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Disasters

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

The design resembles an emergency cross symbol that has fallen onto its side, as if affect...

Portugal's OODA architectural firm has conceptualized a Disaster Education Centre that also doubles as an emergency shelter in the event of a real-life disaster. The center has been designed for the city of Istanbul and would be fully equipped with adequate technology and facilities to respond to a natural emergency. The center focuses on educating the public about disasters, with a special focus on earthquakes and floods. The design of the building reflects this theme, resembling an emergency cross symbol that has fallen onto its side, as if affected by an earthquake.  Read More

The Digital Origami Emergency Shelter was inspired by a single water molecule and is made ...

Australian architecture firm LAVA exhibited its inhabitable "Origami Cave" as part of The Emergency Shelter exhibition, which was held in Sydney earlier this month. The exhibition featured architects from around the globe including Ateliers Jean Nouvel, PTW Architects, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, Cox, Koichi Takada Architects, Sou Fujimoto and Terunobu Fujimori. Each architect was asked to create a shelter that would not only protect people from the elements during an emergency situation, but would also provide a space that was secure and comfortable in the aftermath of a disaster.  Read More

The softshelter housing solution for disaster relief situations (Image by Molo Design)

Canadian design firm Molo has created a cheap and comfortable housing innovation for disaster relief situations.. Dubbed "softshelter," the system has been designed to create personal space within in a communal shelter, thus providing individuals or families with some privacy during a time of hardship. The softshelter modules are made from 100 percent recycled materials designed for re-use over a long period if time. The flexible walls pack flat, suitable for fast and cost effective shipping, whilst in a matter of minutes the softwalls can be unpacked and expanded to create walls and rooms.  Read More

Inspired by the sandfish lizard, a new snake-like robot is being designed to burrow throug...

When the sandfish lizard wishes to escape predators, it can actually dive beneath the surface of the sand, and then swim through it. Inspired by the sandfish, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created an undulating robot that can likewise swim through a granular medium. While that medium has so far consisted of quarter-inch plastic balls in a lab setting, the team hopes that their robot – or one of its descendants – could someday be used to tunnel through debris to rescue earthquake victims.  Read More

QinetiQ will provide unmanned vehicle equipment to Japan to aid in cleanup and recovery ef...

In the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011, the country faces a massive cleanup and rebuilding effort that will take years. To assist in the dangerous task of clearing hazardous debris that stretches for hundreds of miles along Japan’s east coast, the North American arm of global defense technology company QinetiQ has announced it will provide unmanned vehicle equipment and training to aid in the colossal undertaking.  Read More

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