Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Reading a Seismogram
Name: N/A
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

I have a seismograph of my own construction connected to computer I get neat recordings but I want to read car and truck patterns. How can I quantify my readings to "prove " a reading is a car?

You have a hypothesis -- "a seismograph will respond differently to a car than it will to a truck." Now you need to perform experiments to determine the validity of your hypothesis. Take data while observing whether you are detecting a car or a truck. Compare the results and see if there are any obvious differences -- e.g., different amplitudes, noise levels, frequencies, etc. You may want to try doing a Fourier transform of your data to see if certain frequencies are characteristic of one type of vehicle or the other. To do this job thoroughly you will want to take account of things like vehicle speed and road surface. Once you have done these experiments you may be able to refine your hypothesis to be something like -- "trucks (18 wheelers) have an enhanced signal at XXX hertz in the seismograph signal, relative to cars." Then you can perform more experiments to verify this and even quantify it -- for example you may find that cars have a signal intensity less than YYY at XXX Hertz while trucks have a signal intensity of ZZZ at the same frequency. There is a lot of work involved but building the seismograph must have taken a lot of work too! Your problem is very interesting and I would be interested in hearing how it turns out. Keep us informed!

gregory r bradburn

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory