Earthquake Resistance Technology

Earthquake Resistance Technology

It is hard to stand up against the forces of nature, but as the world becomes more populated, more people are settling in areas prone to natural disasters. As a result, technology is being quickly developed to protect residents and so that life can continue to prosper, and people can relax a little more when living in the shadow and an impending catastrophe.

One of the most unpredictable events to detect in advance is an earthquake, and history has taught us that they can be cataclysmic to infrastructure and even, occasionally, fatal. All over the world, humans in places such as Japan, New Zealand, and anywhere else on a tectonic divide are living in earthquake prone areas and have had to find ways to protect themselves. While the obvious move would be to pack up and to move away, there are often large benefits to tolerating the risk; including land fertility, business opportunities, and just the fact that they call their earthquake riddled country home.

Research is underway to try and predict when earthquakes are going to strike, but currently it is only possible to see signs of a strike minutes before it happens, giving a very short time frame to react. These early warning systems are in place in countries such as Mexico, Japan and the USA where, currently, in California, the most developed system named ShakeAlert is in use. This is accomplished by detecting P waves which are non-destructive seismic waves that travel faster that the destructive S waves that cause earthquakes. A warning is then sent out via the mobile phone network to tell people to evacuate buildings and to prepare, which currently gives residents a potential five to thirty seconds advance alert, which may not sound like much, but every second can count when escaping a collapsing building, and every single life is spared from every single additional second of warning is an improvement on the losses that would have occurred without the system in place.

Predicting an earthquake is one way to reduce the chances of fatality, but measures can also be taken to create more resistant buildings and to improve the safety ratings of already existing buildings. This is frequently achieved through two different methods. The first involves creating buildings that are designed to deform and flex without breaking. Certain elements of the buildings are designed to bend or crack to protect more fragile elements. The second method is absorption of the shock waves using dampeners which reduce the energy of the destructive seismic waves to the vital structural elements of the building. The idea is not necessarily to protect the building, but to protect the people inside, so if the building suffers a large amount of damage and has to be destroyed, yet all the inhabitants inside escaped without harm, it is still considered a success.

San Francisco’s newest hospital has adapted a Japanese method of dampening which has never been used before in the US. Throughout the skeletal structure of the building, a goo-like substance the consistency of chewing gum called polyisobutylene has been pumped into panels with steel dividers inside. This slows down the violent shaking and also ensures that the structure comes to a rest sooner after the earthquake strikes. It also reduces the need for diagonal braces which can be obstructive when installing windows and doors.

There is always going to be room to improve more. As the population of the world increases, and, especially in restricted spaces such as San Francisco’s downtown area, the buildings get taller to cope with the increased number of people, the more they are going to move during seismic activity. There is also a big struggle involving cost, as adopting seismic isolation bases and foundations is extremely expensive in comparison to using standard foundations. While new technology is constantly under development to both predict, warn, and protect people from natural disasters, the unpredictable nature of earthquakes is a hurdle we are still struggling to overcome. It may be a tough problem, but the price of ignoring it is too high to ignore.

Elon Musk - Tesla Roadster

Elon Musk - Tesla Roadster

Elon Musk is the owner of the two companies Tesla and SpaceX and in February 2018, he elaborately joined the two. SpaceX have developed a rocket called The Falcon Heavy, and during the test flight, Elon decided to launch his own personal Tesla Roadster as the test load, complete with a human scale mannequin wearing a space suit named Starman after the David Bowie hit song. The speakers, despite being able to omit sound in space, have Bowie's Space Oddity on loop, there is a copy of Douglas Adams' A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox, referenced with a towel and a sign reading Don't Panic! amongst other objects on board.

Traditionally, the test load for rocket launches comprises of concrete or steel blocks so that engineers can test that a rocket can bear the weight needed for launching satellites or objects that are required in space. In March 2017, Musk stated that he would launch the silliest thing we can imagine, later announcing that he would launch his own personal roadster which required confirmation due to a skeptical audience. As a result, the Tesla Roadster became the first consumer car sent into space.

The Falcon Heavy test flight took place on the 6th January 2018 at 20:45 UTC. The mission was a success, which concluded that the Falcon Heavy was the most powerful rocket in operation and can lift twice the capacity of the NASA space shuttle launch system. Musk had downplayed the expectations of success in a conference, stating that There's a real good chance the vehicle won't make it to orbit ... I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage. I would consider even that a win, to be honest. It was successfully launched with enough velocity to enter an orbit around the sun, crossing the orbit of Mars while sending a video back to earth during the early stages of the flight, becoming the second most watched livestream on YouTube.

