Posts Tagged ‘data’

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.

Bacteria solve sudoku

// November 17th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Just for Fun, Recent Research

Image by UT-Tokyo for iGEM

Nobody loves sudoku like my granddad, unless it’s these Tokyo scientists. They genetically engineered e-coli to let them solve sudoku puzzles.

The puzzle was a 4×4, not quite the 9×9 that we’re used to. An example is shown in the picture. Each number was assigned a colour, so a red colony was the number one, and blue was two. The bacteria had to become the right colour to fit into the sudoku solution.

To solve the puzzle, the bacteria have to know what numbers are around it. For example, the position in the top left has the following data: There is a one in the column, a three in the row and a two in the box. Therefore it needs to be a four.

To become a number four, it needs to receive signals for one, two and three which makes it flip on a switch to say “four.” The switch works only when it receives three different signals.

Signals were transferred between bacteria using phage – viruses that infect bacteria. For example, a number one bacteria would produce a phage which says “Yo, I’m number one.” When that phage infects bacteria around it, they know they are in the presence of a number one. That helps flip the right switch for the bacteria to solve the puzzle.

More details on the project, which was part of the iGEM competition, can be found here.

Hat tip to The Loom.

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