1755 Lisbon earthquake

French scientists are testing ways to use refraction (i.e. changing the direction of vibrations) in order to shield large cities from earthquakes.   Image © wikimedia

Above: 1755 copper engraving depicting Lisbon in ruins and in flames after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, which killed an estimated 60,000 people. A tsunami overwhelms the ships in the harbor.

While the process is still experimental and theoretical, the early indications are positive for the mitigation of earthquake damage.  The only catch: the massive force and vibration has to go somewhere.  But the process may prove useful in cities such as Los Angeles, where there is a nearby desert.

More information is available at Engadget.