Information from Seismic Noise

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Science  11 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5715, pp. 1568-1569
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109834

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Contrary to intuition, noise can contain useful information. In his Perspective, Weaver highlights the report by Shapiro et al., who show that noisy seismic wave fields can be used to extract information about the Earth's crust. Despite their random appearance, the wave fields retain a residual coherence, which distributes their energy in characteristic and non-intuitive ways and generates correlations that reveal information on Earth's internal structure. Such residual coherence in multiply scattered wave fields is also observed, and finds application, in electronics, ultrasonics, and optics.