Science ‘Fact’ion

A (good) problem the geniuses behind science fiction are having these days is that the ‘fiction’ keeps becoming ‘fact’. Many of the items from Star Trek have become a reality, and every day new innovations bring us closer to our dreams. This is precisely why SyFy Channel set up a website called dvice to present science fact. Over the past week several key technologies with potential for disaster relief have been mentioned.

A common sight after a major disaster are tent cities of both relief personnel and evacuees. As any camp-friendly Oregonian knows, tents can be small, unclean, and prone to the outside influences that tend to cause these disasters (such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and civil unrest). A quick to deploy, large, and structurally sound ‘building’ is the ideal solution and is quickly becoming a reality. Take a look below at Concrete Cloth, a ‘building in a bag’ that inflates with an air compressor and then hardens with an application of water. The exterior becomes a ceramic, that is waterproof and fireproof.

Another challenge relief personnel face comes from the need of an extensive communication system- a system at risk of being wiped out by a major disaster. Swiss-based lab EPFL thinks they have a solution, in easy to deploy micro air vehicles. The SMAVNET (Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network) can be deployed by simply throwing the vehicles into the air, as demonstrated below, which then achieve a hover pattern above the disaster area that sets up a wireless network which allows responders to use their phones and computers. Another development worth note is that mobile phones can be tracked by the point which they connect to, meaning that disaster alerts could be sent to phones within a certain area.

What if a disaster could be prevented from ever occurring? Hurricanes and Typhoons are known to form over hot water, typically giving us a few days of advanced notice to prepare. That same time has the potential for downgrading the storms all-together, by cooling the water it is predicted to travel over. Japan is particularly at risk to East Pacific typhoons, and a submarine manufacturing firm has an idea for taking on the typhoons. A fleet of specially designed submarines could be equipped with water cannons to spray cool water over vast areas that would reduce the hot water that fuels the storms.

Do you think any of these ideas have a place in reality, or should they go back to science fiction? And do you have any ideas that could make disaster relief or preparation easier?