The Falcon Heavy was launched in a reusable configuration which was designed to recover the central core and the side boosters of the rocket. The side boosters had been previously used on a CRS-9 mission in July 2016 and the Thaicom 8 Launch in May earlier that year.

Something that shocked engineers was the returning of the side boosters to landing zones 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral. Video footage of the landing not only shows this happening successfully, but happening with pinpoint synchronisation. While this was the intention, due to complex engineering, mathematics and natural factors, seldom is it possible to make it so accurate. What wasn't quite as successful was the recovery of the landing of the central core which was due to take place on an autonomous spaceport drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster landed in the water about 100m from the ship, and was not successfully recovered. Aside from the landing of the centre core, every other objective was a success.

The purpose of launching the Tesla Roadster as a payload was to demonstrate that Falcon Heavy was capable of sending a heavy payload as far as the orbit of Mars. Some people consider the Tesla Roadster to be space debris, criticising Musk's decision to send his own car into space, while others see it as a clever piece of advertising or even call it art. While the video is no longer streaming, you can track the location of the Tesla Roadster using the website It is not expected to pass near the Earth until 2091.

Whether or not you consider the placing of Musk's Tesla Roadster in space as a form of vandalism, advertising, or art, this huge step in space technology proves that we are venturing further into the depths of the universe and becoming more confident with complex technology. The car will make a relatively random orbit, pushed further or closer from it's original trajectory by the gravity of passing planets, until it is either recovered or enters the atmosphere of a planet and burns up. If it happens to be encountered by other life before then, there is a message on the vehicle's circuit board reading made by humans to inform extra-terrestrial life of the origins of the strange satellite.

Guitar Technology

Guitar Technology

While there is a lot of exciting technology in the musical world, which is dominating the electronic music scene, the rock and guitar led music genres tend to stick to traditional techniques as so advancements and developments in technology have been somewhat slower. That being said, there are still a few gizmos and gadgets out there which are sure to passionate and talented guitar players, some as simple as a well placed and crafted piece of metal. Here are a few developments in the world of guitars, from digital guitars and midi controllers, to quirky capos.

Passerelle Bridge - developed by creative and original guitarist Kaki King and Luthier Rachel Rosenkrantz, this simple but innovative piece of equipment quickly transforms your humble six string guitar into an entirely new twelve stringed instrument, reminiscent of a Japanese Koto. By placing the bridge over the sixteenth fret, each string will be divided into two desperate tones, a fifth apart from each other. Potential tunings are endless, and with strong pentatonic possibilities, you will find yourself improvising and composing in an entirely new way.

Spider and Harmonic capos - the capo is a basic piece of equipment at best, but recent developments have added some creative and ingenious features to this component that can be found in almost every players bag. The Spider Capo allows players to select which strings are affected by the capo, which opens up a world of possibilities using open strings and drones and even the possibility to have two or more Spider Capos to create extra complex open string arrangements. Before it was inducted, partial capos partially did the job, but the Spider Capo takes it one step further. Another slightly newer invention is the Harmonic capo, which has the same effect as gently touching the string with your finger at certain to create a high pitched noise. While limited in it’s usage, it, like the Passerelle, allows users to play with entirely new soundscapes.

Guitar snare - developed by Schlagwerk in Germany, this small addition to your acoustic guitar allows the player to experiment more with percussive sounds than were previously possible with just the body of the guitar. The adhesive has been carefully considered so that it holds the snare strongly against the body, is easily removed so the snare can be moved around, and leaves no residue on a lacquered surface. Percussive guitar is not a new idea, but having sounds more reminiscent of a standard drum kit certain.y adds more drive to your performance.

Autotuners - there are several of these available on the market in various shapes, sizes and functionalities, but one in particular, the Roadie Tuner, is a clever piece of technology designed to make the life of a guitarist a little easier. This functions through a smartphone application which detects what pitch each string is emitting before transmitting this data wireless to a small handheld device that will automatically adjust the tuning pegs on the head of the guitar until the note is pitch perfect. In quiet situations, it is a very quick and effective tool, but sometimes struggles in loud spaces. The application allows guitarists to customise tunings and so they are not forever anchored in the EADGBE standard setup.

