Tag Archives: Japan

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created a 3-D ocean model replicating the March 11, 2011 tsunami.

Japan’s tsunami was actually a double killer wave

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created a 3-D ocean model replicating the March 11, 2011 tsunami. (c) NASA

This summer Japan was hit by a tremendous 9.0 Richter scale earthquake, which generated one of the most powerful tsunamis in recorded history. The event killed thousands, left countless others homeless, caused major damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant , which lead to  radiation leakage and more than $130 bln in damage. Now, new details amassed from correlated weather satellite footage shows that the Japan tsunami was so powerful since it came in a double bundle – the result of two merged tsunamis.

The idea of composite tsunamis, in which two or more wave fronts merge to become one giant tsunami, has been hypothesized before by scientists, however this is the first time it has been observed and confirmed. The Japan tsunami was viewed  by satellites positioned in the moment the giant wave front struck the coastline, which managed to capture data. Thus, the NASA-European Jason-2, NASA-French space Agency satellite altimeter, and the ESA EnviSAT, all satellites equipped with altimeters, observed the tsunamis as they grazed the ocean with centimeter precision.

Remarkably enough, the whole find was filled with a stroke of luck.

“It was a one in 10 million chance that we were able to observe this double wave with satellites,” principal investigator Y Tony Song said.

“Researchers have suspected for decades that such ‘merging tsunamis’ might have been responsible for the 1960 Chilean tsunami that killed about 200 people in Japan and Hawaii, but nobody had definitively observed a merging tsunami until now,” he added.

“It was like looking for a ghost. A NASA-French Space Agency satellite altimeter happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture the double wave and verify its existence.”

The researchers think that ridges and underwater mountains can deflect parts of the initial tsunami wave to form a number of wave fronts. Such a huge wave was able to travel long distances without losing power, according to the researchers, who presented their findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. The scientists say the data gathered by the satellites may help researchers better predict how future tsunamis will impact coastlines based on the underwater topography in earthquake zones.



Japanese astronaut plays baseball in space…with himself [VIDEO]

Baseball is typically a team sport, but for innovative scientists like the ones staged at the International Space Station, there aren’t such things as rules; maybe just the laws of physics. During his six month stay on the International Space Station (ISS), 47-year-old Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa decided to kill time by indulging himself into one of America’s favorite pastime.

Space can be a very lonely, and playing baseball by yourself might seem rather lame, for lack of a more meaningful word, however when zero gravity is at play, things take a turn for the highly interesting. Just check out Satoshi pitch, bat and catch all at the same time.

In his NASA bio, Furukawa lists baseball among activities he enjoys. The others included bowling and travelling.

University postgraduate student Hiromasa Hara displays the Hybrid Assistive Limb climbing model, a robot suit designed to carry a person.

Iron Man-like exoskeleton enables paralyzed Japanese man to visit France

University postgraduate student Hiromasa Hara displays the Hybrid Assistive Limb climbing model, a robot suit designed to carry a person. (c) AFP

Seiji Uchida is 49 years old and for the past 28 years he’s been left paralyzed from the waist down and to one of his arms after a dreadful car accident. He’s never lost hope of walking on his own two feet ever since, though, and now thanks to the marvels of Japanese robotics, his dream of his visiting  the medieval French World Heritage site of Mont Saint Michel will become true.

Called the Hybrid Assistive Limb or HAL, the Japanese robot-suit which will assist Uchida looks like something that’s been manufactured straight of an Iron Man comic strip design. Not only does it look incredibly awesome, in lack of a better term, but more importantly the exoskeleton will help carry Uchida up the hill of Mont Saint Michel which, interestingly, inspired Minas Tirith in Lords of the Rings.

“Right now, I cannot stand on my own feet without help,” said Uchida at Tokyo’s Narita airport before his departure to France.

“But I will never give up on my hope of someday walking on my own feet, no matter how many years it would take.”

Battery-powered, HAL can allow for weights of up to 80 kilograms to be carried by the wearer – more than enough for Uchida, who weighs 45 kilograms. The suit does this by catching very weak biosignals which can be detected on the surface of the skin though its sensor. Based on these signals, the power unit is controlled to move the joint unitedly with the wearer’s muscle movement, enabling to support the wearer’s daily activities.

