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Predicting Where Water Will Go In A Hurricane


by Joel N. Shurkin, Inside Science

In most hurricanes the greatest damage is done not by the wind but from the storm surge, the mountain of water pushed by raging winds from the ocean to deluge the land.

There is always a level of unpredictability when dealing with Mother Nature, but knowing where the water would go when a storm is bearing down on the coast would be useful, particularly in densely populated coastal cities such as New York, which maintains complex systems of houses, office buildings, sidewalks, basements, alleys, subway stations, and streets clogged with parked cars.

Scientists at the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences at Gloucester Point, Va., reported they have a computer model that may do that, starting about 30 hours before the storm comes ashore. At least it worked in retrospect with the Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the East Coast in 2012.

Click through for an interactive map of New York City flooding and a video.

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The Science Of Ice

Ever wonder what makes ice slippery? As it turns out, the answer is more complex than this simple question lets on. It has to do with the unique attributes of water molecules and nearly frictionless movement over ice.

There is a lot of slipping and sliding now in the spotlight because of the skating, skiing and curling going on at the 2014 Winter Olympics. That’s why the National Science Foundation and NBC Learn put together a video primer on the science of ice.

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The Slo Mo Guys brought their Phantom Flex camera to record GE’s advanced research making superhydrophobic coatings that completely repel water. They caught water dyed with red or blue bouncing off treated surfaces at 2,500 frames per second. These coatings, which trap air in nanostructures to create a protective buffer, will be very useful on airplanes, wind turbine blades and other applications.

See their whole video here.

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Drinking Water From The Sea And Sun

by Michael Keller

This is the Eliodomestico, a beautifully designed distiller that can produce 1.3 gallons of fresh water a day from seawater. The solar-powered unit requires no electricity, filters or maintenance. The brainchild of Gabriele Diamanti, an industrial designer based in Milan, the distiller won its creator a spot on this year’s list of Global Public Interest Design.

On his blog, Diamanti writes that his terra cotta and metal water still is “intended to bring good drinking water to the families in the developing countries at no operating cost, starting from the sea water.”

He expects it to be half the cost of a normal solar still and produce nearly twice as much potable water.

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