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Disasters

DARPA's one-fifth scale prototype of the Captive Air Amphibious Transporter - walks on lan...

So the year is 2015, and you're in a serious disaster – one that requires the immediate provision of food, water, medical care, and shelter for a hundred thousand people. In other words, not something that a few airlifts will handle. If there is navigable water anywhere nearby, you could be saved by a future version of one of DARPA's new toys: the Captive Air Amphibious Transporter (CAAT).  Read More

FiRST is a new app from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that advises first respo...

Imagine if you were a police officer who suddenly realized that the abandoned vehicle you were assessing contained a bomb. While you might have had some training in how to handle such situations, would it all easily come back to you in the heat of the moment? Well, even if it wouldn’t, you might still know what to do ... if you were using the FiRST app. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed the application for emergency response personnel, to serve as a step-by-step guide for managing bomb threats.  Read More

The Reaction Housing System deployed in a stadium parking lot (Photo: Reaction Housing Sys...

In a world where millions of people are forced from their houses every year because of natural disasters, there is an ongoing need for huge numbers of decent mid- to long-term temporary housing units that can be swiftly delivered to the affected area. The Reaction Housing System has been developed to make the wait as short as possible.  Read More

The SOS in a Box solar generator kit is designed with emergency and off-grid scenarios in ...

Sun Flare Systems is a Canadian company that has developed a solar-powered backup generator. Designed to provide power in cases of outage and disaster, the patent-pending SOS in a Box kit is basically a small, portable power plant that includes a backup generator, flexible high-efficiency solar panels, and a charge controller. Sun Flare says its solar generation package is the first FAA and Airline Approved generator of its kind.  Read More

A new school desk has been designed to protect students during an earthquake by absorbing ...

Anyone who has been through earthquake drills in school knows the standard defense against falling debris is for students to crawl under their desks. Unfortunately, while this might block a few pieces of stray drywall and glass, a wooden desk isn't going to withstand the crushing weight from large chunks of concrete or steel. In fact, people hiding under their desks could very likely become trapped with no way out. That's why two designers have developed an "earthquake-proof" desk that can absorb the impact of up to a ton of weight and even provide emergency routes for rescue crews to reach trapped students.  Read More

DARPA has launched its Robotics Challenge, in which teams will compete to develop a robot ...

Attention, BEAR, MABEL, and SAFFiR: You may be able to win your makers two million bucks! That’s the amount that DARPA is offering to the victorious team in its recently-announced Robotics Challenge. The winning robot will be the one that best meets a series of challenges, designed to test its ability to provide assistance in disaster scenarios.  Read More

Silk treated with chlorine has been shown to kill anthrax-like bacteria within minutes of ...

When anthrax spores go dormant, they develop a tough outer coating that can withstand heat, radiation and antibiotics, in one case even allowing them to come back to life after 250 million years. It seems that such spores could be no match, however, for a special pair of silk curtains.  Read More

Air Danshin's seismic isolation system airlifts homes to protect them during earthquakes

When you live in a country as seismically active as Japan, thinking about earthquakes (and tsunamis) probably occupies a good deal of your time. Inventor Shoichi Sakamoto took it a step further. He decided to do something about it and invented a technology, remarkably simple in concept, to protect homes from the devastating shaking - an airlift system capable of automatically raising and isolating the whole house until the temblor stops.  Read More

Mathematicians are proposing a cloaking system, which could allow buildings to be rendered...

While “cloaking” technology may have once been limited exclusively to the realm of science fiction, regular Gizmag readers will know that it is now finding its way into real life – just within the past few years, scientists have demonstrated various experimental cloaking systems that prevent small objects from being seen, and in one case, from being heard. Such invisibility systems involve the use of metamaterials, which are man-made materials that exhibit optical qualities not found in nature. These are able to effectively bend light around an object, instead of allowing it to strike the object directly. Now, mathematicians from the University of Manchester are proposing technology based on the same principles, that would allow buildings to become “invisible” to earthquakes.  Read More

Is this cyclone a tremor trigger? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Hurricanes and typhoons could contribute to other natural disasters that occur long after the rain and winds subside. A new study led by University of Miami (UM) scientist Shimon Wdowinski finds a link between earthquakes and tropical storms, and shows that they may have actually initiated some major temblors, including the recent 2010 quakes in Haiti and Taiwan.  Read More

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