Eavesdropping on nuclear blasts

nuclear seismologySometimes a short conference session can trigger an in-depth obsession. In April I went to a couple of talks at the Seismological Society of America’s meeting in Denver, on seismologists who monitor clandestine nuclear tests. That spawned an entire Science News feature on the topic. Check it out to learn how researchers analyze seismic waves to determine if they came from a natural earthquake or an artificial explosion — and, if the latter, how to tease out whether the blast was nuclear and how big it was.

It is, of course, all about monitoring the progress of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

(Image: An artist’s vision of an underground nuclear test at Mount Mantap, North Korea. Copyright Nicole Rager Fuller)

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