Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flood Plug Minds the Gap

From Wall Street Journal...

"The humble sandbag has a rival in the fight against floods: a 400-ton water-filled tube that plugs holes in levees like a giant wad of chewing gum.

Sandbags are used to shore up the thousands of miles of U.S. levees--man made earthen barriers that shield people and property from swelling floodwaters. When a levee is breached, even the biggest sandbags can only slow the erosion of the structure.

Now comes the Portable Lightweight Ubiquitous Gasket, or PLUG, the first tool designed to repair a breach while powerful floodwaters are still coursing through it.

Developed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the 104-foot-long, vinyl-coated tube can be transported by helicopter to a failing levee and filled with floodwater on the spot using pumps. The resulting sausage-shaped behemoth gets sucked into the breach by the force of escaping water, sealing off the flow until permanent repairs can be made."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shard London Bridge skyscraper splinters opinion

From BBC News...

"It began as a sketch on the back of a napkin in a Berlin restaurant in 2000. Ten years on, Shard London Bridge is the tallest building in the UK, at more than 235m (771ft).

Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the south London skyscraper is planned to rise to 87 storeys, 310m (1,016ft) by 2012, becoming the tallest building in the European Union.

Mr Piano has a clear vision of the positive impact he thinks the tower will have on the city.

'The building will be atmospheric. It will play with the city. It will be a symbol of lightness,' he said.

But the skyscraper, better known as the Shard of Glass, also has its critics.

'I would have liked to see something more materially interesting and elegant,' said Philippa Grantham, 31, who has watched the tower rise on the capital's skyline each day on her commute into London Bridge station.

'In my opinion, a tower doesn't have a particular front or a back but this building certainly has a back side and it's fairly crude.'"

Read more here