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Disasters

It was seven years ago that Ecosphere Technologies revealed its first iteration of a self-contained relief unit to provide power, water and shelter to disaster-struck areas. The company has since been busy refining the system's form and function and now announces the completion of what it says to be the world's largest deployable solar power generator. Capable of generating 15 kW of electricity, PowerCube is transported as a standard shipping container and can morph into a shelter, water treatment plant and communications base all with a push of a button. Read More
For a besieged soldier or a disaster victim, a plane dropping supplies is the most welcome sight in the world – unless the drop ends up drifting off out of reach. To help make sure that airdrops end up where they belong, the US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to adapt its WindTracer wind measurement system for a Precision Air Drop system to help aircrews land supplies faster and on target. Read More
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the tsunami that followed count as one of the worst disasters of the 21st century. When it struck off the southern coast of Japan with a force of magnitude 9, it was the most powerful ever to hit Japan, and the tsunami with a maximum height of 40.5 m (133 ft) resulted in 15,885 deaths, 6,148 injured, and 2,623 people missing. In anticipation of a similar disaster, Survival Capsules LCC of Mukilteo, Washington has developed a steel and aircraft-grade aluminum sphere designed to protect against both fire and flood. Gizmag paid a visit to the company to learn more about it. Read More
In recent years, Gizmag has reported on several architectural projects which aim to aid those living in areas prone to natural disaster, including the Bamboo Lakou community and Blooming Bamboo home. Californian studio MAT-TER is the latest firm to throw its hat in the ring, with a modular, passively-cooled, and typhoon-resistant school that's due to be constructed in the Philippines later this year. Read More
At disaster sites such as building collapses, it's not uncommon to see trained dogs being used to sniff out trapped survivors, often squeezing into areas that are inaccessible by human rescue workers. Now, thanks to a new "smart" harness, such dogs may be able to play an even bigger role, by gathering and relaying vital information on their surroundings. Read More
The California-based B612 Foundation has released a video displaying the distribution of 26 multi-kiloton asteroid impacts known to have struck the Earth since the year 2000. Many of the impacts – detected by a network of satellites operated by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization – exploded with a force greater than that of the city-leveling bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons. Read More
It's important for firefighters or members of disaster response crews to stay in touch with one another during operations, which is of course why they carry two-way radios. Researchers from Norway's SINTEF group, however, are developing a system that could help even more. It allows users to receive and read text messages hands-free, via their jackets. Read More
Following the tsunami that hit Japan in March, 2011, designer Chris Robinson was inspired to create an escape pod to ensure he and his family could survive if such a disaster were to occur in his home city of Palo Alto, California. After some two years of painstaking design and construction, his floating off-grid shelter, dubbed Tsunamiball, is nearing completion. Read More
The best advice for surviving a nuclear bomb is to be somewhere else when it goes off. If that doesn't work out for you, though, a recent study carried out at the USDOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) provides some simple guidance for maximizing your chances of survival. Read More
Mobile phone networks are a key means of communication when humanitarian efforts need to be coordinated at times of disaster. If infrastructure has been damaged, however, using the existing mobile networks may not be an option. The Vodafone Foundation's Instant Network Mini is a highly portable mobile network in a backpack that can be deployed in just 10 minutes. Read More
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