Whether Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light waves around objects to make them invisible, will ever become reality remains to be seen, but perfecting a more crucial cloak is impossible, a new study says. It would have perfectly steered stress waves in the ground, like those emanating from a blast, around objects like buildings to make them “untouchable.”
Though they’re relatively rare, the consequences of disasters like earthquakes, flooding and landslides are dire — and growing. Just ask Jorge Macedo, who thinks a lot about the risks to people, communities and engineering systems from those kinds of extreme events.
With another hurricane season beginning June 1 — and some forecasters predicting another busy one — researchers in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering are working on a tool to help first-responders use Twitter activity to identify developing crises after a storm while also helping civilians more effectively plug in to disaster response efforts.
Almost 70 years later, the man remembered the August day in Playa Rincon, when he clung to the top of an almond tree to survive a tsunami where the waters rushed about 700 meters inland after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake.
Can you hide a building from a stress wave, like an earthquake or even some kind of blast or explosion? If that kind of “cloaking” were possible, it could shape how we design critical structures like nuclear power plants. Arash Yavari has started a new four-year, half-million dollar federally funded project to lay the mathematical foundations for that kind of technology and explore if it’s theoretically possible while still respecting the laws of physics.
Just days after a major earthquake struck central Mexico in September 2017, Alejandro Martinez, MSCE 2012, Ph.D. 2015, found himself at the site taking vital measurements of the disaster. “It was a shocking day for everyone,” Martinez says.
The rain and flooding from Hurricane Matthew threatens to wash away the makeshift communities that have sprouted on Haiti’s hillsides, making life worse for a country still recovering from a devastating earthquake six years ago. Associate Professor Hermann Fritz told the public radio program Marketplace the shacks people live in on those hills are vulnerable to flooding and landslides.
They climbed the Great Wall of China and explored the Forbidden City. They visited a town destroyed by an earthquake then preserved as a monument to the lives lost. They saw baby pandas and flood control systems, Japanese towns devastated by a tsunami and the Hiroshima memorial. But in the end, it was the relationships they built and an overnight summit of Mt. Fuji in Japan that etched this trip into the memories of four engineering students who traveled to China and Japan in early August.
A group of Haitian-American professionals has recognized Reginald DesRoches as one of the country’s outstanding leaders making an impact in their field and on their island homeland. The Haitian Roundtable released its 1804 List May 18, including DesRoches as one of 25 “changemakers.”