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Disasters

Robotics

Georgia tech developing "Macgyver" robot

In the television series Macgyver, the eponymous title character was notorious of being able to take a paperclip and some pocket lint and make an aircraft carrier out them. Now researchers at Georgia Tech want to give robots that same ingenuity. A team led by Professor Mike Stilman plans to create a “Macgyver bot” that can go into a disaster area and use whatever is lying around as tools to complete its mission. Read More

Military

DARPA releases video of floating tank-like CAAT vehicle

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

Military

Homeland Security releases an app for bomb threat response

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

Environment

SOS in a Box rolls out the solar power when you really need it

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

Good Thinking

Earthquake-proof school desk provides cover for natural disasters

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

Scientists create anthrax-unfriendly "killer silk"

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

Good Thinking

Air Danshin creates airlift system to levitate houses 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

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