Wi-Fi enabled guitar jacks - what started life as a humble cable has been developed into an intelligent little piece of equipment. Wireless guitar cables are no new invention, but by creating a wireless connection through wifi, not only can users connect their guitar to their amplification setup, but also a computer or to a smartphone. Using this concept, applications can be developed to add effects to the guitar sound through a smartphone instead of using traditional pedals, and recording can be a whole lot easier without the need for a physical interface.

Wireless MIDI controllers - MIDI controllers have been used with guitars for a while, with notable guitarists like Matt Bellamy of Muse boosting their popularity. The recent development of the ACPAD which started through a kickstarter campaign essentially places a whole orchestra within reach of your fingers while you play your guitar. For those guitarists who are struggling to find bandmasters and want more open possibilities than a loop-station, this can be an elegant solution with unlimited potential for new ideas and sounds.

Radio in the digital age

Radio in the digital age

During an average week in June 2021, radio reached 88.1 percent of all American men aged between 35 and 64 years of age. All adults of this age group were the most exposed to radio, regardless of gender. The largest differences between the genders was between the oldest adults, with men aged 65 and over four percent more likely to listen to the radio.

From Guglielmo Marconi’s first transatlantic transmission in 1902 to the DAB radio and live internet streaming that we use today, the use of entertainment radio has developed and somewhat changed meaning over the years. After surviving the introduction of television, satellite networks and music streaming, the entertainment platform still exists.

With the invention and introduction of digital media, radio stations have become so much more than an analogue audio platforms. For starters, the use of DAB and online streaming now allow stations to transmit their material abroad and all over the world. This is particularly good for gaining an international audience and for expats living abroad who want to listen to radio shows in their own language, and can also help to spread knowledge of foreign cultures in a more connected world. Radio stations are often connected to YouTube and Facebook which create an extra dimension for the broadcasters; visual. Cloud storage systems allow users to access past radio shows on demand and to listen at their own convenience.

Radio stations are also becoming branding techniques. If you take the example of Australia’s Triple J station which is popular among underground and unsigned artists, the company is not only a broadcasting station but also incorporates festival hosting and also an online music sharing platform, amongst other social media options. Triple J have a huge following throughout Australia and even overseas, and by allowing users to upload their own music to the Triple J website, it has made radio even more accessible for aspiring artists.

Radio stations have had to heavily adapt to changing demand. In a world where it is so quick and easy to type a song name into YouTube, or to find new music through Spotify’s discover weekly playlists, radio broadcasters have still managed to maintain a steady audience through a touch of familiarity. Car users are among the largest consumers of radio entertainment, where radio has the advantage over streaming services for providing information like local traffic and weather reports, as well as music. Many new cars are being designed with inbuilt DAB radio sets, showing that the platform is still standing strong.

Podcasting and online streaming have blurred the boundaries between radio and listening to private music collections. Radio is becoming more interactive through online platforms, but linear scheduling still defines it as radio. Online music services like Spotify and Deezer create playlists and can randomly play music based on various parameters, much like a radio station. Queueing up videos on YouTube could also be argued as a vague form of radio-like consumption. Despite this, traditional linear programming continues to be consumed, and new platforms seem to work alongside traditional radio rather than to replace it, allowing radio broadcasters to take their content further and in ways they never could before.

The future of radio is, as anything, somewhat uncertain, but we can expect to see a lot more personalisation and automation integrated into our music services. We will most likely still require a human element of music selection through DJs as, while algorithms can do so much, music is such a personal thing that AI technology cannot grasp the full gravity of emotion that comes with each song that a human can, and often the enthusiastic voices that speak to us through our speakers to introduce the music are half of the reason we listen to a radio show. Radio’s are likely to become more visually appealing and touch screen friendly and to include more on demand features as younger generations are not used to tuning into a television or a radio at a particular time for a show, but to watch or listen to something when it is convenient for them.

That being said, the humble idea of radio is fully ingrained into our existence and not likely to go away any time soon. We may have to redefine the meaning of the word and the values that come with traditional broadcasting, but there will always be a demand for music, news, interviews and entertainment. Digital platforms will continue to shape how we receive this, but we will continue to receive this none the less.