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Disasters

Space

Massive solar storm would pose considerable dangers – are we ready?

Across the globe, the scientific community and governmental bodies are preparing for the threat posed by the potential of a massive geomagnetic solar storm striking Earth. These space weather events have the capacity to cripple vital technology-based infrastructures, and of causing a cascade that could lead to unforeseeable dangers.Read More

Science Feature

Fukushima five years on: The fears, the fallout and the future

Five years have passed since a massive tsunami washed over the seawall around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, sending three reactors and a whole nation into meltdown. The event claimed the lives of 15,891 people and around 160,000 were forced from their homes following the most devastating day in Japan's modern history, but in many ways the country is only just beginning to pick up the pieces. With the cleanup expected to take decades, radioactive materials still unaccounted for and the health effects still very much the subject of debate, what comes next for post-Fukushima Japan?Read More

Robotics

Search-and-rescue robot could give locusts a better name

Despite the fact that locusts are held in fairly low regard by us humans, there's a chance that you may one day be rescued by one … or at least, by a robotic locust. Working with colleagues at Israel's Ort Braude College, researchers from Tel Aviv University have created a tiny locust-inspired robot that can reportedly jump over twice as high as other similarly-sized devices. They say that it could ultimately find use in search-and-rescue operations at disaster sites.Read More

Drones

Drone attachment scans disaster zones for breathing and heartbeats

Getting drones into the air to aid in search and rescue missions is becoming one of the technology's more promising applications, with infrared cameras and even artificial intelligence offering valuable new tools in combing areas for humans and objects. But one company is looking to add yet another layer of sophistication to robotic rescue teams, launching a drone-attachment that can detect the heartbeats and breathing of people trapped under rubble.Read More

Around The Home

Tough new tornado panels take a stormy beating

A tornado hitting your house is no joke, but it's not always practical to build a shelter just in case the worst should happen. If the thought of jumping into a protective bag doesn't appeal, a new tough construction panel developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) could be a good alternative. UAB's new panels can be retrofitted to existing houses or integrated into new builds, and offer protection even in the most extreme EF5 tornado – that is, in winds over 200 mph (321 km/h). Read More

Good Thinking

Crowdsourced smartphones may warn of earthquakes

While countries such as Japan have sophisticated earthquake warning systems, the fact is that many less-developed countries do not. In order to offer those nations some form of protection, a consortium of US research institutes has devised the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System, in which regular peoples' smartphones could detect earthquakes and send warnings. Read More

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