Posts Tagged ‘china’

Modelling catastrophic dam collapse and natural disasters

// June 24th, 2011 // Comments Off on Modelling catastrophic dam collapse and natural disasters // Recent Research, Science Communication

One of the biggest dams in the world, Geheyan Dam in China holds more water than five Sydney Harbour’s, a massive 3.12 billion cubic metres worth.

What would happen if it failed?

Models of Geheyan town before and after dam collapse

Australian CSIRO scientists collaborated with China’s Satellite Surveying & Mapping Application Centre (SASMAC) to model the region and apply six different dam failure scenarios.

“Our simulations show where the water would go, how fast it would reach important infrastructure such as power stations and the extent of inundation in major townships downstream,” said Dr Mahesh Prakash from CSIRO in the press release.

Dam failure is a real possibility, as many parts of China are prone to earthquakes. We’ve seen plenty of natural disasters over the past year, highlighting the need to prepare for such events.

Modelling and data visualisation can inform emergency procedure development and ensure new infrastructure is built protected areas.

“The modelling technique we developed for this work is really powerful,” Dr Prakash said. “It gives us very realistic water simulations including difficult-to-model behaviours such as wave motion, fragmentation and splashing.”

This video shows a dam failure simulation, and explains how the model was created. I enjoyed the delicious hundreds and thousands demonstration to show how water acts as a group of particles. Yummy!

The same software has been used to model other catastrophic events, including tsunamis and volcanoes. They also modeled the 1928 St Francis dam break in California. The simulation was very similar to the real event, suggesting the technique is accurate.

Solar flare stops satellites in China

// February 17th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Science at Home

Solar Flare

Recent Solar Flare. Image by NASA

A solar flare the size of Jupiter erupted a few days ago and is now causing radio and satellite signals to drop out in China.

On Valentine’s Day, the sun had a coronal mass ejection associated with a flare, a burst of solar wind that speeds through space.

The ejected material is usually plasma and electrons, though sometimes helium and oxygen are also expelled. It was an X-class, the highest of all classes.

Let’s just enjoy for a moment the phrases Valentine’s Day, coronal mass ejection and X-class.

Anyway, the flare headed to Earth at 900 km per second, and the shockwave of it hitting us has caused a geomagnetic storm that messes with magnets.

It can also cause stunning auroral colours, like the Northern Lights, which have already been seen further south than usual. NASA is warning the flares will keep coming for a couple of days.

Long-lasting solar storms can cause electricity grids to stop working, causing black outs. Much of our technology is dependent on magnets – phones, credit cards, even hard discs when in use. One of my pet apocalypse theories is that a solar flare, or other strong magnetic space event, will wipe out computers and take with them electricity, water and money.

But clearly if your reading this, that hasn’t happened. So just continue to enjoy the phrase coronal mass ejection. Lolz.

New monkey species discovered, sneezes when wet

// October 27th, 2010 // 3 Comments » // Recent Research

Snub nosed monkey

Image reconstructed on photoshop based on similar species and a carcass of the new species. Image by Dr Thomas Geissmann.

Meet Rhinopithecus strykeri, the Burmese snub-nosed monkey that sneezes when it rains. It is covered with black hair from its head to its very long tail, except for its ears and chin beard which have little white tufts. Angelina Jolie lips complete the look.

On it’s flat little face it has an upturned nose and wide nostrils, perfect for rain catching. When it rains they are often found with their heads between their legs. Hating life.

The monkey was found in Northern Myanmar, formally known as Burma. The research was conducted by a team of primatologists including Flora & Fauna International.

It’s new to science, but old news to the local people who already knew it well in Lisu language as mey nwoah and in Law Waw language as myuk na tok te, both mean ‘monkey with an upturned nose.’

It’s like the Margay cat again… we don’t hear about it until it’s documented in a SCIENCE way, in a journal, written and peer reviewed. /rant.

Though they DID interview hunters as part of the fieldwork. One of the hunters even gave them a bag he had made with the skin of a juvenile snub-nosed monkey. I guess that counts.

Other species of snub-nosed monkeys have been found in China and Vietnam, but this one is different in that it is particularly black, especially sneezy, and the skin around its eyes is pale pink instead of blue (among other things.) All snub-nosed monkeys are considered endangered, and it is estimated that the population of this species is only 260 – 330 individuals. Local people and Flora & Fauna International are working to protect the newly found species, but as always conservation is a tough gig.

Below is the citation for the journal article BUT BE WARNED! I couldn’t find it. I tried to resolve the doi and got nada. I searched all through the American Primate Journal and found nothing. I’ll keep checking and see if it comes back. Post a comment if you can find it before me.

ResearchBlogging.orgGeissmann, T., Lwin, N., Aung, S., Aung, T., Aung, Z., Hla, T., Grindley, M., & Momberg, F. (2010). A new species of snub-nosed monkey, genus Rhinopithecus Milne-Edwards, 1872 (Primates, Colobinae), from northern Kachin state, northeastern Myanmar American Journal of Primatology DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20894

UPDATE: Thanks to the comments below who found the journal article. Download it in pdf.






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