The Football Game Experiment Continues

January 14, 2014

by Steve Malone

Experiment to seismically record the fan reactions to the NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers on Jan 19, 2014

The motivations for this next round of experiments remain mostly the same as the previous set of motivations for the Jan 11 game, plus some real science.  Last week we exercised the troops, answered a number of questions about urban seismic recording, and web site management and enjoyed the game. The details are given in our Post Game Analysis Blog.  However, we also got confused by some of the signals we recorded. Often the way science works is one obtains some observation or data that one doesn't understand.  One might expect a certain type of signal but actually record something that doesn't follow theory or is outside what is expected.  This is exactly what happened in our first experiment.  Strange signals a minute or two after each of the two touchdowns remain a mystery to us. So lets try to figure it out this weekend.

  1. We moved HWK1 to a spot away from a strongly-vibrating motor so we should better see the vibrations due to crowd actions.
  2. We added a third station high in the stadium to give us a better handle on where signals might be generated.
  3. Improved the Hawk-O-Grams for color contrast and with a mouse-over for time.
  4. We are setting up realtime filtering to better see the strange post-DT, low-frequency vibrations.
  5. We are setting up a new type of display system (Fan-O-Meter2) that should provide a near-live feed for the public (10-15 second delay which is about the same as the TV broadcast delay.
  6. We plan to have trained "observers" at the game to observe and take notes on what goes on around them in the minutes after a Seahawk touchdown (there will be many TDs, right?).
  7. We hope to develop a BeastQuake magnitude scale (Mbq) so we can compare different crowd reactions quantitatively.  These are NOT like earthquakes and so this is NOT a Richter Scale magnitude. See FAQ for why.

The PNSN is responsible for monitoring earthquakes and volcanoes throughout the Pacific Northwest.  But we find that the earth produces many ways to shake.  Of course earthquakes are our bread and butter so we have lots of material about earthquakes and their hazards and provide maps and catalogs of current activity. Volcanoes have earthquakes as precursors to eruptions but also produce all sorts of different seismic signals that we need to be able to interpret, such as a recent large debris avalanche at Mount Baker. Strange seismic tremor from deep in the earth is another signal we record, which is so far poorly understood.

Record your own BeastQuake

We also have a responsibility to the public to educate and inform about all such things that shake the ground.  While this is a serious responsibility we think having fun doing it is good for everyone.  To that end we have developed instructions how you too can generate your own BeastQuake recording.  Anyone with a smart phone equiped with accerometers can do this.  Follow the instructions for getting and using the application called iSeismometer and play with it some to learn the ins and outs.  If you are a fan at the game simply start the program put your phone down on the floor (be very careful not to jump up and down on it, nor spill your beverage of choice on it) and then enjoy the game.  After a TD or big crowd-reaction play, reach down and stop the recording (without picking up your phone), scroll back to an interesting part and snap an image of it for later comparison or send a file of it to yourself via e-mail.  You can then develop your own, Mbq scale and compare it with what we come up with after the game.

Here are the best settings (little round wheel symbol)  to use for this sort of recording:

  • Show Timelines: off
  • Realtime Animation: on
  • High-Pass Filter: on
  • Target Sampling Rate: 50  (This will give you the previous 40 seconds in memory)
  • Alarms: none

Start and stop with the arrow button on lower left.  BTW, The "Upload data to URL" and then viewing does NOT work, but you can send a CSV file to your own e-mail for plotting and viewing later using something like Excel (or many other plotting programs).