First, from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives comes the Fire Research Laboratory, the “first facility dedicated to aiding criminal fire investigations.”
The lab is so huge, New Scientist tells us, that it can fit “a three-room apartment or even a two storey office building, all beneath the world's largest stainless calorimetry hood for measuring the heat output of fires.” There, “engineers study ignition methods, the causes of electrical fires, the speed at which items burn and the way flammable liquids affect a fire's spread.”
With 3675 Americans killed in 2005, “more than all natural disasters combined,” everyone strives for precision and accuracy. “When recreating a fire, the engineers and craftsman are faithful to the original right down to the furnishings. The total amount of combustible material is crucial. If a room had bundles of laundry tossed on the floor, it is carefully replicated.”
Next is the Tsunami Wave Basin, housed in a “hangar-size building” at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
It is “seriously big: 49 metres long by 26.5 wide by 2.1 deep. It is the largest and most sophisticated wave tank in the world, and the first dedicated to tsunamis.”
A major question is exactly what impact tsunamis can have on coastal structures and sediment. So in July, researchers built miniature model of a coastal town along a sloping “beach” at the edge of the basin. They are now setting up experiments to measure the resulting forces as the water hits the shore, and to test whether buildings of certain shapes, such as cylinders, might be better than others for withstanding a tsunami.
One wonders if Architecture for Humanity has signed up for some wave time to better improve their anti-tsunami projects.
Meanwhile, since we obviously can't help ourselves, we'd like to see these disaster machines strapped onto The Jardinator©.
You then let it loose. And fortunately for all Japanese cities, it will not topple down skyscrapers and stomp on Hello Kitty; this monstrous stillborn love child of Godzilla and ThyssenKrup will actually help your home and cities avert major disasters. It will improve the quality of your life.
If you see it surfacing offshore and rumbling onto the beach, soon aftewards you will fear no more hurricanes and tsunamis. Children will come running down the streets to greet it as if it were the ice cream truck, because they know that they will no longer be in danger of getting burnt alive in the middle of the night. Everyone will deem it of monumental importance that virgins will be sacrificed along its path.
But then it becomes self-aware. Uh oh.
The 17th St Canal Physical Model