This won’t be Uchida’s first European adventure. In 2006, he, with a support team used an earlier version of the suit in an unsuccessful attempt to conquer the 13,661-foot Breithorn peak in Switzerland. Uchida said he wants to visit the rocky tidal island of Mont Saint Michel, where a steep and narrow trail leads to an abbey and former fortress, to “prove that it is possible for disabled people to visit the world’s historic sites without relying on facilities like elevators,” he said.

“HAL” is expected to be applied in various fields such as rehabilitation support and physical training support in medical field, ADL support for disabled people, heavy labour support at factories, and rescue support at disaster sites, as well as in the entertainment field.




Japan plans to make solar panels mandatory for all buildings

Japan shows us yet again that they are leading the world in terms of renewable energy, in taking a plan that would make solar panels mandatory for all buildings no later than 2030. The plan, expected to be unveiled at the upcoming G8 Summit in France, aims to show Japan’s resolve to encourage technological innovation and promote the wider use of renewable energy, the Nikkei daily said.

After the dramatic earthquake that struct Japan and the even more terrible tsunamis that followed and led to the situation at the Fukishima powerplant, Japan is running low on options for energy, which is probably the decisive reason why they are putting this plan into motion.

The huge installation of solar panels will bring a much needed grow in the amount of energy produced, and Japanese officials believe that this is possible because of the huge technological advances that will occur until 2030. Prime minister Naoto Kan is expected to announce Japan’s intention to continue operating nuclear plants after confirming their safety, the Nikkei said without citing sources.


The Makeout box: the latest internet sensation… or maybe not

Researchers from the Kajimoto Laboratory at the University of Electro-Communications are really exited about their latest innovation in what can be scientifically described as tactile communication or in more direct terms as the “makeout box”.

The Kiss Transmission Device is basically a plastic box which gets connected to a PC and receives data from the other end, which also has a similar device connected to it. The box has a sort of straw attached to a rotating axle, which the kisser puts it in his mouth and moves it with his tongue. The movement is then observed by the software, interpreted and then recreated at the other end. Basically, it allows two people on the web separated by thousands of miles to kiss – that is if you believe a kiss doesn’t include emotion, another tongue or another person for that matter.

“The elements of a kiss include the sense of taste, the manner of breathing, and the moistness of the tongue. If we can recreate all of those I think it will be a really powerful device,” claims the Kajimoto Laboratory creators.

From where I see it, this device is a big flop from the start or an emerging sensation, and its developers are already seeing its marketing potential, claiming the device can store a person’s manipulation and recreate it at will – a sort of kiss recording.

“For example, if you have a popular entertainer use this device and record it, that could be hugely popular if you offer it to fans.”

Imagine a box set which would come with the Kiss Transmission Device and a video of your favorite celebrity using the device. I know, it’s hard to imagine, and personally I think it’s a really stupid idea, but you can never know…

Check out the video below with the makeout box in action.

[via DigInfo]

japan earthquake child

Japan earthquake causing damage of £100 bln, still rising

The sad loss of over 10.000 people caused by the M8.9 earthquake and the tsunamis it generated is not the only problem Japanese people will have to deal with; this major disaster is also the most costly in world history, a “title” previously held by Katrina in the US, with an estimate of £77  billion but with way less deaths.

The disaster caused a 6.2 per cent drop in Japan’s Nikkei share index, wiping £90 billion off stocks and shares traded there, and although this is not the highest concern at all right now, it is yet another difficult task to handle; furthermore, a significant part of the world is economically addicted to Japan, so if they were to suffer a recession, probably the whole world would have to face another recession.

Andre Bakhos, the director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York, said: “The earthquake could have great implications on the global economic front. If you shut down Japan, there could be a global recession.”

The earthquake in Japan had an estimated magnitude of 8.9, making it one of the top five earthquakes ever to be recorded. The tsunamis it generated violently struck not only Japan, but other parts of the world as well, and because the electricity dropped in most of the country, several nuclear plants are in danger of a meltdown. So far, the deathtoll goes way beyond 10.000 people.