Sometimes you make a discovery from something that’s been right there all along.

Like, say, using fiber-optic cables that cross the oceans to detect seismic activity.

It was in the 19th century that the world started linking up thanks to enormously long telegraph wires that ran from continent to continent.

There were phone lines stretching across oceans for years and years, and then in the 1990s, countries and companies installed fiber optic cables that could handle all the internet traffic to come.

According to Interesting Engineering, we now have about 750,000 miles of internet cable on ocean and seafloors.

And that gave a group of researchers an idea a few years back.

There are systems in place that monitor the cables and the signals passing through them, and in doing so, they can actually measure seismic activity.

In a new paper published in the journal Science, this team describes their method.

Every so many miles these cables have what are called repeaters; they amplify signals from one segment of a cable to the next.

Inside those repeaters are special fiber connections that are mostly used to check how well the repeaters are working.

But the researchers found that by noting changes in how the light moves through these paths, they’re also noting seismic changes.

Essentially, they created a network of earthquake detectors without having to install any new equipment.

And because these cables are so widespread, we may be able to track and detect earthquakes more quickly and accurately than before.

So even if this whole internet fad finally fades away, we may want to keep those cables where they are.

Some wealthy homeowners like to show off their property to the rest of the world.

In London, there’s a house that is designed to hide from everybody else.

The house is known as “London’s Invisible House” because nearly all of its exterior is covered in mirrors.

But the people in the house can see what you’re doing outside.

A breakthrough in fiber optics turned an undersea cable into 12 seismographs (Interesting Engineering)

Richmond’s ‘invisible’ house is essentially a giant mirror that makes it hard to even notice (MyLondon)

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Photo by Sam Levin via Flickr/Creative Commons