Can an Earthquake Probability Tool Predict the Next Financial Market Shift?

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One of the bragging points for NASA has been the benefits of spin-off commercial projects that stem from the processes, tools and technology developed for the space program. Bringing space down to earth for the benefit of ordinary people, as well as for profit commercial applications, has been included in the justifications for the space program since the early days.stock market

The NASA Technology Transfer Program has connected NASA resources to private industry applications. Well-known products that NASA claims as spin-offs include memory foam, freeze-dried food, specialized firefighting equipment, emergency “space blankets,” Dustbusters™, cochlear implants and even Speedo’s LZR Racer swimsuits. NASA claims that there are about 1,800 other spin-offs in the fields of computer technology, environment and agriculture, health and medicine, public safety, transportation, recreation and industrial productivity. However, there are other “crossing sector” transfers including one from the disaster management field to “Wall Street.”

From Disaster Prediction to Financial Markets

An article in Bloomberg Business Week (29 February – 6 March, 2016) reports the creation of an investment (Seismic Value Partners “Hedge Fund”) to use a licensed earthquake probability prediction computer model from OpenHazards Group. The fund will use the computer model – originally designed to predict earthquake natural disasters – to assess probability of a stock market economic earthquake.

John Rundle, a seismologist and chairman of OpenHazzards, has worked in collaboration with other researchers to adapt the natural disaster prediction model to financial markets. Whether this application of the model will successfully predict the shakes and quakes of the stock market is yet to be demonstrated. However, it does illustrate one (unusual) transfer from the natural disaster field to another sector. For many of us, this was an “unpredicted” transfer from our field to another.

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