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Tsunami Alert System Starts Up in Indonesia

Four years after the mother of all monster waves struck, Indian Ocean countries will know of a possible tsunami just 3 minutes after an earthquake

3 min read

Indonesia has switched on a tsunami detection system designed to prevent a recurrence of the disaster following the monstrous wave of 2004, which killed at least 130 000 of its people and nearly half that many in other countries.

Waves that big strike the shores of the Indian Ocean only about once every two centuries, on average. But even between such big events, the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) should pay for itself by helping to mitigate the effects of relatively small earthquakes and the lesser waves that they produce. The first test came on 17 November 2008, just days after the system went live, when a fairly strong earthquake hit central Indonesia and the government issued a tsunami alert, though no killer wave appeared.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
DarkBlue1

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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