grid Tech

Utrecht leads the world in using EVs for grid storage

10 min read
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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