Six months after the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, scientists in the United States have started testing out a new warning system to alert Americans before a big quake. The experiments are under way in California, ground zero of seismic activity in the United States, and though it might only provide a few seconds warning, scientists say even that can make a big difference and save lives. The National Research Council presented a 20 year road map to preparing the country for earthquakes, including quietly testing new warning systems. One early test involves a map of the state lighting up on a computer screen, with a red dot signifying an earthquake point of origin. A clock then appears signaling a countdown to impact at key locations miles away from the starting point. The system only saves seconds at this point, and is not yet broadcast to residents or businesses. With more testing, scientists hope to create an early warning system similar to one in Japan that sends text messages and interrupts television programs when sensors detect a quake. It cost the Japanese $500 million to create, but is credited with saving lives during the 9.1-magnitude earthquake that caused a devastating tsunami.